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Sketching a Face - Drawing Tutorial

Jacquelin Vanderwood

May 15, 2004


1 To draw a full frontal view of the face, keep in mind that it should be sectioned into 3rds for an adult. Start by 1) sketching out an oval, 2) draw a straight line down the middle of the oval, 3) draw a horizontal line 1/3 of the way down, 4) draw another horizontal line below that for the middle of the eyes, 5) target a line for the lower lip, 6) draw lines for the outer sides of the nose, 7) draw horizontal lines for the middle of the mouth and the bottom of the nose, 8) draw in the shape of the ears.


2 For drawing the eyes, one helpful hint is to keep in mind that the space between the two eyes are the same as one eye.


3 To draw eyes, first begin with an almond shape as the outline. As you get more experienced you'll be able make small adjustments to particular eye shapes and nuances. For the eyebrows, in a perfect world they would begin at the corner of the eye, slant when they come to the center of the eye, and follow the shape of the outer eye. 


4 Drawing the nose can actually be more difficult. Remember that the nose is a 3D object. Try using a mirror to sketch in the nose if you have trouble following the one below. Mirrors are great for learning to draw faces. One good rule of thumb for drawing noses is that the outer edge of the nose should meet the corner of the eye.


5 The outer part of the mouth should begin at the center of the eye. Sketch in the mouth below as much as possible.


6 To complete the eye, draw a line above the eye for the crease. For this picture the light is coming down from above, therefore the shadow in the eye will fall at the top primarily. Because of the lashes, the area around the top of the eye will appear darker and thicker.


7 The nose is built by shadows and because everyone's nose is different, the shadows and highlights will be different. Building a good looking nose really depends on learning to shadow properly. Remember that the darkest shadow area of the nose will be at the bottom of it. It took me drawing face after face after face to learn how to draw noses correctly.


8 Because the light is from above, I have shadowed the lips accordingly. The top lip basically faces down and will have the most shadow areas. The bottom lip will also be shadowed but will contain the brightest highlight. Below the bottom lip will also be a shadow. The corners of the mouth will be shadowed darker because they are closer together when closed.


9 Everyone's ears are totally different from anyone else's as I'm sure you are aware. Drawing ears over and over again, and shadowing them will give you mastery over the subject matter. Realistic ears are important. You can spot an amateur by the ears.


10 Depending on face structure, some people have high cheekbones and some have flat cheekbones. The shadows applied will depend on the individual's skull structure. The chin shadow will be darker and will contain a reflective light area. 


11 Most people's hair does not lie flat to their head. The oval shape we drew for the skull was an outline we use as the basis for drawing the hair. When drawing hair, and of course the style is important, the shadows will fall on the underneath sides of all parts of the hair for this lighting which is from above. As you get more skilled at looking, you'll see more of the color, shadow, and highlight details. 



Copyright 1998-2004, Jacquelin Vanderwood, All Rights Reserved

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