How To Draw a Man's Face In 9-Steps
Male Face -- Front View
It's difficult to look at a human face, and see it for its simplicity. It seems too overwhelmingly complex with all of its shapes and angles and shades. But once they're broken down into their rudimentary parts, it can all make a bit of sense.
This is the first in a series of articles I'm doing on how to draw. This first article will tackle the intricacies of the male face in the front view. I'll break each feature down, and explain the lines and angles that make them up, and how to simplify each, and hopefully offer some variances for drawing other heads.
The truth is, my drawing style isn't exactly based upon real life. What inspired me to start drawing was comics and animation, so most of what I've learned is based in that area. I've never taken a life drawing class, and I don't really want to. I just want to tackle images that are a bit more surreal.
Before moving forward, there's really no need to have anything other than a sharpened pencil with an eraser, and a clean sheet of paper to draw on. As you draw, use light confident strokes. You can never draw too lightly, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Silence your inner-critic. Tell him or her to take the day off. If you need some inspiration, check out my previous article, I Wish I Could Draw.
Take your time. Move at your own pace. And for God's sake, have fun--think about the children dammit!
Photo Credit: All Photos on this page were created by me, using Inkscape.
How To Follow Along
This is a step-by-step process of laying out a male head in the front view from laying out the head shape, all the way to the final touches. It's really meant to be followed one step at a time. Take a look a the pictures, and draw the next lines.
Take your time, draw lightly. The way this works is the lines of the new step are drawn in red, while those of the previous steps are drawn in blue. These steps were done in a program called Inkscape. To learn more about the application, click the link.
You don't need Inkscape to do this tutorial, just some paper and pencil. So, let's get started!
Tools To Begin - What You'll Need to Begin
Pro Art offers and inexpensive option that rivals some of the most expensive brands.
A sketch book is a must have for any practicing artist, and Canson makes sturdy books that can stand up to all sorts of weather.
A portable pocket sized pencil sharpener to keep the points as sharp as nails.
1. Mark Out the Head Shape
The truth is, the shape of the head says a lot about a person. Is it square, round, triangle, whatever? It's good to get a handle on these things, but it's also good to have a generic starting point, as well. So, a good starting head, is one that is a bit more bulbous at the top, and one that tapers down at the bottom to look kind of like an egg standing on its small side. This is a good shape to start a head with.
Don't worry if it isn't perfect, you can make edits along the way. Most of this initial head shape will get sketched away with hair, ears, jaw and chin lines anyway, so this is just a starting point to mark out the space. Don't get too attached to it, so just line it lightly, and move on.
2. Set Guidelines for Facial Features
Where do all our facial features go? Well first things first, draw a straight line from top to bottom that divides the face in half. This is the line that will dictate how everything will fall into place, so take your time, and draw it lightly.
The next guidelines are a bit of trickery, and they are for the eyes. Artists use a concept called foreshortening to fool the eyes into seeing things as if they are near or far away in the two-dimensional space of the paper. One method is to place something slightly higher and make it smaller. This is how the eye guidelines will work.
About halfway down the head, draw a curved line from right to left. It should rise, just a bit, on either side. Then, make a duplicate line just above it. These lines will be used later for laying down the eyes and eyebrows.
3. Line Out the Facial Bone Structure
Many books think it's important to understand the human skull to draw the face, but I'm of the opinion, that if you understand where the bones are jutting out, it's not necessary to actually know the anatomy of the skull to draw a face.
Draw some guidelines that demonstrate that the forehead bone moves down, and breaks at the eye socket. Then it moves forward again at the cheek-bone and again towards the chin. There is also a severe amount of bone structure around the brow in a diamond shape. A lot of this can be used to demonstrate emotion, and facial depth, so it's important to get it in there. But, it's not necessarily important to understand the exact bone structure.
4. Lay Out the Eyes
Many artists will tell you the eyes are the most important part. If there's one thing you want to get right, it's the eyes. They are very expressive, and each set tells a story, and even the same set of eyes on a different day can tell an entirely different story. That's just how interesting that region of the face is.
When you're drawing the eyes, don't just draw an almond shape thingy, with a round colored thing in the middle. Use it, and work hard to make them expressive. First of all, follow the guidelines, to make sure the eyes move back around the face. They should begin just a touch off of the brow guideline to add some depth. There's no need for the top and bottom lines to touch. They can be connected, but they can also just be hinted at.
Always draw the eye-lids, even if their just small lines. It does't matter if they're only hinted at, they should be there for the effect that they offer. After that, make sure to add the correct eye-brows. Men's eye-brows grow directly out of the brow, so they should jut right from the brow guidelines. Men's eye-brows will also slightly wrap the head, so it's alright to give them a little flair at the outer edge. However, most men's eye-brows are fairly straight, and thick.
Take the Poll
What part of the Face is most expressive?
5. Lay Out the Nose
Noses can be tricky, as you're not actually drawing the nose lines, but more like drawing the shadow that the nose creates. Men's noses are bigger, and more well defined than women's, so there's usually more to them, and the older men get the more pronounced their nose will be.
Begin from the brow. The nose starts from there, so darken the brow lines, and angle them into the nose. Now draw the nose down. Here, I've drawn both sides of the nose, but often only one side is drawn down.. This is the shadow of the nose. The thing to note is, the nose is moving forward from the rest of the face. So, the line moves up into sort of a ball shape. Take note of some of the example noses to the left of the head to get an idea of what this means.
Next add the nostrils as just curled lines to either side.
The nose can have more or less pencil depending upon needs. It can be drawn as nothing more than two slits for nostrils, and maybe a bit of shadow for the side, or it can be fairly verbose. It's up to you.
