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How To Sketch A Face in 8 Easy Steps (for Beginners)

In this post, I will introduce you to the best tips on how to sketch a face in 8 steps. Learning how to sketch a face can overwhelming if you don’t know where to start or know what to do, but with my easy tips, and lots of practice, you will master this skill quickly. It won’t really matter if you want to learn how to draw a man’s face or a girl’s face, for beginners the concepts will be the same. We also will not be too fussy about strict proportions, we want to learn the basics and have fun. Now let’s go and learn how to sketch a face !

How to Sketch a Face - Final

Please note: The following photos in this tutorial are from my own sketches of a face using the iPad app Procreate, but you can use pencil on paper as the process to sketch a face is no different whether using pencil on paper or Procreate.

Materials needed:

Pencil – any kind will do, I like a softer pencil so anything with a B in it such as HB, 2B, 4B will do.
If you are using the Procreate app then select a HB pencil from the Brush Library under Sketching.

Plain paper – any size you can find will do.

Eraser (hard or kneaded – kneaded is easier to mold into smaller shapes to erase the finer details).

(Optional) Procreate app and an iPad with an Apple pencil if you wish to learn how to make digital art.

For beginners I do prefer you learn by drawing using pencil on paper (you can’t hang an iPad on the wall once you’re done!).

1. Sketch an Oval for the Base

How to Sketch a Face - Step 1

Getting the shape of a face right is the first step in starting to sketching a face.
There are nine types of categorized human faces:

* Rectangular
* Elliptical
* Circle
* Inverted triangle
* Square
* Diamond
* Heart-shaped
* Oval
* Triangle

To keep things simple, we will go with an oval face. Ovals are easy to draw.

2. Draw Some Guidelines

How to Sketch a Face - Step 2

After sketching the face shape, the next step is to mark the face with guidelines on which the features are laid out.
Most tutorials or guides online will complicate things by making you split the face up into 8 or 10 sections but I don’t think that is necessary for beginners.

This will help up when we draw a face to ensure we get the basic proportions right.

As we are going to sketch a face front facing then all we need are a few guidelines to ensure we know where to sketch the important features that make up a face:

* We have the the centre line and areas where the eyes will go (see Guideline A in the diagram)
* Eyebrows (see Guideline B in the diagram)
* Nose (see Guideline C in the diagram)
* Mouth (see Guideline D in the diagram)
* Ears (see Guideline E in the diagram)
* Hair (see Guideline F in the diagram).

3. Drawing the Nose 

How to Sketch a Face Step 3.2

The third step in this process is adding in the nose. Many artists prefer to sketch in the nose before any other features are drawn into the face.

This is because the nose can act as a focal point to which you can measure where the eyes will be. I’ll show you what I mean in the picture below.

Out of all the features, the nose is probably the most challenging to master when sketching a face. Everyone’s face is different, and so are their noses.

It is easy to start with deciding on a type, practicing it consistently, and then move on to the next shape.
If I am not sketching a particular person I tend to sketch my own nose shape as it is familiar to me and I find sketching my own nose easier.

Where I have Guideline C for the nose, draw a dotted line in the centre of the oval as we will this to guide us where the nose should be.

Start by drawing some lines where the nostrils will end and how high you would like the nose to be.

While i’m not drawing the eyes or mouth yet, i will also add some quick sketch lines where these should be.

Take a close look at how much space I put between the eyes, nose and area where the lips are.
These don’t have to be an exact measurement, close enough is good enough when sketching a face.

Shading:

Take note of how and where I shaded around the nose.
I find so many beginner artists trying to draw a nose as a shape.
The best way to sketch a nose is to do a light outline of the shapes that make up a nose such as the nostrils and the bridge of the nose and the point of the nose.
What makes the nose look like a nose is the shading of each of these parts.

If you don’t know how to blend shading or are not confident how to do so, it’s actually ok to blend the shading in with your finger. Just don’t do too much of it or it will look smudged.

Highlights – feel free to use the eraser now to gently erase some of the areas you wish to look like there is light reflecting on it. This is where the kneadable eraser works best.

Now you can erase the guidelines for the Nose (Guideline C).

