The best way to learn sketching is to jump
right in and sketch. A “sketch” is different from a completed
drawing because a sketch can be done quickly, without worrying
about details or even making things complete. This allows you a
lot of freedom when learning how to sketch a face.
When you first learn how to sketch, you only
need to focus on capturing the essence of the person’s face.
Later, when you’re ready, you can turn it into a more realistic
When you learn sketching, you can either use
a pen or a pencil. They will each yield different results. For
the purposes of this article, we’ll discuss how to sketch a
face with pencil.
The best way to get started with face
sketching is to create gesture drawings of various faces.
“Gesture drawings” are basically quick sketches that you create
while working in a rapid manner. In gesture drawings, your goal
is to depict the overall idea of the face, rather than draw in
the exact details. To do this, you should spend more time
looking at the person’s face, rather than looking at the paper.
Quickly sketch the outline of the person’s face and then sketch
the main facial features. Keep your hand and pencil in motion
at all times.
Don’t worry about details at this point.
Right now, your main goal is to loosen your wrist, get yourself
into the creative mindset, and practice “seeing” clearly.
You can do this kind of face sketching
anywhere. It is great practice when you are sitting on a bench
in a public place and watching the people pass by. Because the
people only stay in your field of vision for a short amount of
time, you are forced to work quickly to capture the essence of
If you want to spend more time learning how
to sketch a face that is more detailed and create a realistic
face sketch that is more “polished”, you can either work from a
live model that is sitting still for you, or you can learn how
to draw lifelike portraits from photographs. This page will
discuss how to learn sketching by working from a live
When you learn sketching from a live model,
start your pencil strokes lightly. Use quick movements to
capture the essence of the face, just as you would with a quick
gesture drawing. This is why it is good to learn gesture
drawing first when you want to learn face sketching – because
when you sit down to create a realistic face sketch, you will
be able to build on the observation skills you’ve already
picked up from gesture drawing.
Observe the live model carefully and study
the angle of the face. Quickly and lightly sketch the outline
of the head. Don’t worry about erasing too much at this stage,
because once you draw the main outline of the face, you will go
over and correct anything that is not in proportion. In
general, you may not want to erase any lines at all, because
these lines can add character to your realistic face sketch!
Try it and see.
Generally speaking, the human head is
an upside-down egg shape that is wider at the forehead and
gently tapers downward, becoming narrower at the chin. There
are many different types of face shapes, so look at your model
carefully and make sure that you draw what you see. Resist the
temptation to simply draw an oval or egg shape.
Next, observe the location and angle of the
nose, and draw a quick vertical line to signify the nose.
You’ll go back and draw it in more detail later. Now observe
the location of the eyes and draw a horizontal line indicate
where they are located in proportion to the rest of the facial
features. Draw another horizontal line for the lips. Draw the
outline of the ears.
Now that you’ve drawn the “main idea” for
the face, you can use your observation skills to draw a more
detailed and realistic face sketch. An important part of
learning how to sketch a face is getting the proportions
correct. There is no set, easy formula for mentally calculating
the proportions of facial features that will work every time,
because it will entirely depend on the angle of the person’s
For instance, when they are facing you
straight on, the proportions of their eyes in relation to one
another will be completely different from what they are when
they are facing to the left and looking downwards. This is why
it’s so important to hone your observation skills and learn to
draw what you actually see.
If you are a beginner, you could
check this out. It is the
result of many years' of teaching.
And if any of you have kids - or
if you are a kid - try this.
In general, here are some basic tips about
proportion that you can follow when face sketching:
When the model is facing you directly, the
eyes will be equal length and the space between them will equal
the length of one eye. When they are posed at an angle, the eye
that is further away will be slightly smaller than the eye that
is closer to you. The length of the nose is usually the same as
the length of an eye.
To create a realistic face sketch, pay
attention to what makes this face different from other faces.
In addition to the angles and proportions, pay attention to the
lights and shadows. Above all, when learning how to sketch,
always strive to draw what you actually see.