how to draw a head

How to Draw a Head – Drawing Turorials and Coloring Tips

Have you ever wondered how artists are able to create realistic and lifelike portraits? How do they capture the essence and unique features of a person’s face? In this comprehensive tutorial, we will guide you through the process of drawing a head from various angles, providing you with essential techniques for proportion, shading, and coloring. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to confidently draw heads.

So, are you ready to embark on a journey of artistic discovery? Let’s dive in and learn the secrets behind creating striking and detailed head drawings.

Key Takeaways:

  • Master essential techniques for drawing a head from various angles.
  • Learn the basic forms and proportions of the cranium.
  • Understand how to divide the face into thirds for accurate placement of facial features.
  • Explore different head shapes and experiment with character design.
  • Discover Andrew Loomis’s approach to drawing the head and understanding its basic structure.

The Basic Form for the Cranium

To begin drawing a head, it’s important to establish the basic form and shape of the cranium. By starting with simple shapes, you can build a solid foundation for more detailed features later on.

Start by drawing a sphere or circle, which will serve as the main structure of the cranium. This shape represents the rounded top part of the skull. Use a light and loose hand to create the initial outline, ensuring that it is proportionate and balanced.

Next, divide the circle or sphere along the horizontal and vertical axis, creating a cross-like shape. This will help determine the center of the brow line, where the eyes will be placed. By having this reference point, you can ensure that the facial features are evenly positioned.

Now, add an oval shape to the side of the main circle or sphere. This oval represents the plane change on the cranium, where the head starts to curve towards the sides. The placement and size of this oval may vary depending on the angle and perspective of the head you are drawing.

By incorporating these basic forms into your drawings, you will gain a better understanding of the overall cranium shape and structure. Practice sketching these shapes regularly to improve your skills and develop a solid foundation for more complex head drawings.


Benefits of Drawing the Basic Form for the Cranium: Techniques to Practice:
  • Establishes the overall shape and structure of the head
  • Helps determine the position of facial features
  • Builds a foundation for more detailed drawings
  • Start with simple sphere and circle shapes
  • Divide the shape along the horizontal and vertical axis
  • Add an oval to represent the change in plane on the cranium

Dividing the Face into Thirds

When it comes to drawing a realistic face, understanding the proportions and divisions of the face is essential. By dividing the face into thirds, you can ensure that each feature is placed correctly and create a balanced and harmonious composition.

To begin, take one of your previous head shapes and draw two lines parallel to the horizontal brow line, extending from the top and bottom of the oval or side plane of the head. This will give you a sense of the first two sections of the face.

Next, add another measurement for the bottom of the jaw line. This will determine the placement of the chin and help define the overall shape of the face. Keep in mind that these measurements may vary based on the specific character or person you are drawing.

In the lower quadrant of the side oval, include an oval shape to represent the position of the ear. Remember that the size and placement of the ear may also vary depending on individual characteristics.

These guidelines are the building blocks for creating a primitive head shape, which will serve as the foundation for adding facial features in the next steps.

A well-proportioned face not only adds realism to your drawings but also enhances the overall aesthetic appeal. By dividing the face into thirds and paying attention to the jaw line and ear placement, you can create more accurate and visually pleasing portraits.

Dividing the Face into Thirds – Example

Face Division Description
Upper Third Includes the area from the hairline to the brow line.
Middle Third Spans from the brow line to the bottom of the nose.
Lower Third Extends from the bottom of the nose to the chin.

dividing the face into thirds

Visualizing these divisions and incorporating them into your drawings will greatly improve the accuracy and proportionality of the face.

Basic Shapes for Drawing the Facial Features

When it comes to drawing facial features, using basic shapes can simplify the process and help you achieve dimensional drawings. By breaking down complex features into primitive shapes, you can create a solid foundation to build upon. Here are some key shapes to remember:

  1. Eyes: Use circles to represent the eyes, allowing for the creation of eye lids that wrap around the eyeball area.
  2. Nose: Utilize a pyramid-like shape or a small upside-down triangle to depict the nose, ensuring to consider the shape of the shadow for a realistic effect.
  3. Lips: Form the top lip with a basic “M” shape and the bottom lip with a “U” shape. These simple shapes provide a starting point for accurately portraying the lips.

By using these basic shapes as a guide, you can lay the groundwork for drawing the facial features with accuracy and precision. Remember to observe and study the unique characteristics of each individual’s face to capture their likeness effectively.

drawing facial features

Mastering the art of drawing facial features requires practice and experimentation. These basic shapes serve as the building blocks to develop your artistic skills and create visually compelling portraits.

Step-by-Step Head Drawing

Step-by-Step Head Drawing

Follow these step-by-step instructions to master the art of head drawing and create captivating characters like Alfred from Batman. Experiment with different head shapes and features to unleash your creativity and bring your characters to life.

