Let’s just say, drawing women was never my forte… As much as I wanted them to look beautiful, sexy and attractive, their ruggedly handsome man face always seemed to kill the vibe. Hey, it wasn’t my intention!
It was just so damn hard to figure out what exactly the slight differences were that defined the masculinity and femininity of a characters face.
As I later discovered…
When it comes to drawing female heads, believe it or not they’re not actually all that different from drawing male heads. The entire process is all the same.
You’ll begin with a base ‘blue print’ head, adding to that the facial features, then of course the final refinement, lighting and details. But this time there’s a little more to it.
Time for a quick biology lesson!
There’s no denying that there are definite differences between a feminine face and a masculine face. But, what is it that actually makes a face look feminine or masculine? The answer to that question is HORMONES.
The male hormone, testosterone is the culprit for producing an angular, more defined face, facial hair, and thickened skin.
On the flip side we’ve got Estrogen, the female hormone which is responsible for pretty much the opposite; softer skin, smaller, rounded features, and the absence of facial hair.
Although men and women possess a combination of both hormones, men predominantly have a higher amount of testosterone, while women are up the other end of the scale with a higher quantity of estrogen.
This isn’t always the case of course, which is why some men can also look quite feminine, and some women can come across as visually masculine.
These hormones not only affect the way our face looks, but they are what separate the physical appearances of the genders. When drawing the head, these differences are few and far between and very subtle. But they make all the difference in the world.
And so, although the process for constructing the male and female head is almost identical, the way they’re drawn is certainly not. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to draw the head of a classical female character and the exact key physical differences that create her feminine appearance.
Drafting up the Blueprint
Step 1: Draw a Sphere
To begin, it’s easier than you may think! All heads start out the same, as a simple SPHERE. Now simple it may be, but the sphere is the key to this entire method. It is the base that everything else from here on out will be constructed upon.
Since the rest of the head will be built out from the sphere you can use it as a guide to determine the head’s size.
You’ll notice that I’m using the term Sphere instead of circle and it’s an important distinction to make. In order to become effective at dynamic drawing, you’ll need to begin observing what you draw as 3D form, instead of 2D shapes.
Step 2: Slice The Sphere Into Quarters
As you draw your head, a series of guidelines will help you out along the way. These guidelines will literally show you where everything should be placed so that the proportions of the head and the placement of the features are all correct.
So let’s begin by dividing up the Sphere into equal quarters using two intersecting vertical and horizontal lines.
The vertical line, running top to bottom will represent the middle division of the head and it’ll help ensure that the facial features and the head itself are all centred.
The second horizontal line, running from left to right will represent the brow line.
Step 3: Cut Off the Sides of The Sphere
The human head isn’t actually a perfectly round dome. In fact it flattens out somewhat at either side. So to shape her skull, you’ll slice off the sides of the sphere.
How much you slice off will determine how wide your character’s head will be. The more you take it in, the longer her face becomes, and the less you take off the wider it’ll appear.
Step 4: Draw in the Eye Line
Next, draw in a line that runs across the sphere, directly underneath the brow line. This line is the ‘eye line’ and it’ll show us where to place the eyes of our character later on.
Step 5: Draw in the Chin Line
Extend the vertical center line down toward the chin. The eye line is found half way around the overall length of the head. Knowing this will allow you to estimate how far down the center line should be drawn.
Step 6: Draw in the Feature Guidelines
Now between the eye and chin line, break the center line up into equal thirds. This will give you two new guidelines that are spaced out evenly in the bottom half of the face.
The first line tells you where the nose is to be placed, while the guideline below that will indicate placement of the mouth.
Here’s something to keep in mind. For a classically proportioned face, dividing the lower half of the head up into equal thirds is ideal, but those distances can always be varied to create more unique and interesting looking faces.
Step 7: Draw in the Hair Line
The hair line is drawn in half way between the top of the head and the brow line. This line tells us where the hair on her head will sprout from.
