5 Proportions of the Face
to Use During Your Next Portrait Drawing

Proportions of the FaceDrawing by Andrew Loomis

Do you find yourself searching for correct proportions of the face, wondering how on earth to find the line of the eyebrows? Where the bottom of the nose is? The placement of the eyes? There are so many elements to pay attention to when drawing a portrait that it is incredibly easy to become overwhelmed and, ultimately, stuck.

The unique proportions that make everyone look distinctly like themselves present quite the challenge when we are drawing!

These individual characteristics can become less complicated when we tie them into a basic structure and simplify with a few guidelines. Here are five proportions of the face that can be easily memorized and used as reference points during the block-in of your next portrait drawing.

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Download the Essential Proportions of the Face Infographic at the end of this article to use as a reminder of these basic proportions!

5 Proportions of the Face to Know

Proportion #1: The eyes are halfway down the head.

Proportion of the Face #1

Surprised? I still remember being surprised the first time this was pointed out to me! Once I became aware of this proportion, it seemed like such an obvious measurement to notice.

This is a perfect example of how easy it is for these so-called "more obvious" elements to become lost in the complexities of the face. The good news is that once you see them, it's difficult to remember a time when you couldn't!

Every time you learn an element of head construction, it will be that much easier to notice it the next time you observe your subject.

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Proportion #2: The edges of the nostrils line up with the tear ducts or inner corners of the eyes.

Proportion of the Face #2

Proportion #3: The space between the eyes is approximately the width of an eye.

Proportion of the Face #3

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Proportion #4: The head is about five eyes wide.

Proportion of the Face #4

This one can be tricky because the shape of the head is often obscured by hair. Visualizing a "headband" similar to the one drawn in the above image can be helpful in finding the shape of the head.

Proportion #5: The corners of the mouth line up with the pupils of the eyes.

Proportion of the Face #5

Related tutorials:

How to Use These Proportions of the Face

Sketch by Leonardo da VinciSketch by Leonardo da Vinci

While these proportions will often be accurate, there is too much variation in faces to accept any one proportion as a rule. Even in the above examples the proportions didn't work perfectly!

We also would not want to rely so much on our knowledge of proportions that we become lazy in our observation of the model.

These measurements are best used as points of reference to compare to your model. For example, if you know that the space between the eyes is usually one eye-width, ask yourself: "Is this true on my model?" instead of assuming that it is.

Whether or not the proportions turn out to match those on your model, the attention you pay to them will lead to the same desired result: a more accurate drawing. These measurements are also very useful to know in order to draw portraits from memory or imagination.

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