Supplies: paper, various grades of pencils, sharpener, sandpaper block, erasers, ruler
This activity has three sections:
- Outline Horizontal Guidelines
- Outline Vertical Guidelines
- Use Guidelines to Draw a Face
The most common mistake of beginners is to draw an adult's eyes too high on the head.
Think of an adult head as two halves, with the eyes positioned at the halfway point.
In the first two sections you outline a head and face; then draw horizontal and vertical guidelines on the face. In the final section, you add the ears, facial features, and neck.
Outline Horizontal Guidelines
1. Outline the symmetrical shape of an imaginary adult head (cranial mass).
For inspiration, check out a few cranial masses (Figure 1) and facial masses (Figure 2). Keep in mind that each represents half of the total height of a head.
Remember to leave plenty of space on your paper to later add ears and a neck. Note that the head of a female used as the example in this lesson is symmetrical (Figure 3).
Simply speaking, to outline horizontal guidelines:
- measure and divide the length of a head into two halves.
- divide the lower half into three equal sections.
2. Use a ruler to outline a rectangle around the head (as shown in Figure 4) to help you accurately measure distances.
3. Measure the total length of the head from the top of the skull to the bottom of the chin and divide this distance in half.
Use the parallel vertical sides of the rectangle to measure distances.
To ensure accuracy, refer to the parallel vertical and horizontal sides of the rectangle to measure all distances in this lesson.
4. Draw a horizontal line (marked AB) at this halfway point.
5. Measure the length of the facial mass between line AB and the bottom of the chin and divide this distance into thirds.
6. Draw two more horizontal lines, (CD and EF) at these points.
Outline Vertical Guidelines
To outline vertical guidelines, you divide the width of the widest part of the head into five equal sections.
7. Measure the total width between the two vertical sides of the rectangle and divide this distance into five equal sections.
8. Refer to Figure 6 to draw four vertical lines (GH, IJ, KL, and MP) that separate the width of the head into five equal distances.
These four vertical lines help you draw the facial features in their correct places.
Your proportional guides are now ready for the fun part: turning your drawing into a person.
With lots of practice, you'll soon be able to visually judge facial proportions without drawing any guidelines.
During the process of adding final details to a drawing, changes are often needed.
Refer back to Figure 6 and identify the section shown in Figure 7.
Locate the same section in Figure 9, and compare it to Figure 8.
Identify the line(s) that were changed.
Use Guidelines to Draw a Face
You can use your imagination or reference images to outline ears, a neck, and facial features.
9. Outline the ears so the tops are above line AB and the bottoms are below line CD.
Note that both sides of the cranial mass are no longer joined to the facial mass (Figure 9).
10. Draw the eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth.
11. Add two slightly curved lines as the outer edges of the neck.
The upper section of the neck meets the lower section of the face above line EF.
Draw the head and face of a man with the same techniques used to draw the woman in this lesson.
As an Aside
As a forensic artist, I once sketched the ugliest man in the world. The placement of his facial features (totally based on the witness's description) broke every rule of facial proportions. I assumed he would never be caught.
A few weeks later at the same police station, an excited detective approached me to say, " We caught the guy in the sketch you did last month! Would you like to see his mug shot?"
I was shocked by the photo - he looked exactly like my drawing! I was thrilled (and relieved) that I hadn't allowed my knowledge of facial proportions to influence the drawing.