Facial Proportions – How to Draw a Face
In this lesson, we’ll look at how to draw a face, and we’ll go over several methods for ensuring that your facial features are in the right place. We’ll start with Loomis’ method, which is more complicated but more accurate.
Step 1 – Draw a Circle and a Cross
The top portion of the head will be represented by a circle with two intersecting lines that connect directly in the center, and the intersecting lines will be used to determine the locations of the facial features.
Step 2 – Draw a Square within the Circle
Next, we’ll draw a square with each corner touching the circle, which will eventually represent the face’s edges, with the top line becoming the bottom hairline, the bottom line becoming the nose line, and the center line becoming the brow line.
Step 3 – Draw the Chin
Now, using your pencil, measure the distance from the center line to the bottom line, and mark the location of the bottom of the chin from the bottom line of the square. Then, draw the edges of the chin from each side of the square so that they connect at your marked location.
Step 4 – Locate the Eyes
We can use the height of the head to help us locate the eyes on the face. The eyes are generally found on a line in the center of the head. The brow line is represented by the center line that we drew in step one, so we know that the eyes should be found just below this line, in the cleft.
Step 5 – Draw the Eyes
We can draw our eyes now that we know where they are on the face, but there’s one more thing to consider: the width of the eyes. The width of the head, from ear to ear, roughly measures the same length as five “eyes.” This means that if we want to draw the eyes with accurate proportions, we must draw them to match this approximate measurement.
Step 6 – Locate and Draw the Nose
The bottom of the nose can be found on the bottom line of the square that we drew in step two. The width of the nose varies from person to person, but it is generally as wide as the inside corners of the eyes. To help you find the width of the nose, draw two light lines down from the inside corners of the eyes.
Step 7 – Locate and Draw the Mouth
The mouth is slightly higher than half-way between the bottom of the nose and the chin; however, this measurement varies from person to person. We can use the eyes to help us determine the width of the mouth. The corners of the mouth generally align with the inside edges of the pupils.
Step 8 – Draw the Ears
The top of the ears will generally align with the brow line, while the bottom of the ears will generally align with the nose line. Keep in mind that the ears come out of the head and extend upward slightly, which means that the ears will extend outward from the head, near the brow line.
Step 9 – Draw the Hairline
The hairline is found on the top edge of the square that we drew in step two. It may not be visible if you’re drawing someone with long hair that overlaps the forehead, but it’s still important to know where it is. The hairline is found on the top edge of the square that we drew in step two. Hairlines vary greatly from person to person. In this example, we’ll draw a widow’s peak pattern.
Step 10 – Draw the Hair
We can draw the hair now that the hairline is in place. Shorter hair extends only slightly off the top of the head, while longer or bushier hair may extend quite a bit; in either case, the hair extends out from the head and should not be drawn directly on the head.
Step 11 – Add the Neck
We’ll draw the neck by extending two lines down from the bottom of the ears. Female necks are slightly slender, while male necks are broader.
Step 1 – Draw a Circle, a Square, and Intersecting Lines
We’ll start by drawing a circle, two intersecting lines, and a square that touches the circle at all four corners, with the top line of our square becoming the hairline, the middle line becoming the brow line, and the bottom line becoming the nose line, as we did before.
Step 2 – Draw a Line from the Top of the Head to the Chin
Next, we’ll draw the front edge of the face. In this case, our subject is facing to the left, so we’ll draw a curved line from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin.
Step 3 – Add a Line from the Bottom of the Chin to the Center of the Square
The jawline will be represented by a line drawn from the bottom of the chin to the center point on the bottom of the square, which will curve slightly in most cases.
Step 4 – Determine the Location of the Eyes
We’ll now measure to the center of the head and draw a line to represent the eye line, which should be drawn just beneath the brow line. We can also draw the backside of the head using the circle we drew with the bottom of the square. As you draw this line, think about the structure of the skull.
Step 5 – Draw the Facial Features and Add Shading
Now that we know where the facial features are going to be, we can draw them in with contour lines and some shading to give the face some form. Notice how the eyes are set back from the front edge of the face and how the lips and mouth recede at a diagonal towards the neck.
Step 6 – Draw the Ear on the Side of the Face
To draw the ear on the side of the face, we’ll use our center line, nose line, and eye line. Because our subject is facing to the left, the bulk of the ear will be on the right side of our center line. As we previously discussed, the ear line will start on the eye line, extend up to the brow line, and then curve down, touching the nose line.
Step 7 – Add the Hair
We’ll draw the hairline, which extends back before making its way down to the ears, and add a few hints of shading to make the hair feel like a form, keeping the hairstyle consistent with our first drawing.
Summing Up The Andrew Loomis Approach to Drawing a Face
(Some of the following links are affiliate links, which means we get a small commission if you buy something through them at no extra cost to you.) Andrew Loomis is known for his step-by-step approach to drawing heads, which divides the head into manageable geometric shapes, as we discussed above. Each feature on the face has a specific location relative to the geometric configuration set up in the earl.
Of course, portrait drawing is particularly delicate because the goal is to create a portrait that closely resembles the subject; if you know the person, the pressure to produce accuracy can be overwhelming. However, every artist, regardless of skill level, should take heart: even the most experienced and well-known portrait artists face challenges.
Reviewing the Generalized Locations of Facial Features
The eyes are in the middle of the head, and the inside corners of the eyes generally line up with the edges of the nose. The “mouth” line is about one-third of the way between the “nose” line and the bottom of the chin, and it represents where the top lip meets the bottom lip. The inside portions of the pupils or the iris generally line up with the corners of the mouth.
We must remember that there is no “one size fits all” solution when drawing a portrait; there will be slight proportional differences from one person to the next. We can use the techniques covered in this lesson to help us better understand the locations of the features of the face; however, if we want our portrait drawings to capture the likeness of the person, we must rely on observation.
How do you make a realistic head shape?
Drawing Totally Realistic Heads and Faces (Just Don’t Do THIS to the Hair)
- Sketch the jawline.
- Get the eyes right!
- Now place the ears.
- Add the nose.
- Do the mouth.
- Place the eyebrows.
- Sketch the hair.
How can I draw better anime?
The Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Anime Drawing Skills
- Don’t trace or copy other artworks.
- Mix elements from various reference images.
- Accept and be open to criticism.
- Don’t take feedback from family and friends too seriously.
- Challenge yourself.
How do I learn to draw portraits?
Here are some portrait drawing tips:
- Start with the eyes and work your way down to the nose and mouth.
- Allow the darkness of the hair to aid in the creation of the lighter edge of the face.