Most artists, when starting, want to know how to draw a face and its features.
Whether you want to create characters for illustrations, stories, games, or even just work as a portrait artist, being able to draw a face is essential.
There’s a lot to know when learning to draw faces, but we’ll cover everything in this step-by-step tutorial, filled with images to help you improve your face-drawing skills.
If you want to learn how to draw a simple face the easy way, this is the post for you. Let’s start!
Table Of Contents
- 1 Start By Drawing The Basic Head Shapes
- 2 Drawing Basic Face Proportions
- 3 Complete Step by Step Guide on Drawing Faces
- 4 Experimenting With Different Face Shapes
Start By Drawing The Basic Head Shapes
When drawing a face, you first need to understand the basics of drawing the head.
It’s always a good idea to break any subject into smaller, simpler steps. This way, you might avoid frustration, and gaining the knowledge you need on the subject will be easy.
So before drawing a face, let’s first understand how to draw the head.
And if you want to learn of more websites filled with handy photo references, we have a nice list of 11 Best Portrait Reference Websites For Artists!
Once you find a photo you like, download it. Now, I always recommend that my students lower the opacity of their reference photos and then draw on top of them.
However, you don’t want to outline your image blindly. Instead, you’ll be looking for shapes that build up the head.
For example, you can start the sketch with a circle for the main shape.
Now, to help you guide yourself throughout the drawing of the head, let’s create a few guidelines.
We do this by making one horizontal and a vertical line, crossing the middle of the circle.
The vertical line will show you where the middle of the face is.
If you notice, our head is very round on top but then gets slimmer towards the chin, like an upside-down egg. So we don’t forget about this, we’ll create two slanted lines on each side of the head, like this:
All we are missing now is the bottom half of the head. To do this, find a guideline crossing the eyes. Now continue the vertical line until it touches the chin.
If you notice, the length from the eye level to the chin is roughly the same from the eye line to the top of the circle.
Now you can just connect everything, so it resembles a head. As you can see, with very simple lines and shapes, you can easily draw a person’s head.
Practicing these steps with and without a reference in your sketchbook is a good idea. You can even keep all those head drawings to practice drawing faces on them later!
Remember that even though drawing on top of references will help you figure out the subject, you must also practice what you learned on a blank paper or document.
This way, you’re sure that the shapes and lines you used make sense.
And, if you want a more detailed tutorial on how to draw the head, take a look at our step-by-step guide!
With the basics of the head out of the way, you’re ready to learn how to draw faces.
Drawing Basic Face Proportions
Now let’s go over the basic face proportions, so we can place everything in the right place.
When drawing the head, we already have a few essential guidelines to know where some facial features stay. Such as the eyes, eyebrows, and chin:
We must find the rest of our guidelines and figure out the face proportions.
Again, you can use a reference photo to understand this better. But a good tip to remember is that the eyes, nose, mouth, and chin all stay at the same distance.
Knowing this, we must now divide the space between the eyes and chin into three equal parts. So everything can generally align nicely on the face.
And with that, you just found the nose and mouth lines!
But we’re not done yet. Even though we found the main features, we still need to figure out where the face ends, and hair starts.
Again, there’s a trick to easily remember where the hairline is: look at the horizontal line that crosses the center of the circle.
Now, draw another horizontal line halfway from that line up to the top of the circle. This is where the hairline should be!
And with very simple tricks, you have all the proportions you need when drawing faces.
Right now, this might all sound very mathematical and exact. But with practice, these proportions start being more intuitive, and you won’t need this many guidelines.
But, for now, keep using as many guidelines and shapes as you need!
Complete Step by Step Guide on Drawing Faces
Now that we know the basics of drawing faces, we’ll go through the steps on how to draw faces for beginners, step by step.
This means adding all the features of the human face, such as eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. We’ll go through each of these step-by-step so you can improve at portrait drawing!
And, if you prefer to learn through video, you can find our Figure Drawing Course, where we go through all these steps when drawing faces and facial features.
