Andrew Loomis is revered for his step by step approach to drawing heads. His approach divides the head into manageable geometric shapes. Each feature on the face has a specific location relative to the geometric configuration set up in the early stages of the drawing process. Because this method is so accurate, it’s great to use for drawing a head from imagination.
HB Pencil Ruler Sakura Electronic Eraser Kneaded Eraser Canson Recycled Sketch Paper
The length of the face is determined by the distance from the brow line to the nose line. This distance is extended down from the nose line to find the location of the chin (yellow). So, the distance from the brow line to the nose line is the same distance from the nose line to the chin. The jaw connects to the head at the center intersection of the square or the ellipse – depending on the view.
Learn to draw unique faces by experimenting with various eye shapes, eyebrow angles, nose lengths/widths, etc… Grab a piece of paper and draw as many faces as possible!
When drawing faces, use these standards to help you get your facial proportions correct. Remember, you must look and study your subject. While these standards apply to most of us, they do not apply to all of us.
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Resources for Drawing Facial Features… How to Draw an Eye How to Draw a Nose How to Draw a Mouth How to Draw Ears How to Draw Hair
“Did you have a bad egg this morning?”, my anatomy teacher Jane Bixby Weller would ask as she reviewed the classes’ life drawings. She was referring to most of the student’s inclination to draw the head as a single egg. “Why use one egg when you can have two?”, she would demonstrate as she would add another egg to signify the back of the skull.
First, we will need to determine where on the face to put the eyes. This is easy because the eyes are in the middle of the head. Draw a line in the middle of your first shape for the “eye line”.
The “nose” line is found in the middle of the “eye” line and the bottom of the chin. When it comes to facial proportion, most noses will end at this line (Step 3). However, there are exceptions to every rule. Some people have really long noses and some have really short ones.
I bet that most of us can relate to both of these quotes. We’ve all felt the pressure when drawing or painting a portrait to make it look exactly like our subject. Especially when that subject is a friend.
For some of us, the pressure is so great, we avoid portraits all together.It’s often hard to pinpoint a problem in a portrait. We can see that something isn’t quite right, but finding the solution or the fix can really throw some of us.
Often it’s a combination of issues that lead to a “less than perfect” portrait. Maybe something “is wrong with the mouth”.Even though representational portrait drawing is reliant on good observation and accurate mark-making, we can still follow a simple procedure that will lead to better results in our attempts.
Steps to Drawing a Face Using a Simple Approach
Draw the upper hairline somewhere in between line A and B. It’s up to you how large you want the forehead to be. To draw a receding hairline, go above line A. When you’re drawing a man’s face, bring in hair from the sides of the head to create a solid and visible looking hairline.
Click the following link and hit the download button beside the printer icon to download the PDF: RapidFireArt Tutorials – How to Draw a Face in 8 Steps
The Center Line and Line 2 mark the general boundaries for each ear.
Drawing a portrait is very much like drawing any other subject matter. You have to closely observe the subject in order to draw it accurately. Of course portrait drawing is especially delicate because the goal is to make the portrait resemble the subject closely.
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Lastly, shading is added to develop the illusion of form (Step 14).
If you’re not already a member, and you want to take a sneak peek at what’s inside, here’s a link to get a free video and ebook from this course…
If you have an electric eraser, use it to quickly get rid of all the guidelines that run through your drawing. You can clean up certain dark spots or tight spaces with a kneaded eraser.
Here’s a quick review of the general locations of the facial features…
Extend the nose’s bridge past the eyelids to define the brow bone (this step is optional). These lines should be very light! Using a 4B pencil, draw the eyebrows along the brow bone. Facial features that can accentuate masculinity are thick bushy eyebrows!
A side view pose follows the same steps as the front view, so the drawing may begin with a simple circle. This circle will represent the cranium. Next, a curved line may be drawn down the side of the circle. This curved line will “hold” the features of the face. The chin can be completed by connecting the line with one edge of the circle.
Through this fun exercise, you will be able to draw faces faster with little effort, identify proportional errors when you revisit old drawings, identify what makes certain faces look more realistic than others, be able to draw cartoons, caricatures and more.
There are 2 ways to do this step: Ruler or no ruler. I highly recommend using the ruler method for the first couple of faces you draw. Why? Because doing this step without it can throw your proportions off like crazy. Especially if you have trouble locating the ‘center’ of an object with your eyes. The no ruler method requires you to split multiple sections of the face in half and then in half again.
The shape of the hair is added next. In most cases, the hair extends off from the top of the cranium and may overlap portions of the forehead (Step 13).
The “eye” line is in the middle of the face. (Your eyes aren’t way up on your forehead, so resist the temptation to put them there.) A line is drawn to represent the eye line (Step 3).
To make it easy to digest, I split the tutorial up into 3 parts: How to draw a face from the front, side and 3/4 view. This is part 1 of 3. I came up with the original methods in these 3 tutorials by measuring over a dozen adult faces, so each tutorial carries over the same measuring techniques. Drawing faces should be easy as pie after you get the proportions down.
