Drawing the face from the side view can be more complex, since the shapes change a lot.
As always, it’s good to break things down into smaller steps, so it’s less overwhelming.
This way, you can better understand and memorize the face proportions and where everything goes!
In this article, we’ll go through the process of learning how to draw the face from the side, by using reference.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Start With The Basic Head Shapes Using A Reference
- 2 Add The Facial Features, One By One
- 3 Clean Your Sketch And Finalize Your Side Profile Drawing
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
Start With The Basic Head Shapes Using A Reference
Finding a good reference is always a good idea when learning a new subject. This way, you can better understand the proportions and basic shapes.
Since we’re drawing the head from the side, portraits will significantly help! So, before starting to draw, look up different photos of side-view portraits. To help you out, we listed 11 Best Portrait Reference Photo Websites you can use in your research.
Once you have a reference you like, open it on any drawing software and lower its opacity. Then, if you want to draw traditionally, print your reference and gather your preferred medium. If you want to continue drawing digitally, grab your drawing tablet.
When you’re ready with your side profile reference, it’s time to find some basic shapes and learn to draw a face from the side, step-by-step!
Step 1 – Start by Drawing A Circle
Generally speaking, the head is quite round. So the first shape we can draw is a circle for the top of the head.
However, when drawing the head from the side, instead of a perfect circle, draw an oval shape.
I highly recommend you draw these shapes on top of your reference photo.
This way, you can more easily learn the proportions and understand why it makes more sense to use one shape or another.
If you notice, the front of the face tends to appear very round. But now, looking at the head from the side, you can see that the head is a bit more elongated.
So we draw it accordingly. This oval is the main shape for the structure of the face. All we have to do now is add a few more lines for the bottom part of the face and connect everything.
Try to forget about what you think you know when drawing the side view face, and instead focus on the side profile reference you have in front of you!
Step 2 – Find The Center Lines
Let’s add two guidelines to help us out throughout our side-profile drawing.
Draw a vertical line and then a horizontal line, and find the center of your oval shape.
These guidelines will help us accurately draw the rest of the face and some facial features. If you notice, the horizontal line intersects with the eyebrows, and the ears rest by the side of the vertical line.
Finding these with a reference photo below will help with muscle memory, so you can later draw the face from the side more easily!
Step 3 – Draw A Curved Line
To the side of the oval shape, starting on the horizontal center line, we can draw a curved line until it reaches the chin.
As you can see, this line goes beyond the oval shape. How long you draw this line depends on the person or character you’re drawing. Everyone is different, and if you’re going for stylized artwork, you can even exaggerate how long the face will be!
After learning all the steps of drawing a face from the side, you can play with those shapes, exaggerate the proportions, and see what you can come up with. But first, practice these steps as much as you can.
Step 4 – Draw A Small Horizontal Line
All we are missing now is the chin and jawline.
For the chin, draw a small horizontal line, starting at the bottom of the curved line you just drew.
With that, there’s only one more step to finish the head structure.
Step 5 – Draw The Jawline
The jawline is drawn between the end of the chin line and the bottom of the oval.
By connecting those two points, the head structure is finished!
Generally speaking, these are the shapes and lines you need to draw the face from the side view.
However, you can play around with different shapes.
Every artist has their process, so you need to find your own.
As you get more confident with your drawings, you can also simplify and draw fewer lines for your base sketch. For example, a flat circle and a triangle on its side can be more than enough at a certain point!
But first, learn the basic shapes needed to draw the face and then get those done without a reference. Once you’re confident in your drawings, you can find shortcuts to speed up your artistic process.
Add The Facial Features, One By One
Now that we know how to draw the head from the side, it’s time to add the features on the face.
In this tutorial, we won’t be drawing each feature in detail. Instead, we’ll find their positions and loosely draw the main shapes for each of them!
However, to learn how to draw faces in-depth, look at our Tutorial On How To Draw Faces, Step-by-Step.
With that said, a good thing about drawing the face from the side is that you only need to draw each feature of the face once. However, their shapes can significantly change from when you draw them from the front.
By breaking things down into simpler shapes, things get easier. So let’s continue drawing our profile face with quick and easy steps!
When drawing the head structure, we already drew a guideline for where the eyebrows are drawn.
If you look at your reference, you’ll notice that the first horizontal line stays in line with the eyebrow.
Now all we have to do is draw a simple shape for them. A triangle shape or something similar to a lemon wedge should be enough.
You can also take this chance and draw a vertical line starting on the edge of the eyebrow and going down.
This guideline will help us in the future when drawing and positioning other features of the face.
Again, we only need to draw one eye from this view. Looking at our reference, we can see that the eye stays slightly below the eyebrow.
So, following our photo reference, let’s draw another guideline.
As you can see, the eye starts right on top of the vertical guideline we drew before. And, drawing another line near the corner of the eye, we learn that it goes almost as far as the start of the jawline.
With all our grid lines finished, we have everything we need to know where the eye should be drawn. This might feel like a lot of lines, but as you practice and gain muscle memory, you’ll need fewer guidelines.
For now, having as much help as you need makes the learning process much more manageable.
With that said, let’s now draw a triangular or cone shape for the eye. You can even make it slightly curved, so it resembles an eye even more!