  1. Start with a basic shape: Begin by drawing a simple oval or circle as the foundation for the head. This shape will serve as a guide for the proportions and placement of facial features.
  2. Add guidelines: Use light lines to divide the face into thirds horizontally and vertically. These guidelines will help you accurately position the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Draw the eyes: Place two circular or almond-shaped eyes along the horizontal guideline. Remember to leave enough space for other features and add details like eyelashes and eyebrows.
  4. Sketch the nose: Below the eyes, draw a triangular shape for the nose. Adjust the size and angle based on the character’s age and personality.
  5. Outline the mouth: Draw a curved line or shape for the mouth, taking care to align it with the lower guideline. Add lips and teeth as desired.
  6. Construct the ears: Position the ears on the sides of the head, partially covered by the hairline. You can use basic geometric shapes like ovals or rectangles to create the ears.
  7. Add hair and hairline: Sketch the hair by starting with the hairline and gradually adding volume and texture. Experiment with different styles and lengths to match your character.
  8. Refine the details: Once you have the basic features in place, refine the details by adding shading, highlights, and texture. Use varying line thickness to create depth and dimension.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts don’t turn out exactly as you envisioned. Keep refining your technique and experimenting with different styles to develop your unique artistic voice.

Key Steps Tips
Start with a basic shape – Experiment with different head shapes, such as round, square, or triangular, to create varied characters.
Add guidelines – Use light lines to avoid smudging and guide you in placing facial features accurately.
Draw the eyes – Pay attention to the size and placement of the eyes, as they can greatly influence the character’s expression and personality.
Sketch the nose – Play around with different nose shapes, such as straight, curved, or pointed, to give each character a unique look.
Outline the mouth – Experiment with different lip shapes and expressions to convey different emotions.
Construct the ears – Remember that ears come in various shapes and sizes, so don’t be afraid to experiment and add personality to your characters.
Add hair and hairline – Use flowing lines to create dynamic and realistic hairstyles that complement the character’s overall design.
Refine the details – Apply shading and highlights to bring your drawing to life and create depth and realism.

Drawing Various Head Shapes

When it comes to creating unique and memorable characters, the shape of their heads plays a significant role. It’s an opportunity to express personality and tell a story through shape language. By experimenting with different head shapes, you can add character and narrative to your drawings. Here are some tips:

Use sharp angles for villains:

Sharp angles convey a sense of aggression and menace. Think of characters like the Joker or Maleficent. Their angular heads emphasize their sinister nature, making them instantly recognizable and memorable.

Opt for round forms for friendly characters:

Round shapes give a softer and more approachable appearance. Characters like Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh exemplify this. Their rounded heads evoke warmth and friendliness, inviting audiences to connect with them on an emotional level.

To improve your drawing skills, practice depicting individual facial features from different angles. This will help you understand how head shape affects the positioning and proportions of these features. Whether it’s mastering the curve of an ear or capturing the tilt of an eye, focusing on specific areas of weakness will contribute to your overall growth as an artist.

Consistency is key in establishing recognizable characters. Once you’ve settled on a head shape that suits your character’s personality, stick with it throughout your artwork. This consistency will aid in developing a visual language and creating a cohesive cast of characters who inhabit your world.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Engage in regular drawing sessions to refine your skills and experiment with different head shapes. Over time, you’ll gain confidence and develop your own unique style and approach to drawing heads.

drawing head shapes

Tips for Drawing Head Shapes:

  • Experiment with different head shapes to add character and narrative
  • Use sharp angles for villains and round forms for friendly characters
  • Practice drawing individual features from different angles
  • Emphasize consistency in head shape throughout your artwork
  • Regularly practice drawing to improve your skills

Understanding Andrew Loomis’s Approach

Andrew Loomis, a renowned artist and author, offers a unique approach to drawing the head that emphasizes the basic structure and simplification of facial features. By breaking down the head into its fundamental forms, Loomis provides artists with a solid foundation for capturing the complexities of the human face.

According to Loomis, the basic structure of the head consists of a sphere, representing the cranium, and a block, representing the jaw and cheekbones. This simplification allows artists to visualize the underlying forms and accurately depict the head from different angles.

By understanding this basic structure, artists can create a strong foundation for their drawings, ensuring accurate proportions and realistic representations of the head. Loomis encourages artists to simplify the features of the face, focusing on the overall shape and construction rather than getting caught up in intricate details.

“Simplification is not an impoverishment, but rather a way of seeing clearly the essence of things.”

Through Loomis’s approach, artists can develop their skills in drawing the head, mastering the art of capturing likeness, expression, and three-dimensionality. By integrating the principles taught by Loomis into their practice, artists can elevate their artwork to new levels of realism and artistic expression.

