Drawing a Face Tutorial - Part 1 (Face outline)

Welcome to my insane attempt at an Art Tutorial, (cos I was nagged to do one – god knows why).

OK I’m going to sketch a face, I’ll be scanning every little stage of progression right up to the finished result, try and follow the same steps as I do. Try not to go to far ahead otherwise you’ll be giving yourselves arm aches from rubbing out!

One piece of A4 Zerox paper or
Photo Quality Inkjet paper
(or if you really rich and recently been paid an A4 piece of cartridge paper!)
A ruler (no not HRH Queen Elizabeth II)
Lead Pencils B, 2B, 4B, 5B, 9B, 5H, 10H, F
Eraser (better still a kneadable putty rubber if you can get your hands on one)
Cup of tea (Earl Grey, white with one sugar – make sure it stands for two minutes in the teapot first)

I always start off with a Basic Outline Grid; reason being is that it keeps me consistent (plus it great for plotting the head onto the paper). First off using the 5B, I draw a vertical centre line down the entire length with the ruler (just hard enough so you can see it (you’ll be rubbing it out later). Now about 2" from the top draw a horizontal line, 3.5" from that draw a second horizontal line and 3.5" down from that draw a third horizontal line. These three horizontals will define the top of the skull, eye line and jaw line. Then I draw two wee circles 5/16" width (or No.9 on an old green plastic Linex circle template – I kept from my schooldays). These two circles are approximately 3’4" from the centre line (that’s from each edge of the circle to the centre line. Then add a couple of horizontal lines for the nose and mouth, don’t worry about accuracy at this stage, simple lines will suffice. Now if you’ve followed me you should have a weird looking thing like this OK?

I now divide the widths of the eyes with slight marks, I use Plato’s golden rule (width of head is five eyes widths). I then draw two vertical lines to gauge the width of my head (not too long only a couple of inches). Now I need to define the top of the skull, starting from the top left left (as I’m right handed – reverse to top right if your left handed) I draw a rough quarter circle from the centre vertical to the second horizontal (notice that the quarter circle intersects the width of head line coming in slightly. Repeat for the other side and you should have drawn this:

I now need to add the jaw line. This is dead easy, just pick up either of the vertical width of head lines and draw a longer sweeping arc to the base horizontal line and repeat for the other side. Try not to make your jaw line too pointed or too flat (we can alter this later when doing portraits, member stick to simple (bit like me really). OK you still keeping up with me?

BASIC OUTLINE (Eyes, nose and mouth)
Now I need to define the Eyes, nose and mouth a little. First I start with the eyes, I draw two arcs just below the tops of the eyes and thru each eye and then beyond the centre horizontal (this is where lots of folks lose the eye shape so be careful – TRY NOT TO DRAW EGYPTIAN EYES). Now I draw a very simple (there’s that word again) nose nothing exciting, I’m still plotting it all out OK) For the mouth I use three lines, top of the lip (the fulcrum?) I draw a bird in flight (remember when you did that at school, easiest way to draw birds!). The middle of the lips is an inverted bowl or cup line and finished with a squiggle for the width of the bottom lip. Then mark the width of the mouth on the with two marks approximately in line with the centre of the eyes. I’ve seen people spend eons trying to draw the lips trying to get them accurate, don’t bother, at this stage keep it simple (there’s that “S” word again). Finally I define the height of the ears with two small horizontals. Tops of ears just above the eyes (some would say in line with brows, that’s fine except I don’t draw the brows yet), the base of the ears approximately in line with the base nose line. Wow it’s starting to look like something better than a rag doll now, yippee!

This is what stumps loads of folks, they either cover them up or try and show as little as possible. Ears are wonderful, why without ears we couldn’t wear glasses or fancy hats!. I’m going to show you how to draw generic ears (generic means simple – they aren’t perfect but they look OK). First off I draw two small mountains (Alps, Andes whatever – just don’t draw those flat top pillars what you see in the wild west), one bigger than the other (biggest is the top of ear, smaller is the first fold ring of your ear). At the base ear horizontal mark, I draw a ladle or cup shape and join this ladle/cup shape to the big mountain (bet you never thought you’d be going hiking this early in the day, did you!). Now from the smaller mountains draw a squiggly path coming down from near the top (squiggly the inner edge of the path whilst leaving the outer edge relative curved.

This is looking so good now; you deserve a pat on the back if you’ve reached this stage. Now sit back and have a sip of your tea and admire your fine handiwork. Do not tamper with it; FRED put that pencil down NOW! Do not rub out either, cos I want to see your efforts OK. One last thing I do not allow smudging OK, in my class we cross hatch and shade only.

As you can see I have erased the construction grid (no longer needed) and have strengthened the general outline, including defining the eyes, upper lids, brows (still rough), nose left as is and tidied up the mouth, I also redrew the right ear as I felt it was thinner than the left one. This is still a very simple face; it has no sexuality yet (WILLIAM stop sniggering or you’ll be asked to leave the classroom!). At this stage any changes are easily made, any adjustments are quickly redrawn without upsetting the sketch to much, in reality we haven’t started any in-depth shading, only drafting up the outline.

Hair is always the last feature I tend to draft out, as you can get trapped in getting the hair done first, and then finding it is either too long or too short for the face, this way you can easily judge the thickness of the hair as the top of the head is still visible, and it is so much easier to decide where the hairline rests on the forehead. Today, I’ve decided to stay with a short slightly wavy style (we’ll attempt more styles as you progress I promise).

BASIC OUTLINE (Tidy up hair)
Once your hair is happily seated were you want it, only then do I remove the top of head line, as it is now surplus to requirements. This small step really does make the difference between a good proportionate hair style and those hairstyles you sometimes sketch which are physically impossible, i.e., the top of the hair is below the top head line, (I can only recall one instance where this is permissible, it was in the film Hannibal starring Anthony Hopkins where he cut off the top of the victims head and made him eat his own brains, so you see, not too nice).

BASIC OUTLINE (Alternative Hair)
Here are a few examples of alternative hairstyles on this same simple face. As you can see it really is easy to sketch whatever hairstyle you wish upon this generic face.

BASIC OUTLINE (Alternative face shapes)
Here are a few examples of alternative face shapes, again using the same generic face we have drawn, only in these instances we have either re-drawn beyond the generic shape to produce a fatter face or drawn within the generic shape to create a thinner older face (not too much, remember there is a skull inside that face – you cannot easily cut into that!)

The beauty of this technique, which I used on a daily basis, is that it really does help me achieve consistency in my drawing skills, even when I’m in a hurry, trying to meet deadlines or even when I’m not really in the mood to sketch! Another reason I developed this technique was that it assists in me in quickly drafting out whatever face I wish to draw, with the minimum of effort. I really do find that if you need to draw faces in the full front pose, this is the only tried and tested technique I’ve come up with, well anyway it works for me.

Next lesson we will begin in earnest on forming up and shading the features, so thanks for coming in today and remember after each class I expect you all to keep up with me through you home study assignments before turning up for the next lesson.

Those students who wish and are able may email their home study assignments direct to me via my email address at szymczuk@btinternet.com but please ensure that your files is NO LARGER than 100KB please.

Class dismissed.

QUIET PLEASE-EE as you leave, try not to disturb Mr Tompkins and his Druid Poetry reading class next door thank you!

Drawing a face Tutorial – Part 2
Drawing a face Tutorial – Part 3
Drawing a face Tutorial – Part 4
Drawing a face Tutorial – 5

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