About Face: Drawing Facial Proportions for People


photo by Arden Booy

Often, even the most talented artists can struggle with the proportions of the human face.

Arden Booy

When learning how to draw people, specifically faces, it can be difficult to accurately depict a subject since everyone is different with their own unique features. However, following proportion rules that apply to most faces can help you draw realistically. When drawing a front-facing portrait, always start with a circle. Next, sketch two perpendicular lines that intersect at the bottom of the circle and connect the sides to form a jaw/chin shape. The eyes will be halfway down the face shape, so make another line above the horizontal one already created and check to make sure the distance to the top of the head and to the chin is about the same. The width of the eyes is the same width between the eyes, so sketch three circles along the eye line starting from the center. In the two outside circles is where you can sketch the eyes in any shape. Halfway down the bottom half of the face, make a mark for the nose and ⅔ of the way, make a mark for the mouth. After adding eyebrows, make sure that the profile’s ears go from the eyebrows to the nose and sketch the neck slightly below the jawline. In general, use a rule of thirds–top of the head to eyebrows is ⅓, eyebrows to nose is ⅓, and nose to chin is ⅓. Once you have all the shapes and proportions, you can add detail. Of course, these proportions don’t apply to everyone and can actually give a drawing more character if they’re not as present. However, they’re good basics to know for drawing realistic portraits.