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Have you been trying to learn how to draw faces, but it just didn’t work out?
Maybe you have started questioning your sanity and thinking „Why can’t I draw faces?“.
Don’t fret. I’m here to help!
In this article, I’ll explain 5 beginner mistakes – the reasons why you struggle with drawing faces. And I’ll give you some tips and recommend courses on how to get better at it.
You can’t draw faces because:
You Don’t Understand Correct Proportions
You Lack Knowledge Of Anatomy
You Haven’t Practiced Drawing The Features Independently
You Don’t Approach Faces As 3D Objects
You Don’t Know The Difference Between The Faces Of Men And Women
Table of Contents
Why Is Drawing A Face So Hard?
Drawing faces can seem to be more challenging than drawing other things.
But why is that?
The reason is actually quite eye-opening once you know it: Just think about how many faces you look at during a regular day. Two? Eight? Twelve?
Count them for one day. I bet it’s a lot of faces.
It obviously depends on your work. If you’re a professional bodybuilder, it might just be your own face and body in the mirror … 🙂
But if you work with people (even in an ordinary office job), you will look at a lot of faces every day.
And it’s not just that you see a lot of faces regularly, it’s also the amount of time you look at them. Every time you talk to someone you look at his/her face for most of the duration of the conversation.
Drawing a face is so hard because people look at a lot of different faces every day. Besides, they look at them for long durations of time because most of us look people in the eye during a conversation.
Therefore, you subconsciously know how a face looks right. The slightest drawing mistakes will be visible even to the layman.
Now we know why drawing faces is so hard. But what are the actual reasons why you have trouble drawing faces?
1. You Don’t Understand Correct Proportions
The first reason why you can’t draw faces is that you don’t understand the actual proportions of the human face.
There are several distinct rules when it comes to proportions.
Every face is unique to a certain degree, yes. Otherwise, we would all look the same. But there are relationships between the features of the face that apply to most people:
• the face can be divided into three parts of equal size: – forehead (hairline to brow-line) – nose (brow-line to bottom of nose) – mouth and chin (bottom of nose to bottom of chin)
• the face is about 4 to 5 eyes wide
• the sides of the mouth line up with the center of the pupils
• the nose fits between the eyes (width)
• the height of the ears and nose are the same
• the lip-line is about one-third of the way between the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin
These relationships are not hard rules. They will vary a bit.
But you would be surprised how many faces they apply to if you drew these lines over several faces.
Take my face for example:
1.1 Common Mistake #1: Drawing The Eyes Too High
The most common beginner mistake when it comes to proportions of the face probably is drawing the eyes too high.
When talking to other people, we tend to focus on the eyes. You don’t look at another person’s mouth when he/she is talking to you. (Except if you want to kiss him/her, ha!)
The next point of attention is the mouth – because it’s moving.
So, you tend to focus on the eyes and maybe the mouth during a conversation.
Moreover, the forehead is often covered by hair. Hence, beginners tend to ignore it when placing the eyes and draw them too high.
The Solution: Draw Them In The Center Of The Face
The eyeline is approximately in the center of the face. Put your eyes there and you are good to go.
1.2 Common Mistake #2: Drawing The Eyes Too Big
Another mistake beginners often make is to draw the eyes too big.
The reason for this is pretty much the same as before:
Because we look into the eyes of other people much longer than we look somewhere else, we tend to put much more importance on them than needed.
Due to that, the natural tendency is to draw them too big.
The Solution: Draw Them Smaller
Yes, that’s it. How much smaller?
Remember the rule from above: The face is about 4 to 5 eyes wide.
2. You Lack Knowledge Of Anatomy
The second reason why you struggle with drawing faces is that you don’t know jack about anatomy.
So many artists are in a love-hate relationship with learning anatomy. Yes, me too, I admit it.
Learning anatomy is not always fun. It’s boring dry stuff you have to do to learn drawing well. But unfortunately, it’s also the key to getting really good really fast.
You can master the proportions of the face to the extreme. So much that your faces will look like god himself designed the proportions with utmost care … but if you don’t acquire enough knowledge about facial anatomy, your faces will still look bad.