Proportions are the foundation for drawing faces. In time, you’ll be able to use these proportions as a guide to check your likeness, instead of having to draw your eggs every time. Put in the work now by drawing your friend’s profile pictures. For more info on how I capture a likenesses, see my other ledger: Likenesses.
To better understand how light behaves, we can consider the planes of the head and face. By breaking the face down into simple planes, we can better comprehend how light behaves.
The eyes are found in the middle of the head The corners of the inside of the eyes generally line up with the edges of the nose. The “mouth” line is about one-third below the “nose” line and the bottom of the chin.
This line represents where the top lip meets the bottom lip. The inside portions of the pupils or the iris generally line up with the corners of the mouth. The ears are usually found between the “eye” line and the “nose” line, but extend up to the brow line.
If you’re wanting to learn even more on drawing faces with HD video and ebooks, be sure to check out the modules that are part of “The Secrets to Drawing Video Course”
Draw a large circle and make a horizontal line below it for the chin. Then sketch the jawline. Draw a vertical line down the center of the face and make sure both sides of the face are symmetrical.
Once we know the width of the eyes are accurate, we can draw them in the proper location (Step 5).
The ears begin on the eye line and extend up to the brow line and connect back to the head on the nose line. They are aligned with the center vertical line (blue) drawn in the second step.
Next, we’ll determine the location of the nose. Again this is easy because the bottom of the nose will exist on a line exactly in the middle of the eye line and the bottom of the chin.
The following video demonstrates how to draw the face in profile or from the side (this is also an older video, but still helpful)…
The planes of the face change direction in space. These changes in direction produce different values depending on the location and strength of the light source. In most cases, the light source will originate from above. This produces areas of darker tone in locations that recede and lighter ones in locations that protrude.
Do you want me to draw your (or a friend’s) likeness? New profile pic? Are you having a conference, meeting, reception? Do you have a studio project in mind? Contact me today and let’s create an illustrated memory together!
Here’s an older video that outlines this simpler approach…
Then we can draw the upper and lower lips, knowing that the mouth is in the right spot (Step 9).
Many RFA readers have requested me to write a tutorial on how to draw faces, so here it is!
Extend the 2 lines where the inner corners of each eye are located. These guidelines will determine the nose’s width. Now that we have a box, it’s time to draw the nose. Click here to see my nose tutorial! Start with a circle, resting it anywhere between line 1 and 2. You can give your male character a more chiseled appearance by drawing the nose using very angular shapes.
For more on the Loomis method for drawing heads, check out Module 4 from the “Portrait Drawing The Smart Way” course or you can check out his book here .
Next, you’ll need to observe your subject. You’ll need to observe the lines, shapes, and values that exist on your subject. Use your guidelines for the features, but pay close attention to what information exists on your subject. It will take practice to perfect this skill.
No Ruler Method: Without the ruler, I draw lines in this order: CENTER LINE, 2, 3, B, A, C (B is included because it’s easier to break the forehead section in half first, especially when you’re drawing freehand). This is the method I use to draw heads all the time.
Now, we’ll determine the width of the nose. For most people, the width of the nose will align with the inside corners of the eyes. We can simply draw two lines down from the inside corners of the eyes to the nose line to find the relative width of the nose (Step 6).
Many people make mistakes when drawing faces because they don’t fully understand facial proportions. Proportion refers to the relationship in size and placement between one object and another.
As always, you don’t need to stick to the exact guidelines above. Learn how to draw heads using the basic guidelines and then mix and match facial features and face proportions.
Take a look at the different faces I made below using rough measurements!
Draw a vertical line down the center of each eye. This will mark the lips’ outer boundary. Click here for my lips tutorial. If you’ve already read it, place your triangle in the small box under the nose to start. If you drew the nose well above line 2, extend the triangle so the tip touches the nose.
There are many formulas that one can adapt to draw the facial features in the correct location. There’s a simple approach – one that I first learned and is great for beginners. Then there is the more complex approach using illustrator, Andrew Loomis’ guidelines.
Modules 21 – 26 are devoted to drawing faces and include an in-depth look at each of the facial features.
Now for the ears. We’ll extend the eye line out to determine the location where the top portion of the ears meet the head. They extend upward a bit and line up with the brow line. The bottom of the ears conveniently align with the nose line (Step 10).
Once we have the ears in place, we can add the eye brows. We’ll use the tops of the ears to make comparisons. For most people, the brow line aligns with the tops of the ears (Step 11).
When learning the proportions of the head, take an egg from your fridge and draw a symmetry line down the center from top to bottom, and an eye line intersecting at the center. Draw a nose line between the eye and chin. Draw a mouth line between the nose and chin. The ears fall between the eye and nose lines, the eyes are one eye apart and one eye from the ear. Now, if you tilt the egg you’ll notice the distances recede and increase, this is due to perspective. The top of the head seems larger on a head tilting down and vice versa. The egg is quite useful, what could be better?
