Anatomy of the Human Body for ArtistsFigure Drawing FundamentalsPortrait Drawing FundamentalsArt of Caricature CourseStore Package Deals

How to Draw Santa Claus – Holiday Special

December 20, 20129 Comments

If you prefer to read, here is the transcript:

Ho ho ho, welcome to another episode of Proko. I’m santa claus and today we will be drawing a portrait of me! Last time we talked about how to draw hair. Some of you have mentioned that you’d like to see the last step (drawing the texture) in more detail. Since I have so much hair on my face, this drawing is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays AND give you a closer look at drawing hair texture! Ho ho

Before I start drawing things from my imagination I like do some concept sketches. Try out different ideas and make sure it works as a small sketch before I commit to it on a larger more finished drawing. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make these look good. Just get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper. Don’t worry about the line quality or any of the details. You’re just trying to get a loose sketch of the big shapes and gesture. Keeping these sketches small will help you to keep the detail to a minimum.

So, I’m just trying out various beard shapes, mustache shapes and hat placement.

Once I decide one of these looks good, I’ll move on to a value study. Use the side of the pencil to design a light and dark pattern. At this point you should decide the direction of the light source and think about the volumes and the way the light hits those volumes.

It’s also a good idea to do some research to find inspiration. If you’re working on a small project a simple google image search will be enough. If its a professional job I highly recommend taking your own photos. Ask a friend to model and setup the light the way you want it. Doing everything from your imagination can be enough, but nature will present you with ideas and designs that you wouldn’t think of.

When you’re comfortable with all your sketches, you can begin the final rendering. To make sure everything fits on the page in the right spot, I’ll begin with a simplified contour of the head and beard combined.

During the winter season, I grow my beard very long. It keeps me warm during my long trip around the world. ho ho ho. Make sure to capture the long flowing gesture lines and try to create an interesting shape to the beard. It takes up so much space on the page, that it needs to be interesting.

I have some very specific characteristics to my face. A large bulbous nose, rose cheeks, bushy eyebrows, friendly smile, a large white beard, and of course, a warm red hat. ho ho ho

My forehead is covered by my hat and my jaw is covered by my beard, you can only see the middle third of my face.

Draw in a large rounded mustache which covers the top lip and then the opening of the mouth just under it.

The beard begins just under the bottom lip. I’ll establish a few rhythm lines of the volumes of the beard indicating a small wave to the rhythm as it flows down.

Because I’m so happy, the roundness of my checks pushes the bottom lids of my eyes up during a smile and creates a slightly squinted look to my eyes. I’ll make a little change here to make my cheeks rounder and happier.

Draw in the contour of the background shape, and then begin designing the core shadows on the beard. I’m imagining where the planes of the volumes of the beard transition to face away from the light source. Remember, this is called the terminator.There will usually be a visible “core shadow” at the terminator. If you’re not familiar with these terms, make sure to watch the video on “Shading Light and Form”.

Now I’ll start to fill in the shadows just like I did in my value study. Since, I’ve established the contours of the shadow shapes already, this step is fairly easy. Just try to keep it as clean as possible.

Oh, silly me! ho ho ho! I forgot to map in the core shadows and cast shadow on the face. Santa’s getting a little forgetful at his old age. ho ho ho

Now let’s zoom in to the face and add some halftones. The rosiness of my cheeks and nose will make the local value of the skin a little darker. And definitely darker than the snow white hair.

To be able to properly judge the values of the halftones, we should establish a few darker accents within the shadows.

One of the most important parts of the hair is the outline – the edge between the hair and background. I’ve found that adding really sharp edges next to really soft edges adds a sense of depth. Generally the tips of the locks of hair should taper and have a soft edge. The blades or sides of the locks will generally have a sharp edge, but could be softened to blur it back into the background.

You need areas where they separate and show they are different objects. And areas where they connect and show they are part of the same environment. Areas of interest and areas of rest. Areas that come forward and areas that go back. The way you choose to do this is up to you. You are the artist. Your unique design sensibilities will make your drawing look different from your fellow artists even though you are following the same principles.

You can use your eraser or finger to soften some of these edges.

