Portraits – Facial Features

Meet my pal Justin. He wants us to draw his face.

Sketchbook Activity, Part 1 – Proportions
Look carefully to see where features are on the face, and what they are aligned with. Start with a loose, light sketch and all the guiding lines you need, and rough in where the features go. Once you’ve got everything positioned, and your proportions look accurate, then start to build up the details.

There are lots of tutorials online about how to draw faces, you are welcome to try one or a few. But rather than copy another artist’s choices, I would encourage you to draw from observation. Look at faces in real life, look at photos of faces, measure them, draw lines on top of photos to see where features line up, and sketch them yourself. Once you’ve got the hang of it, add your own style to it.

Sketchbook Activity, Part 2 – Features
Clip photos of facial features from magazines (e.g. National Geographic, fashion magazines), glue them into your sketchbook, and practice sketching them, focusing on capturing shapes with shadow/light.

Then, choose one feature and do a concentrated study. For example, if you’re choosing noses, draw all of your friends’ noses, clip nose photos from magazines and draw them, draw all the noses of the Jonas brothers and their bandmates, etc. Make sure you find lots of different shapes, perspectives and expressions to draw.


Of course, there are loads of tutorials on YouTube with tips for drawing features, but be sure to also work from observation (photos/real life) so you can develop your own skills and style, and not just copy another artist.

You could even make your feature study into a unique piece of art, like these portraits by Emilio Villalba: