Thursday, 12 March 2015

a standard female face I've drawn from scratch

Since all faces are different, and because it's often a good idea to use your imagination, I won't be showing you a photo. Instead, here is a standard female face I've drawn from scratch. We'll go through the steps together.

This lesson requires very few materials :

1. a sheet of paper or sketchpad

2. a 6B pencil

3. an HB pencil

4. a ruler

5. an eraser

As a rule, the face has a more or less oval shape. So this is the first shape we'll draw with our HB pencil (3).

The B line :
No matter how your subject's face is shaped, or how heavy or thin your subject is, the B line will always be drawn between the A line (top of the skull) and the E line (tip of the chin). We'll use this line as a guide for drawing the eyes (Fig. 2).

The C line :
Make a light mark between the B and E lines. The C line is our reference for the nose (Fig. 2), but if we start the line here, the nose will be too long. Instead, draw the C line a little above this mark.

The D line :
Measure the distance between the B and C lines and place the D line the same distance above the E line. This line will be our reference for the mouth (Fig. 2).

The F line :
The F line runs vertically up the middle of the face. We can use this line to center the nose and mouth.

We'll begin work on the eyes at the B line.
There are a few rules that always apply, and these rules will make your eyes realistic when you are imagining a subject:
First, you'll notice there is a small fold above the eye (a), which helps to "plant" the eye in the face. Depending on the character or the subject, there may also be folds under the eye. These folds appear on a tired or older face.
Draw your eye in the shape of a rugby ball. Then, draw the inner part of the eye, making a point at the corner of the eye, where you can see the small pink area (b). Depending on the character, the eye will be more or less open.
There are no rules for the size of the eye. There are people with huge eyes and others with very small eyes. The rule that doesn't change concerns how far apart they are (c). The distance should be the same as the width of an eye.

The eyes b

Next, notice that the upper eyelashes begin at the edge of the eye, while the lower lashes begin at the outer edge of the lower lid, an area that is usually lighter than the "lash zone" (d).
The reflection in the eyes is what brings your face to life. The shape of the reflection is not that important because it's a reflection of the light source your subject is facing. It could be a window (a rectangular shape), or a flash (a round shape)...

 There isn't really any rule for drawing eyebrows.
Pretty much anything goes. Personally, when I imagine a female subject like this one, I don't want eyebrow hairs growing between her eyes. So I picture a vertical line going up from the inner corner of the eye (a) and a curved line beginning at the outside corner (b), and I draw my eyebrow between these two points.

The eyebrows a

Whether thick or thin, eyebrow hair grows towards the ears and gets close to the side of the face.
Women's eyebrows are (in general) thinner and neater than those of men.
With blending, you can define the line of the nose and the arch of the eyebrow.

 Of course, some noses are small and some are enormous.
But they're all drawn the same way : a circle (more or less large) on line C, with line F running through it (see Guidelines).
The holes in the nose are drawn on line C, and the nostrils take shape around them, from the bottom to the top of the circle.
 Depending on the direction of the light, the bridge of the nose (the part that goes up between the eyes) will be drawn by blending and will stand out thanks to its shadow.
The only clear lines will be those of the nostrils and lower part of the nose.
The circle used to draw your nose will help you give it volume

Beginners often forget to include cheekbones. But this is a detail that will give volume to the face of your subject.
Is she thin with sunken cheeks? Is she heavier, with chubby cheeks? This is where that question is answered.

The cheekbones a        
Let's draw someone who is rather thin.
We'll start by drawing a light line that begins at the nostrils and rises slightly to the edge of the face (a). This will be our reference for creating cheekbones.
Whether your subject is heavy or thin, the part of the face between the eye and the cheekbone will be full (b).
There will be a hollow under the cheekbone (c) if your subject is thin.

Cheekbones are not drawn (like the lines that we just did), but are created by blending and playing on light and shadow.
That said, drawn lines can help you understand the direction to take when creating shadows.
While we're at it, we're going to take a moment to define the shape of the face (see next step).
While we're working on the cheekbones, let's take this opportunity to revisit the oval shape of theface and define it.
We have the temples (a), which need to be slightly indented.
You just learned that the cheekbones must be full, so we need to give that area some volume (b).
The previous step shows us that the area under the cheekbone is hollow, so we need to shade this area (c).
Next comes the jaw (d), which goes down to the chin (we'll do that later).

A little tip to help you draw a symmetrical face:
Turn your drawing upside down. You'll find that it's easier to see any problems you might encounter once the drawing is right side up.
You'll notice the indent of the temple (a), the fullness of the cheekbone (b), the hollow of the cheek (c), and the jaw.
Of course, these proportions apply only to our example. It goes without saying that if your subject is well fed, "c" might be full rather than hollow !
Using the guidelines of the face that we drew in step 1, the mouth is drawn on line D. The opening of the mouth (a) is drawn across this line (more or less straight, depending on the mouth). People of different ethnic backgrounds might have upper lips that are fuller than the lower, and the hollow under the nose may be more or less round (e).
The chin is created with a circle (b) between the lower lip and the bottom of the face. As with the nose, this circle will help us give it volume.

The mouth and the chin a

Depending on the subject's age, there may be small lines running from the nostrils to the corners of the mouth (c).
These are not always visible, but should still be noted to help us create volume.
To finish, the little hollow under the nose (e), will be more or less pronounced depending on thesubject.
Relative to our guidelines, the ears are placed between the eye line (B) and the nose line (C).
Depending on the subject, they may extend more or less above the eye line.

This element will put the finishing touches on the portrait and give it dimension. Unless your subject has no hair, like Lex Luthor!

Some important rules to remember for the hair :
Don't start the hairline too close to the eyes or your subject will have no forehead.
Keep in mind the volume of the skull as you add hair to your drawing strand by strand.
Try not to lose sight of the shape of the hair when adding volume.

It can be fairly easy to get lost in all this hair, so start by drawing a general shape.
Then refine it by drawing strands in more detail.
Don't forget that there are always some stray hairs.
They'll make your portrait look more natural.
This face was drawn from scratch for this lesson. It provided guidelines for the proportions of the face from the front. Now you can draw your own, or use these as a reference when you're drawing a portrait.
Look at yourself in a mirror. It's the best way to see how a face works !
Next time you draw a face, you can make the eyes bigger or smaller, make the nose more or less wide, a fuller or thinner mouth, and a face that is more or less round. Using the same references, you can achieve a completely different result !
Have fun !


  1. Чудесно! Всё понятно и просто. Спасибо за урок!

  2. Txs for the tremendous help. Really helped a lot.