While adding the halftones on the skin, try not to lose the separation of light and dark. A clear core shadow is helpful to achieve this. Also, adding some occlusions shadows will darken the overall value of the shadow family.

Define some more dark accents on the side of the head to separate the hat, hair, and background.

As you can see, now I’m starting to define some of the texture on the locks of hair. I’m putting the pencil on it’s side and moving it in the direction of the length of the pencil. I’m not using the tip. This way there will be a little variation of thickness to the lines. And as you add the texture, don’t forget about the gradation of value on the forms. The gradations will make it look 3 dimensional, the texture is just a detail.

The dark of the mouth will help to define the edge of the mustache and the bottom lip. The bottom lip is mostly dark halftone with a very sharp highlight. A sharp highlight make the surface appear moist.

The texture can be defined not just with the pencil, but also by erasing thin highlights. Shape the eraser to a thin blade and erase a highlight with one stroke. You’ll have to reshape the eraser each time, because the eraser gets dirty after each stroke.

A few clearly defined sharp edges and dark occlusions shadows will pop the locks of hair forward.

On the light side of the beard, keep the halftones lighter and the highlights larger, to give the illusion of a glow. Some soft edges along the contour will also help with the glow.

Oh boy, this drawing is really starting to take shape. I’m looking mighty handsome, if I do say so myself. ho ho ho

Now let’s come up to this hat and get some details in there to define the fold.

I’ll add a little bit of glow to the edge of the hat by using my eraser to lighten the background next to the hat. This will appear like the light on the hat is so bright that it spreads into the background. And I’ll do the same thing for the beard.

Thats about it for this episode. Hope you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, winter solstice, boxing d… er… Happy Holidays boys and girls!! Hope you get what you wanted. And just letting you know, out of all the gifts that came through my workshop this year the best one has been Stan’s new DVD, portrait drawing fundamentals. It’s available as a DVD, OR downloadable MP4 files. Get it at

If you enjoyed this video be a good boy or girl and share it with your friends. If you want to be notified of new videos subscribe to the newsletter at

Filed in: Misc.Portrait / HeadVideos

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. marlene salvatore says:

    You need to slow down for this to be more affective for beggining artists. My granddaughter is one of those children. Do you have a program especially for ages 8-13 + ? We own one of your paintings and would love to see more of you teaching.

    Marlene Salvatore

    • Hi Marlene!

      Sorry I don’t have any material for kids. I think it’s a great idea and I hope to do that one day. Right now I only have time and resources to produce videos for a broader audience.

      Happy Holidays 🙂

  2. Kathleen Walden says:

    Love it! I am still studying the DVD I bought from you. I am enjoying it. Thank you.

  3. Gustavo says:

    Dude you are “un loco”, in a good way I mean, there is this site ” drawing tutorial online” with a critique gallery and other stuff, you could do something alike or similar (my english grammar is so dusty), well to many words to say that you are a freaking awesomen teacher.

  4. Pamela Lenow says:

    Stan, really enjoyed this vid. I think it’s the best you’ve done so far. Charming presentation with the iconic Santa narrating his own portrait drawing. Jam-packed with info, references, and examples. Like I said, the best so far. Can’t wait to share this one with several of my fellow artist friends. Thanks so much and the Happiest of Holidays to you and yours.

  5. Brian Milligan says:

    Ta Santa

  6. Was looking for good writeup. That in fact had been the enjoyment account that. Appearance complicated to be able to considerably released agreeable within you! Having said that, exactly how should we communicate?

  7. Cornelius says:

    I simply couldn’t depart your site prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed the standard information an individual supply in your visitors?
    Is gonna be back often in order to inspect new posts

  8. roksana says:

    Hey guys, my name is Roksana!

    I`m a professional writer and I`m going to change your lifes onсe and for all
    Writing has been my passion since early years and now I cannot imagine my life without it.
    Most of my books were sold throughout Canada, USA, China and even Australia. Also I`m working with services that help people to save their time.
    People ask me “Sir, Roksana Sparrow, I need your professional help” and I always accept the request, `cause I know, that only I can save their time!

    Professional Academic Writer – Roksana – 10 Traditional Philippines Dishes Every US Traveler Must Try Team

Leave a Reply

Back to Top