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Tips on Drawing Ugly People

Updated on April 30, 2013

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

There is that old cliché about beauty being in the eye of the beholder. It is a true saying. What one person considers beautiful, or aesthetically pleasing, another may not and the same goes for "ugliness." I am loathe to call my fellow human ugly. It is such an "ugly" word. Irregular looking might be a better description. Irregular can also be beautiful, just in a different way. Nature however, has made us so that we find people whose features are more average and symmetrical to be more aesthetically pleasing. More attractive. Attractive is seen as a good thing by wider society and "ugly" as a bad thing, an insult. Hence, when portrait artists are asked to depict someone who in the traditional sense would be seen as less attractive- and to do it realistically, they are often faced with a conundrum. To depict the person realistically, warts and all so to speak, or to try to make them look like a more attractive version of themselves. There is no right or wrong answer. The best thing you can do is to be honest and ask the client if they want a realistic depiction or a flattering depiction- while trying to be diplomatic and not cause offence. But this can be difficult, because a woman in love with an ugly man is unlikely to truly see him as the rest of the world sees him. Below are some tips on depicting an "ugly" person accurately.

Ideal Proportions

The so called ideal proportions, while seemingly unfair to some, are based on science. Renaissance artists are well known for having used the Golden ratio to make their workd of asrt more aesthetically appealing. The Golden Ratio, or the rule of thirds, is a mathematical formula which is found repeated over and over again in nature. Scientists have used the Golden Ratio to explain beauty. The result is the ideal proportions of the beautiful face.


  • The beautiful face is one and a half times longer than it is wide.
  • The distance between the hairline to the spot between the eyes, the bottom of the eyes and the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin should be equal for a face to be considered beautiful.
  • The length of the nose is equal to the length of the ear in a beautiful face.
  • The distance between the eyes is equal to the width of one eye.

Using Your Knowledge of Ideal Proportions To draw An Ugly Face

Having knowledge of the ideal proportions is useful as a measuring stick when drawing portraits. It could be one thing on a persons face that makes them less attractive. For example, your subject may have eyes that are much wider apart than the classic one eye width- making them appear "ugly." However, if you get the distance between the eyes right instead of trying to "correct" the distance, you are more likely to get a good likeness. The same goes for all other features of the face. This is even more useful if you are making up an ugly character. Simply by exaggerating features and making them much bigger or smaller proportionally than the ideal proportions, can produce an image of a person one would consider to be ugly.

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