How do you shade a face

Draw faces and portraits

Welcome to my tutorial on drawing faces. Here I want to explain to you how to draw a young, female face - a portrait, if you want to call it that.

Before we start, a word in advance: The subject of this tutorial "Drawing faces" is particularly suitable for experienced draftsmen. It takes some practice to breathe life and naturalness into a face on a piece of paper. It is incredibly difficult to make the face to be drawn resemble the face of the real person. So before you draw a face or even a portrait, you should already have experience. That would certainly save you a lot of frustration.

Before you deal with this tutorial, I recommend two other drawing courses that I would like to rely on here, which are actually prerequisites:

The lips are the easiest part of a face to draw. Here you will learn how to draw beautiful realistic lips ...

In this tutorial I will show you how to draw a beautiful and detailed eye easily and quickly
Go to the "Drawing Eye and Pupil" tutorial ...

We will draw this portrait:


One more word about the expression on the face

You have already seen the finished drawing: the woman looks relatively blankly at the viewer. Neither joy nor sadness change their look. There are no wrinkles on her face, there are no scars to tell of life. The trenches of time have not yet been dug. The flawlessness of the skin tells of youth and strength, raves about the desire for beauty. A statement would do a portrait good.

The aim of this drawing course is not to draw striking faces, wrinkles or those special features that unmistakably characterize a face, but rather describes the basis of all of this, explains the basic procedure for drawing and shading a face. In addition, it is much easier to draw a young face.

If you want to draw a striking, older face, I recommend this drawing course:


Draw faces - careful first strokes

As I said, don't get discouraged. Drawing a face is also very difficult for me and always a great challenge, which I gladly accept, but which I sometimes fail at.

Please do not be surprised because the picture is so dark, I have increased the gray tones a little so that you can also see light and thin sketch lines.

I also start this drawing with a sketch or preliminary drawing on the drawing sheet. With very thin lines, I first try to capture the rough outlines of the eyes. Both eyes should of course be symmetrical to each other. The distance between the two eyes is usually the width of one eye, although this of course always varies somewhat.

When you have drawn both eyes, sketch the outline of the nose. It is, of course, located between both eyes and about 1.5 times the width of an eye below it.

I usually start a portrait by drawing the eyes. Many draftsmen proceed differently, first sketching the head and then placing the eyes and nose. I do it the other way around, start with the expressive, with the interaction of eyes, mouth and nose, with the physiognomy of the face, the facial expressions, and later draw the head for it.


Face geometry

I visualized the “face geometry” of this woman for you and placed a grid over the face, which should help you to arrange your eyes and nose correctly.

Of course, you only see a standardized grid here. Each face is completely individual and must be adjusted according to its appearance. Actually, you don't press people or faces into a grid, but you are welcome to make an exception for this.

Don't forget the crease over your eyes. It is enough if you indicate it with a line over the eyes. A bit above you sketch the eyebrows with thin lines.


The outline of a female face

When you have sketched the eyes and nose, continue with the remaining outlines:

Next, outline the lips so that the face becomes more expressive. You can see how you can position the lips in the following grid. It is again important that you only draw light lines that you can simply erase and touch up. Don't hatch anything at this stage, just sketch.

Once the mouth is sketched, it will give you the impression of what the face looks like and should take it easy to get the outline of the head down on paper. As I mentioned before, most artists do the exact opposite and draw the head first. It's up to you how you go about it.

As you can see, the long hair covers a large part of the head. This is a welcome perk for us because hair is pretty easy to draw and elegantly obscures the shape of the head. You only need to draw one side of the head, but make sure that the chin and ear are in the correct position.


The grid of a human face

You can use the grid to roughly orientate yourself when placing the facial elements. But never forget that every face is different. No face is ever absolutely symmetrical, each one is as unique as the person himself. Often one eye is higher and the other is lower, the nose is crooked or the mouth is a little twisted. All of these details form and shape the appearance of faces and what it is. The rule of nature says that we find faces more beautiful and attractive the more symmetrical they are. You can use this knowledge to make less attractive faces benevolent.