Although the hair line is typically found between the top of the head and brow line, especially on the ladies, it can vary depending on the different hair styles you decide on for your character.
Some characters have receding hair lines; some are bald and have no hair line at all!
Step 8: Draw in the Jaw
From either side of the head, draw a curved line that runs down toward the chin. The corners of the jaw should kink around the same level as the mouth line, be careful not to make them too sharp though!
The jaw is one of the key areas of the head that play a big role in determining how masculine or feminine your character will look. A man’s jaw tends to be more angular, with sharper corners and a broader, squared out chin.
A woman on the other hand will typically have a softer, more rounded appearance at the side corners of her jaw. The chin will also be less broad and more curved.
Although these distinctions are subtle, they are some of the more prominent defining physical factors between the two sexes. So it’s important to keep them in mind when drawing women.
Step 9: Draw in the Cheek Bones
Draw in a guideline for the side of the brows and the cheek bones. These lines basically separate the side planes of the face from the front planes.
The bottom half of the sphere isn’t needed anymore so go ahead and erase it.
Step 10: Draw in the Neck
Now let’s draw in the neck. From certain angles, the neck can be a complicated area to draw. Luckily, by simplifying it down to its basic forms things become a lot easier.
Think of the neck as a cylinder that joins the head to the body. The head is able to swivel around, side to side, up and down on this cylinder, as if it were connected to a ball joint.
The shoulder and back muscles wrap around the back of the cylinder, while another two band-like muscles on either side of the neck run from behind the ears, down to the front of the collar bone, forming a ‘V’ shape at the base.
Like the jaw, necks also play an important role in defining the masculinity and femininity of a character. Women tend to have longer, skinnier necks, while men’s are more thick and wide.
Because women are softer in appearance their neck also tends to have less detail then a man’s neck. So although you may know the anatomy of the neck back to front, when it comes to drawing in those muscles and veins, less is often more.
Step 11: Draw in the Ears
The last addition to our base blue print is the ears. Male and female ears are pretty much visually identical, so all you need to remember here is that the top of the ear aligns with the brow, and the bottom of the ear comes down as far as the nose line.
Well folks, that completes the first phase of head construction. Now go pour yourself a glass of water and rehydrate your brain...
Up until this point everything we’ve drawn follows an almost identical work flow to the male head. The only real differences being the jaw shape and neck thickness.
From a distance the base looks rather simplistic. But it is the most important part of the equation.
Look, I’ll let you in on something. If you want to get a really solid foundation in drawing heads, download these steps into your brain through practice and repetition until it is HARD WIRED.
This base structure is the foundation that holds everything else up, and every head you draw will begin by using this formula.
After practicing this simple set up, it will become automatic, and once that happens it’ll take a lot of the guess work out of drawing heads.
As you can see, the head is quite geometrical. Everything relates to everything else in some way. The eye line falls half way down the head, the head is five eyes wide, the nose and mouth divide the bottom of the face up into equal thirds, etc, etc.
Try to remember the relationships between the features and chances are you’ll end up with a proportionately accurate head every time.
One final thing to mention before we move on is to double check that everything about your head up until this point is looking correct.
The more you add from here on, the more difficult it will be to change later if you notice something wrong with the overall structure.
Drawing in The Face
Step 12: Eye Placement
Now it’s time to draw a face onto our nicely proportioned head. We’ve already laid in the guidelines for the facial features so placing them in will be a breeze!
Before we begin, let me ask you a question… What is the first thing you ‘see’ when looking at another person’s face? …
Their EYE'S of course! When we look into someone else’s eyes we open up an immediate, sometimes intimate connection with them.
Eyes are the window into the soul, literally bringing a character to life. Which is why if a character’s eyes are covered with a mask, or sunglasses, they suddenly become anonymous, mysterious or even unsettling.
What this means is that when someone looks at your head drawing, chances are the first thing they’ll notice is the eyes of your character. If they recognize your face drawing as a face, subconsciously they’ll look to the eyes instantly in an attempt to make a connection or relate with it on some level.