1) Draw The Eyes
Drawing eyes is always quite challenging for beginning artists. This is because eyes are very symmetrical, and it’s hard to draw the same thing and make it look the same.
Not only that, but the eyes are a main feature of the face. It’s probably the first thing you look at when looking at someone’s face. So this is the one feature you should spend some more time drawing.
But that’s precisely why we like to start our sketch with the eyes.
We already know where the eye line is, but we still need to figure out where exactly we draw them. And how cute you want your eye drawing to be.
From the middle line, find the center of the eye line on each side of the face like this:
This is where our eye sockets are! Go ahead and draw a circle for the iris right where the two lines cross on each side.
A good tip to be as symmetrical as possible when it comes to eyes is to draw both sides simultaneously. Draw one shape on one side and repeat it on the other.
It’s impossible to be 100% precise and symmetrical when drawing a face. Even the human face isn’t completely symmetrical, so you don’t need to worry too much about it!
Let’s finish our eye shapes by drawing two curved lines around the iris. These are our eyelids.
Roughly find the center of the iris and draw another, smaller circle inside it. This is the pupil of the eye.
Finally, you can draw some eyelashes throughout the eyelids with short and quick strokes. And the double eyelid, by drawing another curved line right above the upper eyelid.
And just like that, you learned the necessary forms to draw the eyes. Your face drawing is also a bit more complete now with very simple lines!
How you draw eyes can be as simple or detailed as you want. We also have a detailed step-by-step guide on How To Draw Eyes, including different ways of drawing them!
2) Draw The Eyebrows
Now that our face has eyes, it’s time to add eyebrows. This way, the upper part of the face looks more complete.
The eyebrows sit right above the eyes. And we already have a guideline for it. The horizontal line above the eyes is where we draw our eyebrows.
As for their shape, start by drawing a curved line.
This is the bottom part of our eyebrow. Next, make a small vertical line going up from the inner side of the line you drew.
Finally, draw a final curved line connecting everything!
There are many different types of eyebrows, and each person is different.
So when drawing the eyebrows, you can keep them simple by filling the shape you drew with a solid color, such as black.
On the other hand, you can fill the shape with short, quick strokes for each hair. Even then, you can draw a very thin eyebrow or do the opposite by drawing a bushy, big eyebrow!
It all comes down to your taste and style, so have fun and experiment with different things.
3) Draw The Nose
Let’s continue our face tutorial by drawing the nose this time. As seen before, we already know where the nose is: its length goes from the eyebrow line to the nose line.
Here’s a complete (detailed!) guide on how to draw the nose from the front.
Or keep reading for the simpler steps!
We can draw a triangle, so we don’t forget it.
Now, one thing most beginner artists struggle with is the nose’s width. Again, we can use a simple trick to get it right!
From the inner corners of the eyes, draw vertical lines down to the nose line. The space between these two lines is how far you can go with the nose’s width.
Even though the nose has a long shape, when seeing it from the front, we don’t draw the whole outline of it.
Instead, we draw the bottom part of the nose and nostrils. You can draw a few circles: a bigger one in the center line and two smaller circles on each side.
Underline the bottom of those shapes, and you are done with the nostrils!
Finally, we can add a few simple lines near the eyebrows to see a bit of the nose’s bridge. With that, you can very easily draw a nose.
A good way to draw a face as a beginner is to break everything down into simpler steps. This way, you’ll be drawing portraits in no time at all!
4) Draw The Mouth
Our next step is learning how to draw the mouth. Again, we already know where to draw it. However, we don’t know how wide we can draw the mouth.
To figure that out, go to the eyes’ center line. Lengthen that line until it reaches the mouth line.
The space between those two lines is how wide the mouth should be! We can draw two curved lines: one for the top lip and another for the bottom lip.
There are many types of lips, and every person is different. But generally speaking, the top lip has an M shape; the lower lip is more arched.
We can modify the top upper lip slightly to resemble a wide M.