Andrew Loomis’s Basic Structure of the Head

Component Description
Sphere Represents the cranium
Block Represents the jaw and cheekbones

By understanding and incorporating the basic structure of the head into their drawings, artists can achieve a solid foundation for realistic depictions of the human face.

drawing the head and hands

Establishing the Angle and Axes of the Head

Understanding the angle and axes of the head is essential for creating accurate representations from different perspectives. When starting a drawing, the angle of the head is determined by the positioning of the sphere. This initial placement sets the foundation for the overall composition.

The X axis refers to the up and down tilt of the head. It is influenced by the angles formed by the horizontal and vertical lines within the oval. By adjusting these lines, you can achieve the desired tilt, whether it’s looking up or down.

The Y axis represents the direction in which the head is turning. It determines the orientation of the face and plays a vital role in capturing the character’s expression and movement. By positioning the Y axis correctly, you can ensure that the head is facing the desired direction.

The Z axis is responsible for the twist or rotation of the head. It adds depth and dimension to your drawing, allowing you to depict the head from various angles. By considering the Z axis, you can convey a sense of dynamism and three-dimensionality to your artwork.

To summarize, the angle of the head, along with the X, Y, and Z axes, lays the foundation for capturing the perspective and dynamics of a character’s head. Mastering these elements will enhance your ability to draw heads from different angles and bring your artwork to life.

Axis Description Application
X Axis Represents the up and down tilt of the head Adjust the angle of the oval to achieve the desired tilt
Y Axis Represents the direction the head is turning Position the Y axis to determine the orientation of the face
Z Axis Represents the twist or rotation of the head Add depth and dimension by considering the Z axis

angle of the head


The angle and axes of the head are crucial for accurately representing the head from different angles. Understanding these elements enables artists to capture the tilt, direction, and twist of the head, resulting in dynamic and lifelike drawings.

Dividing the Face into Thirds and Adding Features

When drawing a head, it’s essential to divide the face into thirds to establish the proportions of the features. This technique ensures that the features are correctly placed and that the overall balance and symmetry of the face are maintained.

Guidelines for Dividing the Face:

  1. The hairline should align with the top of the oval.
  2. The brow line should align with the bottom of the oval.
  3. The bottom of the nose and chin should align with the divisions below.

dividing the face into thirds

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to accurately position the features of the face and achieve realistic proportions. However, it’s important to note that variations in spacing may occur based on individual characteristics. It’s always a good idea to experiment with different head shapes and facial features to create unique and diverse characters.


To master the art of drawing a head, it is essential to understand the basic structure, divide the face into thirds, and accurately place the features. By practicing drawing from various angles and experimenting with different head shapes and features, you can improve your skills and create realistic and captivating portraits.

Andrew Loomis’s method and techniques provide a solid foundation for this artistic endeavor. By deconstructing the head into simple forms and simplifying the facial features, Loomis’s approach allows for a more systematic and effective drawing process.

Remember to practice regularly and pay attention to key concepts such as proportion, shading, and perspective. By honing your skills and incorporating these fundamental principles, you will be able to create stunning and lifelike head drawings. So, grab your sketchbook, pick up your pencil, and embark on a journey of artistic expression!


How do I draw a head from different angles?

Start with a sphere or circle and divide it along the horizontal and vertical axis. Practice drawing basic forms and use guidelines to create a primitive head shape for further facial features. Experiment with different head shapes and features to create a variety of character types.

What are some tips for drawing the facial features?

Use circles for the eyes, a pyramid-like shape or a small upside-down triangle for the nose, and basic “M” and “U” shapes for the lips. Simplify the features by using primitive shapes and pay attention to the thickness of lines to create depth.

How can I improve my head drawing skills?

Practice drawing individual features from different angles to strengthen weak areas. Experiment with different head shapes and exaggerate features to add character and narrative. Emphasize consistency and practice regularly for growth as an artist.

What is Andrew Loomis’s method for drawing the head?

Andrew Loomis’s method involves understanding the basic structure of the head, dividing it into a sphere for the cranium and a block for the jaw and cheekbones. Visualize the underlying forms and simplify the features of the face to create a solid foundation for drawing the head from different angles.

How do I establish the angle and axes of the head?

The angle of the head is established by the positioning of the sphere at the beginning of the drawing. The X axis represents the up and down tilt, the Y axis represents the direction the head is turning, and the Z axis represents the twist or rotation of the head. Understanding and addressing these axes is crucial for accurately representing the head from different angles.

How do I divide the face into thirds and add features?

Divide the face into thirds to establish the proportions of the features. Use guidelines to align the hairline, brow line, and bottom of the nose and chin. Experiment with different head shapes and consider variations in spacing based on individual characteristics.

What are the key concepts to remember when drawing a head?

Remember to practice drawing from different angles, experiment with different head shapes and features, and understand the basic structure of the head. Andrew Loomis’s method provides a solid foundation for mastering head drawing.

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