If you were able to draw this grid-like "face structure" and the face looks like your template face (the face of the person you want to draw), then you have the hardest behind you. From now on it will be easier.


Comparison: preliminary drawing and finished picture

As you can see, at this stage you cannot see any great resemblance to the finished motif. The preliminary drawing and the finished drawing differ considerably. The gray spots / waves in the preliminary drawing on the left result from the digital contrast enhancement. In truth, they don't even exist. The left face is drawn with very thin, faint lines. The digital darkening makes them easier to see - but unfortunately also the structures and waves of the drawing paper.

To draw an authentic face, its shading is very important. The main difficulty is therefore to insert shadows in the preliminary drawing in such a way that he forms the desired face in a modeling way. So in the following I will almost only shade the face.

Your drawing sheet is two-dimensional. To depict the three-dimensional shape of a face, you have no choice but to suggest curves with shadows. Think of a ball. How would you shade it? Correct: it stays light at the front, but at the edges - on the slope - it is drawn dark.

See you in the next step and remember the knowledge that a head can be shaded a bit like a ball.


Shade a face

After you have drawn the outlines of the face, you have to hatch the dark and shady areas - in other words, indicate the lateral slopes on the cheek and chin. It is imperative that the face is completely darkened and shaded before adding important details such as eyelashes, eyebrows or lips. If you were to shade later, you would blur these details a thousand percent and would have drawn them in vain. So hatch dark areas now and immediately, and blur them in the next step.

Areas to be shaded are on the entire edge of the head, in places where hair casts a shadow on the face (left), in the eye socket and on the nose. Be careful with the nose and prefer to hatch a little less here. The more noticeable the hatching on the bridge of the nose, the higher it looks. With a snub nose you hardly need to hatch anything. You also need to be very careful with your cheekbones. It is better to hatch too little than too much, because you can always add graphite later, but erasing becomes more and more difficult as the drawing progresses.

Because I'm talking about erasing: Never try to erase a large area that has been hatched and has already been blurred. It almost never works. By smudging, the graphite is “pressed” correctly into the paper. If you want to erase this gray area, you often get a smeared, irregular structure. The gray surface will never appear as smooth as it was before you erased it. So proceed carefully.
It's like in life: the greedy end up drowning in bland abundance, while the thrifty can look back on an accentuated work with a smile. Hatch and smudge sparingly!

Work out the two highlights between the upper lip and nose by simply leaving the bridge lighter. Both webs run from the upper lip to the nose and then flatten out inconspicuously. But also hatch left and right in between. These two bright ridges are the bumps that we feel when we hold ourselves between the nose and upper lip.

Please do not draw make-up on your face under any circumstances! Not now! It comes much later or not at all. We are not greedy, we do not want to overload anything, we seek the awakening of the natural, and this comes by itself or not at all. Don't make-up now!


Indicate soft skin by smudging

Smear your hatch with a clean handkerchief. (Take a fresh tissue handkerchief!) Just press gently and carefully. Try to smudge the graphite as softly and uniformly as possible. You should have blurred something this way before and have experience. Be really gentle! Drawing is not for gross motor skills.

If you proceed carefully enough, you will get very smooth and flawless skin on your face (not you, but the person you are drawing). Right from the start, make sure that light areas are not or only very lightly wiped over and that transitions into darker areas are smooth.
After the first blurring, you will by no means get the desired shades of gray that make up the final shade. Shading is a longer process of alternating hatching and blurring, as you will see in the following steps.

Draw the mouth and eyes as I have described it in my other two tutorials. Shade them too before drawing in details.


Model the head with shadows

The eye is gradually gaining life. Growing shadows model the shape of the head. It is important to continue hatching. Hatching and blurring alternately and try to sculpt the face with the resulting surfaces. This requires some practice and spatial awareness. If you've already managed to properly shade a sphere so that it looks three-dimensional on a sheet of paper, you should be able to shade a head as well. Basically, the head is a large ball with two small holes, an elevation and a transverse trench that never stands still in women. Perhaps this idea will help you with shading. A head is like a planet: while hills and valleys emerge on its surface, the strangest processes take place inside. Always think of the spherical shape and shade accordingly.

