How To Draw Faces – Head & Face Proportions

No two people have the same head or face and everyone generally looks different but this doesn’t mean that our bodies aren’t built on the same blueprint. Nature has a way of aligning things and this basic understanding will help you to improve your drawing skills.

Looking at a human face front on, it’s width is pretty close to 66% of its height.
A human face from the side however is a little closer to square at approximately 88% width to height ration.

How To Draw Faces – Head & Face Proportions – Illus. 1

You can quite easily divide the head’s height into four equal parts.

  • The first quarter will end around the hairline – although this can vary for a man who is losing his hair… ?
  • The second quarter will continue to approximately where the eyes begin.
  • The next quarter is where you will find the eyes, ears, and nose. This quarter should begin around the top of the ears and end pretty close to the upper lip.
  • The last quarter goes right down to the bottom of the chin and the middle of this last quarter should give you a fairly even split of mouth and chin.
  • Remember that these proportions are for looking squarely at a face. Drawing a face from a lower or higher angle needs to be approached in a slightly different manner although the basic principles don’t change.

How To Draw Faces – Head & Face Proportions – Illus. 2

When drawing a face, I like to start with the eyes and nose and I believe that this is a fairly common approach due to the fact that the eyes and nose are normally the very focus. If you can get these in the right proportions then working your way outwards get easier to do. You can also use the eyes and nose to cleverly plot the remaining aspects.

  • The eyes are very close to halfway down the face’s height.
  • Each eye’s width is pretty close to the width of the gap you should leave between the eyes. In other words, a third eye should fit snuggly between the eyes you draw.
  • The width of the nose at the nostrils should also be around the same width as one eye. These are all the same so its also quite easy to remember.
  • Looking at the illustration above you can see that these distances also split quite evenly into five equal parts. You will also notice that on the side view, the ear sits just inside the center vertical line and is located wholly in the rear half of the head.

How To Draw Faces – Head & Face Proportions- Illus. 3

Looking at the head straight on and drawing a triangle from the center of the rectangle will give you the proportions of the nose and mouth.

Drawing a rectangle from the side to where the eye ends and splitting it diagonally will give you a guide for drawing the mouth and nose.

As you can see and however strange it may seem, drawing is closely related to mathematics and this simple geometry can give us the confidence we need to develop our drawing. As with anything, practice makes all the difference and there is no need to be deterred by drawing guides.

Guides are like training wheels on a bicycle – you only use them to learn the art and then you can get rid of them. All this becomes second nature after all the hard work.

Happy drawing!

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