Face Shapes: Draw a Series of Characters Using Simple Shapes | Nina Rycroft | Skillshare

Face Shapes: Draw a Series of Characters Using Simple Shapes

Nina Rycroft, Picture Book Illustrator

Face Shapes: Draw a Series of Characters Using Simple Shapes

Nina Rycroft, Picture Book Illustrator

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11 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Drawing Kite Shaped Faces

    • 3. Drawing Heart Shaped Faces

    • 4. Drawing Rectangular Shaped Faces

    • 5. Drawing Oval Shaped Faces

    • 6. Drawing Round Shaped Faces

    • 7. Drawing Square Shaped Faces

    • 8. Drawing Teardrop Shaped Faces

    • 9. Drawing Heptagon Shaped Faces

    • 10. Drawing Oblong Shaped Faces

    • 11. To Finish

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About This Class

Are you stuck or are you drawing the same character over and over again?
Then this is the class for you.

Picture book illustrator Nina Rycroft shows how to use shape to inspire a series of fun character faces. Use this class to break out of old habits, explore new ground and to see how shape is used to depict age, gender and personality types.

In this class, you will ...

  • use nine simple shapes to inspire a series of fun faces
  • experiment, explore ... and play!
  • design a series of fun faces
  • add to your 'library' of character ideas

Interested in character design? 

Below is my series of Skillshare classes that walk you through the entire process of how to illustrate a character from start to finish. Use this series to either brush-up on a particular skill or work your way through, for a comprehensive guide.

Nina's Skillshare Character Design Series

  1. Face Facts: Beginners Guide to Drawing a Self Portrait
  2. Face Shapes: Draw a Series of Character Using Simple Shapes 
  3. 101 Guide to Drawing Eyes
  4. Emoji Me: The art of Facial Expression
  5. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part One
  6. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Two
  7. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Three
  8. Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion
  9. Draw a Circus of Movement: Simple Techniques to Bring Characters to Life
  10. Draw a Circus of Line & Gesture: Design a Picture Book Character From Start to Finish
  11. Watercolor Magic: One Character Five Ways
  12. Illustration Masterclass: Exploring Technique and Style
  13. Learn to Use Procreate: Design and Illustrate a Bear Character
  14. • NEW • Animal Character Design for Picture Book Illustrators: Techniques and tips for designing characters with a narrative

Meet Your Teacher

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Nina Rycroft

Picture Book Illustrator


Please link up, subscribe and follow me on: Facebook I Instagram I Pinterest I Website

Hi! I'm Nina Rycroft, a picture book illustrator. I worked as a graphic designer in Sydney and London before turning my hand to illustration, with my first picture book Little Platypus received a CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) Notable Book Award in 2000. Since then, I've had more than a dozen picture books published worldwide, winning some awards along the way. 

If you're interested in learning how and design and develop character, illustration techniques and picture book illustration, then please follow me...or even better...try one of my classes :)