Ignore hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, they'll come down on paper later.

Keep working on the eyes as well. You can now draw in the pupils and iris. Again, try to create coarse shading and dark areas before you worry about details. Don't forget to keep the light reflection in the eye bright. If you rub it in later, it usually doesn't work because the graphite can no longer be completely removed.

The same goes for the lips. Shade them carefully and do without elaborate details such as small lip wrinkles. In the middle, where both lips meet, it is of course darkest.

You can also darken the eyelid. With a made-up woman like this one, you can now apply a lot of gray between the eye and the crease of the eyelid, because this area usually appears dark anyway due to eyeshadow. However, only apply enough eyeshadow to make it proportionate to the rest of the shadow. Avoid large, black cakes and don't create a panda with dark circles under the eyes.

How much the area around an eye needs to be darkened depends on factors such as the depth of the eye sockets, the intensity of the make-up or the light available. Again, don't try to work out the final gray scale by hatching and blurring once, but rather feel your way in several passes (alternating hatching and blurring) to get a result. The aim is to create a smooth skin by smudging.

You just draw the upper crease of the eyelid a little bit darker so that it looks like a dark line. In the area above the crease of the eyelid up to the eyebrow, you let the dark area fade slightly into the lighter. You also darken the skin directly under the lower eyelid and then let it flow downwards in a lighter shade. With an eyeliner, you can trace almost the entire eye and let it flow into dark areas. Just smudge very carefully and use a handkerchief!


Continue shading, then draw hair

You can see only a few changes from the previous step, but if you look closely you will notice that the skin now looks much finer, softer and more tender. You can get such soft skin by alternating, light hatching and blurring.

You hatch the area under the chin darkly and let it flow downwards. This portrait ends at the neck, and a gentle bleeding looks better than an abrupt ending. (That is a matter of taste, however. You should act creatively and artistically freely and design your drawing as you want.)

You can now continue sketching the outer hair, at the very top right. The aim is to continue to improve the preliminary drawing of the hair. Use many "quick" strokes and draw inwardly curved (thin!) Lines. When drawing hair, it is very important that you always pull the lines through with a single stroke and not separate them in between. Weaning it off would put ugly spikes in your hair. And which woman wants spikes in her hair? So do her a favor, grab the pencil far back and pull a nice, curvy line out of your wrist in one movement. Quickly quickly Quickly. Fast dynamic lines. Pen and wrist can be like a pair of compasses. Just keep your arm still and draw fast lines out of your wrist with a swing, this will give your lines exactly the right, stepless curvature. Rotate your drawing sheet so that the curve is also sloping in the right direction. Lines that you draw from your wrist always lean inward, towards your wrist.

If you draw hair in this way, I recommend that you only do it gradually and always draw / hatch it in alternation with the shadow adjacent to the face and the face itself. This is the only way to ensure that the gray tones of the face, the hair and their shades of gray are harmoniously coordinated with one another.

The woman in the portrait has blonde hair, and the picture should also be very light, which is why little shading is required. If you draw dark hair, you will of course have to apply more graphite.

Note: It makes no sense to draw in individual strands of hair now, if the shading is not yet finished, you would just blur them.

You have already achieved a lot. The best thing to do is to lean back briefly, relax your back and eyes and watch the world outside your window. Whether sun, rain or snow, it is always worth looking out and paying attention to everyday moments, no matter how trivial they may seem and splashing around in the monotony of viscous time. Just relax.


Draw eyes, nose and mouth

And on it goes!
The face is slowly taking shape. Thank the shadow!

You have to take the following steps:

Most noticeable is the narrowing of the bridge of the nose. Compare it to the previous picture and you will see that it is now considerably narrower. The woman has not had a nose operation, no pencil and eraser have changed her. The narrowing of the nose can be achieved by erasing the bridge of the nose as a light, narrow ridge and applying the shadow of the incline of the nose to the side of the bridge of the nose tighter and narrower. You can now see what shadows can do.

