My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lesson 8 - Drawing a face - Proportions

I'd like to teach you the basic proportions of the face. We all fit NEAR a certain pattern. Because we are all slightly original, our features will vary just a little from the pattern, but only a little -- unless you have a Jay Leno chin or Julia Roberts smile. So if you know the pattern, you can get very close. Then, to get a likeness, you simply adjust where the face varies. It's not that hard, I promise. So let's get started. 

Today, we learn how to draw an adult face that is looking straight forward.

Disclaimer: young children will be different in the distance from eyes to nose, and most especially in young babies. But this pattern is great for older children, teens and all adults.

Okay, ready? A face is mathematical, and don't worry, it's very simple math.
First, start with an egg shape (pointy side down), like this.

                        Now, divide the egg in half horizontally. This is where the eyes sit.

 Now, divide the bottom in half again. This is the horizontal nose line. Just a by-note, but your ears fit from your eyeline (top of the ear) to the noseline (bottom of the ear). This face is original, in that she has large ears, and they are higher than the eyeline (and she's still beautiful), but most ears are right on the mark.

The mouth is a little different. It isn't halfway below the nose, but more like the upper third of the lower space.

Now we're ready to put in the vertical nose line. This shows the face is straight forward.

Very good! Now let's put in the features. Did you know you can fit exactly one eye in-between your two eyes? (Think cyclops.)

 And when you are facing forward, you can fit five eyes across your face? This is how you know if you've drawn the eyes too large or small. Make sure that you can fit 5 equal spaces across the eye line. If you can, you're ready to move on to the nose.

Now, this is fun, because the nose is exactly one eye wide. Really. Okay, there's one exception, but we won't go there until we learn noses.  So, from the inside corners of your eyes, drop your lines down to the vertical nose line.

Now you're ready for the mouth. Take a line from the center of the eyes (on the eye line) and drop it all the way down to the mouth line. If you are smiling, the corners of your mouth touch this line. Look in a mirror and try it out. When you're not smiling, the mouth won't quite reach this line.

Okay, now you know the basic proportions of the face. Try them out on a variety of faces. It's crazy how it works on everyone, men and women, old on down to relatively young (see disclaimer at the top).
And since you know the proportions for a face that is straight on (I'll show you how to draw a turned face later), you're ready to learn easy ways to draw eyes, noses and mouths, even hair isn't hard once you know the pattern. We'll take the mystery out of turning a face any angle, too. All those lessons are coming up. So:

Next week: How to draw a killer eye


  1. You are a killer teacher. And you rock. Just saying.:)

  2. Thanks, Leisha! And speaking of killer eyes, can I show your "The Woman Scorned" eye next week?

  3. Interesting and practical. I am following your advice and will send the results of my drawing. Merci!

  4. Atelier, I look forward to seeing your drawing.

  5. I like to tell my students the bottom of the bottom lip is half way between the nose line and the chin.

  6. Thank you, Sarah - I appreciate your input!


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