10 Ways to Draw the Human Head

Some very quick sketches I did based on some of the tutorials below.

I was at a writer/illustrator conference last fall, and one of the pieces of advice I got was, “find your face”.

What the heckus does that mean, you say? Well, as an illustrator, I suppose it means, figure out your face style. What “flavor” will your characters’ faces have?  Personally, I’m not sure I’ve totally pinned that down yet (maybe because I fear some ridiculous notion that I may end up type-casting my style), but apparently, it’s important in this business.  Finding your style is what it’s all about.

I have some children’s illustrator friends who are very good at this  – Chris Jones, Christine Tripp, and Peggy Collins, to name a few.

So, in researching ways to “find my face”, I came across several decent human head and face drawing tutorials.  Here are 10+ ways of finding your face:

1. Draw the head from any angle:

Proko.com  has a lot of great video tutorials. Here’s a written blog post from the site’s creator.

2. Ways of Seeing – Tools to Help Simplify

Some people find the grid method useful.

This site shows a combination of circles and sausages to achieve greatness.

Basic Planes can be found on any image. This site suggests using magazine pages and drawing the planes right on them so as to train your eye to see them more clearly.  See also this deviantART post: the skull is a box.

3. Traditional Proportions

Here, we find the same suggestion of drawing over an existing photograph, but in the context of simply getting familiar with proportion.

4. Facial features

This looks useful for understanding the intricate patterns of the face and all of it’s wonder.
Here is a good pdf worksheet from a highschool class outlining all of the facial necessities.
And, if you want to understand all of the bony-meatiness under that skin, find some basics here.

5. Children’s heads

Yup, the proportions are altogether different than adults. Here’s a page from an old text showing how to achieve the softer, rounder, more innocent faces.

And this site has a pretty amazing lesson (free) on facial aging.

6. Caricatures: 5 Shapes!

Varying head shape: A simple but effective guide.

7. Manga:

This was fun. I think my kids will love trying Manga, too.
And this is a great little reference for different angles of the Manga face.

8. Fashion Tuts

This is a great little breakdown of a fashion illustration.
And a super simplified face tutorial for your fashion sketches.

9. Cartoon

The oval method, with a few suggestions on hair eyes and other features..

And this is a wonderful, expressive cartoon faces tutorial.


10. Amazing Facial expressions tool:

I came across this and was amazed.  This could be a very useful tool for getting that specific facial expression just right.


And if this wasn’t enough of a list, I came across a pretty thorough drawing how-to collection.  The post is actually called:
The Most Comprehensive Drawing Tutorials Collection – so you be the judge. 

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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