How to Draw an Indian Chief

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    • 1). Map in the large general shapes that will compose the drawing. If you are drawing a portrait or bust, use a large oval for the head, and sketch in lines for the neck and shoulders. Draw lightly and loosely, moving lines around until they are in place. If drawing the full body, use ovals to sketch in the basic positions and proportions of the torso, arms and legs. Focus on placement and size rather than detail or articulation. Draw the warbonnet's lower rim along the forehead and outer rim that forms a large arc above the head.

    • 2). Sketch in large features of the clothing. Stay focused on large structures rather than texture or detail. Sioux chiefs often wore a shirt with loose, long sleeves underneath a vest made of hollow tube-shaped bones and beads. Some wore metal armbands around the biceps as well as silver bracelets and brooches. Strips of cloth and feathers were often attached to the sides of the warbonnet to frame the sides of the face.They often wore buckskin and leather pants with laced or unlaced moccasins for shoes.

    • 3). Draw major facial features. Start by lightly sketching the shapes of the eyes, nose and mouth. Sioux Indians often have wider noses and mouths. They also often have creases running from the top of the nostrils down to the chin to form the shapes of parentheses around the mouth. Draw contour lines around the eyes to convey age and a wizened gaze. Add large, high cheekbones. Also draw lengths of braided hair. The braids can be indicated with repeating upside-down "V" shapes connected together. Sketch lightly and work the shapes into place before committing to darker lines.

    • 4). Draw textures. The underlying drawing you have already done serves to structure the more detailed elements of the drawing. Because the Indian chiefs wore a wide of diversity of natural materials and substances, their wardrobes displayed a magnificent array of interesting textures. Draw the repeating, parallel bands that make up the beaded vest. Shade in subtle and deep creases in the sleeves and pants. Add skin creases around the eyes and forehead to indicate old age. Draw the shafts and barbs of the feathers, which often have dark tips. Draw embroidered symmetrical patterns on the shirt and pants. Draw a band around the bottom of the warbonnet where it meets the forehead, and add some geometric patterns indicative of the cultural style. Using reference photos, such as those at, can aid in your understanding of these elements.

    • 5). Draw shadows. Evoke dark and light contrasts by darkening lines and areas deep in creases, such as under the armpits and deep in folds of the sleeves. Use some bold lines in the eyes, experimenting to convey his penetrating gaze. Other dark areas may be around the neck, under the chin and between the feathers of the warbonnet. Dramatic shadows may cover parts of the face and can add feeling and meaning to your drawing.

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