This makes the eyes one of the most noteworthy features of the human head, and it’s important to give them their due attention.
Begin by drawing in the eyes onto the eye line, found mid-way down the head. To figure out how large your eyes should be drawn, keep in mind that the width of the head is roughly five eyes wide.
The distance between each eye is one eye space apart, as is the distance from the sides of the head. Messing up these distances can produce some strange results and might end up with your lovely lady character looking more like an extra-terrestrial. So look out!
Although they are drawn in a similar way, male and female eyes do have their own unique differences.
Because femininity and youthfulness are associated with larger, more rounded eyes, draw them a little larger then you normally would for a man. If you’d rather a mysterious, sultry look that lends toward more sex appeal, try closing the eye lids slightly.
After you’re done with the eyes, draw in a nice set of feminine eye brows just above them.
Men’s eye brows are usually lower, thicker and heavier. But you’ll find when it comes to drawing eye brows for the ladies you’ll want to go for something more elegant.
So keep them a little more raised, thin, slick, and stream lined for an extra feminine potency.
Step 13: Nose Placement
That’s the eyes sorted, now let’s work our way down.
The first of the two lines dividing up the bottom half of the face is the nose line. To make the nose easier to understand, and thus draw, let’s break it down into its simplest geometrical form.
The nose is basically a tapered, four sided block glued to the face. Although it’s hard to tell from the front, the top of that wedge is joined to the protruding brow. As it extends down, it extends outward until it reaches the ‘nose line’.
Besides the two nostrils on either side, that’s all there is to it. As for the proportions, a classical nose is about one eye width wide.
Now when it comes to mannish and lady-like noses we’ll go with the same trend we’ve been following throughout the tutorial. For the men you’ll want to draw a nose which is larger, more defined, and rigid. As for the ladies, we’ll scale it back to be smaller, softer, and less defined.
In fact, it’s completely fine to leave most of the nose undefined for a woman, especially around the vertical ridge.
By 'undefined' I simply mean that rather then drawing every contour line in to define the nose, those details can instead be 'suggested' with a few simple strokes. The mind of the viewer will fill in the blanks.
Step 14: Mouth Placement
Okay, onto the mouth. Here, we’re going to use a simple, three part process. This same process can also be used for gentlemen as well.
Start by drawing the opening of the lips, defining the top, and then drawing in the bottom. The edges of the mouth should extend to the mid-way point of each eye.
For anime and manga styled art, sometimes you can take the mouth as far as this and it’ll be perfectly fine.
Now that the opening of the mouth is taken care of, the next step is to define the lips. Starting and ending at either corner, the top lip arches over the mouth, sharply indenting at the center. It’s larger, and actually hangs further forward then the bottom lip when viewed from the side.
Lastly, draw in the bottom lip. It can be defined with a simple stroke.
When it comes to drawing lips for women, the fuller the better! There is a reason why collagen lip implants are so popular among the ladies and it’s because full, luscious lips are super SEXY.
Step 15: Draw in the Hair Line
Define the hair line, using the guide you placed in earlier. Because women don’t typically suffer from hair loss or receding hair lines, you don’t need to worry about the variances you might see on male characters.
That is unless your female character has a rebel streak in her and decided to go to town with a set of clippers and wax in an attempt at the next crazy hair-do statement...
Step 16: Draw in the Hair Bangs
The EASIEST way to draw hair is to simplify it from the start by ‘clumping it in’ instead of drawing the individual strands.
These clumps are called ‘bangs’ and if you’re a fan of anime you’re probably already familiar with them.
Just like bangs are used in anime to make the animation of hair easier, we’re going to use them here to help us mold and style the hair of your character.
Roughly sketch in the hair bangs, layering them on top of one another. As you draw, think about the direction and flow you want for the character's hair style.
The extra details and rendering will come in later on to achieve a finally polished end result...
So that is that for the basic set up of the human, female head. I know, I know…She doesn’t look like the prettiest picture in the world… YET!