Learn How to Draw a Realistic Face Step 1: Start with a circle
I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw a face for beginners and found it easy to follow. If you have any questions or requests, leave it in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
We’ll first discuss Loomis’ approach, which is more complex, but more accurate. If you find that this approach is a bit difficult for you, you can skip to the simpler approach further down the page. Remember, either way, the goal is to create a convincing head so either approach you take is fine.
Home Learn How to Draw Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners
Each module takes a look at drawing the face from both the side view and the frontal view.
Here’s a look at a face and head drawn from imagination using the Loomis approach combined with a simpler approach which we discuss a little further down this page. All of the relationships and proportions are identified with the guidelines discussed.
This second egg holds the all important brain, without it – your subject is brainless! We don’t want to insult anyone, so don’t forget your second egg. Notice the perspective change as the head is tilted.
Click here for my in-depth tutorial on how to draw eyebrows!
If you know the person, the pressure to produce accuracy can be daunting. But every artist, no matter what their skill level, should take heart. Even the most experienced and well-known portrait artists are presented with challenges. Consider these two quotes from one of the best portrait painters of all time, John Singer Sargent…“Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.”“A portrait is a painting in which something is wrong with the mouth.”
The Loomis method can be applied to drawing a head from observation as well, but some find it a bit cumbersome. Luckily, there is a simpler approach. This formula should be used to help you see and compare. In each stage of the formula, analyze each feature and draw what you see. The result will be a representational portrait of the person you are drawing with all of the features in the right place.
Portrait drawing is an important skill for any artist to know how to do. Drawing the face from the front view is one thing, but drawing the face from the side – or in profile view, is slightly different. One thing that is important in both types of drawing is understanding the proportions of a human face.
Super SIMPLE Method: If it’s still a little confusing, check out my simple method here. It’s also paired with a video so you can see how I do it!
Once we know the width of the nose, we can draw it in place (Step 7).
In the following video, we’ll take a look at an adapted approach to drawing a head using Loomis’ configuration. This is a simplified version of his method as outlined in his book .
The form of the face is developed though the use of value and tone. The relationships of specific values inform the viewer of the location and strength of the light source. It is ultimately the behavior of light on the head which creates the illusion of form.
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On the face, mark the center line with 4 ticks spread equally apart. The eyes will sit roughly on this line. Don’t be afraid to move slightly above or below the line, since eyes are usually slanted. If you want to draw more mysterious manly eyes, click here.
Finally, we’ll add the mouth line. The mouth line fits nicely between the nose line and the bottom of the chin.
How to Draw a Head From Imagination – Andrew Loomis Approach
The mouth line is found approximately one-third of the way down in between the nose line and the bottom of the chin. A line is loosely drawn for its location (Step 3).
Note: Remember to use a blunt HB pencil for these steps. I used a 4B so you can clearly see what I’m doing. Remember, the darker you go and the harder you press, the more difficult it will be to erase your under-layers/guidelines.
Before addressing the hair, we’ll add a neck. The neck extends down from the bottom of the ears. For females, this lines extends inward a bit – resulting in a smaller neck. For males, this line still comes in a bit, but to a lesser degree. It’s nearly straight down from the bottom of the ears (Step 12).
Using this simpler approach, the first step is to draw a circle to represent the cranium. Next, a line can be drawn to determine the length of the face (Step 1). For most faces, this line should be approximately double the length of the original circle. Next, lines are drawn from the bottom of that line to the edges of the circle creating the shape of the face (Step 2). From here, we can locate the positions of the facial features.
Now, we can figure the width of the mouth. This measurement varies from person to person, but for most folks, the width of the mouth aligns with the inside portions of the iris or the pupil. So, we’ll simply draw a line straight down from this location to the mouth line to find the corners of the mouth. We’ll draw a line here to indicate where the upper lip meets the bottom lip (Step 8).
Ruler Method: Make a ruler beside your drawing that is the same height. The ruler should be marked so there are 8 equal spaces. Always start with the center line. Draw faint lines through the face on the markings labelled CENTER LINE, 2, 3, A, and C. As you get used to this, you won’t need to draw the ruler on the side.
This beginners’ step by step tutorial is for a basic male face. The proportions are different for females.
This means that recesses around the eyes, under the nose, bottom lip, and chin are mostly shaded with darker values. Areas that protrude, such as the nose, cheek bones, chin, and lower lip consist mostly of lighter values.
Using Loomis’ approach, the head is divided by geometric configurations. A circle is drawn first (indicated in red in the image below) and then divided evenly with a vertical and horizontal line (blue). The edges of the face, the brow line, and the nose line are all defined by drawing a square (orange). An ellipse is drawn instead of a square from any other view other than the frontal or profile views.
Next, we’ll concentrate on the eyes. To find the overall width of the eyes, draw five oval shapes across the eye line. Most faces are about “five eyes” wide. Obviously, people only have two eyes. The “five eyes” just help to determine the width of the eyes (Step 4).