4. It’s in the Eyes

How to Sketch a Face Step 4.2

The eyes come in next. Again, there are six eye shapes;

* Mono-lid
* Round
* Downturned
* Hooded
* Almond
* Upturned

Choose one and go with it, most people will draw almond shaped eyes as they are easiest so let’s do that.
Locate where the eyes should be placed on the face (remember Guideline A we drew in Step 1).

There should be a reasonable gap between the eyes and the bridge of the nose and room for the forehead before the hairline starts.

Secondly, try to size out the eyes proportionately to the nose drawn.

The pupil is always centered within the iris. The iris is the part where the eye color is and this has little flecks and lines in it and it will also have its own shading. Have a look at the pattern in your own iris and see if you can draw something like it.

The pupil is the darkest part of the eye, the small circle in the middle. Fill it in as dark and smooth as possible. There will also be a little circle overlapping the pupil and iris so use your eraser for this if that is easier.

Ensure that the placement is correct.

Eye sizes tend to be roughly the same width as the nose from nostril to nostril.
The space between both eyes can be almost the same width of an eye, just make it a little wider. See the diagram below.

Shading:

Take note of how and where I shaded around the eyes.
I find so many beginner artists trying to draw eyes as one shape.
The best way to sketch a nose is to do a light outline of the shapes that make up an eye such as:
* the top eyelid
* bottom eyelid
* the pupil which is not a full circle but a circle where the top half is cut by the top eyelid
* the eyeball also has some light shading to show that it is a sphere and not flat
* the ends of the eyes not quite joining together
* finally the eye lashes which do not need to be individual hair but just shading with some lashes here and there.

What makes an eye look like an eye is the shading of each of these parts.

If you don’t know how to blend shading or are not confident how to do so, it’s actually ok to blend the shading in with your finger. Just don’t do too much of it or it will look smudged.

Highlights – feel free to use the eraser now to gently erase some of the areas you wish to look like there is light reflecting on it. This is where the kneadable eraser works best.

Now you can erase the guidelines for the Eyes (Guideline A).

5. Add the eyebrows

How to Sketch a Face Step 5

Eyebrows make or break the expression of the face. They are the deciding factor of the emotion a character feels along with the eyes.

Locate where the eyebrows should be placed on the face (remember Guideline B we drew in Step 1).

If you make the ends of eyebrows too high, the face will look angry. Make them too low and the face looks sad.

Eyebrows should be sketched so that they complement the eyes. The thickness and length of the eyebrow are drawn proportionately to the eyes and nose.

They go past the eyes on both ends just a little.

You can choose the shape of your perfect eyebrows and also add in other details. Adding eyelashes is a great way to add details and give the face sketch more depth. 

Shading:

Take note of how and where I shaded around the eyebrows.
I find so many beginner artists trying to draw eyebrows using individual hairs.
What happens when you do this is that you draw a caterpillar and not eyebrows.

The best way to sketch eyebrows is to shade where the eyebrows will be and then fill the shading in with some individual hairs on each end and some random ones here and there.

If you don’t know how to blend shading or are not confident how to do so, it’s actually ok to blend the shading in with your finger. Just don’t do too much of it or it will look smudged.

Highlights – feel free to use the eraser now to gently erase some of the areas you wish to look like there is light reflecting on it. This is where the kneadable eraser works best.

Now you can erase the guidelines for the Eyebrows (Guideline B).

6. Lips are Sealed (Sketch the mouth)

How to Sketch a Face Step 6.2

Once the eyebrows are in place, along with the other features, the mouth requires your attention. Ensure to place the lips spaced from the top of the nose.

Locate where the mouth should be placed on the face (remember Guideline D we drew in Step 1).

A mouth is made up of 2 lips not one shape but 2.

Make sure the end of the lips on each side almost line up directly to where the pupils of the eyes are. See the diagram below.

Lips can be curved if you draw in a smile.

They can be sealed shut as it does when people are tense or upset.

The characterization of the emotions a person is feeling influences the way the lips are drawn.
The lips settle halfway between the nose and the chin based on the guidelines (Guideline D) that have been mapped earlier. 

