Anyone who’s tried drawing faces by hand knows that it can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to getting the facial proportions right.
Every face is beautifully unique, so how can you capture their authentic selves while still using the universal principles of facial proportions?
In this blog we’ll cover all of the basics on how to draw a face as realistically as possible!
Let’s start off with some common questions…
How do I even begin?
You’ll want to begin by determining the face shape of whoever it is that you’d like to draw. See the image below for examples of different face shapes!
To draw your face shape, you’ll start by outlining the basic shape of the head using a light pencil.
If drawing the shape freehand feels a bit too daunting, you can also start by drawing a simple circle. Then draw lines along the bottom and sides of your circle to fill out the silhouette of your desired face shape, like the image below.
The next challenging part is diagramming your proper proportions before diving in with detail!
How do you diagram the head shape proportions?
To do this, you’ll probably want a ruler.
The idea is to chart out different sections of the head so you’ll know where to place features like the eyes, nose, mouth, and brows.
Each facial feature is a distinctive distance away from each other in relation to the diagram you make on the face shape.
It’s important to keep these proportions in mind throughout your entire drawing, or risk the proportions becoming warped and distorted by the end.
Darlene Nguyen explains it best in her popular step by step process for Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners, when she says:
“Make a ruler beside your drawing that is the same height. The ruler should be marked so there are 8 equal spaces. Always start with the center line. Draw faint lines through the face on the markings labeled CENTER LINE, 2, 3, A, and C. As you get used to this, you won’t need to draw the ruler on the side.”
© Copyright 2021, Darlene Nguyen www.RapidFireArt.com All Rights Reserved
Here’s an image to show what this should look like when you’re done creating the ruler (left side of the image) and when you’re done carrying the lines over (right side of the image):
Using Darlene Nguyen’s method above, here’s how the features will line up:
The eyes will go on the center line.
The brows (depending on the individual’s features) will be somewhere around line C, or between line C and the center line.
The nose will go from center line down to line 2.
The lips will be below line 2.
What is the correct width distance for the eyes?
The correct width distance for the eyes will vary depending on the person's unique features. However, as a general guideline, the distance between the two eyes should be approximately equal to the width of one eye. Draw one of your eye shapes, then measure with your ruler the width of that eye. Then from the inner tip of that eye draw out the width and make a mark to calculate where to start the beginning outline of your second eye. Alternatively, you can measure with your ruler right away on the center line to dictate where each eye shape should be drawn.
What is the correct width distance for the brows?
The width of the brows also varies depending on the person's unique features. However, as a general rule of thumb, the distance between the eyebrows should be about the same as the distance between the eyes, and won’t usually extend on the sides longer than the outside tip of each eye. Take a close look at the person you’re drawing to determine the arch shape and thickness of the brow.
What is the correct width distance for the nose?
Generally, the distance between the two nostril ends should be approximately equal to the width of one eye. Additionally, the distance between the eyes and the bridge of the nose, as well as the length of the nose itself, will also vary depending on the individual's unique features.
What is the correct width distance for the mouth?
The width of the mouth will vary person to person, but a good starting point and common principle is to draw the mouth down from the nose at about one-third of the distance between the bottom end of the nose and the chin.
Ok so I’ve got the facial features outlined and proportioned…. But where should the hairline be?
The placement of the hairline will also vary depending on the person's unique features. But you can usually expect to place the hairline about halfway between the top of the head shape you drew, and the eyebrows. However, some people may have a higher or lower hairline, so it's important to observe the individual's features when drawing
Once you have the basic features sketched in, you can start to add all of your details with shading and texture. Remember to keep checking your proportions as you work to ensure that everything looks balanced and accurate as you erase and sketch.
Following the ruler method to diagram the facial proportions, the options are endless! Check out the different ways Darlene Nguyen does this in her tutorial:
Because there are so many different techniques beginners can use to map out facial proportions than the one we’ve listed here, we recommend giving a quick Google or YouTube search and try a few different ways to see which naturally makes the most sense to you and your process!
You can check out Darlene Nguyen’s step by step process mentioned in this blog for Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners if you’re more of a reading + visual learner and want more details!
If you’re more of an audio + visual learner, check out Lazy Art’s video tutorial for “How To: Draw Face | Easy Beginner Proportion Tutorial.”