Drawing Tips

Proportion Drawing – Proportions of the Face

Proportion Drawing – Proportions of the Face

The Importance Of Proportion Drawing

If you would like to be able to draw people’s faces accurately, the most important thing you need to get right is the proportion drawing. Nothing makes a portrait drawing look weird and amateurish than out of wack facial proportion.

This is probably the most common mistakes that beginner artists make. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest to remedy.

In order to get a solid hold on facial proportion when drawing people faces, you just have to remember a few rules of thumb.  Here they are:

Proportion Drawing of the Head – Rule #1:

When viewing the head from the front (face to face), the width of the head will be approximately 2/3 of its height.

When viewing the head from the side, the width will be approximately 7/8 of its height.

Proportion Drawing of the Head – Rule # 2:

If you divide the face into 4 quarters by drawing evenly spaced horizontal lines (as shown in the picture below), the following rules apply:

  1. The distance from the top of the head down to the end of the hairline will be in the first quarter.
  2. The second quarter will contain the distance from the hairline down to the middle of the eyes. The eyes will be roughly leveled with the top of the ears. (Notice that this also marks the middle of the face.)
  3. The distance from the middle of the eyes down to the base of the nose is contained in the third quarter.
  4. And lastly, in the fourth quarter will be the distance from the base of the nose to the base of the chin. Now, if you were to draw another horizontal line, dividing the fourth quarter in half, the mouth would be positioned just above this line.

(Remember, these rules only apply when viewing the subject’s face head-on. If the angle of viewing were to change, you need to change the proportion accordingly. This is referred to as “perspective” and it is a different subject entirely. Another post, another time perhaps.)

Proportion Drawing of the Head – Rule # 3:

If you were to divide the face into 5 columns using vertical lines, the width of each eye would occupy one column. One column would separate the eyes and the other two would sit on the out edge.

Proportion Drawing of the Head – Rule # 4:

The width of the nose will be equal to the width of one eye. The width of the mouth should be slightly wider than that of the nose.

A good test to use is to draw a triangle that starts at the center of the head (right between the eyes) and goes through the corners of the mouth. If the lines of this triangle is also tangent with the edge of the nose than your mouth is of the proper width.

So there you have it. Just keep these simple rules in mind when drawing people faces and your drawings will come out 10 times more realistic.

Remember, these rules are just guidelines to keep your drawing in proportion. Don’t obsess about getting all the measurements exactly right. Yeah, it’s great if you want to get as close as you can, but don’t fuss to much about it.

The proportion of the face varies from person to person anyway and it would actually be pretty hard to find a person in real life that matches these rules perfectly. So if you are a little bit off on the measurements, it’s ok. That will actually make sure drawing look more natural.

As you continue to draw using these proportion drawing guidelines, you’ll begin to develop a natural feel for where everything is supposed to go, so start practicing!

Please let me know what you think of this lessons on proportion drawing. Love or hate it, just leave a comment below and let me know you’re alive!

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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on proportion drawing and have a great day! Click here to learn about drawing faces.

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