With this lesson on face drawing, we’ll be exploring a few simple and basic rules to set up a proper frontal view of a face. I will also touch briefly on the positioning of the facial features, a critical element to achieving control over the aspect of a face.
I will not delve into the details of the facial features here, as I want you to grasp the general guidelines to achieve an organic composition of the face.
First of all the shape of the face. the shape of the face is basically an oval, rounded at the top and slightly more pointy at the bottom. Draw a cross that divides the face into four parts. The horizontal line should pass approximately through the middle of the face. It may seem counter-intuitive but this will be the right height at which to position the eyes.
Now about the positioning of the eyes.
The mid-line is the line where the eyes lie on the face. To position them properly, divide the line roughly into five equally spaced segments. The second and fourth segments will be the two positions of the eyes.
You now know where the eyes should be positioned and their width. The eye width is a very useful, internal reference for the face drawing, it will serve you also as a guide to draw the nose, mouth, and ears as you will see.
OK, now it’s time to draw the eyes, just their general shape. If you want an insight on how to draw eyes easily look at the “how to draw eyes” tutorial on the site. As you can see the width of the nose is also equal to the width of one eye and the distance of the nose line from the eye line is again approximately one eye.
Trace the line of the eyebrow and the line of the mouth. To position the mouth-line, move down from the nose-line roughly the height of one eye.
Now it’s a matter of cleaning the face drawing from the construction lines and adding a few details. Everything will fall in place if you have established the proportion of the parts properly.
With the addition of hair, the face drawing looks more balanced now and I have also added the ears. Again, is the eye line that guides where the ears should start and approximately the upper nose-line where they should end.
I will leave the features undefined as my purpose will be, with the next picture, to show you how critical the correct positioning of the facial features is to achieve a pleasant-looking face.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect face or an ideal set of proportions for it. At least not in practice. People have many different-looking faces that systematically deviate from the constructed perfection of the general and neutral face constructed with these rules.
The rules serve just as a guide, a rough skeleton for building your idea and your characters.
To understand how important the positioning of facial features is and how it influences the final result and mood of a face I have prepared a series of faces which are a variation of the one I have been drawing so far.
Each face has a small alteration in the relative position of one facial feature to the others; However, you’ll see how strikingly different these faces are from one another and how different the moods they convey.
There are two columns of faces. In the first column, the first face is the normal, standard face. Its expression is neutral, not very communicative; All the others have a small modification in one of the facial features like the distance between the eyes, the length of the nose, or the distance of the mouth from the nose.
Look at them and try to see for yourself how different each face is from the others in terms of attractiveness, mood, expression, and intention you can read off them.
Try to focus on a face and grasp what is the facial characteristic that is causing that face to look as it is. Is the distance between the eyes that confer the eerie look? Or the length of the nose?
Try to imagine what happens when you combine facial expression with meticulous positioning of the facial features and you will have done a step further in understanding what makes certain drawn characters look real and appealing.
Study and experiment with facial drawing and facial feature positioning and do not miss the next tutorials on face drawing.