In this tutorial, I will teach you how to draw a face from the front view and the ¾ view. You will learn how to draw a human head, male and female. Also, I will show you some variations of different faces using the same method I will teach you.
For drawing a face you should follow this process divided into 5 steps:
- Step 1: Draw a sphere
- Step 2: Bellow the sphere draw the jaw and the neck.
- Step 3: Draw the facial features. Nose, eyes, mouth, etc…
- Step 4: Add detail to the face. Wrinkles, eyelashes, skin pores…
- Step 5: Draw the hair on top of the head.
I will describe each step in detail and I will use as examples both male and female heads. In each step also you will find both views for each genre, frontal and ¾ view. My objective is to show you a step by step comparison between both views, so you will have a better understanding of which are the main differences and similarities between drawing a face frontally or in a ¾ angle.
Some art tips before we start
Before we jump right away with the 5 steps of the tutorial, I will like to give you some artistic advice about how to make your drawing look more awesome, fresh and cool:
The first tip will be to not draw all the features completely. A beginner artist tends to make the mistake of drawing everything they see. Let’s say for example you want to draw a man’s mouth. You don’t want to draw the full lips of the mouth. The reason is that if you do, the mouth and the lips take too much attention and look too artificial. Of course, there are exceptions to this. Let’s say you want to achieve a feminine effect on your male character for whatever reason. You can define the lips more clearly, but even if this is the case I still recommend to “suggest” the lips rather than drawing them completely. The word “suggest” is the keyword here. Even if I’m drawing a woman or a black male character( which tend to have bigger lips than an Asian or Caucasian male ) I always prefer to suggest in more or less degree the feature rather than drawing it fully.
The second tip will be to keep your drawing “fresh”. With this I mean, not to overdraw. I know this statement can sound confusing. What I mean by that is to keep your hand loose and your strokes limited. Don’t press to hard with the pencil on the paper and grab it from the middle, not from the tip. You can grab the pen or the pencil closer to the tip when drawing small details. For the blocking of the main shapes and features better to grab the pencil from the middle. This will help you to loosen up and not be that tight when drawing.
An economy of strokes will be more than welcome. Leave some areas unfinished and try to focus your work and details on the main features, where the eye of the spectator will be drawn immediately. If you put too much detail in everything the viewer will not know where to focus his attention. Remember, “less is more”.
Step 1: The Spheres
In this first step, we are going to draw 2 pairs of spheres. In each pair, the sphere n the right will be the one we will use for the front view. The other one on the left of each pair will be the ¾ view. By the way, the pair of spheres on the right will be the ones we will use for the male heads and the pair on the left for the female.
We will divide the spheres with a cross. On the front view spheres, we will place the cross right on the center, with the center of the cross matching the center of the sphere. As a result, the sphere will be divided in 4 parts all equal.
On the ¾ view spheres, we will place the cross sideways. This will leave us with 4 parts. The ones on the left will be way smaller than the ones on the right. This is due to the law of perspective and depth that rules in nature. The 2 new parts on the left of the sphere will be further away from us ( the viewers ) meanwhile the other 2 parts on the right will be closer to us and quite more expose.
Step 2: The Jaw and the Neck
Below the spheres, we will draw the jaw bone. In the man’s face it will be more squared, meanwhile, the woman’s jaw will be more rounded.
As you can see both jaws, male and female, differ from one view to the other. On the front view, both sides of the jaws are equal. The difference appears in the ¾ view. Do to the perspective of the face, one side of the jaw ( the left side in our example ) will be drawn shorter than the right side ( this side will be fully exposed to the viewer’s eyes meanwhile the other side, the left one, will be almost hidden from the viewer).
Under the jaw of each face, we will draw the neck. The front view will present both sides of the neck equal like in the jaw’s case. On the woman’s drawing, the neck and its insertion on the trapezoids will be drawn like a couple of arches. On the man’s drawing, the neck will be thicker and the arch will look less smooth, almost with what it could look like a breaking point on the trap’s insertion.
The ¾ view will present a shorter curve on the right, and a longer and larger curve on the left side of both, female and male. This again is due to the perspective.
Step 3: The facial features
I assume by now, you already realize the spheres we drew before will be the base drawing for the cranium and the face. We will place the main features of the face like the nose, the eyes, the eyebrows, etc.. inside this spheres. Only the ears will be placed outside the sphere. The mouth will be drawn on the very limit of the sphere, with the upper lip more or less in and the lower lip out of the sphere.
On the front view, both sides of the face will present equal sized features. Left and right will be a mirror of each other, or at least you should try to keep them very similar. When detailing we will break slightly this symmetry because the eye will find unreal and unbelievable two sides of the face exactly equal. This doesn’t happen in nature. Our faces are somehow symmetrical but they are no perfectly equal. Some of the features present differences from one side to the other. Maybe an eye a little bit bigger than the other, a scar crossing one eyebrow, more freckles in one chick than the other. The differences between sides can be plenty.
On the ¾ view, we will find both sides very different one from each other. The left side will present smaller features than the right side.
Let’s speak of each feature one by one and the main differences between genders and perspectives.
The eyebrows and the eyes:
We will draw the eyebrows touching the horizontal line of the sphere.
The eyes will be placed right under. In this step, we will draw the upper eyelid and the pupil. The man eyelid will be drawn like a short curve line that is higher near to the nose and falls down a bit towards the corner of the eye.
The woman’s eyes upper eyelid will be drawn like an arch that starts lower near to the nose and ends a little bit higher on the corner of the eye. The eyelid and the pupil will be larger than the man’s one.
For the ¾ view, you gotta remember to draw the left eyebrow and eye smaller compare to the right one due to the perspective. A good trick is to draw the far away eye with a shorter and accented curve for the upper eyelid. The pupil of this eye will be an ellipse instead of a circle.
