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Drawing Human Face with Pencil

Updated on March 26, 2012

Drawing of a girl's face by Charles Roring

colored pencil drawing using Derwent Watercolour Pencils
colored pencil drawing using Derwent Watercolour Pencils

Drawing the proportion of human face

Although human face looks simple to be drawn on paper, in reality it is difficult to sketch it. All of us know how a normal human face looks like. Slight mistakes in sketching the proportion of the face will cause the face of a girl, a child or an old man looks unbalanced or weird. There are standard proportions of the height and width of a face and the contour of chin and nose of our faces. Most often an experienced artist who can create beautiful drawings of seascape and landscape admits that he or she cannot easily draw human face or human figure as a whole. You might think that this is only a joke. No, many artists cannot draw human figure except if they really devote their time for it.

Sketch of a smiling girl by Charles Roring

Sketch using Staedler 2B pencil
Sketch using Staedler 2B pencil

Basic Shape Sketching Approach

Based on my personal experience in drawing human figure, I usually draw the head first. To help me visualize the human face, I usually begin drawing the basic shapes such as circle or oval. Some times, I start drawing a triangle. I don't draw the details such as eyelash, and eye pupils before I feel sure that the proportion of head compared to her body is correct. Then I will draw the outer part of eye brows, lips, and nose before I go further to drawing her teeth, and lines around the eyes.
I draw human face using graphite pencil, usually a 2B Mars Lumograph manufactured by Staedtler. This is a high quality drawing and writing pencil. When I have seen that the proportion and location of eyes, nose, lips and chin have been right then I erased the pencil lines which I have mistakenly created. If the sketch of the face is ready and clean, I can continue to color the face using Derwent watercolour pencils
Most drawing artists like to make sketch directly from model. But finding a model to sit for a couple of hours is difficult unless you can pay her. Usually, an artist will make a rough sketch of the face of a model, correct the proportions of the head and body. The artist will take some pictures of the model which can then be used as references for making detailed drawings when the model has gone home.
There are a number of books that explain how to draw human figures. Although drawing skills can be accomplished through a lot of practice, a strong foundation is needed by everybody who wants to be a professional figure drawing artist. One of the books that I have right now is Draw and Sketch Figures by Lucy Watson. It is a good book because it teaches beginners and experienced artists how to draw human face, and body from very simple steps to more complicated ones. For me, drawing is my hobby. If you want to be able to draw human figures or human face in particular, I suggest that you read the book.

Management Artists

Suppose that you are interested in drawing human figure. Or you have been sketching human figure for years. Now you want to be more serious with this hobby or profession. In order to make this hobby as a profession, you need to be real expert in drawing human faces that are really perfect free from defects. The more you practice sketching, the better you'll become. Every time you want to draw someone, you will need a model. You can ask your brother or sister to pose for you. But most often they are very busy. They just reject your request. So, an alternative solution should be finding a model. You can contact a modeling agency in your town or city to request a model who is willing to be paid according to your budget. You can also contact a management artist for that purpose. I believe they will be happy to find one for you. Management artists know exactly what an illustrator need. They can send you a model who is patient enough while you are drawing him or her.

Being an expert in figure drawing

You can become an expert in human figure drawing but you need a lot of practice before you can become a professional one. Don't worry when after first attempt in drawing human figure, you feel that the result is not as good as what you have expected. I also experience the same problem when I tried to draw the face of a girl. Now, I can be proud of my artwork. Well, if there is anybody who wants her or his picture drawn by me, please e-mail me and send your photograph to Charles Roring

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    • grayghost profile image


      7 years ago

      Good Hub! Thanks for the advice on technique and suggestions of resource material. I enjoy drawing and have a fair handle on faces and figures, but I sure need the professional tips.

    • Manna in the wild profile image

      Manna in the wild 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Hey! A fellow pencil pusher. I draw faces too.

    • charlesroring profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Ebenzer Roberts, I can't give you personal guidance for figure drawing except if you come to my town. So, the best possible way to improve your skills in figure drawing is by buying some instructional books about this particular art. On the right side of this article I have included some books which you can order directly from Amazon. I recommend you to buy them if you are really serious in learning drawing human figure.

    • profile image

      ebenzer roberts 

      7 years ago

      good i want you to give me tutorials of the drawing of the human figure because it is serious drawing stuff like email s for hepling me

    • charlesroring profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I needed a lot of practice before I feel confident to put the drawings above on this hub.

    • rzibit profile image


      8 years ago from Bals

      I wish I had talent myself


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