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Have you ever finished a drawing of a face just to notice that something is off, but you can't tell exactly what it is? Why is it important to start with forwards-facing portraits before moving on to different angles?
In this post/YouTube video, I'll be explaining how I create my quick and simple face sketches.
It's essential for the beginner artist looking to start with portraits to learn about basic facial proportions and the effective placement of facial elements within the head shape before moving on to adding any sort of realistic shading or texture.
Because that preliminary outline sketch is the foundation for everything else and, if proportions/shapes/etc. are not achieved effectively, then the entire drawing is going to be off no matter how long we spend on creating beautiful shading and detail.
And, most often than not, it's going to be best for the beginner to get started with forwards-facing portraits, as they are the easiest way to learn about facial proportions.
Once we start getting into drawing heads at different angles, foreshortening and knowledge on perspective comes into play to varying degrees, shapes are distorted or hidden, etc., which takes the challenge up a notch.
In this post, I've included a section briefly explaining how I draw each individual facial element (eyes, nose, lips, ears and hair) and have also included some notes about how features can be modified when drawing either male or female characters.
Before we start, it's important to keep in mind that facial elements come in all shapes and sizes. So long as you stay within these general guidelines I'll be providing, you can and I actually encourage you to experiment by making face shapes, noses, lips, and all the rest in slightly different shapes and sizes.
For this tutorial, you'll need:
-A pencil (I recommend an HB)
-Sketchbook or paper of any kind
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1. Drawing the head shape
The way I draw the initial head shape is by starting with a large circle (1). I then make a vertical line dividing the face in half (2) and add a centered, small horizontal line a bit below the circle, which will be the chin (3).
*The shorter you make this horizontal line, the narrower/pointer your chin will be. The wider you draw this horizontal line, the wider your chin will be. The further down from the circle you draw it, the longer the face will be. The closer to the circle, the rounder the face.
Once that is ready, draw two vertical lines down the left and right sides of the large circle (4). At the point at which these vertical lines touch the circle, I draw two curved lines downwards, connecting them to each side of the chin line (5).
At this point, you can erase the vertical lines running down the sides of the head, as well as the bottom half of the circle. Leave the vertical line dividing the face where it is.
2. Adding your guidelines
As I had mentioned before, when drawing faces, it's essential to be aware of placement and size of facial features within the head shape. In order to achieve this, we will add guidelines that will help us along the way.
Make sure to add in these guidelines as lightly as possible, so that you're able to erase them when you no longer need them!
Aside from the vertical line we already have dividing our face width in half (which will help us place the nose in the appropriate place), we will add a horizontal line dividing our face length in half. This will be the line that tells us where to place our eyes.
This line will then be divided into five parts. The width of five eyes should fit along this line. Eyes should be drawn in the ¨2nd¨ and ¨4th¨ sections of this line.
The nose line will be placed halfway down the eye line and the chin. Finally, the mouth line will be placed halfway down the nose line and the chin. *Some artists divide this lower section (between the nose line and the chin line) into three equal parts once again. The first new guideline is where the opening of the mouth will be, in this case.
If you'd like to place a few guidelines for your ears, they start a bit above the eye line and end at the nose line.
2. Drawing the different facial elements
We are all good so far, but many of us (myself included) have trouble drawing at least one of the facial elements, whether it's the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, ears or hair.
Do not attempt to leave something out simply because you think you're not going to be able to draw it properly. Remember, practice makes perfect and if you want to ever be able to create a realistic drawing, you have to start at some point.
Here's a brief description of how I go about drawing simple versions of all of these necessary facial elements, as well as some tips to distinguish female features from male features.
Once you have finished drawing your facial elements, erase all your guidelines.
3. Adding in the hair
There are many different ways to draw hair, depending on the hair style you'd like your character to have. It can be long, short, straight, curly, wavy, etc.
Remember, though, that hair has volume. Because of this, it should be drawn slightly above the head shape.
I cannot go into all the different hair styles here, but I strongly encourage you to experiment with different types of line (curved, straight, wavy, etc.) in order to transmit the characteristics you'd like.
4. Bringing it all together
By this point, your face should be completed. Here are two examples I have drawn for you showing the differences between male and female characteristics.
5. Final Details
Add as many details (textures, shading, etc.) as you'd like. I personally don't add many details to this type of face drawing and prefer the sketchy look.
For tips on how to make a drawing look realistic, visit my blog post titled 6 Essential Tips for Realistic Drawing.
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