Lesson on drawing the profile. Sketching the face from side view. Portrait tutorial.

Drawing Profiles

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I beg of you - DON'T DO THIS!!!!
Which drawing is the "bad" drawing? Compare the two!

Don't do that!

See how flat the back of the head is? Aaacck! And see how the eye is not the proper "triangle" shape, but rounder, more like the eye from the front view. And it's a way too close to the bridge of the nose. It's not "deep set" enough.

Notice that the nose and nostril are flush with the edge of the face. That's just wrong.

Also, notice that there isn't enough of a forehead. Not only is there not enough room for the brain in the back of the head, the forehead is pathetically low. The jawline is far too shallow. The ear is placed far too close in to the rest of the features. Sad, sad.

The lips are not shaped right, and are not rendered or shaded with any amount of sensitivity (just using all harsh lines). The mouth also has a shape like a sideways heart, which isn't right. It's too even of a shape. And, the mouth is too wide—it goes too far back.

The profile is too straight up-and-down, like all the features are sticking out of a flat plank. There should be a subtle and gentle receding in at the forehead, and the mouth and chin area.

Obviously, there isn't any shading or structure to the face. It is all just lines, with a few bits of tone here and there.

Don't do this! Don't draw your profiles like this! It's easy to not do it this way, once you understand what problems to look for, and what bad habits to break.

And don't feel bad if you have to erase and erase and erase because you couldn't get the proportions right the first time. This is perfectly normal. Just keep at it, until you get it right!

How to draw the Profile, step-by-step
(Steps 1 - 3)

The profile, step-by-step:

  1. Draw an oval and a circle, like the first illustration on the left. Draw the neck, coming out at an angle.
  2. Draw in the placement of the features, by sketching a line across the middle of the head (eyes), then halfway down from the eyes and chin (for the nose). Then draw a line about halfway down again (for the mouth). Draw in the contour of the profile—browline, nose, and mouth. Draw the ear in (at an angle). Also indicate the large muscle (Sterno Mastoid) of the neck.
  3. Start to refine the profile. Sketch in a shadow area to indicate where the eye socket is. Draw the nostrils of the nose, the lips, and the cheekbones.
  4. Erase some of the extra sketching lines. Draw in the hair, add details to the eyes, draw in the eyebrows. Keep shading and adding more detail.
  5. "Clean up" the extra sketching lines. Soften up any areas that have gotten too dark, and refine the features. Leave the drawing alone for a while. When you pick it up again, correct any errors you happen see.

  6. Profile DrawingFinished profile drawing
    Steps 4 - 5 (finished)

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