How to draw a side-face

step by step guideline


When drawing a human side-face, the approach is quite similar to the one of the frontal perspective.
If you haven't yet drawn a human face, please don't feel overwhelmed by all the details here. You get a good overview about the basic guidelines for portrait drawing HERE.

Let's break this down into some simple shapes: 1 ellipse, 1 circle & 4 lines :

side face drawing

In the video below, you will see all the necessary steps to draw this female side-face.
I have additionally broken it down into 6 important facts. These facts here aren't a step-by-step guideline, how to draw a side-face, but they will help you to keep some special characteristics of a side-face in mind:

6 important facts about the side-face

  • An ellipse, drawn with the pencil, is the basis for the definition of the 3 thirds of the face and only serves for orientation – the shape has nothing to do with the final shape of the profile.
  • A circle at the height of the first third defines the approximate size of the back of the head. The position where the circle is meeting the ellipse is approximately the place for the ear and the place where her jaw ends.
  • The eyebrows are a great point of reference for starting the drawing
  • The lips are protruding - draw them in a curved way.
  • Jawline = helpful for defining the position of the ear: the jaw is oriented towards the ear until the half or the head.
  • The hair is not close-fitting to the scalp: create a bit of volume by drawing it with a slight distance to the scalp.

4 mistakes you should avoid

when drawing a side-face:

When drawing a human head from the side, the proportions can defined with these four simple lines that I have shown above. Here are some further tips that are essential when drawing a side-face portrait. Try to avoid these mistakes:

#1 - wrong ear position
the ears have approximately the same length as the middle third of the face (reaching from the eyebrows to the bottom of the nose)  

#2 - too big eyes
we tend to draw the eye of a side-face too big - pay attention to this aspect when making the draft 

#3 - too distanced eyes
eyes are usually placed nearer to the bridge of the nose than we tend to draw them - this happens very often to my drawing students - and to me as well, for sure ...  

#4 - flat back of the head
add a ball to the ellipse at the height of the ear to better define the back of the head

In the mood for sketching more?

A rough ink sketch can be so fun and expressive, isn't it?

If you want to continue drawing in this rough sketchy style, I have lots of other material for you - like a curly hair sketch, that you can either draw with a ball-point pen or you simply continue with your ink pens...

How to draw curly hair
Barbara Baumann Illustration

About the Author

Hallo, I'm an illustrator and Skillshare teacher from Austria. After great experiences in the Marketing and Database sector, I finally realised that I simply need to follow my enthusiasm and fascination for drawing and illustrating.  

What fascinates me most, is this way to communicate without using any words. So expressive, so global. And this leads me to my second fascination about drawing: the exchange with others, with you! In my drawing courses I simply love to see the enormous developments of each participant - initiated by exchange and practice. That's what I like to do here, too. 

The idea for this blog comes from the bottom of my heart: to get you close to drawing and to show you that you too can draw #drawinggang  

It's all about learning to feel the drawing!

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