My dozen or so Skillshare... See full profile

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1. Introduction: In this class, we're going to draw and explore the nine face shapes using the shape as a starting point to inspire a number of different character designs. Most of us think that the average face shape is oval. However, leading facial recognition scientist, Dr. Kendra Schmid analyzed over a thousand faces, discovering five new face shapes. It turns out that only 14 percent of us actually have an oval face shape. My name is Nina Rycroft. I'm a children's book Illustrator and I've been illustrating picture books since my first publication in 2000, and since then I've had more than a dozen picture books published worldwide. In this class, I'm going to walk you through Dr. Kendra Schmid nine face shapes. We're going to explore characters based on the kite, heart, rectangle, oval, round, square, teardrop, heptagon and oblong shapes. This class can be used in a number of different ways. It can help you solidify your style, or possibly even find a new style of drawing faces. If you find yourself drawing the same style of face time and time again at this class can give you the confidence to break out of what you're familiar with and try new things. Also, I think drawing multiple characters over and over again allows you the space to experiment freely and find new possibilities. I mean, who knows, you will become a better drawer at the end of this class and you'll end up with a huge repertoire of faces to add to your portfolio. For this class, all you'll need is a piece of A4 paper or a notepad, a pen, a drawing pencil, a colored pencil, pencil, sharpener, an eraser and a print out of the face shapes PDF that I've supplied. This class is for all levels. However, I do recommend that beginners first take my Face Facts, a beginner's guide to drawing a self portrait class beforehand, as it gives you a really good understanding on face proportions. I look forward to seeing you in class, starting with lesson number one. 2. Drawing Kite Shaped Faces: Welcome to face shapes, where we explore character using nine simple shapes. In this lesson, we will experiment using one that Dr. Smith's new additions, to collect shaped face. Before you start divide your A4 sheet of paper into three. I'd suggest watching this video first, get inspired, then draw your three characters on your own. Here we are starting with our first character, cut shaped character, now divide the shape with a horizontal and vertical line. This helps me understand whether your eyes, are going to go on with the center of the face actually sits. We can see how I'm going over my lighter pencil work, with a darker pen or different colored pencil, I'd suggest doing that as well. You can also see how I'm getting my pencil in there, and I'm not being too precious about being perfect with my line work, it's about getting ideas down on a page. You may notice that I'm drawing super-fast. This video is actually four times the speed, that I normally draw. So please don't feel the need to rush. Go at your own pace, enjoy the class, and if you need to, make sure you have plenty of breaks. Here I am, into my second character, and you can see how different this character is looking to my first character. Female rather than male, a very small nose, as opposed to the large kite shaped nose that I had going with the first character, her hair straight, pulled back into a top-notch his is curly, I'm looking for variation. Even the ears are set in a different place, the eyes are lower down wider set. I'm looking at playing around with ideas. So I'm going to ask you to use this class, as an opportunity to try new things. It's very easy to get comfortable with a certain style of drawing faces, so here's your chance to break out and try something new. If you've drawn straight hair with one character, try curly with another. If you've drawn a male, then try the next character as a female. Look at changing the age of the characters, middle-age men and elderly female, teenage boy, a toddler, or a baby. Also look at the size and the placement of the features and change it up. Try close set eyes, and then wider set eyes. If you've drawn a large nose, maybe try a small upturned nose. Uses class to play around with variation and explore, and use this class to find new possibilities. So here we have three different faces using kite shape. 3. Drawing Heart Shaped Faces: Welcome to Face Shapes, where we explore characters in nine simple shapes. In this class, we will experiment using one of the originals, the heart-shaped face. You can either divide your, A4 sheet of paper into three and then draw a heart shaped lightly in each third of the page, or you can use the face shape PDF printout that I've supplied as a guide. As you can see, I've divided the heart shape with a horizontal line and a vertical line, and I've used those to help me find where the eyes sit and the center of the face. Now I've used wider set eyes and they seem to nestling nicely with the two arches of the top of the heart, and the tune is obviously very small, so the mouth and the nose is a lot smaller. Then I've used the top of the head and filled it up with a beehive of hair. With the idea of using variation, I'm using different shapes for the eyes on this character. I use small ovals for the first. Now here I'm using narrow rectangles. Sitting above the rectangle eyes, I have a set of straight horizontal eyebrows. Now these connect to a vertical line that goes down the side of the nose and then with a small horizontal tip. Then following that, I have a very small straight line for a mouth that just missiles in above the small pointy chin. As you can see, I'm using the heart shape as the hair line for this character. I've rounded the head above, center powdered the hair, and I've brought the hair down curving around to meet the shoulders and the neck. Once again, I'm thinking about variation and I'm making this hair very different to the previous character's hair. According to Dr. Schmid's study, she found that 20 percent of us have heart-shaped faces. This shape is as popular as the kite-shaped face. I'm well on my way through the third illustration. You can see I can't get away from the small chin, small mouth, small nose and I've done much wider set eyes, smaller eyes. Again, I can't help it nestle the eyebrows and the eyes in and underneath the arches of that top part of the heart shape. I've changed the hair and just tried to make her hair look quite different the other two. So here we have it, three different characters using a heart-shaped face. 4. Drawing Rectangular Shaped Faces: Welcome to face shapes, where we explore character using nine simple shapes. In this class, we'll be experimenting with one of Dr. Shmith's new face shapes, the rectangle. In her study, she found that 16 percent of us actually had rectangular shaped faces. Divide your A4 page into three and place three rectangles across the page and play around with vertical and horizontal rectangles. So really change the look and give you a bit more variation with the characters. Before you start designing your character, divide the rectangle into quarters. You can move the eye line up or down depending on what look you're after and soften the edges when it comes to the cheek. Nothing really is. We aren't sharp edged. Just be aware of that and just play around with where the ears go and the eyes. You can see I've got just very simple oval shapes for the eyes and the mouth is a straight line up. I've got lots of straight lines with this character just because of the rectangle influence. I'm just finishing off the hair here. Now, when it comes to drawing the neck, really think about the size of the neck. Here I've got a very small, thin neck and my character looks quite young because of it. If I had a thicker neck, my character would look stronger and possibly even older. Because I worked on a young looking character in my first drawing, I'm going to swap it out here and draw an older male character. You can already see by the strong jaw line, the larger nose. I've got much smaller set eyes. This character doesn't even have a neck. His old shoulders, and quite solid looking. I'm just at lining around the features and I'm just taking the important line work that I want to keep. I'm ignoring, I guess the working drawing and I'm just coming around with a much more confident line. A darker line whether you've decide to do that with a pen or not, is completely up to you. Here I'm up to my final character. I've got a boy and a man. Because I've swung the rectangle around horizontally, this character seems much stockier, or is he younger in some ways, and I've just used that horizontal rectangle to inspire, I guess, the eyes and the shape of the nose. I'm just using very straight lines throughout this entire character. Even their ears are rectangular in shape and so are the shoulders. I've changed their hair up a little bit. I've done curls. The character is looking very different to the first two. For some reason, all these characters have ended up being male. I think it might be because of the solid straight line of the rectangle as opposed to the soft round shapes that are more feminine. Here we have it. Three different characters using the rectangle shape. 5. Drawing Oval Shaped Faces: Welcome to face shapes where we explore characters in nine simple shapes. In this class, we'll be drawing with the well known oval shape. Most of us thought that the average face shape was oval. However, Doctor Schmid found that only 14 percent of us actually have an oval face shape. For this class draw up four ovals, two vertical and two horizontal. Then divide your ovals with a cross axis. A vertical line to divide the face down the center, and a horizontal line to rest the eyes on. Now the horizontal line can move either up or down depending on where you want to sit the eyes. This face is incredibly simple. Two dots for eyes, eyebrows resting above, a nose tip resting halfway between the eye line and the chin, and a simple mouth resting between the nose tip and the chin, having come through with a mop of dark hair on the top of their head. Now the cross axis, but with the eye-line much higher than the first drawing. You can see I've got the eyes as rectangular slits rather than dots. The nose is again centered between the eye-line and the chin line. However, it's connected to the eyebrow, and I have a line going down connecting the eyebrow to the tip of the nose. I'm now coming in with my darker line, placing a heavy lid on the eyes. The pupils are half covered by these eyelids, and the eyebrows are a strong horizontal feature. You can see that the top of my ears are in line with the eye line. So the hair on this character is a semicircle resting on top of the oval, and finishing in a blunt line just under the ears. Here I have a very short fringe that sits horizontally above the horizontal eyebrows. I'm just filling their hair in, making it dark and shiny. So this character is female, as opposed to the previous male character, and she looks a lot older as well. Now I'm moving to one of my horizontal ovals. I'm putting in the cross axis, very simple dots for eyes, bigger lines for the nose and the mouth. A baby faced with most of the features sitting below the horizontal line. So let's move along to my second horizontal oval. Again, I've got very simple features like that baby face. But I'm putting in a lot more hair, and I'm going to make this character look slightly older. She looks quite feminine as well. A thin neck. Here I am tracing around the hairline, and mop of dark curls, some freckles. She looks like a seven or eight year old young school girl. So here we have it. Four different characters using the oval shape. 6. Drawing Round Shaped Faces: Welcome to face shapes, where we explore character using nine simple shapes. In this class, we will draw characters inspired by the traditional round face shape. According to Dr. Schmid's study, 11 percent of us have a round-shaped face. Let's start our character by drawing a cross access in the first of our three circles. Here I'm drawing ovals for the eyes, little dots for the pupil. I've got small eyebrows resting above the eyes, and I've divided from the eye line to the chin for the tip of the nose. Again from the tip of the nose to the chin, I'm resting a semi-smiling mouth following the same curve from that circle. She's looking quite feminine with her pigtails, eyelashes, ribbons, and her hair and I'm just placing a collar on her. She could be quite a young school girl. Here I'm dividing my second circle into quarters, with a horizontal and a vertical line. You can see my features are quite different to the features on my first character. This character seems much more traditional with the round features also echoed in the cheeks. I've got a very long neck and I've decided to also do plaits down the side. Here I'm drawing with a darker pen or pencil. I'm drawing the eyes quite wide set apart and I've got a gentle arch of the eyebrow above. I'm following the eyebrows down through the bridge of the nose. The lips are a lot fuller in this character to the previous one. I'm following the hair line across the same shape as the circle. I've got the ears coming up the front, so the plaits sit behind the ears. I'm just adding in the detail now. I've accentuated the long neck resting on the round face. To all to girls, let's try for something a bit younger with a third character. So again, the cross axis. I'm using those almond eyes again but with much wider, larger pupils. Here I'm sketching in a very simple baby-like character. We've got the eyes, which are much bigger than the previous baby that I did with big pupils and nice eyebrows arched above. I've got us very simple nose and mouth. I'm keeping the shape of the round face, and complimenting the baby with some lovely little ears, resting the round head directly on the shoulders. Here we have three different character faces using traditional round shape. 7. Drawing Square Shaped Faces: Welcome to face shapes where we explore character using nine simple shapes. In this class, we'll be drawing with one of Dr. Schmid's new editions, the square shaped face. In his study of over 1000 faces, apparently 7 percent of us have a square shaped face. Before we start, draw three squares across your A4 sheet of paper and divide the first square with a cross axis, a vertical line to divide the face down the center, and a horizontal line to rest the eyes on. This character has a pair of wide set, almond-shaped eyes. All the features are really small, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, and the ears, and the square format has made for some really large, childlike cheeks and being a younger character, I'm drawing too small ears sitting under the eye line. This character is looking like a young girl with her hair tightly pulled up into two pigtails, and the pigtails almost look like two large paint brushes. It's very cute, and here I am just finishing off with a very narrow neck and a color. Moving on to my second square, I am dividing this square into quarters, placing two rectangular shaped eyes either side of a rectangular shaped nose, and just to break it up a bit, I quite like the swirl of this brush like hair, a bit of a follow-on from the previous character. So now I'm coming in with a darker line, a darker pencil or possibly a pen, and I'm just outlining over the top of my guidelines. I'm softening the edges of the square around the cheeks and around the shoulders, and I'm just bringing the hair to a more complete look. So with the idea of variation, I've tried to make this character as different to the previous character as possible from the shapes I've used to the gender of the character. Here we are with our third character and to mix things up a bit, I'm curving my horizontal and vertical lines. I'm using these lines to create the shape for the eyes and the nose. I've softened the top of the head, I've got curly hair and softened the edges of the cheeks, and everything's looking quite good. So here we have it, three different character faces using the square shape. 8. Drawing Teardrop Shaped Faces: Welcome to Face Shapes, where we explore character using nine simple shapes. In this class, we will be drawing with one of Dr. Schmid's new additions, the teardrop shape. In her study of more than a 1,000 faces, six percent of us have a teardrop shaped face. I've drawn three teardrops across an A4 page. Two upside down and one facing the right way around. I've drawn the eyes really wide set apart in the widest part of that teardrop. You can see I'm just bringing the shape of that teardrop down. The chin is very narrow so I've got a tiny little mouth sitting within that chin area and a very small nose sitting above it. You can see I've used the hair to balance out the narrowness of that chin. This character has a long slender neck and I'm just finishing off the details with the hair. Here we are on our second character. You can see that I've drawn an axis line and I've put the eyeline across on the widest part of that upside down teardrop shape. The eyes are much larger than the previous ones. They're still wide apart and the pupils are a lot bigger. I've got two eyebrows resting above the eyes. Above those, I have a very blunt fringe or bangs. Then I bring the line down to the small chin. Because I have such a small chin, I've got a small nose and a very small Cupid lip. Moving on to our third teardrop character. This is the teardrop facing the right way around. You can see that because it's narrow at the top and fuller down the bottom, this has actually changed the way that I am drawing the character. The eyes are closer together and smaller. I've got a lot more room for the cheeks and the mouth below. It does influence how I'm choosing to place the eyes and the mouth and all the other features. What I'm doing now is I'm creating a hairline with the teardrop. I'm creating almost like a big bouffant hairdo. She's looking very dull like so I've put in the round cheeks and I'll fill in the lips as well. She almost looks like a wooden Russian doll of some kind. Here we have it. Three faces using the teardrop shape. 