How I draw faces

Whether it’s for a school poster or project, designing a character for a comic, or just for fun, drawing is a useful skill to have. Drawing faces is particularly useful for conveying emotions, describing a character, or even having a fun way for information to be conveyed with speech bubbles. This post will teach you the basics for drawing faces, then provide some helpful tips for inking and coloring them.  This article will discuss and explain how I and two other Oceana students, Steve Fredrick and Julius Payment, avid artists who actively draw in their free time, draw faces in our own styles.

figuredrawing_1 (1)

  1. Start with basic shapes. When drawing faces, it’s always easiest to start with a basic circle for the head, then decide the shape of the head.
  2. Draw a line lightly through the middle of the circle and slightly through. The end of this line will be the chin. Use this line to shape the jaw and chin, the lines on either side of the center line meeting in the middle.
  3. Draw another line through the bottom third of the circle. This is where the eyes will go, this line should be about half way through the entire head.
  4. Start drawing the basic shapes for the eyes. Try sketching a few ideas before hand, but start with a basic almond shape. Adjust and manipulate the shape based on what emotion you what them to have. The eyes are windows to the soul, and are the most expressive part of your character. Use references for the emotions if necessary. Make sure to draw each side step by step, not one eye then the other. Same with the eyebrows, which will follow the arch of the eye.
  5.  Decide how you want to draw the nose. There’s a lot of options with this. If you want a more anime-looking face, two curved lines would actually work quite well. If you want something slightly more realistic, try drawing a squished circle with two side arches on either side.
  6. Now for the mouth. Again, there’s a lot of options, and this is a for you to further convey emotions. Is the person you’re drawing sad but trying not to show it? A small smile pared with mournful eyes would covey this easily. Do they know something no one else does? Slightly narrowed eyes and a sideways smirk gives an air of pride and satisfaction. Again, don’t be afraid of references, they are a tool for even the most experienced artists. If you’re a beginner, stick with the anime/cartoon style. It may look childish, but it’s a good starter as you get better, and is often incorporated into even experienced artist styles. Steve Fredrick, a junior at Oceana and avid artist, thinks that the mouth is the hardest to draw, as “there are so many ways to draw a mouth and one tiny mistake can ruin the whole face.” Their advice: sketch it out lightly first and then make small changes until it turns out the way you’d like.
  7. A hairy situation. Actually it’s not. Drawing hair can be a bit intimidating at first because there are so many options. Short, long, curly, straight, in a ponytail or completely bald, and so on. Draw lightly to get an idea of what you want it to look like, but you have a lot of creative leeway here.

You’re done with the face! Add a neck, shoulders, etc. if you’re feeling bold, but don’t underestimate the power of a simple head profile for conveying expressions or reactions. As far as inking, you have a few options. Some people prefer to use varying line weights, while others simply use a basic line and sometimes a bolder outline. If you would like to color it, choose and test your medium, then color lightly in a single direction in order to keep the color consistent and neat looking. You could also just color the most important parts, drawing attention to icy blue eyes or a prominent blush.

Here’s some parting tips for beginners.

  • Practice, practice, practice. Every great artist didn’t wake up one morning and become great at art. They practiced, experimented, and worked hard on their art. If museums are anything to go by, it pays off.
  • References and tutorials are your friends. Tutorials have saved my art more than once, especially with hard concepts. If you don’t understand something with drawing, google it and watch YouTube videos about it. I’ve always had trouble drawing faces that are turned slightly, so google images has been nothing less than a godsend. Both interviewees reflected that their own unique art styles came from implementing the styles of artists they saw online. Steve put it as being like “a Frankenstein’s monster”.
  • Don’t be intimidated. Even the best artist started off with something that was different from what they began with. Just stick with it, you’ve got this!
  • Look for what’s for you. A piece of advice from Julius Payment, another Oceana junior who enjoys drawing: “Just throw yourself into it! See what works best for you.” Steve gives similar advice: “Experiment! Try multiple styles!”  

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