Portrait Drawing Tips

Here are some of the diagrams we looked at in the Drawing Workshop. Although there are hundreds of anatomical drawings showing different splicings of facial proportions, these are the few basic ones I find the most useful.

I would also like to recommend Betty Edwards' "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain," where I sourced a couple of the diagrams below. 

Of course the best thing is to rely on your observations, but these diagrams should help you get started with portrait drawing.


5 Useful Tips for Drawing Accurate Portraits

1) The most important ratio to remember is that the eyes are in the middle of the head. There is a tendency to want to put the eyes towards the top of the head, but this is incorrect. 
Facial Proportions for portrait drawing 
2) For a 3/4 view of the face, the central axis of the face is a curved line. You can imagine this as similar to longitudinal and latitudinal lines on a globe.
Structure for starting a 3/4 view portrait
3) The most common error in portrait drawing is making the skull too small. See the very helpful diagram below.
Cut-off Skull Error
source: Drawing on the Right side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
4) Sometimes it can be difficult to place the ear, when drawing a profile. It just seem to float out there on its own. Here is a measurement that will put the ear in its proper place. 

source: Drawing on the Right side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
5) Use the sighting technique for measuring angles with your pencil to measure the angle from the nice to the chin and from the nose to the forehead. There will be a substantial angle. Not a straight line.

Use sighting technique to measure the angle from nose to chin.