The surrounding areas of the nose are lightened a little towards the cheeks so that the nose does not appear as "pressed down" as in the step before.

The bridge of the nose and the tip of the nose are the highest points on a face. They should always be very bright because they are directly illuminated by light. At the base of the nose between the eyes you draw a small shadow again, because the forehead has a small slope at this point. The best thing to do is to take a close look at the nose and its approach in the picture, describing it with words would slip into the strange and appear very confusing.

Here is a detailed picture of the following drawing step, which takes place between the tip of the nose and the mouth.

The lighter you erase the tip of your nose, the nudger it becomes. The adjacent areas describe sloping inclines and must therefore be dark. Basically, the tip of the nose is like a small ball, the highest point of which shines.

The nostrils are very bright on the top because they are illuminated by light from the front and have little slope. At the end of the nostrils, where the nose is rooted in the face, they cast a small shadow.

Along with the pupils and the opening between the lips (if any), the nostrils are certainly the darkest part of a face. Still, don't draw them black, or they'll stand out inappropriately. Also, we don't want to draw a socket pig nose. The gray tones should be more or less coordinated with one another. A dark area runs under the nostrils towards the lips, but it gets lighter the further down you go. The slope towards the lip causes this lightening.

The skin over the lips is generally very light because it is inclined upwards and is therefore directly exposed to light (sky, lamp, etc.). A nice contrast to the lip is therefore a must. Starting from the two tips of the upper lip, two light-colored webs run towards the nose. Do not forget this.

You should have shaded the lips appropriately in the previous steps so that you can now draw in details such as lip wrinkles. I use both the pencil (for smaller ones) and the cardboard pencil / estompen (for wider lip wrinkles). You can get moisture and shine by using an eraser to rub in light lines next to the dark lip wrinkles. I described this in more detail in my tutorial on how to draw a mouth.
There is a very dark area under the lower lip, which, however, is limited by the immediate point of the chin. You can shade them pretty dark.

If you compare the picture with the picture from the previous step, you will see that with a different, more refined shade, the entire face appears different again. Correct shading takes a lot of practice and a good three-dimensional imagination. Shadow shapes the face. Shadows hidden, shadows concealed, shadows draw like a pencil

But not only large-scale shading but also smaller details make the portrait look much more lively:

We look first into a person's eye. (Most people do this - some also look elsewhere.) You should therefore draw your eyes in great detail. As you can see, the eyelashes are still missing. So far it was only necessary to sufficiently shade the skin and the lid of the eye, which has now been achieved. The crease above the eye is also now appropriately darkened.

How to draw the eye in detail, I explained in great detail in another tutorial, which is why I'm only touching this here briefly. A striking contrast is extremely important! Particularly between the pupil and the reflection (a single reflection instead of two is sufficient) as well as the white eyeball and its enclosing eyelid, striking contrasts are an absolute must.

It's easy to draw eyebrows: use a sharp pencil to draw many small lines in the direction of the hairs.


Shade the face even better and draw more hair

The improved hair is of course immediately noticeable. With many long, thin lines, they now appear much fuller. You should smudge little or nothing on them, all shades can be created by many small lines that are drawn in the direction of the hair. Try to work out a few strands by more or less emphasizing and tracing some of them. These strands of hair can arise accidentally because you accidentally drew a few lines too vigorously, but they can also be drawn in specifically by orienting yourself on the previous preliminary drawing of the hair and refining it further. As I have already explained, it is important to always pull hair completely from top to bottom from the wrist in one stroke, otherwise it will look stepped and angular.

You only need to indicate the ear and shade its rough shape - you can hardly see it. You can darken the area between your ear and hair because there is hardly any light.

We haven't really gone into much detail about the woman's chin yet. It is enough if you strongly shade it at the very bottom and thus indicate the curvature that is specific to every chin. Some people have a small indentation in the middle of their chin, which you can rub in as you wish (or do not hatch or smudge it in the first place and leave it light from the start). With this face it is omitted.

You have to darken the "gap" between the lower lip and the upstanding chin and let it flow outwards.