What you’ve accomplished up until this point is actually the most difficult part of the entire drawing.
Everything that you add to your image from now on will be built on top of the structure you’ve defined. If that structure doesn’t hold up, the entire picture will collapse in on itself.
Before you travel on any further down this road take a minute to look over what you’ve already drawn with a critical eye. Because you’ve been working with this picture so closely, you’ve become very familiar with it, making it hard to spot mistakes.
To get a fresh look at my drawing, I like to hold it up in front of a mirror. This reverses the art work; flipping it horizontally and allowing the mind to observe it from a different perspective. Any mistakes in the image will now become obvious and easy to spot.
What you’re really looking for here are issues with the perspective, proportions, gesture, and composition. Smaller things such as the individual facial features don’t matter as much because they can be easily corrected later on.
If something is looking off about your drawing, but you’re not quite sure what, another thing you can try is to get a friend or family member to take a look over it for you.
Again, because you’ve been working so closely to your art work, it’s hard to tell where the errors in your drawing are. That’s why a fresh look through the eyes of somebody else can be incredibly valuable in telling you what needs to be fixed.
Now the reason it’s important to ensure that everything that can be fixed is fixed before moving on is because trying to correct errors later may become increasingly difficult.
You see, the base structure is fast to construct. It’s the part of a drawing that takes the largest amount mental brain power but it is the least time consuming. Details on the other hand, such as line weights, rendering and shadows aren’t. They may be easier to pull off, but they take the longest amount of man hours.
If you accidently make a mistake with the details it’s not the end of the world. You just erase whatever went wrong and move on.
The problem with leaving mistakes in the underlying structure is that most of the time that mistake will be a much larger issue. Like for instance the entire head being out of proportion. When something like that is missed, you may as well completely start over.
So… MAKE SURE THE BASE IS SOLID!
Take advantage of the fact that nothing is yet set in stone. What you’ve got right now is a draft that can be tweaked as needed. And if it does need to be tweaked, make sure you TWEAK IT NOW…
Because no amount of icing is going to make a bad cake taste good once it’s baked.
If you’re happy with what you’ve got then let’s move right on to final stage of refinement and nail down this sucker!
Adding In The Details
From here we’re going to refine the drawing and add in all the details. The cool thing is that not only is this stage the fun part of the drawing, but it’ll also be a breeze because you’re literally just drawing onto of what you’ve already got.
There are three main elements we’ll be using to take this drawing through to a finally polished piece of top row comic book art. Here’s what they are.
Details consist of 3 elements:
Line weights – “Refinement of lines using varying weights to indicate stroke direction and overlapping.”
Shadows – “Used to indicate light sources. Shadow work can also greatly enhance mood and drama.”
Rendering – “Blends solid shadows into highlights. Also aid’s in the depicting of form.”
Of course, there is an endless well of variety and style out there that individual artists use to create a unique identity for their art work. So how you use these three elements to finalise your drawing is completely up to you and your personal preference.
Some people like to keep it simple, and the Line Weights are more than enough to achieve the affect they’re after. Other’s like to introduce an extra touch of mood and drama into their drawings through the use of thick, heavy shadows.
And then there’s some artists who take it the whole mile by trying to fit as much intricate detail into their work as they possibly can.
Take some time to think about your personal style. How would you like your comic book art to look?
Step 17: Refine the Drawing
To clean up the drawing, you’ll refine the sketch using ‘Line Weights’. Line Weights help the contours of your drawing to appear more distinct, less flat, and more visually appealing over all.
Line Weights were originally used by inkers for the same reason when inking over penciled art. Being an artist however, the less guess work you leave to others down the pipeline, the closer the final art work will be to your original vision.
So as you draw, it’s always worthwhile to define the line weights yourself not only because it looks good, but it’ll also leave minimal guess work for anyone else you might collaborate with.
Line Weights are an important topic to cover, so we’ll talk about them more in depth in a later tutorial dedicated to them alone. For now, here’s what you should keep in mind.