The next feature we’re going to draw is the nose. Before doing anything else, let’s look at our reference and find any guideline that might be helpful.
As you can see, the nose starts in the eye line, so we already have that one. Now let’s go to the bottom of the nose and add another line to our grid!
With these, we know how far the nose will go. So all we are missing now is the nose shape. For drawing the nose, we can use a trapezium or even a triangle. Choose the shape that makes the most sense to you!
Our next step is drawing the lips. Again, we need another guideline. So drawing on top of your reference, draw another line, crossing the face.
As you can see, the lips are at the same height as the top part of the jawline!
For the lip shapes, draw a lemon wedge for the top lip first.
If you notice, the bottom lip doesn’t go as far as the upper lip. So draw a similar but shorter shape for the bottom part of the lip.
As for where the mouth’s corner is: it goes as far as the vertical line we drew before. This means that the eyebrow, eye and corners of the mouth all connect with the same line!
The ears are pretty simple to position, and we already have all the gridlines we need to draw them.
You only need to remember one thing: they’re as tall as the eyebrow line and, generally, can go as far as the nose line.
Since everyone is different, some people might have smaller ears than others. For that reason, the ears can go beyond that space or even be smaller.
As for their shape, we can draw half a heart for the ear, like this.
Of course, if you want a more stylized look, you can exaggerate the ear shape as much as you want. You might even want to draw an elf ear, and those generally go out of bounds!
Always remember that people have different faces, so it’s good to explore that and try different things.
Let’s draw the hairline to give you a better idea of where the hair should be.
Again, this can change from person to person. Not only that, but depending on the hairstyle you’re drawing, it will look different.
However, you can have a general idea of where to draw the hair and adapt it as you add more details.
Let’s go ahead and add a new line, above the eyebrow line. Follow the reference, and draw a line where the hair starts.
If you notice, the distance between the hairline and the eyebrow is almost the same as the distance between the eyebrow and the nose!
So that’s a good point of reference for your future drawings.
Now add a diagonal line that connects with the eye line, near the ear.
With that done, you can now experiment and draw different hairstyles!
Finally, Add The Neck
We added all the features on the face. But right now, our face looks like it’s floating around the canvas.
Let’s take this chance and draw the neck.
Where the jawline and chin line connect, draw a curved line going down.
For the back of the neck, draw another curved line, starting with the initial oval shape we drew at the beginning.
We completed our face drawing from the side with two simple lines!
Clean Your Sketch And Finalize Your Side Profile Drawing
Now that everything is in the right place, it’s time to clean up our sketch, so it looks less messy.
Go through all your lines and outline the head. Add some basic strokes, nothing too complicated.
If you want, you can also add some shading to your drawing!
Keep things as straightforward or as complex as you want. Once you’re done with the line work and shading, your side face drawing is finished.
Practice all these steps as often as you need, so you can learn and memorize where everything goes.
Remember that if you break everything down into simpler and smaller steps, the whole process becomes much more manageable!
And if you want to draw the face from the Front View, here’s an article to guide you!
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Draw A Realistic Face?
For a realistic side face drawing, studying real life is essential. Either by looking at people at a coffee place or finding good reference photos.
As we did here, you can start by drawing on top of your references to learn and find critical key points that will help you in future drawings.
Find shapes and lines and build a blueprint of the face.
Once you find those, it’s time to start sketching them in your sketchbook. Once you feel confident with your shapes, you can refine your drawing until it looks like a real face!
This is one of the most important face drawing tips you can have.
How much detail you add is totally up to you, and how realistic you want your portrait to be. Study from real life and other artists to better understand the process.
It’s important to remember that this can be a slow process, but with time and practice, your drawing ability will evolve and improve!
How To Draw A Cartoony Face?
If you want to draw a face in a more cartoony style, it’s essential to know that you still need to learn the basics, just like we did here in this tutorial.
Once you know those, then you can start simplifying your shapes and lines.
A cartoony face can be just a circle for the head, two dots for the eyes, and a curved line for the mouth. On the other hand, it can be more complex than that.
Look up different cartoon styles and let yourself be inspired by them. Then, get on a sketchbook and start experimenting with shapes and styles, until you find something that works for you, and enjoy!
How To Draw A Face From The Front?
Drawing the face from the front can be done using the same process we used throughout this article.
First, find a good reference photo. You can even use yourself as a model.
Then break the face down into simpler shapes.
Practice those shapes; once you’re confident in them, refine your drawings by adding more details and clean strokes!
You can also follow our Guide On How To Draw The Face From The Front, where we go through each facial feature in-depth, step-by-step.
How To Draw The Head From The Front?
Before drawing the face, you might want to get more familiar with the head structure.
This way, you’re breaking the process into more uncomplicated steps, which might feel less overwhelming.
Drawing the face is very complex; if the head proportions are wrong, everything else will feel wrong.
So, to avoid any kind of frustration, find some good photo references and focus only on finding the shapes and proportions of the head.
Focus on basic shapes and then practice them. Once you feel you have those memorized, you can add the facial features, one at a time.
Take a look at our Drawing The Head Tutorial, so it’s easier to start!
And if you’re ready for an additional angle, check our tutorial on drawing the face from the 3/4 view!
Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!
Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!