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Nsio explains: Facial Proportions

By Nsio
7K Favourites
This one is more like an addition to my third tutorial in series. I thought leaving this out intentionally, since there are plenty of tutorials regarding this which can explain things in more detail.

The head:
Now there are really many ways to construct the head. One possible way is to use an eye as an unit and locate the facial features according to it. In this case, semi-realistic head is ~4 eyes wide and ~13 eyes high. The head I usually draw apparently is also ~4 eyes wide, but only ~8 eyes due to bigger eyes. I guess it's good for getting started, but I prefer trusting my judgement about right and wrong.

The blue lines indicate medians. Red lines are in my opinion the most important guidelines along the medians. I rarely draw other guidelines than medians, but after sketching the basic shape of the head, I usually draw the ear(s) before other facial features. Note it's position just next to the intersection of two medians. Then I usually follow this simple rule: the ears are on the eye level. The nose is on the same level with earlobe. The space between eyes is one eye wide. I often get satisfying results with only these.

Note that these are only examples. You can play a lot with the facial proportions, if you can make it look justified. You will learn that only trough trial and error.

Then drawing the head from any other angle gets a bit more complicated. On way is to use the two projections as guides to construct the head, but it takes quite a lot of effort. This is why it's so important to be able to see the proportions in three dimensional space, as I mentioned in my first tutorial. Once you can see them, you don't really need guidelines much at all. For me, a sphere for basic head shape and medians are enough.

I truly recommend sketching heads from many different angles every now and then. I have been drawing these heads many times already, which is why I can draw them fairly quickly. You could call it muscle memory.
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© 2013 - 2020 Nsio
anonymous's avatar
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Sandhiyudha's avatar
SandhiyudhaHobbyist General Artist
Really nice!
Thanks for sharing!
TheMarthaful's avatar
TheMarthafulHobbyist General Artist
I know this is a really old piece but honestly, I'm finding it so helpful. I have always struggled with proportions and different perspectives and your page is now my favorite for trying to fix the things I have had a hard time with! Thanks for posting these!
TheGreatD3KU's avatar
TheGreatD3KUStudent General Artist
Thank you!
Butka's avatar
ButkaHobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for sharing! I appreciate it that you used numbers to specify guideline ratios.
But I was wondering: what width-height ratio of the head do you use, regardless of the eye shape?
Nsio's avatar
NsioHobbyist Digital Artist
No problem!

The numbers in the examples aren't necessarily something to pursue for. They just show the ratios in the examples. I haven't measured the ratio(s) I'm using, I rely on my experience and make adjustments depending on the situation.
raykid6tag's avatar
raykid6tagStudent Filmographer
so I have a question, how exactly should I practice the head??? should I draw one head in the same angle manny time to get use to it or I can just draw random view angle and it will also be productive please help I know what to do to but I don't know how to practice it because I'm not sure if this way will get my drawings better
Nsio's avatar
NsioHobbyist Digital Artist
Before going to full head practicing, you need to practice many other things: Nsio Explains: Learning Order to Human Drawing

But when practicing heads, I suggest drawing projections at least from the front and side, and then using them as a reference for some common viewing angles. When you are getting familiar with head and better in general, then draw projections from behind, below and above and start drawing more advanced viewing angles.
raykid6tag's avatar
raykid6tagStudent Filmographer
ok i see thanks and i have another question i wanted to buy a graphic tablet but it's only for computer so I was wondering if this would help me in my drawing skills is it good to practice only on the paper or will this help me also ??
Nsio's avatar
NsioHobbyist Digital Artist
It's for the best to start with a real pen and paper. Digital drawing has it's own quirks which will only make it more difficult to learn the basics. When you get better at drawing, you can apply your traditional drawing skills on digital drawing.
raykid6tag's avatar
raykid6tagStudent Filmographer
Ok thanks a lot
kukuro-kun's avatar
kukuro-kunHobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for this. Gonna be helpful!
asdfkitties's avatar
asdfkittiesHobbyist General Artist
Added this as a reference in my Favorites. Hope you don't mind. :)
mikuhatsunevocaloidT's avatar
Thank you very much
AnimeSquad's avatar
AnimeSquad Digital Artist
How can you do lines so round at the head ?
Nsio's avatar
NsioHobbyist Digital Artist
If you mean those wireframe lines on the head in the middle, I used vector lines to get them as round as possible. With front views I probably mirrored the other half to get perfect symmetry. Usually I just draw the arcs free hand.
darkrai65's avatar
Thats cool i never thought of that
LilietBorodina's avatar
Your very first head looks like a deformed alien to me tbh... the stylized ones are like whatever, but in live human beings the middle line is at the middle of the eye, not at the top of it
Nsio's avatar
NsioHobbyist Digital Artist
Again, old tutorial and an attempt to draw something I haven't really drawn before. I have come to realize that I didn't get the guidelines quite in place. I originally intended leaving this one out because there are numerous tutorials already done which do much better job than I did here.
candaceleeparks's avatar
candaceleeparksHobbyist General Artist
Thank you for posting this :)
BDTite1919's avatar
Many thanks!
Lorna-RoseFoX's avatar
Royally cool and makes a lot of sense 
That-Tiny-Rii's avatar
Amazing tutorial!
MoesArts's avatar
MoesArtsHobbyist Digital Artist
ugh! i wish i had these when i was president of our school's manga/anime club. i am terribly horrible at explaining things and am not a good public speaker XD
anonymous's avatar
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