Shading:

Take note of how and where I shaded around the lips.
I find so many beginner artists trying to draw lips as one almond shape with a line in the middle.
Lips are made up of upper lip and lower lip.
Both lips will have a small gap in the middle which we can shade darkest.
From here we shade in the middle line and slowly fade out using light sketching/shading to make the lips look 3 Dimensional.
We also add some light shading where the top lip and bottom lip meet at the ends. This gives the mouth a more realistic look.

If you don’t know how to blend shading or are not confident how to do so, it’s actually ok to blend the shading in with your finger. Just don’t do too much of it or it will look smudged.

Highlights – feel free to use the eraser now to gently erase some of the areas you wish to look like there is light reflecting on it. This is where the kneadable eraser works best.

Now you can erase the guidelines for the Mouth (Guideline D).

7. Ears are next

How to Sketch a Face Step 7

Use the guidelines on the face as a referral point to sketch a pair of ears. (Guideline E)

Sketching ears is easiest when drawing the front of the face.

Without ears, the look of portraits is incomplete. Once all the other features have been set, the ears can be drawn in. 

They do not need to look like perfect ears, we just need a basic shape here. See the diagram below.

Start the top of the ears to where the eyes are horizontally and make them as long as where the nose meets the top lip.

Shading:

Take note of how and where I shaded around the ears.
Ears are easy if you just consider them as light shades with some lines.

If you don’t know how to blend shading or are not confident how to do so, it’s actually ok to blend the shading in with your finger. Just don’t do too much of it or it will look smudged.

Highlights – feel free to use the eraser now to gently erase some of the areas you wish to look like there is light reflecting on it. This is where the kneadable eraser works best.

Now you can erase the guidelines for the Ears (Guideline E).

8. Hair today!

How to Sketch a Face Step 8

The final step is sketching in the hair. Sketching hair can be challenging if you overthink it. (Guideline F)
Sketching hair varies by gender but can be stylized in infinite ways.

You can have your character portrait sport a bob or long hair.

If you are interested in how to draw hair styles then I have a post that covers this topic here.
Hair is the accessory to the personality of the person and helps add a flair to the character.

Some hairstyles look better when the side profile is shown, such as braids.
If you are interested in how to draw braids then click here.

The texture of hair can also be attributed to the person’s race whose face has been sketched. It is up to you to decide on the volume of the hair too.
 
With these steps, you can experiment with how features are sketched depending on your style.
While style comes later, nailing these basics will help you make your art distinctive from other artists.

Shading:

Take note of how and where I shaded hair.
I find so many beginner artists trying to draw hair using individual strands.
If you look in the mirror you will see that you can’t actually see all your own individual strands.
What you see is the shaded areas below the top layer of hair.
So when sketching in hair, shade the area where the hair will be and then sketch in some top layer strands to make it more realistic.
Individual hair strands can then be sketched in around the edges to make it more realistic.

If you don’t know how to blend shading or are not confident how to do so, it’s actually ok to blend the shading in with your finger. Just don’t do too much of it or it will look smudged.

Highlights – feel free to use the eraser now to gently erase some of the areas you wish to look like there is light reflecting on it. This is where the kneadable eraser works best.

Now you can erase the guidelines for Hair (Guideline F).

Clean Up

The last step is just cleaning up any smudges, fixing the chin. You will see I erased the chin from the oval we drew originally and I shrunk the chin down a bit. To make it a male face I made the jaw a little more squarer, to make it more female you make it a little more rounder.

Add some shading around the jaw line, add sone lines for the neck and shade around it and smudge the shading with your thumb.

You will see I also added some shading and smudging around the cheeks and smudged around the nose, mouth and eyes.

This is quite easy, you just have to practice and not beat yourself up too much if you get it wrong.

Bonus Video

If you want to see the basics on how to sketch a face with some video examples, here’s a simple video (part 1 of a 3 part series) I found that really helps and matches my style when I try to explain how to sketch a face.

Conclusion

Remember you may not get it all done 100% right the first time and you will need lots of patience, effort, and practice.
Hopefully these tips have provided you with easy directions on the process of how to sketch a face.
Happy sketching and enjoy your art and the work behind it! 

If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message via Instagram or via the Contact Us page.

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