If you follow the vertical line crossing the sphere, we will lace the center of the nose near to the bottom of the sphere. I like to place the nose center right in the middle of this vertical line. If we divide the lower half of this line into four equal parts, from the horizontal line until the bottom of the sphere, the nose will be placed around on the third line.
For the man, I like to place the nose crossing this line. For the woman, I prefer to draw the nostrils on top. This is because usually, a woman tends to have smaller and shorter noses and man bigger and longer.
At this stage, I will only draw the nostrils and the bottom of the nose.
The mouth will be drawn on the bottom of the sphere. I like to draw it like two crossing lines coming from the sides of the mouth. These lines converge in a little curve that represents the top of the upper lip.
In the woman’s case, I like to suggest the lips clearly. This is why I draw both sides of the upper lip and define very clearly the bottom of the lower lip.
Both ears will be drawn on the sides of the spheres, in between the eyebrow line and the nose line.
Step 4: Detailing the face
Now it’s time to have some fun detailing the face. As you can see on the image above, the main difference between detailing the man’s face and the female one is the number of little lines and basically noise we put on both. The man’s face looks way more crowded in terms of details compared to the woman’s face which looks quite clean and soft.
Major facial bones
A man’s face tends to be rougher than a woman’s one. The Maxilla bone, the Nasal and the Mandible tend to be more prominent on men than women. This makes the man’s face more angular compared to the woman’s face which has smaller bones and softer look. Only the Zygomatic bone on top of the chicks can be more prominent in women than men, according to the beauty canon. Of course, nature doesn’t attend always to the standards of the beauty cannon and faces come in all shapes and forms.
Another cause of this roughness on a man’s face is a thicker and rougher skin that creates more relieves and foldings. Good examples are the skiing foldings over Maxilla bone, that starts on the wings of the nose and folds to the sides of the mouth.
Bags under the eyes can be another good example.
We should also mention wrinkles and thicker around the nose as another of those treats that contribute to the roughness of a man’s face.
Some women can have the same foldings, wrinkles, and bags under the eyes than a man, but we gotta understand that women’s skin is usually way thinner and delicate than men’s skin. Pores are not as visible, the skin looks smoother and without very little or no visible facial hair at all.
Another factor that makes women’s face softer and smoother, compared to men, is the fact women take care of their skin way more than men do. Also, we should consider the use of makeup that helps to increase that soft look.
Woman Key features:
- Detailing the woman’s face we should emphasize two main features. The eyes and the lips:
- The eyes should have visible eyelashes and the pupil and the iris will look bigger than in a man’s face.
- The woman’s lips will look meaty and bigger compared to the man’s lips.
Man key features:
- The mandible should look somewhat visible on man’s face, especially on the sides of the face.
- The nose should be thicker and the nasal bone visible.
- The eyes will be smaller compared to the woman’s ones and the eyelashes will be represented as a thicker and darker line on the upper eyelid. This is why we never draw fully the lower eyelid because the eyelashes are very thin compared to the ones on top. This trick can be used on the woman’s eyes but in her case, the eyelashes will be clearly visible.
Before I continue with the tutorial, I would like to check if you are achieving the results you are looking for when drawing faces. I´m trying to do my best here teaching you how to the human head is build and how you can draw successfully a male or female face. But trust me I understand that maybe you are having some success in your drawings but is not enough, or maybe you wanna take it to the next level. If you are feeling that all of what I´m teaching you here is good but you need more, let me give you one recommendation. Go and check my review on Proko´s “Portrait Drawing Fundamentals course”. In there I explain my personal experience taking this course, I will show you samples of my own homework I did for this course and my honest opinion about it. If you really wanna improve your face drawing skills you gotta check my review.
Regarding the hair, we will need to decide which hairstyle we will use for the man and the woman. In this case, we will go for the more classic look, with the man wearing short hair and the woman long hair.
Man vs Woman haircuts:
Drawing the hair is not as difficult as some people would think. Let’s see how to draw both genders haircuts and which are their main differences:
The man’s haircut will shorter on the sides and longer on top. We will represent this, drawing short and straight parallel lines on the sides of the forehead, near the temple area, where the hairline starts. The hair on top will be drawn as longer and curve lines. This lines will follow a general direction, in this case, will point to the upper right side, forming wisps of hair. But if you check this wisps of hair one by one, you will see they are not placed in parallel. The wisps will follow the general trend but at the same time will twist and turn to different sides. This gives to the hair a natural and more realistic look. Short hair weights less and tends to be more random than longer and more heavy hair.
The woman’s haircut will have a dividing line on the side of the head. The wisps will fall from there until below the shoulders.
We will draw long and fluid curve lines. The hair wisps will look less random that in the man’s haircut. Only on the end of the wisps, we will add an extra curve, like if the hair was becoming lighter there and a little bit more random or difficult to control.
Using the same techniques I showed you before, you can start to deform and exaggerate proportions and features. In my case, I created a couple of characters with modifications over the basic principles I showed you before.
On both characters, I kept the sphere as a base for the head, but apart from that, I decided to exaggerate some elements. A wider mandible with a thicker neck will help you to create the impression of somebody very strong. Also if you hide the neck under the jaw completely, you can make the character will look even overweight.
On the other character, I used some specific facial features, like a wider nose and thicker lips, so the viewer will immediately identify him as a black person.
All these characters were drawn without any visual reference. The objective here is to be able to draw all sorts of different faces from different races, ages, and sizes without the need for a photo reference. This is why you need to understand the main facial features of different types of people in order to draw them successfully.
Useful articles and tutorials for you
If you are more interested in learning about cartoon drawing, my tutorial “How to draw cartoon faces” will be very helpful.