Line Weights refer to the different weights/thickness/heaviness within a single line. The line may begin thin, thicken up in the middle, and then fade out again at the end. For example, the chap’s mouth above is a single contour line. However it’s not the same thickness all the way through. It starts out heavy at the corners, thins out in the middle then bulks back up again at the other end. If you observe closely you can see that not a single line in the drawing above has the same amount of thickness all the way through.
Line Weights can also be used to indicate the direction of a light source. Simply use a heavy weight on the dark side and a thinner weight on the light side. To put it another way, the further away an area of the form is from the light, the heavier the line should be.
Step 18: Draw in the Iris
Women are naturally darker around the eyes and mouth then men of the same skin tone. This is why eye makeup and lip stick are so popular among women, because they work together to exaggerate their feminine appearance.
Here we’re using the same method to distinguish the female gender of our character.
Thicken up her eye lashes, especially around the top eyelid and sides of the eye. You are basically taking on the role of a makeup artist as you apply the eye liner to your character.
You’ve probably wondered why some comic book characters like Batman, Spiderman and Wolverine are drawn with white, pupil-less eyes when wearing their masks.
Well as it turns out it was Lee Falk, creator of The Phantom who first came up with the idea for white pupil-less eyes.
He said that he was inspired after seeing Greek statues that had no pupils and thought it made the statues look like their eyes were following you everywhere and that seemed appropriate for crime fighters - that they are always watching you.
Another reason a character might be drawn with white, pupil-less eyes is to suggest some sort of anonymity, otherworldly power – or – that they’re a mindless zombie.
In either case, our lovely lady is not wearing a mask, nor is she a space zombie goddess, so we’re going to give her a soul and draw some pupils into those blank, dead eyes. For a nice finishing touch, you can add in some shiny light reflections too.
Step 19: Divide the Hang Bangs
Now it’s time to deal with the hair. It can be easy, or it can be complicated. Personally I’m all for easy street, so let me show you how I go about tackling hair.
We’ve roughed in the general style using the bang method. This already makes things a lot less complex.
The first step here is to refine what is already there.
As you draw, break the large clumps of hair (bangs) into smaller clumps. The smaller bangs will follow the overall shape of the larger parent, but also feather out on their own.
Almost like the wing of a bird. Remember, keep it simple! Then work your way into the more intricate details.
Fig 1: Each bang starts out as a large clump of hair. These large bangs help to rough in the layering, styling and overall shape of the hair.
Fig 2: The hair is detailed out by dividing the larger bangs of hair off into smaller bangs.
Fig 3: To increase the detail, those smaller bangs are then divided off again into even smaller clumps.
Those bangs can be divided as much as desired, depending on the amount of detail you want to throw in there. But take note that they are only ever divided down into smaller clumps of hair, never individual strands (unless you are going for an ultra, photo-realistic look).
Remember to make good use of the Line Weight technique when refining your lines to keep your hair looking neat and slick.
Step 20: Render the Hair
Once the hair bangs have been divided up a couple times, they’ll receive a final render pass. The purpose of rendering in comic art is to create values that graduate from dark to light. When applied to hair, this accentuates the layering and helps to add depth.
Basic Overview of Rendering:
Fig 1: Rendering is achieved through a series of render lines that wrap around the form, also known as ‘feathering’. A single render line is a simple line with Line Weight applied, being thicker at the base, and gradually thinning out at the tip, almost like a needle.
Fig 2: Rendering lines can be cross hatched over one another to increase contrast between the light and dark values inside the gradient.
Fig 3: Through this gradient, render lines work together to indicate a light source, while also helping to describe the form and shape of an object.
Fig 4: By applying the same rendering techniques to hair, the layering is made more obvious, and in turn gives it more depth.
In regards to hair, rendering will typically occur in the areas where two overlapping bangs merge out from one another. It’s the underlying bang that will have the rendering applied to it.
