We are just starting our February Faces art challenge and looking forward to seeing some amazing face drawings! Faces can be tricky subjects to draw! With that in mind, if you would like some useful tips on how to draw a face, then read on…

When we attempt to draw a face, we are often so caught up with getting a likeness that we freeze before we even start… We find ourselves reaching for the eraser the moment something ‘doesn’t look quite right’ and the whole process becomes a battle.

The first thing to avoid if you are inexperienced at drawing faces, is attempting to draw someone you know. You’ll be much closer to the subject and so you’ll immediately be more self-critical. Start with a photo of a stranger to begin with… this way you know the model isn’t going to ask you if they can have a look, so there’s no pressure… and they won’t be moving either!

You can get our free prompt and face reference pdf by when you sign up for our newsletter

Remember, that for now, it’s more important to capture the character of the person rather than a perfect likeness. You can save that for later!

So… Where do you start…?

Start by looking at the angle of the head. Is your model tilting his/her head to one side, or looking down? Or are they looking straight ahead? Often if you get the angle of the head just right, you’ve already begun to capture some of their character.

Once you’ve noted the angle of the head, you are then ready to start making marks. But don’t rush! One of the most important things to get right are the proportions and although every face is unique, there are a few ‘average’ proportions we can set down to begin with and we can adjust them to suit our model as we go.

Have a look at the video below, which I think explains the basics in a way that’s really easy to grasp…

So, now you have drawn your face but it still doesn’t look right…

It’s probably something quite simple. Here are a few of the most common mistakes that beginners make when drawing the face.

  • The eyes are too big – The eyes are rarely bigger than the tip of the nose!
    The eyes are too far up – The eyes should be about halfway between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin.
  • The ears are too far forward – The ears should sit behind the jawline
  • Everything has an ‘outline’ – Take a look at the face you are drawing and you will see that most features are distinguished only by shadow and light, particularly the nose and the lips… Rarely will you see an actual outline.
  • The teeth look weird – Try indicating only the bottom shape of the teeth. It’s best not to add obvious lines that separate the teeth as this can make your model look as though they’ve swallowed a piano!
  • The hair looks bad – Don’t try to indicate every strand of hair with a line. Instead, concentrate on the larger shapes where the light catches and the shadows fall.

I hope you find these tips useful. Meanwhile, good luck with the challenge and do share your faces with us!

Sandra x

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