How to draw a side profile of a face
Hello and welcome to Anatomy of a Sketch!
If you’re new here, this is where we do tutorials on drawing the human form, and breaking it down step by step with proper anatomy.
Today, we are drawing the face.
But we’re mixing it up! Today we will be learning how to draw a side profile.
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How to draw a side profile: the basics
Let’s go through this tutorial step-by-step, starting with a circle
If you are working traditionally instead of digitally, use a pencil for these first steps!
Step One: Draw a circle for the base
Easy enough, right?
So the first step when drawing a head from any angle will be to draw a circle.
The circle represents the top part of the head and the skull.
Step Two: Chin and neckline
For this next step, we will draw the chin and neck.
For this tutorial, we don’t draw below the neckline.
First, you want to draw a curved line down from whichever side of the circle your character is facing.
This will be the front of their face.
The line representing the back of the jaw should be a little bit farther back than the circle’s center.
For a male character, you could leave the hard angle of the jaw like this above, but I will soften it a bit later since my character is female.
Before moving to the next step in this section, go ahead and draw a line for the neck.
I try to place this line close to the jaw.
Next, we will draw the neck.
The line we drew before should be centered between the jaw and back of the neck (my line above is a little sloppy, but it still works.)
When drawing the neck, this is another part that depends on the gender of your character.
My character is female, so I made the neck slender. While if you wanted to draw a male character, I would make the neck slightly thicker and add his Adam’s apple.
Step Three: Outline the Nose and Mouth
For the illustration below you can see my original outline from above, with the new darker outline on top.
Here is where I add the nose and lips and redefine my lines.
When drawing the nose and lips, I try not to draw past my original line for the front of the face.
Notice above how to lips draw back to that point and then stop.
With the nose, how you want to draw it will depend on what character you are drawing.
I draw a lot of my noses at a slope that is not quite a right angle, but there are a lot of different nose types!
This is why I always suggest using reference photos to broaden your own style of drawing characters.
Step Four: Reference Lines
For this next step, you can see that I changed the opacity.
If you are working traditionally, you’ll still be using a hard pencil to make lighter strokes through this step.
Let’s take a look at these lines:
The top horizontal line cuts through the center of the first circle we made.
This will turn into the guideline for the eye and ear.
Where the top horizontal line meets with the most left vertical line is where I place the top front corner of the eye.
If I was using traditional media to create this drawing, this is where I would switch to using a pen or marker instead of pencil.
If you are using digital media like I did, you can lower the opacity of your sketch layer, and add a new layer to start drawing the facial features.
I always draw the eyes and eyebrows first when it comes to drawing facial features.
Next, we will place the ears, nostrils, and line for the mouth.
For the ears, we want to place them between the eyebrows and the bottom of the nose.
For the corner of the mouth, I typically bring it to about the center of the eye.
Here is where I also add the nostril and any other detail I might want in my line work.
Step Five: Outline
The last step in learning how to draw a side profile is outlining the face and head on your new layer, or with your pen.
Here is where you really define your lines and see what your final linework will look like.
In this step, I softened her jaw, gave a little more definition to her nose, and added details to the inside of her ears.
For traditional media, if you plan to add hair DON’T use a pen to draw the back of her head.
For digital media, we will add a new layer for the hair.
Step Six: Add hair
Obviously, this is an optional step.
If you do decide to add hair, this is how it should look on top of the head.
You want space between the scalp and the top of the hair.
And there you go!
I hope this tutorial helped you learn how to draw a side profile better, and a little about facial anatomy too.
If you have any questions about this lesson, feel free to leave them in the comment box. I try to answer every question you guys have so that we can all learn better together.
Thank you for reading, and have fun drawing!
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Hi there! My name is Leah, and I am going to help you learn how to draw, and take your pictures to the next level. I have college-level experience with form drawing and multiple art classes under my belt that have helped me create these tutorials. Let's learn how to draw together!