Any recommendations for learning for to draw faces?

Home Forums Practice & Advice Any recommendations for learning for to draw faces?

This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Meijiisconfused 9 months ago.

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  • #30053

    Hi all,

    I've recently taken up portrait drawing, and I'm looking for some learning recommendations. So far, I've been using Andrew Loomis' "Drawing the Head and Hands", which is great for construction, but I'm struggling with positioning and drawing facial features, as well as expressions. Does anyone have any book or YouTube tutorial suggestions?

    Thanks for all your help :)

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    I don't how to answer your question but I'll try to give you my answer, but here is one of the YouTube videos from Proko.

    It may be the most basic, but I hope this has helped you out in your current goal.


    I'd personally say to use guide lines. I useful tip is eyes are eye length apart, and the nose should fall in the area between the eyes. If your struggling with facial expressions, try making agusting the size of the eyes. You can make one eye smaller or larger, or you could make the eyes wide open. Eyes are a decent way to express emotion. Looking at refences is also good. I am still struggling with mouths, so I don't have any tips on those.



    For understanding facial features (with neutral expressions), I can’t recommend enough Marco Bucci’s class named “Understanding And Painting The Head” on Proko’s site. Bucci bases this course on the Asaro head, a more detailed version of the Loomis head with more planes for facial features.

    The course also includes a part for rendering the head, which is equally as useful as the part on structure.

    You can also practice drawing this head with a 3D model of the Asaro head that can be found on Artstation.

    Now, for expressions the one ressource I found the most useful yet is Michael Mattesi’s simplified approach. Here’s one of his livestreams explaining his approach, and you can also find a quick explanation on that in his anatomy book.

    This might be a little bit tricky to understand at first, so I’ll also try to explain how I use this on a reference picture :

    Basically, expressions are done by muscles on the face, which means when drawing expressions, gesture is key.

    But before thinking of gestures, you also have to consider the construction of the head to make it believable, so you have to put down landmarks. These landmarks do not change locations no matter what expression is being made.

    I found that I like to take the eye line (not the brow ridge because its structure may not be very clear depending on the expression), the bottom and tip of the nose, the zygomatic bone, the corner of the jaw and then the bottom of the jaw (I pay attention if the mouth is open or not).

    Once we have established that, we move on to gesture.

    There are 2 main gesture areas on the face, the eye sockets and the mouth area. You can see them as an eye mask and a mouth mask. Like here from the anatomy book :

    Gesture creates rhythm, which pushes or stretches the flesh of the face.

    Notice how the mouth mask can change the nose shape or push the cheeks to the outside, or how the eye mask can make folds between the eyes, on the side, on the forehead etc...

    I can’t list you all the possible rhythms that expressions produce because they are gesture based, but like everything that has gestures, the most efficient way to learn to draw expressions is to practice them and study many refs.

    Also I'd say don't forget take a look at the muscle anatomy of the head in order to fully understand the physicality of face expressions (something I haven't even started doing yet but is on my list of things to learn).

    I hope this helped!

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