How To Draw A Human Face – The Basics From The BioWars Art Academy
When you first start out with drawing, there are a few specific areas that are known to be difficult for amateur artists.
Perhaps one of the hardest challenges that novice artists face is figuring out how to draw a human face.
Truthfully, even the experts struggle from time to time with everything from drawing hands or feet to sketching faces or getting the proper perspective on their illustrations.
As a comic book fan and budding artist, you already know that most comic book art bounces back and forth between realistic and unrealistic.
This is actually to your advantage, because it gives you a lot more freedom when developing the look of a comic book character.
Maybe you’re going totally original and creating a superhuman alien race, But if you’re aiming for a human comic book character, or at least one that looks human, you can achieve a realistic human face with a few simple steps.
Before we start, just keep in mind don’t expect to become a great comic book artist overnight — it really does take practice. But here are some tips to help you make the evolution from amateur to expert a whole lot easier.
How to Draw A Human Face: The Tools You Will Need
Every great creation, from designing a car to building a home, starts with the right tools — and drawing is no exception.
While the supplies you will need to draw a realistic human face may seem self-explanatory, choosing the right set of tools might just make or break your efforts.
To draw a realistic human face, you will need:
- An H pencil for the outlines and the basic shape
- An HB pencil for the more intricate details
- A 4B pencil for the shadows that add to the realistic look
- A kneaded eraser to accentuate the highlights and touch up the mistakes
- A ruler for precisely measured grid lines
- Sketch paper that features micro perforations, making corrections easier
Step #1: Draw The Basic Shape
To begin drawing a human face, start by sketching an upside-down egg shape on your paper. For now, picture looking at your character’s face head-on, and draw the shape from that angle.
Once you’ve made this basic shape, you’ll want to add some standard measurements to block out the rest of the face’s features, including the eyes, nose, ears and lips.
First, put a vertical line down the center of your drawing to divide the two halves of your character’s face. This will help provide some symmetry for the character’s facial features. Next, draw a horizontal line halfway between the top of the head and your character’s chin. This is where the eyes will be drawn in later.
You can also add another line above this midpoint to show where your character’s eyebrows will be.
Next, place another horizontal line halfway between the line you just made and the bottom of the chin again. This is where the nose will eventually end and where the ears will be placed on the outside of your comic book character’s face.
Now draw another horizontal line midway between the last line and the chin for the location of the mouth.
From here, you can really get a sense of how the face will be laid out — but should you need more assistance on where to put everything, you can add more lines as needed by following the image included below.
Each of the lines you make will help ensure your character’s facial features are symmetrical and end up in a realistic spot.
Step #2: Always Start With The Eyes
Now that you’ve got your basic layout, it’s time to start filling in the features of your comic book character.
Let’s start from the top of the head down, to make things easier.
The proper proportion for a person’s eyes, in most cases, is an eye’s distance away from each other.
Begin by drawing your eye as a sideways oval, midway between the side of the head and the vertical line you drew earlier.
As you draw the second eye, make sure the distance between them is roughly the same width as the eyes themselves. This gives you an ideal space for adding your character’s nose.
Step #3: Add The Nose
Noses come in all shapes and sizes, but for our purposes today, we’re going to focus on the basics.
First, your character’s nose is going to end at the second horizontal line you drew earlier. This is your nose’s length.
When it comes to your nose’s width, you’ll want to fill the gap you made earlier between the eyes – so the edges of the nostrils line up with where your character’s eyes begin.
The exact shape of your character’s nose is up to you. The nose is one feature that helps bring your character to life and give it personality, so think critically about what you want it to look like.
Step #4: Don’t Forget The Eyebrows
If you followed our advice and added an additional horizontal line between the top of the head and the eye level, adding the eyebrows should be quite easy.
The brow bone where the eyebrows are located on a human face always follows the lines of the nose — and that’s why you should only tackle the eyebrows once your nose is in place.
Drawing the eyebrows is where the 4B pencil will come in handy. Use it in short, soft strokes to add bushiness or use it in longer strokes if you’re looking for a more refined look.
And since eyebrows tend to be one of the darkest areas on a face drawing, don’t forget to shade and blend them well!
Step #5: Draw The Mouth
Remember the third horizontal line you drew earlier? That’s where you’ll want to place your character’s mouth.
As for the width of the mouth, a typical comic book character’s mouth will start on either side at the center of each eye, or where the pupil is likely located.
As for the lips, this is where you get to use a little creativity in your approach. You can make them full, thin or anywhere in between – the choice is yours. This is another element that can help bring your character to life.
Step #6: Add The Ears, The Hair And The Final Touches
Ears can seem complicated, but since you’ve already laid out a really great diagram to work with, they shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
Start just above the first horizontal line you made earlier, and end on the same line you used to complete the bottom of your character’s nose.
Don’t worry about the particulars right away, just work on getting the basic shape of the ears down.
The hair, on the other hand, might be a bit more time-consuming and complicated to draw.
You should start with outlining the hairline on the forehead and sides of the face with short strokes of the H pencil, following the natural hair growth pattern. Then, start adding volume and texture while moving toward the edges of the hairstyle.
The amount of detail you add to the hair is entirely up to you. For the purpose of this exercise, a general outline will do just fine.
But when you go back in later to add more detail, think about your character’s personality and match that to their hairstyle.
Is your comic book character serious and professional? If so, a slicked-back look might be in order. Or, is your character wild and unpredictable? If so, curls or other types of texture might be in order.
Last but not least, don’t forget to add the final touches to your drawing:
- Erase the gridlines
- Add shadows where appropriate with your 4B pencil
- Lift up some highlights with your eraser
- Blend the key lines and textures
All finished? You should now have a basic face drawing.
How To Draw A Human Face Takeaways
In the beginning, remember to keep things simple and focus mostly on getting your proportions right.
As you get those down, you can begin experimenting with your character’s features and adding finer details, shaping their personality with texture and color.
Good luck, future comic book artist! We can’t wait to see your unique character come to life!