How to Draw a Human Face

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Once you know the proportions of the human face, it is not too difficult to draw. For that reason we mainly focus on the proportions in this lesson and don't go much into the details of how to draw eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc.
I will create separate drawing lessons for that.

In the first section of this lesson we draw a face in front view, and in the second part we'll draw it in profile.

In case you want to jump to the second part right away, click here.
But I recommend that you read both parts.
Your goal should be to know the proportions by heart, so that you never have to check back again.

So let's get started.

Part 1: Front View

How to Draw a Human Face - 1.0: Setting Things Up

When the human face is seen from the front, it has the shape of an oval.
To make sure that your oval doesn't get too long and you end up with an egg-head, you can first draw a circle. Then draw the oval into the circle. Make sure that the distance between circle and oval is equal on both sides.
Take your drawing and look at it in a mirror to see errors in the symmetry.

Now draw a horizontal and a vertical axis through the circle, dividing the oval in the middle.

How to Draw a Human Face - 1.1: Eyes

The eyes are placed directly into the middle of the head, and not into the upper half. Placing them too high is a common mistake. We tend to think of them as sitting higher because the hair is hiding the head's upper part, and we forget that.

Take care to draw both eyes symmetrically. The distance between them should be just as long as one eye. But the distance from the eye's outer corner to the side of the face should be a bit smaller.

Draw the eyebrows with many small strokes that curve towards the sides.
Place them closely above the eyes.

Now we mark the position of the nose.
Take measurement from the eyebrows to the chin and draw a small mark just in the middle of this distance on the vertical axis.

Draw another mark in the middle between the first mark and the chin.
This is the position of the mouth.
Now you can carefully erase the two axes, but watch out that you don't remove the marks.

How to Draw a Human Face - 1.2:  Nose, Mouth, etc.

Draw in the nose, placing it just above of the upper mark. Its bottom should touch the mark.
Make it about as broad as the space between the eyes.

In case you have never drawn a nose before, look at the large version on the right, and you see how to draw a simple nose with a couple of curves.

You can also erase the outer circle, by the way.

Place the mouth above the lower mark, and make it a bit broader than the
nose. The distance from the upper lip to the nose should be relatively small.

Now draw in the hairline. The distance from the eyebrows to the hairline is the same as the distance from eyebrows to nose, or from nose to chin.
So you could split up the face into three parts of equal height (not counting the skull's top).

How to Draw a Human Face - 1.3:  Head Shape

Our face still looks very much like an egg at this point, so let's cut this straight.

First, we draw a straight line going from the chin to the jaw angle on both sides. The jaw angle should sit a bit below the corners of the mouth, and the chin should be a bit narrower than the mouth.

Then draw two more straight lines going up from the jaw angle to the level of the eyes. In case of a rather round face you could also leave these lines curved, but I'm going for the masculine look as mentioned.

Bring out the edge of the cheek bone and the temple with a curved line at the side of the face.
Let it start just below the eye and go upwards in an S-shape until it reaches a bit above the eyebrows.

The ears line up with the eyebrows at the top and with the nose at the bottom. Draw them as two simple shapes for now, without any details.

How to Draw a Human Face - 1.4:  Hair

Unless the person you draw is bald, you have to add some hair.
Here it is important that you give the hair enough space above the head and don't make it too flat.

Then erase the head's upper line, which is now covered by hair, and extend the hairline so that it reaches down at the sides of the face towards the ears.

How to Draw a Human Face - 1.5:  Last Touch

Now is the time for fine tuning and making small corrections.
At this point I looked at the mirrored version of my picture again and made a couple of improvements. If the face looks a bit awkward it is usually because there are problems with the symmetry.
Are the jaw angles really on the same height? Do they have the same distance from the middle?
Ask yourself this question for all parts of the face.

And of course in the end you can add all the tiny details to eyes, lips, ears, chin, etc., but this will be dealt with in other lessons.

So this is the basic way how to draw a human face in front view.
Now we move on to the next part of the lesson where we draw it in profile.

Part 2: Profile View

How to Draw a Human Face - 2.0: Setting Things Up

The human head fits nicely into a square when you look at if from the side.
So let's draw a square first, and then use it as our guideline.

Divide the square in the middle with a horizontal and vertical axis.
These will help us a lot in placing the organs of the face correctly.

How to Draw a Human Face - 2.1: Eyes and Eyebrows

Place the eye on the horizontal middle line, close to the left edge.
Seen from the side, the eye looks like a triangle, with just one side being slightly curved.

Then draw the eyebrow closely above the eye with short and narrow strokes that curve backwards.

The bottom of the nose lies in the middle between eyebrow and chin (the chin will be at square's bottom). Draw a little mark there.

Draw another mark in the middle between the first mark and the square's bottom. This one points out the position of the mouth.

How to Draw a Human Face - 2.2: Nose, Mouth, etc.

Draw in the nose. Let it reach a bit beyond the square in the front. At the bottom it should touch the upper mark.
Above the nose, the line curves a bit into the square, and then bulges out to its edge again.

I just added the large nose on the right for the case that you've never drawn a nose before and now want to see it up close.
But don't go nuts over small details right now. We just want to get the proportions right in this drawing. So keep it simple.

Draw in the mouth between nose and lower mark. The mark should be touched by the bottom of the lower lip. Let the lips stand forward a little bit.  Keep the line that goes towards the mouth's corner pretty short. Just let it reach below the beginning of the eye.

Add the chin and the jaw afterwards. Let the chin touch the square's bottom, and then draw a long curved line for the jaw towards the right.
The jaw angle should lie a bit lower than the lips, and be close to the vertical middle line. After the jaw angle the line goes up steeper, until it touches the middle line on the nose's level.

How to Draw a Human Face - 2.3: Head Shape

Now let's draw the shape of the head into the square.
Begin at the front with the steep forehead. Let the line flatten afterwards and go towards the right, touching the square's top just in the middle. At the back, the head touches the square a bit above the middle line. Afterwards the head transitions into the neck.
Now you can erase the entire square and the axes, since they've done their job.

Draw in the ear just above the jaw's end.
At the bottom it should line up with the nose and at the top with the eyebrow. Its shape consists of one large curve for the upper part and a smaller curve at the bottom for the earlobe.

How to Draw a Human Face - 2.4: Hair

Outline the hair.
Take care to leave enough space between it and the head's top. Don't make it too flat, which is a common mistake.
At the front the hairline starts just above the forehead, and at the sides it reaches down to the the ear.

Erase the head's top, which is now hidden below the hair.
Here I also made a small alteration to the hair on the neck, because I cut if off too straight in the previous step.

How to Draw a Human Face - 2.5: Details

In the end, you can finish your head with all the small details.
For this lesson, I kept it pretty simple and just hinted at the shape of the inner ear, and added eyelids, iris, and pupil.
I have other lessons coming up that will show you how to draw all these things in detail.

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