In this sketchbook challenge, we’ll take a look at how to draw a human face. Clearly, every face is different, so this isn’t a formula for drawing one. Instead, this is simply a step by step approach for looking at your own subject. Take each step in order when you draw your own face from observation, and these steps are sure to help you out.
This tutorial will also help you out with facial proportions. Proportion is the principle of art that deals with the relationship one part when compared to another.
Although closely related to size, proportion is slightly different. Size is definitely a factor, but placement of objects or facial features is also “in play”. When dealing with the face, proportion will be incredibly important for obvious reasons. So, let’s take a look at the process…
Step 1 – Draw a Circle for the Cranium and a Line
We first need to establish the shape of the head. To do this, we’ll draw a circle first. This circle represents the cranium of the person. Next, we’ll draw a line right down the middle of this circle to determine the length of the head. Closely observe your subject here, since some heads are longer than others. For most people, the line that is drawn down from the circle will need to be just slightly less than double the length of the circle.
Step 2 – Establish the Jaw Line
With the length of the head in place, we can draw the jaw line next. Again, look closely at your subject to determine the exact lines that should be drawn. For guys, this line is typically more angular. For girls, this line is typically softer. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Some guys have very soft jaw lines, while some girls have very angular jaws.
Step 3 – Draw Lines for the Facial Features
With the shape of the head defined, we can now focus on positioning the facial features within this shape. First, we’ll establish the location of the eyes. The eyes are found half way between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin. To place them on the head, we’ll just draw a line for right now. Next, we’ll locate the position of the nose. Conveniently, the nose is found half way between the eye line and the bottom of the chin. Again, a simple drawn line will suffice for right now. Lastly, we’ll locate the position of the mouth on the face. The line for the mouth should be drawn slightly above half way between the nose line and the bottom of the chin.
Step 4 – Draw the Eyes
Next, we’ll draw the eyes on the eye line. To determine if you’re making the eyes the right size, you can ask yourself if you could fit “5” of them on the eye line. If you can only fit “4” for example, you’re making the eyes too large. If you can fit “6”, you’re making the eyes too small. If you can fit “5”, then you’re drawing the eyes the right size.
Step 5 – Draw the Nose
Now let’s add the nose. To determine the width of the nose, look closely at your subject. For most noses, you can make a comparison to make sure that you are drawing the nose the correct size. The inside corners of the eyes will typically line up with the edges of the nostrils. Of course every nose is different, as some noses will extend outside of this measurement.
Step 6 – Draw the Mouth
Next, we’ll tackle the mouth. Here again, drawing the mouth will require close observation of the subject, especially if the mouth is open. (Drawing a closed mouth is a bit easier.)
To help locate the position of the mouth on the face, we can make another comparison. The outside edges of the pupils will typically line up with the edges of the mouth. Just like with the other features, there are exceptions to this rule.
Step 7 – Draw the Ears
The next step is to draw the ears. We’ll draw the ears based on the location of the eyes and the nose. For most people, the top of the ears are found in line with the eye line. The bottom of of the ears are in line with the bottom of the nose. In other words, the ears are found between the eye line and the nose line on the side of the head.
Step 8 – Add the Hair
Hair rises off of the head, so this should be reflected in the drawing. It is not “stuck” right on the head. Even close hair cuts, rise a bit. So, when the hair is drawn, the top contour line should be above the top of the circle drawn for the cranium in the first step.
Step 9 – Finish the Drawing
You may choose to finish the drawing by going over your lines with a darker medium. You can add a few areas of shadow in the hair and on the face – or complete the sketch completely with a full range of value. Erase any stray lines that you may have left over and your sketch is complete.