National Gallery at Home: Profile Portraits

Child's recreation of a profile portrait
Antonio del Pollaiuolo's Profile Portrait of a Young Man; Ciara Lawlor's profile portrait of Fiona Lawlor.Credit

Follow these simple steps to create your own profile portrait at home, inspired by the drawing Profile Portrait of a Young Man, by one of the Pollaiuolo brothers.

You'll find all the materials and instructions listed below. Let's get started!

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Profile Portraits

National Gallery at Home


Materials and instructions

You will need:

  • A large sheet of white paper
  • Pencils
  • Sticky tack (or something to temporarily stick a piece of paper to a wall)
  • A torch or lamp
  • A willing model! (costume optional) 


We are going to use a silhouette, or shadow technique, to draw the profile. 

  1. Stick the sheet of paper to the wall using sticky tack. 
  2. Ask your model to sit in profile in front of the paper.
  3. Use a torch, or lamp, to cast the shadow of your model's face and head onto the paper. 
  4. Trace the outline of the shadow with your pencil.
  5. Remove the paper from the wall, put it on a table, and use your colours to complete the portrait. 
  6. You can add details from your imagination, like an earring or necklace, or anything else you fancy!

Share your artwork!

Would you like to see your artwork featured on the Gallery's website? Take a photo of your artwork and send it to us by email ([email protected]) or using this online form to upload your picture. We'll feature a selection of pictures in the Creative Challenge Gallery, so check back to see if yours is included!

Upload a picture of your artwork using this form


Inspired by ...

Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo were brothers who ran one of the most successful workshops in Florence, Italy, in the fifteenth century. They worked as painters, sculptors, engravers, goldsmiths and designers of embroidery. They often worked together on projects, so we're not 100% sure which brother made this drawing of a young man. It was drawn some time between 1470 and 1475—that's over 500 years ago! It is a "profile portrait" which means it shows the side of the man's face, not the front. Your profile is the outline of your face, seen from the side. 



Thank you Ciara Lawlor (age 7) and Fiona Lawlor (model, age 4) for working together on this project, just like the Pollaiuolo brothers!

About our Gallery at Home videos:

Inspired by works in our collection and exhibitions, our creative activities encourage families to work together to create their own artworks. They are specially produced videos for babies, older children and for those who require sensory input. You can find all the workshops in this series here. Enjoy!

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