9. Drawing Heptagon Shaped Faces: Welcome to Face Shapes, where we explore character using nine simple shapes. In this class, we'll be drawing with one of Dr. Smith's new editions, with seven-sided heptagon. In her study of over 1,000 faces, four percent of us have a heptagon-shaped face. Before we start, draw three heptagon shapes across your A4 sheet of paper. You might like to use the Face Shapes PDF print out that I've supplied just to help you. So you can see I've divided this heptagon with a vertical and a horizontal line, and I've rested the eyes on the horizontal line, and you can see the sides of the eyes, have the same angles as I have in the heptagon. So you can see I've drawn just two straight eyebrows resting above the straight shape of the eye, and I've sent a part at the hair. So drag the hair down and around the face, and lift it to be quite long hair. I've got two ears sitting on the eye line, and I have a relatively small mouth below, and quite a strong vertical nose line. So for variation, I'm going to make this second character male, and I'm also going to try and make this character much younger using the same shape. So I've brought the eye line way down, almost dividing the heptagon in half, and I've got the eyes, the nose, the mouth, everything below that, on all below that mid-line, including the ears which are quite low, and I've got a big bush of hair above, and much smaller shoulders, so no long, elegant necks, with the head sits right onto the shoulders. So here I am on my third character, and I'm starting off with some very high angled almond eyes, with some arched eyebrows to sit above those. I've decided to do a button nose, halfway between the eye line and the chin line, and then between the nose and the chin line, I've put in a decent size mouth. So now I'm filling in with my darker pen, and I've put in the pupils, and I've strengthened the eyelashes, the nose, the mouth, and I'm just working through the shape of the hairstyle. I've got a very long lean neck which attaches to the head. So here we have it, three different character faces using the heptagon shape. 10. Drawing Oblong Shaped Faces: Welcome to Face Shapes, where we explore characters using nine simple shapes. In this class, we will be drawing with the final addition to Dr. Schmid's recently discovered, five new face shapes, the Oblong. In her study of over 1000 faces, only two percent of us have an Oblong shaped face. So once we've drawn our three Oblong shapes across our A4 sheet of paper. I've done two vertical and horizontal. You can divide your Oblong shape with a cross axis. What I've done on this character, is I've actually used the same Oblong shape for the eyes. I've got quite straight eyebrows, and the nose and the mouth is sitting quite low on this character. My nose is quite simple and I'm attaching it to one side, leading up to the eyebrow. I have the center potted hair where it's tucked behind the ear and it just works its way down and touches and into the same curve as the neck. It's a very simple shapes inspired from the Oblong shape, and it seems to work well with this female character. She looks about 11 or 12 years of age. I'm just finishing up this character by adding detail in the hair and around the hairline and the face line, and just adding a few more details. Just for variation, I'm going to make this second character male, and I've decided to use a much larger nose, small button eyes, and I'm just changing it up completely just so I have something very different to my first character. Short curly hair, and this character looks much older than the previous one. This is my final Oblong shape, placed it horizontal and I've used it to influence the eyes on this character. Everything's much lower. The center line where the eyes do sit is much lower than the previous characters, and because it's so wide and the cheeks are so full and the forward so large, it looks very baby like. It looks quite tired actually this baby character, and I've softened the edges of the Oblong shape around the cheek area, and I've put some curls in for the hair. The head is going to sit directly on the shoulders, and that will add to the idea that it's a baby. So here we have three different character faces using the Oblong shape. 11. To Finish: Congratulations on completing Face Shapes, where you've explored character using nine simple shapes. Together we've designed characters based on the kite, heart, rectangle, oval, round, square, teardrop, heptagon, and oblong shapes. So through a trial and error, you've experienced how some shapes work better than others when it comes to portraying a certain age, gender, or personality type. You can take this with you when it comes to your next project. So here's my sample of my character sheet. I hope that you feel confident enough to post your work onto the gallery for others to see. I wish you well, and I look forward to seeing you in my next character development class, where I'll be focusing on the size and the placement of the facial features. Please leave comments, it's really good to hear what you think about this class. I look forward to seeing you very soon.