There Go I But For My Face

February is for Faces

I love drawing & painting animals. I could paint them all day long, & sometimes I do! Jungle animals, desert animals, marine animals- all animals are interesting to paint. Well, almost all.

I may have mentioned a time or six that humans are my least favorite animal. Humans don’t have pretty scales or plumage, they have fingers instead of fins, feet instead of flukes… essentially all the animal features I enjoy drawing are missing from humans. In my quest to get better anyway, I spend one month each year drawing humans. In my quest to avoid drawing humans, I choose the shortest month of the year. Last year I focused on drawing whole people, this year I am focused on faces.

Pencil sketch of Avatar Aang: a happy bald boy with an arrow tattooed on his head that is pointing down towards his nose.

People Proportions

There are a lot of rules bouncing around the art world when it comes to human proportions. Things like “Human adults are 8 heads tall, children are 6, & infants are 3” are repeated so often people will follow them without thinking. It is important to remember that these are more like guidelines; one thing every human has in common is that we are all different.

Appearance Advice

With all that in mind, here are some guidelines for human faces. * There are lots of different ways to lay out the foundations of a face. Many are based on ovals and lines.

Some are simple: Before & After Pencil Sketches. Before: Wire frame of a human figure sits at a table resting its head on its hand. After: A cute & somewhat bored little girl with big eyes & hair in a high bun sits at a table resting her head on her hand. She stares off into space, daydreaming.

Some are more involved: Pencil drawing of the first three steps to drawing a human face.
Step 1: Split an oval into 4 equal quarters with 2 perpendicular lines
Step 2: Add a line slightly above the middle horizontal line (this is the eye line.) Add a line half way between the middle and the bottom of the face (nose line.) Add a line slightly below that one (mouth line.)
Step 3: Draw a narrow triangle extending from the top set of double lines down through the chin. Pencil drawing of the last three steps to drawing a human face.
Step 4: The inner corners of the eyes line up with the outer corners of the nose, where the triangle crosses the nose line.
Step 6: Finishing details like hair. I prefer the simpler ones, how about you? * Foreshortening is hard, especially when drawing humans. A suggestion I have seen over & over is to draw a basic face on a hard-boiled egg & use that for reference. I haven’t tried this yet, but I might before the month is over! * Drawing a face using the Front View, aka facing straight out at the viewer, is very hard! All the features are visible, everything needs to be relatively symmetrical, it’s very easy to get frustrated. * If you get stumped, do yourself a favor & try Profile (side) or Three-Quarter Views instead. Watercolor woman wearing a blue coat & green hat carrying a red purse while walking away. The wind is pulling strands of black hair out of her bun. Or, skip the face entirely and focus on a subject looking away from you.

What do you think? Do you like drawing people? Do you have any favorite tips & tricks? Please, share them with me! Mastodon Bluesky Ko-Fi

See you next week! Pencil sketch of woman wearing sunglasses & a head band to hold back her long hair.

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