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Learn How to Draw a Face in 6 Steps

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Posted by Eliana Ribeiro
I started painting when I was working on my masters in Education. I love to incorporate art into whatever I'm teaching as a way to relax the mind and expand creative thinking.
Learn How to Draw a Face in 6 Steps

Table of Contents:

Learn to Draw the Face

How to draw a face? This is typically a question artists eventually run into as they create their masterpieces. Artists have been drawing and painting the human face for over 27,000 years. Many artists have been challenged by this subject and have even created their own styles and interpretations of the human form. Why is drawing faces such a tricky subject? Other forms of paintings, such as still-life or landscape paintings, can have slight variations and inaccuracies without affecting the way the finished artwork will look. A portrait, on the other hand, must meticulously portray the proportion, nuances and features unique to the person sitting for the portrait in order to capture their likeness.

When you’re learning how to draw a person, some important things to do are practise, be patient with yourself and carefully observe your subject. One way to get yourself started is by working on self-portrait drawings. In general, all human faces have the same key features – eyes, nose, mouth, ears. While everyone’s facial features may be slightly different, you’ll notice their general shapes are the same. Once you’ve learned to draw realistic facial features, you'll be on your way to making the necessary adjustments that reflect your subject. We’ve put together some drawing tutorials to help guide you and walk you step-by-step through the process of face drawing. Before you start the drawing, you'll want to pick up some really good pencils for sketching, drawing, shading and putting in the fine details.

Pencils & Paper for Portrait Drawing

Professional-grade pencils are a very important tool for any artist’s tool kit. They’re crucial for creating graphite art because professional drawing pencils have cores with different hardnesses. This allows you to control the width and density of your lines as well as their tone. Arteza offers a convenient set of Professional Drawing Pencils in a Pack of 12, which includes pencils that range in hardness from 6B to 4H. These pre-sharpened pencils have high-density graphite cores, making their points extremely resistant to breaking. Besides drawing portraits, these pencils are great for figure drawing, craft drawing, and drawing cartoons.

FYI: The letter “B” signifies the lead is soft, with the higher the number, the softer the lead. Soft pencils give you a loose, dark line that is ideal for putting in shadows and blending. The letter “H” signifies the lead is hard. The higher the number, the harder the lead. Hard pencils give you a lighter line and are for sketching, cross hatching, and other light shading.

Another consideration with drawing is the type of paper you use. What you should look for is premium acid-free paper because it will help keep your drawing from fading over time. The Arteza 9"x12" Drawing Pad, 80 Sheets - Pack of 2 is an excellent choice. It's a portable size and features a spiral binding, which allows you to flip back the cover and work on your drawing on a flat surface. Each page is micro-perforated to be easily removed once you've finished for displaying or framing.

Once you have your pencils and paper, it's time to draw! Reading over the steps before you begin will help you prepare.

Step-by-Step Guide to Draw Faces:

Step 1:

Step 1

You will begin by drawing the oval shape of the face. Draw the woman's jaw. Sketch a vertical line down the middle. Place a horizontal line through the centre of the vertical line and then draw the two additional lines of equal distance, one above the centerline, the other below it. These three equal parts indicate where the nose, eyebrows, and hair will go. Make sure the lines are the same distance apart because the proportion of the face depends on it.

How to Draw a Head - Step 1

Step 2:

Step 2

When drawing the face the horizontal lines also act as markers to tell you where to put the hairline, mouth, and ears. Start with the line at the top and sketch the hairline. Add a short line down the face, about a fourth of the way between the bottom line and the chin. This is where you will draw the mouth. Draw the ears sitting between the two lines in the centre of the face. To draw the top of the ear, use the middle line where the highest point of the ear will be and use the next lowest line as a guide to where the ear will end. Draw the neck.

How to Draw a Head - Step 2

Step 3:

Step 3

It's time to add eyebrows, the eyes, lips, and nose. Draw the eyebrows above the second line. To draw the nose, place the nostrils level with the bottom of the ear lobe. Then draw the lips, using the short line as the space between the top and bottom lip. Make sure to leave a small distance between the bottom of the nose and the top of the lip.

To draw the eyes, place three lines across the centre line for the highest and lowest points of the eye as well as the location of the inside corners of the eyes. Make sure the inside corners are perpendicular to the outside of each nostril. Place the end of the eye diagonally across from the end of the eyebrow. Next, add the eyelid and pupil.

The pupil is usually at the centre of the eye, but depending on the angle of the face, it may be in a position placed a little to the right or left.

How to Draw a Head - Step 3

Step 4:

Step 4

Once the facial features are in place, erase all supporting lines. Make the portrait more detailed by adding curved lines inside the ears and defining the upper and lower eyelids, the pupils, the eyeballs. Add shadows to the lips and ears to give them volume. Draw in the philtrum, the small groove in between the bottom of the nose and the top of the mouth, by making perpendicular vertical lines the width of the septum (the partition separating the nostrils). Draw the collar of her shirt. For further definition of her face, use an H pencil to add cheekbones lightly.

How to Draw a Head - Step 4

Step 5:

Step 5

For a dramatic effect, use this technique known as chiaroscuro to add high contrast between your darkest and lightest areas. You can use the HB pencil and darken the pupil, leaving small white areas as highlights. Add shadows under the upper and lower eyelids. Use short pencil strokes to add a shadow under the eyebrows to give the face a more realistic shape. Do the same with the lips, making the upper lip slightly darker while leaving a whiter space at the centres of each lip, which is usually where they catch the light. Add more shadowing under the lower lip, around and under the nostrils, and under the chin on the neck. The shadow will be darker along the chin line and inside the collar.

How to Draw a Head - Step 5

Step 6:

Step 6

Make shadows even darker with the 4B pencil. This brings more contrast and emphasizes more details, especially around the neck and at the shirt collar. The way the light hits the hair creates the definition in the strands of hair. You can draw this and make the hair look realistic by using varying lines of light and dark, leaving one section lighter to capture the look of light shining on it. Add some lighter strokes and blend in for the skin. This will give the hair volume and it will feel less flat. Darken the eyelashes to give the woman a deeper, more thoughtful look.

How to Draw a Head - Step 6

You Can Draw Faces

You did it! You drew a realistic face. And, learning how to draw a face wasn't as hard as you thought. With plenty of practice and the right supplies, you'll soon be stretching your creative wings and drawing the face of all the people in your life. Check out more of our tutorials at arteza.co.uk where we help you draw, paint, and enjoy a more creative life.

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