Step 21: Render the Face
Using the same feathering technique, we’ll create soft shadow gradients to describe the form around key areas of the face.
When it comes to rendering faces, less is often more. It can be easily and unnecessarily overdone, especially on the face of a woman. The ladies tend to have softer faces so the main areas you’ll be lucky to find rendering is around the eyes and nose.
Resist the temptation to render out the cheek bones as doing this will cause her to rapidly start aging.
Step 22: Shadows
Normally, I like to define the shadows before I even think about rendering. But because very little shadow work was used on this lovely lady, it’s been left till last.
One other major difference you’ll notice when it comes to drawing female characters is that their face not only has very little rendering, but even less shadows.
Since the purpose of shadows and rendering is to define form, parts of the face, such as the cheek bones, eye sockets, and nose are emphasized when it’s applied.
Sure, this can work well for guys when done correctly, but remember women in general appear to be softer and less defined which means this really isn’t needed. It fact, it’ll do more harm than good, taking away from their youthfulness and femineity.
However, all that being said, shadows are not entirely ruled out for the flawless face of your heroine. There will be times when the use of shadows play an important role such as when she finds herself in an environment doused with dramatic lighting.
Here are a few quick shadow pointers that should be kept in mind for both men and women:
Keep it simple. Protruding and receding forms such as the nose, eye sockets, cheek bones, lips, jaw and brow will cast a shadow under certain lighting.
The larger the form, the larger the shadow it’ll be casting.
That's All There is to IT!
Congratulations! That’s all there is to it! You should now have the picture perfect portrait of a beautiful woman sitting right there in front of you.
Now if she’s not quite as beautiful as you might’ve hoped, fret not my friend. Chances are if you’re a guy trying to learn to draw women, you’re not going to pull off a master piece the first time round.
And vice versa if you’re a lady. I bet you’re probably a lot better at drawing women then you are at men. And the simple reason is we’re good at what we know.
So it’s gonna take a little 'practice' to get confident at drawing the stuff you’re not so familiar with. But hey, that’s all part of the fun in learning how to draw right? You have to appreciate your journey as an artist because it’s a never ending one.
The moment you reach your destination, is the moment you stop becoming better then what you are. So continue learning, continue pushing yourself just beyond your edge so that everything you draw tomorrow will be even better than it was today.
Now, once you’ve gone through this tutorial, there’s something I need you to do for me.
I’ve written this tutorial, as with every other tutorial in a way that'll guarantee your drawing success if followed. But, for me to promise you consistent results, I have to ask one small favor.
Go back to the beginning of this tutorial and go through it again. Yes. You heard me. Follow every step, until you reach the end again and have a brand new head.
Then, when you've done that... turn over to the next page in your sketch book and go through this same process another five times. Do your best, and be sure to try your hardest to spot and fix any mistakes you make along the way.
Afterward take a close look at all 6 heads, and tell me whether or not you are seeing those results I promised you.
Listen, I know better than most how hard it can be to even find out where to begin when setting out to learn how to draw. Let alone piecing all the bits and pieces of information gathered together and the incredible amount of months and years it can take to make decent progress.
I know because I’ve been there, crawling through the mud on my elbows and knees to gain the skill set I’m now lucky enough to share with you. So I feel for you, the aspiring artist who dreams of someday earning a living doing what they love. That’s the reason I created How to Draw Comics .NET.
You see this method was specially designed to be downloaded and cemented into your brain through repetition in the smallest amount of time possible. So that within literally a week or two, drawing the human head has become almost second nature to you.
If you want to see MAXIMUM RESULTS you need to be both patient and persistent. Spend a week filling your sketch book up with head drawings, and I promise you now that you will literally see your drawing skills reach new levels before your very eyes.
Have you got a question or inquiry? Maybe you'd just like some good old fashioned one on one help with your drawing. Whatever it is, be sure to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org , and I'll be more then happy to help.
Good luck everybody, and keep the dream alive.
Tutorial by Clayton Barton