You can trace the contour of the entire face (the visible "frame" / "edge" from ear to chin) with an eraser pen. If this contour is over a dark area, it receives an appealing contrast in this way. In this picture would be this is the case on the chin, but also on the right half of the face (her left), because the hair behind it is very shadowy and dark, but more on that later.

Not to be forgotten are the lips, which you can add more wrinkles to.


Model the head further and smudge the skin softer

The differences to the previous step can almost no longer be stated in words, but they are clearly present and make the face appear more realistic overall. The head is now much better shaded. Dark areas on the entire head are further blurred and darkened so that it looks more plastic and three-dimensional.

One hard spot to draw is the open hairline above the ear. Here I tried to cover it up with hair, which looks pretty bogus and unsuccessful. I'll fix this error again in the next few steps.

You can use an eraser pen to erase a light outline around the mouth. This makes the lips shine and creates an excellent contrast to the skin and chin.


Draw eyelashes over the eyelid - straighten your nose

It’s getting slow! With eyelashes, women look much more feminine. One likes to look into such eyes.
Because the skin of the face and the rest of the head are now satisfactorily and finally shaded and nothing more needs to be smudged, you can now start drawing in smaller details such as hair and eyelashes. I'll go into much more detail about eyelashes in a detailed picture.

First, I lightened the bridge of the nose again and straightened it with a clearer and clearer border to the neighboring gray shade. On the other hand, I darkened the slope to the nose next to it and blurred it even more softly.

Note the light area between one eye and the base of the nose. (I mean the place where the tears flow). It should be very light and taper down again into the darker. This highlight gives the face more liveliness. On the following detailed picture you can see this bright point of light again particularly well. (Look at the skin underneath where the tears might come from.)

A few more words about the eyelashes and the eye in general:

After you have properly shaded the lid of one eye, you can draw eyelashes over them or rub in bright glossy effects. Eyelashes are not straight lines! You are always bent! Likewise, they are never evenly spaced, but grow almost at random from the eyelid. Eyelashes are hair and as such they fall out and grow back, which means that they are of different lengths and strengths. Therefore, make sure that they do not all look the same, but rather grow randomly from the lid and are each curved to different degrees and even of different lengths. Of course, you achieve beauty through a healthy amount of balance and symmetry, but don't create a robot where eyelashes sprout at exactly the same 0.3mm intervals. That seems strange.
Beauty cannot be expressed in words, nor can it be measured. The most beautiful are things that create an overall picture of unobtrusive naturalness.

Eyebrow hairs have a specific direction. They always grow towards the middle bar of the eyebrow. The upper hairs grow slightly downwards, the lower ones slightly upwards. The same applies here as with the eyelashes: All hairs should be placed randomly, of different lengths and strengths and always slightly differently curved.


Shade the forehead

We are (already) approaching the end soon. I fixed the error at the hairline in the upper right corner by erasing the structure of the hair and hatching and blurring a dark area over it. The area should be nice and dark because the hair above it casts a clearly visible shadow. I hatched and wiped a similar shadow on the other half of my face. The further out on the head you are, the more shading can be used, as this clarifies the incline and round shape of the head. Together with the shade of the hair, this area can become very dark. On the forehead, the round shape of the head should be worked out in great detail, as there is nothing else here. If you like to draw creases here, you can rub them in and trace them with gray on the top. I wrote a tutorial for wrinkles here ...

All eyelashes have been lengthened a little and emphasized more. Depending on the face and eyes, this can happen to a greater or lesser extent. Many women strive for long eyelashes and a look that cuts the air sharply. Decide for yourself how long and how thick you will draw your eyelashes.

You have probably already seen that the lady's mouth looks a bit strange. It's too wide. They are believed to be clenching their teeth. In the next and last step I will fix this error.

The last step - improve everything a little more

The picture is now ready. We look into a flawless face that unfortunately tells little.

