different side profile drawing for both men and women

All About Side Profile Drawing

If you love to draw faces and you’ve already mastered how to draw a face straight-on, the next obvious step is learning how to draw a side profile.  Of course, the easiest way to practice a side profile drawing is to master your own self-portrait drawing before you move onto other faces.  Practice, practice, and practice again – it’s all about getting to grips with the lines and curves of a face and not making your side profile drawing too rigid or hard looking.  While some faces are decidedly angular, bear in mind that mostly, features are soft and rounded and when you look at a face, take time to really notice each feature individually.  Examine the shadows that features cast on the rest of a face and look closely at light as it reflects on the face.  Light and shade help to give self-portrait drawing depth, so your image doesn’t look too hard.  Here are some more tips on how to draw side profile pictures all by yourself.

Start with a Self Portrait

A woman drawing herself with a pencil

This is the best way of getting to grips with drawing side profiles.  Use your own face, after all – you know it well!  You’ll easily recognize all the hidden depths and shadows, and your brain knows how rounded or straight your nose is, whether your eyes are wide-set or deep set.  You know if you have a full mouth or a wide smile, a dimple, or a sharp chin.  So, start with a face you know well – your very own!  Try and draw it from memory before drawing it from a photograph or using a mirror.

Avoid Making Your Side Profile Drawing Too Straight

As discussed in the opening paragraph, faces are soft – they shouldn’t be too straight.  Profiles especially have a slightly rounded shape to them so try and softly draw the shape of the profile you see.  Rub out anything too angular and just lightly sketch what you see to begin with.  You can build-up your drawing strokes slowly to give more depth and add shadow later on.  Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.  You can always start again!  It’s rare that a beginner artist delivers a perfect self portrait drawing or side profile drawing on the first attempt!

Different women face sketch angles

Use a Drawing Reference

If you don’t want to create your own self portrait drawing, use a drawing reference.  Choose an image online (Google or Pinterest for example) and sketch out the side profile as practice.  The beauty of faces is that no two faces are alike (unless you’re drawing identical twins and even then, you may find some differences).  That’s why learning how to draw a self portrait is a good starting point before you move onto learning how to draw a side profile belonging to another face!

Have All the Right Materials

You’ll need a selection of artists’ pencils and don’t use color until you’ve mastered a black and white sketch.  Choose soft charcoals as you can smudge them easily creating shade and shadows.  Always have a good quality eraser close by (don’t use the pencil top erasers).  You could also practice with a marker, try a black sharpie as the fine point makes good quality black outlines and don’t bleed.  Later, when you move onto color you might want to try chalks to get a soft finish or oil pastels.

Make Sure You Use Good Lighting

a women side drawing sketch with pencil using shadows

It’s easier to draw a face in good light because then you see where light bounces off the features.  Don’t try to do it in soft lighting until you’re confident that you can draw side profiles.  Daylight is always the best possible light or natural light, that’s as close to a window as possible.

Use a Circular Method

Black pencils with pencil sharpener and fader

If you’ve never tried a side profile drawing before, this is a really easy way of getting the proportions right and once you’ve used this method a few times, you can move onto freehand drawing.

  • Draw a circle on your paper.
  • Then, draw a vertical line down the center and a horizontal line across the middle so they intersect.
  • Divide the top half of the circle and the bottom half in half and draw two more horizontal lines. These should run parallel to the middle line.  Mark the lines from the top downwards, a, b, and c.
  • These are your reference points for facial features.
  • You should start the nose at line B and the top lip begins from line C.
  • The jawline starts from below the lip down to the base of the circle.
  • The ear starts parallel to the top of the nose and finishes parallel to the bottom of the nose.
  • The eye starts slightly off the center line point just alongside the nose.

You can check out this link for more help using the circular method: https://artsydee.com/side-profile-drawing/

The most important aspect of side profile drawing is to keep practicing and once you’ve mastered a self portrait drawing you can move onto other people.  Then you can move onto color and even try paints.  You may want to try drawing other face angles, in which case this is a useful tutorial: http://www.stanprokopenko.com/blog/2009/05/draw-head-any-angle/



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