Are you getting a bit tired of always drawing stiff, flat faces looking forward? Do you enjoy portraiture and would like to learn how to draw faces in different angles? Do you frequently find something is a bit ``off´´ when you finish your portrait drawings?
In this blog post I will explain why it is important to have a basic understanding of the underlying structure of the face (the skull) in order to draw more believable portraits, and will be reviewing basic facial proportions/locations of individual facial elements within the head shape. Then, I will move on to explain how to draw a face at a 3/4's angle, which is one of the most-used angles in both painting and photography portraiture.
I will share my own 4-step method for drawing portraits and also a video time-lapse demonstrating how I do my quick face sketches. This blog post includes several free downloadable PDF's that you can use for practicing, so make sure to check those out at the end!
I'm going to start off by saying that drawing portraits is hard! The main reason being that what we see most everyday are the faces of those around us. This means that most people, artists or not, will be able to notice if something is ``off´´ when viewing a portrait, even if at first they can't pinpoint exactly what it is.
With a portrait drawing being ``off´´ I don't mean small differences in eye sizes or eyebrow shape. Human faces have natural imperfections and aren't 100% symmetric (most of the time). What I'm referring to is shape, proportion and location of facial elements within the head shape. Most of the time something looks off, it's due to an ineffective placement or proportion of any (or all) face elements.
This is why it is very important to understand and keep these things in mind when attempting to draw any type of portrait (unless you are intentionally going for an unrealistic style). Though I don't particularly go for high levels of realism with my work, I do like starting with a concrete foundation in order for it to have a believable aspect to it.
*This post is intended for those who have already had some amount of practice drawing faces at a forward-facing angle. Still need a bit more practice with drawing faces in a forward view? Visit my blog post titled How to Draw a Face (for Beginners). There, I offer free downloadable PDFs explaining to do draw a basic head shape as well as individual facial elements.
When an artist is trying to get better at drawing any part of the human anatomy, it is important to devote some time to studying its underlying structure. Understanding what is underneath our skin will allow us to create more believable form and three-dimensionality in our artwork, which is key when trying to achieve any level of realism. The structure beneath the face is....you guessed it! The skull!
Sorry to get a little morbid here, but let's take a moment to analyze the following images:
Photos cortesy of Pixabay. Click on the image to go back it original link.
The human skull is made up of two separate parts, the cranium and the mandible. Notice the natural holes, and diverse nooks and crannies all over its structure. It's important to note that the cranium is not a perfect sphere! And though artists usually start their portraits off by drawing a circle or an oval (depending on the perspective/angle of the head), this initial shape usually gets refined along the drawing process.
Observe the human skull and take note of its main characteristics:
-Large eye sockets (our eyes are placed deep within our heads)
-The mandible is connected to the cranium and is the only part of the skull that can move (aside from our eyeballs)
-Our teeth and the bones onto which they are attached actually jut out a bit, creating a curved effect where our lips usually fall
-Our brow bones and cheekbones create very visible bumps
-Our temples (sides of our heads) sink inwards
As previously mentioned, most artists start off their portraits by creating simple shapes much like the ones below. These shapes and lines allow them to visualize where the facial elements will be placed.
In this section of my website you'll be able to find helpful information and free resources to help improve your art, as well as a bit about the business side of making a living as a creative entrepreneur.
Do not hesitate to
reach out to me if you have any questions regarding my work.
Feel free to send me an
email, leave a comment on the site and/or reach out on social media. I'd love to connect!
Hope you enjoy
and find this useful!