I adjusted the exaggerated width of the mouth by erasing the corner of the mouth and wiping a small shadow over it. Basically, it is enough to remove the dark gap between the lips on the edge. The changes in tiny nuances cause enormous changes in a face. Still: I didn't manage to smile. Maybe you can do it

The improved hair is striking. As described so far, I draw them with curved lines that are drawn through quickly without stopping. Individual strands and hair structures should definitely be emphasized. If necessary, you can do this with an eraser pen or another sharp-edged eraser and rub in light areas of hair, shiny areas or light reflections.

At the top right of the hairline I rubbed individual small hairs into the dark hair shadow with an eraser pen and small, pointed erasers. (Possibly with a sharp eraser edge - cut up erasers.) In addition, the ear underneath was worked out a little nicer.

The further darkening of the neck increases the contrast between the chin and the hair hanging over it.

I erased the contour of the right cheek and the contour of the chin again so that the skin stands out nicely from the surface below. (White "light frame" on the face.)

Eyelashes and mouth have also been improved, as you can see in the two detailed images below.

The eyelashes are significantly stronger and longer. I erase the top lightly so that there is a nice contrast to the skin underneath. They are illuminated by light and are therefore bright at the top.

The eyeball has tiny veins on the inside. With a very sharp pencil and really minimal You can draw these veins with pressure. If you want to create a drunkard, now is your chance: Draw small veins in the eyes.

You can erase light areas and gloss effects one last time lighter. You can find such bright spots in the reflections in the eye, on the skin of the lacrimal gland and on the edge of the eyelid to the eyeball. The area of ​​skin under the eye towards the nose should also shine. Use an eraser pen or a very sharp-edged eraser to do this.

Eyebrows are rather fine and thin on the outside and thicken in the middle of the brow. Keep this in mind as you improve your drawing.

You can also erase bright shiny areas on the nose and mouth. So you should lighten the tip of the nose, the complete contour of the lips, the two bumps between the mouth and nose and also the shiny areas on the lips. The shadow of the upper lip (which falls on the lower lip) must be very dark. Lip wrinkles should again be placed randomly and not follow an obvious pattern.


Why is it so hard to draw a face?

Ultimately, it's tiny details like the width and length of the mouth, eyes and nose, as well as the intensity of shading, that make up the look of a face. In addition, of course, the position, the distance and the size of the elements just mentioned as well as numerous other factors that make each face appear individual.

Since we see many faces every day, features of a face are particularly noticeable. Unfortunately, all of this happens subconsciously. Sometimes we cannot explain in words exactly why Hans’s face looks different from Peter's - if one disregards obvious factors such as hair, eye color or age. We recognize all of this unconsciously. The information is stored as an image in our heads. We recognize the person immediately, but we could never draw them from memory or explain why this face is this face. It simply takes too many details that we could never list or describe individually. It is only when they work together that they create the individuality of a face.

We recognize a mistake in a portrait drawing of a familiar face immediately, but often cannot explain what is wrong in detail. To make matters worse, we react much more sensitively to human faces than to those of animals. It is much more difficult to distinguish animal faces because we have less to do with animals. Monkeys always look the same, don't they? The same for cats or dogs - not to mention guinea pigs, they are so scruffy that you could mistake them for pillows and have no real face. Animal faces could be drawn more easily because we don't notice mistakes immediately.

In truth, certain animal faces have just as many features and peculiarities as a human face. (Except for jellyfish.) We are not skilled enough to differentiate between them and believe that they all look somehow the same. The same applies to people of other races: we are just not used to distinguishing their faces. We do not notice your peculiarities because we specialize in the facial type of the people around us. And because we react so sensitively to familiar facial patterns and immediately recognize every discrepancy and peculiarity, it is so difficult for us to draw faces and portraits and reproduce them exactly - errors and tiny deviations from the original are immediately noticeable. It is actually impossible to draw a perfect portrait. In interaction with the various facial elements, we immediately recognize discrepancies and believe that the face on the portrait looks different than the original face - and it actually does.

If you liked this free tutorial and the dry text and typing errors didn't put you off, you would make the drawn woman's face (and my face too) smile if you let yourself be carried away by a generous and kind gesture, and one my drawing course or novels.

I hope you learned something and had fun. Thank you for reading!

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