There are several types of lips: thinner or thicker, long or very small. You already know how wide you can go and where to place a person’s lips.
So now, you can experiment with the lips’ shapes as much as you want!
With the mouth done, we are done with all the facial features inside the head
5) Draw The Ears
Our face drawing is almost done. All we are missing is the ears! However, we still need to find their location.
We already have the guidelines for them. The ears go as far as the eyebrow line and end on the nose line.
Go ahead and draw an oval shape on each side of the head.
Drawing ears can be confusing at times since they are very detailed. But let’s keep things simple and easy.
If you’d like a more detailed guide, check out my How To Draw Ears Step By Step article.
Draw a few curved lines so the ear appears somewhat more realistic. Generally, we keep it simple, so three lines can be enough! Something like this:
You can even try other styles of ears, such as elf ears (here’s a written guide with video)
With the ears done, this face tutorial is mostly finished! By following these steps, you’ll be able to draw most faces the easy way.
6) Add Details
Even though most of the face is drawn, you might want to draw a few more finer details. If you look at a person, you’ll notice that everyone is different and have different details that make them unique.
For that reason, when you draw faces, this can be something you can take advantage of to make your face drawing more distinctive and special.
This can be beauty marks, moles, or freckles, for example. Depending on the age of the person you’re drawing, you might also want to add some wrinkles.
If you want your portrait drawing to look richer and more unique, have some fun adding accessories!
You can draw some earrings on one ear or both, a piercing on the bottom lip, nose, or even eyebrow. You can even add accessories to the hair.
Make-up is also an excellent addition and will make your portrait pop up even more!
There are many easy ways to draw a face, but you can always make them unique and up to your taste by adding simple yet essential details.
7) Draw The Hair
Now that you know how to sketch a face, it’s time to add the hair. This can be drawn quite easily, but first, let’s figure out the hair location.
If you remember right, we drew a guideline for the hairline. The horizontal line between the eyebrows and the top of the head is how far the hairline goes.
So, let’s go there and draw a very rough shape of where the hair is:
If you want to draw short hair, you can leave it as it is. On the other hand, if you want to draw longer hair, you can do so.
Draw two curved lines around the top of the head. These lines can be as long as you want.
Now, make another two arched lines for the fringe, this time close to the hairline.
All you need to do now is connect everything and add a few details!
You can experiment with many different hairstyles, but the most important thing is to remember where the hair should go so your drawing looks right.
Drawing hair is
8) Clean Everything Up
Now that you know how to draw a face, it’s time to clean up your sketch. To do that, we must go through all the main forms and lines we drew before.
If you’re drawing digitally, just add some transparency to your sketch, add a new layer on top and redraw your lines.
On the other hand, if you’re using a pencil, slightly erase them. Now go over the sketch with very light lines.
Once everything looks good, you can apply more pressure to your pencil lines or go over everything with a pen!
This is also a good time to add shading to your drawing. It can be done very simply. For example, you can add shadows below the lower lips or the side of the nose.
Choose where you want your darkest areas to be and paint accordingly.
You can even use a colored pencil to add color to your drawing.
Once you’re done with this step, you have officially finished our tutorial on how to draw a face for beginners, step-by-step!
Now that you know how to draw a face, it’s time to experiment with it and play with its forms.
Experimenting With Different Face Shapes
It’s time to play with the proportions and shapes of the face.
We went through a very detailed tutorial on how to draw faces. So now we know how to sketch a face easily.
Once you’ve practiced enough and feel confident, you can try drawing different types of faces.
Think about basic forms, such as squares, triangles, and circles. All of these can be the base of your face drawing.
When you draw a face, it doesn’t need to be realistic. Instead, go for more of a cartoony style! For example, if you want to draw a male face, you can use squares and rectangles.
On the other hand, for a female face, triangles might work best!
It all depends on what you want for the person you’re drawing. So, play around, see what you can come up with, and have some fun with your face drawings.
Finally, if you want to learn more about drawing faces, check out our Complete Figure Drawing Course for beginners!
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!