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Tips for basic face drawing
Here I'm sharing some tips and a little look at my own process for sketching faces. These are done without references, just drawing from imagination, and are semi-stylised.

Obviously there are many ways of drawing faces (and a million tutorials out there that cover this exact topic) but every artist works differently. Try different tips and see what works for you - sometimes a piece of advice can really resonate and show you where you've been going wrong!

Posted by Abbi Laura from Wimborne Minster, England, United Kingdom • Published See Abbi Laura's 7 projects »
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  • How to create a portrait. Basic Faces - Step 1
    Step 1

    Start with a blank canvas or piece of paper. I'm using Procreate on the iPad here, but you can use pencils and paper, Photoshop, pens - whatever you're most comfortable sketching in!

    Sketch out a few circles with some guidelines. The horizontal, slightly curved lines help keep track of the tilt of the head, and are roughly where you will draw the eyes. The vertical lines run down the centre of the face and help place the nose.

  • How to create a portrait. Basic Faces - Step 2
    Step 2

    When sketching in your faces, it often helps to start with features in the centre of the face like the eyes and nose. It's much easier to start in the centre and work your way outwards, drawing in the face shape and jaw based on the positioning of the features, rather than trying to draw a face shape and adding in features later.

    Use your guidelines to place the features and remember basic rules - eyes should be roughly an eye width apart, the corners of the mouth line up with the centres of the eyes, the ears start mid-eye etc. These rules aren't absolutes, and you should definitely play around with proportion, but they help make sure your faces look like faces!

  • How to create a portrait. Basic Faces - Step 3
    Step 3

    Begin adding more detail to the faces. Try to keep everything to the same level of finish and detail. Things start to get into uncanny valley if you have extremely detailed eyes and just a line for the mouth, or every pore painted into the nose while everything else is simplistic.

  • How to create a portrait. Basic Faces - Step 4
    Step 4

    Once you have your basic faces down, you can start creating characters. Think about face shapes, different facial features, expressions, hair styles - go wild! Draw your family, draw your friends, draw your favourite characters.

    And there you have it, some basic faces!

  • How to create a portrait. Basic Faces - Step 5
    Step 5

    Top Top: If you feel like there's something wrong with your drawing but you can't put your finger on what it is: flip the canvas!

    When you're drawing, you get used to what you're drawing and don't see if something is wonky or asymmetrical. Flipping and rotating your drawing really helps to pinpoint those areas that just don't quite look right - like the areas I've circled in red here! A simple change of perspective makes these little issues much clearer.

    If you're working digitally, you can easily flip your canvas, but if you're working on paper you can either use a mirror or take a picture on your phone to flip it.

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