Art History Lab

Mastering the Art of Drawing Faces from the Side

Drawing a Face from the Side: Everything You Need to Know

Drawing a face from the side is a skill every artist should master. It can be challenging, but once it’s done well, it can give a unique perspective that is both beautiful and informative.

In this guide, we will discuss the importance and benefits of side-profile drawing, guidelines for drawing a face from the side, necessary materials, and instructions for doing it right.

Importance and Benefits of Side-Profile Drawing

When it comes to drawing a portrait, the side-profile drawing can capture the face uniquely. It can emphasize the structure of the face in ways that other angles may not.

This is because the side-profile allows us to see the contours of each facial feature more intimately. A good drawing from the side will provide your audience with an appreciation of the subject’s beauty and uniqueness.

Moreover, capturing the subject from the side offers additional benefits. It can be used to show off the length of the subject’s neck, hints of the subject’s mood, confidence, and overall personality, professional or friendly.

Capturing these important nuances will help in elevating your work.

Guidelines for Drawing a Face from the Side

Before beginning your side-profile drawing, consider these guidelines to assist you in keeping a clear structure of the face. 1.

Start with the head’s general shape: Go over the main outline of the head with light strokes. Remember that the head’s size and proportion can change slightly depending on the angle, but it is good to have a basic idea of it before delineating the rest.

2. Create a reference line for the face: Sketch a straight line through the center of the face, from the hairline to the chin.

Next, draw a small circle on the line representing where the center of the eye would be. 3.

Measure your drawings: The face’s proportions are crucial when drawing, so use a ruler to make sure everything is in the right place. The average face width is approximately five eyes wide.

The eyes are usually halfway between the top of the head and the chin. 4.

Draw the jawline and neck: From the ear, draw a solid line that connects to the chin, following the curve of the main reference line. Next, draw the neck line, which connects from the jawline down to the collarbone.

It is best to use a ruler to ensure it is a straight line. 5.

Finalize the facial features: Add the details to the face, such as the outlining the nose, mouth, ears, and hair. Slowly build up the drawing by sketching, then erasing or refining certain parts until you are happy with the result.

With these guidelines, it should be easy to get started and structure the drawing to ensure the unique profile is captured correctly.

Necessary Materials

When drawing a face from the side, having the right materials is essential. Here are some of the most important:


Pencil: Choose a pencil that is both comfortable to use and has a fine tip. H pencils are good for sketching, whereas B pencils are helpful for darker and bolder outlines.

2. Eraser: It is essential to have an eraser on hand to clean out mistakes.

A kneaded eraser is a good option as it can be molded into different shapes, and it does not leave any debris behind. 3.

Ballpoint pen: Having a ballpoint pen handy is useful if you want to add extra details to the drawing. They usually produce dark lines that are visible on most art papers.

4. Sharpener: Keep your pencils sharp by ensuring your sharpener is easily accessible.

5. Ruler: A good ruler is helpful in measuring distances between the different facial features and ensuring that each line drawn is straight.

6. Good paper: Avoid using printer paper as it is not suitable and tends to smudge.

Invest in high-quality art paper with a good tooth, such as drawing paper, to ensure your drawing turn out correctly.

Instructions on How to Draw a Face from the Side

Now that you have the necessary materials, here are the essential steps for drawing a face from the side. 1.

Start with a light sketch. Draw a straight line that goes from the top of the head down to the chin.

Ensure the line is as straight as possible. 2.

Draw the shape of the head, following the reference line. Remember to keep the overall shape simple and easy to distinguish from different angles.

3. Use the reference line to draw the facial features.

Add details such as the eyes, nose, lips, ears, and hair. Make sure to use the reference line to maintain the proper proportions.

4. Draw the jawline and neck.

Ensure the jawline and the neck are in the correct positions and are straight. 5.

Add shading to the drawing. Shade in the darkest parts first and work your way up to the lighter parts.

Be mindful of the direction of the light source, and add shadows in the right places. 6.

Use a ballpoint pen to add more detail to the drawing. You can use it to enhance the facial features or create more depth in the drawing.

In conclusion, drawing a face from the side may appear challenging, but with some guidelines and the right materials, it can be an easy and enjoyable process. Take time to practice and use proper technique in structuring the face to ensure the best result.

With patience and practice, you will master the art of capturing facial features from any angle. Drawing the General Shape of the Head: An In-Depth Guide

The human head is one of the most complex subjects to draw.

However, with the right techniques, skill, and knowledge, anyone can master it. In this guide, we will be taking an in-depth look at how to draw the general shape of the head, creating gridlines, and drawing the different facial features, including the nose, mouth, eyes and eyebrows, ears and hair.

Oval Shape and Beak Shape

The two most common shapes to start drawing the general shape of the head are the oval shape and the beak shape. The oval shape is a common starting point for drawing the head because it’s the most basic shape that can be used for both male and female heads.

When drawing the oval shape, start by penciling an oval vertically and horizontally across each other. Once intersecting in the center, there will be four even sections, with the top section being slightly larger than the bottom, representing the forehead and chin, respectively.

This symmetry makes it easier to draw the various facial features accurately. The beak shape is used more for male heads due to its longer and more prominent jawline.

To draw a beak shape, begin with the same oval approach and then extend the lower section of the oval shape further down on both sides. The result is a shape resembling the beak of an eagle.

Ensure that both sides of the beak shape are even, and the angles are symmetrical.

Creating Gridlines

Creating gridlines is a crucial step for drawing the general shape of the head. The gridlines aid by dividing the drawing into various sections, allowing for the placement of facial features to be easily identified.

Begin by drawing a vertical line through the center of the oval shape or the beak shape. Next, continue with square gridlines to better understand where each facial feature will be located relative to each other.

