Facial Proportions

Facial proportions stay the same for every human face, though the basic size and shape of the features will vary to give unique appearances to every person. The most common facial proportions are well known, but the finer details are a secret that only the those who commonly practice their art are aware of.

Buy the book How to Draw Faces for the basic steps of drawing faces

Basic Lines:

You can outline the basic facial feature positions using a few simple steps:
Begin your face with a large oval. This will be the basic shape of your head, though the shape will change slightly as you work.

Once you have your oval, the first step to facial proportions is to divide the oval into four even sections by drawing one line down the middle of the oval and other across the center (creating a “t”).

Now, draw a horizontal line dividing the top half of the oval in half. Do the same thing for the bottom half of the oval. This divides the oval into the facial proportions outline (an oval with eight sections; three horizontal lines and one vertical).

Middle Lines:

Facial proportions start with the middle, horizontal line. This is the eye line, both eyes being placed here. This line will also be where the top edge of the ears will appear. The middle, vertical line will be the line of the nose. Noses can be different lengths depending on the face, but will commonly end halfway between the middle horizontal line (eye line) and the bottom horizontal line (lip line).

Bottom Line:

The next facial proportion is the mouth, which will be situated along the bottom horizontal line, with the middle of the mouth (the opening) directly on the line. The bottom of the ears will connect to this line as well.

Top Line:

The hairline should be located on the top horizontal line (this can change based on the age and gender of your subject), and the hair should show all the way to the top of the beginning oval.

Details:

For more detailed facial proportions, note that the width of the eye:

  • Should be the same width as the space between the eyes
  • Is the same width as the bottom of the nose (where the nostrils are located)
  • Is the same length as the area between the bottom of the lips to the bottom of the chin.

The book Ways of Drawing Eyes (Ways of Drawing) has some great advice on drawing eyes to express different emotions.
These are the facial proportions mainly used for a “mug shot,” or when looking at a face directly. Depending on the angle that the face is turned at, the facial proportions will elongate or shorten based on perspective. These facial proportions should also stay very similar when drawing a profile (the angle where the face is directly to the side, so only one side of the face is visible).

Noted Differences:

There are a few facial proportions that will change from face to face, giving humans their uniqueness. The jaw line will change, becoming rounder for women and children and more angular for adult men. The length of the nose will change, as well the basic shape of the eyes, mouth, nose, etc. However, these are the facial proportions that will stay consistent for every human face.

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