Introduction: How to Draw a Face (Proportions Made Easy)

Hi everyone! I’ve noticed that a lot of people struggle with drawing portraits, particularly with facial proportions. but they really shouldn’t. With a little sketching technique help you’ll find that it’s not as hard as you think to get facial proportions right. I’m revealing the secrets to drawing faces with accurately proportioned noses, eyes, and mouths here. So read on if you want to learn how to do it!

Step 1: What You'll Need

A (very) good eraser
A face to draw (a picture or a patient person)

Step 2: Facial Symmetry (Background Info)

(This step can be skipped since we'll cover all the facial symmetry rules as you draw. But if you want to know a little bit about facial symmetry, go ahead and read it.)

Before we start, you should know that almost all human faces follow a few basic rules of symmetry. As you can see, the guy in the photo (me) has some guidelines drawn in red. These guidelines show the following rules of facial symmetry:

1) Eyes are positioned at the vertical center line of the head.
2) Bottom of the nose goes to the vertical center line of the bottom half of the head.
3) Ears go from the eyes to end of the nose.
4) The width of the eyes is roughly 1/5th the distance between the outer edge of each ear.
5) Eyes are one eye-width apart.
6) The width of the nose is the same as the width of the space between the eyes.
7) Lips are located one third of the way down the bottom quarter of the face.
8) Width of the lips is roughly the distance from pupil to pupil.

These are the general guidelines for a perfectly symmetrical face. If you follow these rules, you will be able to properly position facial features when drawing a face. Now my face does not match up perfectly and most people's faces will not, but that's what makes us each unique!

Step 3: Draw an Upside Down Egg

Yep, you read that right. Draw an upside down egg! It doesn't have to be perfect; just try to approximate the face shape you want. Once you have that down, draw two center lines: horizontally and vertically. Then, draw another center line but for the bottom half of the face.

Step 4: Draw the Ears

It's a little unconventional to start with the ears but trust me on this one. Just remember that the top of the ears should start at the vertical center line of the whole face and extend to the vertical center line of the bottom half of the face. Also, you don't have to make them detailed; an outline is just fine.

Step 5: The Rule of Fifths

Place vertical dashes along the vertical center line at each fifth from ear to ear. This will set you up to draw the eyes in the proper position. If you need to use a ruler to do this, feel free.

Step 6: Draw the Eyes

The eyes should be placed at the 2nd and 4th fifth that was sectioned off in the previous step. Each eye should be shaped like a sideways raindrop with pointy ends. If you can't quite get it right the first time, don't be afraid to erase and try again.

Step 7: Draw the Nose

First, draw a straight vertical line from the inside of each eye to the bottom center line as shown. Then, draw the nose so that it lies snug at the bottom of the section that you just created.

Step 8: Irises and Thirds

Get ready, this is a big step. First, draw the irises in your eye. These should be shaped like circles. If you want to get fancy, chop off the top and bottom of each circle as if the eyelid was covering it. Then, draw a line straight down from the middle of each iris to roughly the middle of the bottom quarter of the face. Finally, split this bottom quarter into thirds with horizontal dashes. Whew! Got all that? Awesome, let's move on to the next step.

Step 9: Draw the Lips

Draw the lips as shown. They should be placed between the lines you drew from the irises and along the topmost horizontal dash you drew in the previous step. Lip shape and size will vary from person to person so the width, height, and shape can be changed as needed. My only requirement is that you place the line between the lips at that topmost horizontal dash.

Step 10: Add the Eyebrows

As you can see, each eyebrow is drawn right under a horizontal dash. The distance from each of these dashes to the top of the eye is roughly the height of the eyes. This is the general rule for eyebrow placement. However, every person's eyebrows are different so change this as needed.

Step 11: Erase, Eyelids, Erase!

Still there? Awesome! Hang in there. We're almost done.

If you've reached this point, we no longer need the guidelines and dashes we had drawn in previous steps so go ahead and erase them. Also, this is a good time to draw eyelids. This is done by drawing an offset outline of each eye as shown.

TIP: Don't go all the way around when drawing this outline. Stop drawing as you approach each end of the eye.

Step 12: Add in Some Details

Good job so far! All the facial features have now been correctly positioned.

Now it's time to start adding some detail. Fill in the irises, draw the eyelashes, and start refining the nose, lips, and ears. Also, don't forget to start adding hair.

TIP 1: Fill in eyes with circular pencil strokes. Leave a blank circle for the pupil.

TIP 2: Eyelashes are simply short diagonal dashes extending from the inside of the eyelid.

TIP 3: Don't draw each individual hair. Just draw the outlines of clumps of hair.

Step 13: More Detail! and Then Finished?

Finish drawing the hair and sharpen the eyes, lips, nose, and ears. Add a neck to support the head. Spend as much time as you need on this step. It takes time to get your drawing just the way you want it.

If you want to add some shading, then move on to the next step.

Otherwise, congratulations! You've drawn a properly proportioned face.

Step 14: (Optional) Shading and Then You're Done!

If you want to add some shading, remember that you must first apply a few pencil strokes and then blend with your finger. Erase if you put too much and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. That's why we have soap!

Here's a few pointers for shading a face:

TIP 1) Apply shading just under the jawline and on the neck. This will accentuate the face.

TIP 2) Shade the sides of the jaw. Rule of thumb is to shade what is further back to bring out what is further forward. Translation: Shade the sides of the jaw so the cheekbones pop out.

TIP 3) Shade under the hairline.

TIP 4) Our eyes are recessed into our head so apply shading between the eyes and the eyebrows. Also, darken a small area underneath each eye.

TIP 5) You can choose to draw the bridge of the nose but this may end up looking too harsh. To soften the nose, draw the bridge on each side and then blend these lines outwards towards the cheeks.

TIP 6) Shade the upper lip.

TIP 7) Shade under the nose and part of the upper lip.

TIP 8) In the end, it's up to you to determine what kind of shading will make your drawing look realistic.

Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back. You have now drawn a correctly proportioned human face. Hopefully you learned a few things about drawing and facial symmetry.