How Long Does it Take to Draw a Portrait?

Whenever I present a finished piece, one of the most commonly asked questions is, “How long did it take you to draw this?”

This is an important question to many potential clients, because if the person is considering commissioning a portrait, he/she has every right to know what kind of value he/she is getting for the money being paid.  The tricky part is, though, that some portraits will only take around 6 or 7 hours, while others will take 15-20 or more.  It all depends on the details, the size, and the medium.

The average 8×10 graphite dog portrait will take me between 11-12 hours to complete; a dog portrait in colour would take maybe a little bit longer, but also costs me more in materials, because the paints and pencils I use for my pieces are not cheap.

Viewers often look at YouTube speeddrawing videos and think, “I can’t believe that probably only took the guy like 15 minutes!”


Those amazing drawings that you see on YouTube take hours and hours to do.  The sped-up aspect to the video creates the illusion that the artist did the drawing fairly quickly, but is speeding it up so that you don’t have to watch him/her work for 15 minutes at a time.  That’s absolutely not the case!  Most of those artists spend a minimum of 4-7 hours per drawing for smaller pieces, and significantly more for larger pieces!  The end result is incredible, of course, and that’s because a lot of time and attention to detail was granted to the piece.

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