Take a look at the examples on the left. The one at the very top is the most rudimentary nose. It's basically a rectangle moving down from the brow, and the nostrils are just halves of triangles on either side. Then a bit of a wrinkle is added about two-thirds of the way down to try to demonstrate the nose bending up and away from the face.
The second example is the exact same as the first, only all of the corners have been rounded, and the left line was erased. This one is very similar to the one in the picture to the right we are drawing.
The third is more bulbous, and accentuates the sides. This might be the nose of an older man. And the final example is very sparse. It's as little as necessary to demonstrate that, yes, this is a nose. It could be used for a young boy, or maybe a teen. Either way, it's up to you to decide which is best.
6. Lay Out the Mouth
The mouth, well this is where you can say, How do ya do! The mouth, much like the nose, can be as sparse, or as detailed as needed. However, the mouth needs to convey the necessary emotions. The emotion in our current drawing is apathy, so there's no need to go overboard.
Just under the nose draw a tiny J-shape, which will represent the upper lip. Then draw a straight horizontal line. Next, draw a slightly curved line under that to demonstrate the lower lip. Then, ta-da, a stoic expression.
Then, take a look at the mouths to the left for some more examples of how to lay them out. There's also a great many books and articles online that can be found to show things like facial expressions, including mouths and eyes, and that sort of thing. These are just a few examples, but the world is the limit.
Drawing Facial Expressions - Books on Drawing Facial Expressions
This is a book loaded with photographs highlighting the different possible facial expressions, as an artists reference book.
This is a facial expressions book specifically for caricature artists, so it demonstrates facial expressions to an extreme degree for all types of faces.
Christopher Hart is an expert in demonstrating the face. His opening chapter has a whole page dedicated on the different facial expressions, and how they're drawn.
7. Line Up the Ears
The ear is actually a two-part feature. There's the ear part, which has all the cartilage, and the hole through which you can hear, and then there's the lobe, from which a loved-one may nibble. These should be drawn as two separate arced lines that look kind of like the two halves of a heart shape that will never connect, because love is deaf or blind or something like that.
Anyway, feel where the top of your ear connects with your head, and you'll see that it lines up with the outer point of your eye, so guess where your ear begins its arc. Start there and begin the curl. Remember, men have bigger ears than women, and older men have really big ears.
Something to note about the ears is, much like the nose is moving forward away from the head, the ears are moving back away from the front of the head, so there's another need for some foreshortening here. The top part of your ear has sort of a rim, which can be drawn as two lines. Draw the second line, inside the first, and have it connect with the first, as if it disappears as it moves behind the head. This will give the illusion that the ear is slanted away from the front. Also, don't draw the ear too wide. Wide ears are going out, not back. Draw them thin, but tall.
8. Lay Down Some Hair
The key to hair is asymmetry. I defy you to find anyone who's hair is so well maintained that it's perfectly symmetrical. Take a close look at how hair moves around a person's head. It's actually very interesting. There's usually a spot where it seems to break from the scalp, and sort of flow outward, like a shallow river breaking around rocks in all different directions. The only time hair is symmetrical is in men that shave their heads.
Begin at the bangs. Find that spot where you think the hair will break free from the scalp. Don't be afraid to go a little crazy. Hair can cover eyebrows or eyes, in some cases, and they can certainly cover ears. Begin by drawing out the bangs in flowing downward strokes.
Now go above the head, but not too much higher than the scalp, as hair doesn't rise much. Just let it skim the surface, and move from the same general area that you started the bangs. Try to stay in sort of some unison with the bangs, so they are coordinated. Move around the ears, and make it interesting. Again, don't be afraid to be a little crazy, you should be sculpting it a little, like clay. There were times where I actually scribbled the hair in, and then went back and used my finger tip and eraser to try and get it under control. Try that if just drawing the shell doesn't work for you. It shouldn't look like a stilted helmet, but a flowing bunch of locks.
9. Touch Up the Facial Details
The touch up phase is probably my favorite part. At this point, the face is there, and it's time to scratch it up with some details, and character. Add pupils to the eyes. Give the cheek bones some texture. Add just a hint of shadow. Darken under the chin and neck. Draw some facial lines for age. Add some more strands of hair for a little more depth to the hair style. You really can't go too nuts here.
Use both hands here. Your pencil hand for drawing, and you can use your other hand to smudge some pencil for shadow. It's a cool trick that's fun at this point. Don't be afraid to try whatever you want.
The point here is to go from something that just looks like a zombie face to something that has a bit of life. This step can take longer than all of the other steps combined. Erase a few stray lines. Darken the lines you like. Don't give up on a drawing. Shade in areas, and don't be afraid of random lines. Some of them can add a dash of life.
What Do You Think?
The first thing you should do is, raise both of your fists over your head, and say, "YEAH ME!" Because, guess what? You did it.
I know what you're thinking. Yours doesn't look quite like mine. Well that's OK. First off, no one draws the same way. Everyone has their own style. It's a good thing. You want to draw like you, and have fun doing it.
The second thing is, maybe one of the eyes is bigger than the other, or maybe the nose is crooked, or the hair just doesn't look right, or the head shape is all wrong. Yes, I know. Guess what, it takes practice. But did you have fun?
If you had fun, take another crack at it. And another. And another. And another. I'll bet after you've drawn about ten heads like this, they'll start to look better. Good luck!
Leave me a comment below to let me know how you did, and stay tuned for my next How-To on drawing female faces in front view!
Check Out My Gallery
If you'd like to see what else I've drawn, please stop by Boneworld's DeviantArt Gallery. And if you like what you see, feel free to buy and download prints.
Or, if you'd like to see my art on a T-Shirt or Poster, please check out Boneworld's Zazzle Store. If you like what you see, you can buy anything there, as well.