How to draw faces from different perspectives

Once you are familiar with facial proportions from a frontal perspective you can improve yourself and focus on drawing faces (and heads) from different perspectives.

First, you have to understand how to draw 3-dimensional shapes. Simplified, you can compare the head with an elongated ball or an egg shape.

With a few (curved) lines you can give depth to an object, in this case our egg-head:

3-D Formen, 3-D Forms

1: Head looking straight ahead, right, left
2: Head looking down
3: Looking up

Now we draw the face on this curved surface.
There are a lot of instructions out there, but here is my simple method of practicing: 

– First mark the top point of the forehead and the bottom point of the chin.
– Then find the center between the eyes, the lower part of the nose and the center of the lips. Mark them and connect them with a curved line. 

Now we have the vertical alignment and placements. 

– Measure the width of the eyes, mark the edges and connect them again with a curved line.
– Add a parallel line at the levels of mouth, nose and eyebrows.
Now you have the placement of the facial features and can draw them easily.

Outline for a sketch
Outline for a sketch

My first outline is very soft so had to use a high contrast to show it here. Don’t be surprised if it takes 2 or 3 hours (or even more) just to get the proportions right. So, be patient.  

Sketch of Villanelle in Killing Eve
Sketch of Eve in Killing Eve

Here are the finished sketches with some rough shading. I highlighted the lines at eye, nose and mouth level and the vertical curved line through the middle of the face.

When it comes to drawing faces from a side perspective, it is easier for me to work without unnecessary lines. 

Face drawing from side
Gesicht von der Seite zeichnen

In this case, I started with the eye-nose area, therefore the center, and measure the other distances (with a pencil) from there. But you can still imagine the curved lines at eye, nose and mouth levels.

To practice this use a reference in 1:1 size of the drawing. Analyze and try to transfer the proportions as best as possible.
For easy check ups you can use a photo editing software (open the original reference, add a photo of your sketch as a new layer and compare them).

Over time you recognize lines and shapes better, you train your eye and you improve your perception of proportions. 

Ultimately, practice is the key!

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