Ensure that these gridlines are evenly spaced so as not to skew the proportions of the face. Also, bear in mind that, with a beak shape, the gridlines’ placement may not be as even due to the longer bottom section.

Drawing the Different Facial Features

The nose, mouth, eyes, and eyebrows, ears and hair are the various facial features that define the human face. Here are some tips on how to draw them accurately.

Nose and Lips

Noses come in various shapes and sizes, so be sure to reference pictures or take inspiration from real-life faces. Begin by drawing the eyebrow ridge where the eyebrows are located and build up from there.

Draw the nose shape, ensuring it has accurate placement above the upper lip and ends at the tip of the nose. Finally, add the upper lip, bottom lip, and chin.

Be sure to keep everything in proper proportion; the lower lip tends to be larger than the upper lip and slightly rounded.

Eye and Eyebrows

The placement of the eyes and eyebrows can make or break a portrait. To begin, exaggerate the distance between the eyes with a ruler, measuring no more than five eyes’ width from the bridge of the nose.

Be sure to draw both eyes as symmetrical as possible, with the same shape and size. The eyebrows typically fall within the top section of the head oval, above the eyes.

Keep in mind that every individual’s features vary in terms of placement and shape.


The ear is a crucial facial feature. When drawing the ear, extend the jawline down and draw the two ear portions with a series of curved lines.

Ensure that the placement is directly across from the eyeball on the opposite side. Take care to add the small shapes inside the ear lightly.


Hair is often the last feature to be drawn when sketching out a complete head. The important thing when drawing hair is to ensure the placement is layered precisely and accurately.

Use varying line thickness and direction to represent how the hair flows across the head. Depending on the hairstyle, consider gradually building up the volume and density to create depth and thickness consistently.

In conclusion, successfully drawing the general shape of the head requires attention to detail, patience, and practice. Take the time to draw the facial features correctly, as each individual’s features vary.

When drawing the ear and other details, ensure that placement and accuracy are observed. By following the guidelines presented in this guide, anyone can master this challenging task.

Adding Shading and Detailing: Bringing Your Drawing to Life

Once you have drawn the general shape of the head and sketched the facial features, it’s time to add shading and detailing to bring your drawing to life. Shading adds depth and dimension to the face, while detailing adds texture and refinement.

In this guide, we will explore how to add light shading, darker shading with a pen, and provide some tips for drawing a face from the side.

Light Shading

Light shading is essential for creating a three-dimensional effect in your drawing. It helps to define the contours of the face and make the features appear more realistic.

The key areas for light shading are around the eyes, nose, and mouth. To achieve light shading, use a pencil with a softer lead to create soft, light strokes.

Begin by identifying the areas that would naturally be in shadow, such as the area under the brow ridge and around the eye socket. Use these shadows to create depth and form.

Next, focus on the nose. Shade the sides of the nose, creating a gradual transition from lighter to darker values.

Remember that the side of the nose that is farthest from the light source will be darker. Lastly, shade the area around the mouth, particularly the corners of the lips and under the bottom lip.

These areas tend to have a slight shadow in real-life, so capturing them accurately in your drawing will enhance its realism.

Darker Shading with a Pen

Using a pen for darker shading and adding details is a great way to create contrast and make your drawing stand out. Start by using a pen with a fine tip to add stronger lines and define the contours of the face.

Once you have established the contours, introduce darker shading to areas where shadow would naturally fall, such as the sides of the face, under the chin, and around the hairline. Building up the darker values gradually will create depth and make the drawing more visually engaging.

To add texture and refine the drawing, use the pen to add details such as individual strands of hair, wrinkles, or creases. Experiment with crosshatching or stippling techniques to create different textures and effects.

This level of detailing will elevate the overall quality of your drawing.

Tips for Drawing a Face from the Side

Drawing a face from the side can be challenging, but with some tips and techniques, it can become a rewarding experience. Here are some important considerations when drawing a face from the side:

Importance of Correct Measurements

Correct measurements are vital in capturing the accurate proportions of the face. Pay attention to the distances between various facial features and use a ruler or measuring tool if needed.

Measurements ensure accuracy and help maintain the integrity of the subject’s likeness.

Facial Feature Proportions

The size and placement of facial features play a crucial role in creating a realistic portrayal of the subject. Take extra care when drawing the eyes, as their size and positioning will affect the overall expression and symmetry of the face.

Similarly, the nose’s size and shape are important for capturing the subject’s likeness accurately.

Experimentation with Features

While accurate representation is important when drawing a face from the side, don’t be afraid to experiment and add your own creative flair. Consider exaggerating certain features to enhance the subject’s unique characteristics.

Explore different styles and techniques that suit your artistic vision. Remember, art allows for creative exploration and expression.

In conclusion, adding shading and detailing is an integral part of the drawing process, bringing depth and refinement to your artwork. Light shading emphasizes the contours of the face, while darker shading with a pen adds contrast and texture.

When drawing a face from the side, focus on correct measurements and facial feature proportions. However, don’t be afraid to experiment and inject your own artistic style into your drawings.

With practice, patience, and attention to detail, you can create stunning and realistic portraits from different angles. Mastering the art of drawing a face from the side is a valuable skill that every artist should strive to develop.

This comprehensive guide has covered various aspects, including the importance and benefits of side-profile drawing, guidelines for drawing the general shape of the head, necessary materials, instructions for drawing different facial features, and techniques for adding shading and detailing. By following these tips and practicing with patience and precision, artists can bring their drawings to life and capture the unique beauty and essence of each subject.

So, pick up your pencil, embrace the challenge, and let your creativity flourish as you embark on the journey of drawing faces from the side.

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