Is it a self portrait?
It's hard to say what's wrong without knowing what this person looks like... but I do think they have a bigger skull than that. The head is almost perfectly round instead of oval. There is simply mass missing at the top of the head, and that's why the forehead looks massive and the hairline sits so high it looks like you/she is balding! The mouth looks very small (so does the chin) and the nose seems to be pointing in another direction than the rest of the face. And no ears?
As for pencil technique all the lines are very soft and blurry and nothing is sharp or defined. Everything is the same value. Dont be afraid to describe things a little more decisively with just a few determined strokes in areas like the nostrils and eyes where you can see abrupt shift in direction and form!
I would also get rid of all the watery/flamey stuff, it just looks messy and too stylized in comparison with your realistic take on the face.
On the plus side, I like that the face has an expression and that the eyes are looking in a clear direction, those are subtle things that are actually hard to nail! So keep at it!
Thanks for all the tips! I didn't really notice how round her skull was until you mentioned it. Now I can't help but feeling like her forehead is going to burst! And yeah, the hair is both receding and lacking most any mass at all. The mouth is just about as wide as the nose... I had an early problem with clearly defining the direction of the head, and tried to fix it, but I guess there are still problems in the area.
As for pencil technique, I tend to mostly draw with the side of the pencil, because I like my lines thick, but I guess thick is a relative term, and without contrast, it just comes off as blurry. I should definitely work more on pushing the tones more, though there is a bit less in the photo than in the original.
Keep in mind the center line of the face so you place the features where they make sense. Loomis is great for this. Here is an easy explanation I just found online.
In addition to what FuzzyTingleTimes mentioned, your reference is very young woman/girl. Be subtle with the tonal differences and lines around her mouth and under her eyes so they don't age her so much.
Also, from my own limited experience, I would recommend drawing real life subjects as much as possible. I find it more helpful and a greater learning experience than copying from pictures.
Thanks Aqualeot! I've read most of the Loomis books, and do ok with construction when I'm drawing from imagination (or at least I don't notice my mistakes!) But I tend to make more errors when drawing from photos.
I draw from real life whenever I get the chance. It is indeed much more helpful than copying shapes from a photo! I try to mentally convert the image back into three dimensions, and then construct from that, mostly using the image as a tool for checking proportions (which apparently I need to be doing more of), and things like the kind of lips or nose the model has. Is there a better way to go about drawing from photos?
I don't really know if there is a better way... I am pretty new at this. Just from my limited personal experience, I like to draw bugs and things I can't easily find in life from photos, simply because that is my only option for a good view. But I feel I am really mostly learning about their construction and textures etc, not so much about proportions since the problems of angles and foreshortening etc. are already solved in a photo.