Learn to Draw Faces with 4 Simple Shapes | Annie Parsons | Skillshare

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Learn to Draw Faces with 4 Simple Shapes

teacher avatar Annie Parsons, Art and Creativity

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (17m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Your Project

    • 3. The 4 Basic Shapes

    • 4. Head and Neck

    • 5. Eyes and Eyebrows

    • 6. Nose and Mouth

    • 7. Hair

    • 8. Final Thoughts

    • 9. Next Steps: Facial Expressions

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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to draw people, but didn't know where to start?

This 15-minute class takes you step-by-step through my process of using 4 simple shapes to create faces. At the end of the class, you'll have your own character face sketch, and the tools and inspiration to start drawing people with confidence.

No prior illustration knowledge or experience is required to enjoy this fun and easy class!

When you have finished this class, you will be ready for my follow-up class "Facial Expressions: Sketch Characters With Emotion."

Meet Your Teacher

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Annie Parsons

Art and Creativity


 My name is Annie Parsons, and I'm a designer, illustrator, and teacher with a focus on creating bold and beautiful watercolor art for everyday use. I'm inspired by food, fashion history, children's literature, and my home in the Virginia mountains.

Through a lifetime of drawing and 6 years of educating professionally, I've found my love of breaking down concepts in a fun, collaborative way. My goal as a Skillshare teacher is to help you demystify art techniques, grow your love for making, and find creative processes that work for you!


When I'm not painting or teaching, I'm usually cooking, watching Korean TV, or playing Animal Crossing. I'm excited to learn and create together!

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1. Introduction: If you could draw a circle on arc, a squiggle and the line, you could draw faces high. I mean persons that as an illustrator, people of some of my favorite things to draw in this class and going to take you through my process for drawing faces, using simple shapes to build a wire into characters, Let's get started. 2. Your Project: welcome. I'm still glad to have you on board for this class. Let's jump in and talk about your house project. Your project is to create a sketch of the character space and upload a picture of your sketch to the project gallery. Sounds simple, but I have a few tips for you as you think about which character we're going to drop. First, I recommend that you choose a character from a story you know really, really well. That could be one of your favorite stories or something you made of yourself. Next, I strongly recommend that you don't choose a character from TV film, animation, comic books. We're not trying to copy the likeness of a real life person or copy the artwork done by another artist or animator. We're creating a character based on your imagination and using your imagination to make decisions about how your character is going to look. That's really the heart and soul of my character. Illustration is for my project. I'm going to be illustrating one of my favorite fairy tale characters, Cinderella. Now there are a ton of princess movies and books and plays and TV shows all about Cinderella, but I'm excited to do my own version of her, and I think I'm going to do something special by giving her 1/20 century twist. So what? You have paper, pencil and a character in mind, it's time to get drawing. 3. The 4 Basic Shapes: in this lesson, we're going to start by looking at the four basic shapes that will make up your character's face. The way I see it, every character I draw, no matter what style I'm drawing in, is made up of these four basic shapes. Your personal style is an artist will come through and how you use these shapes, how you stretch and distort them and where you choose to use them on your character's face . So once you have these in your arsenal, start experimenting with them and seeing how you can vary them up. So shape number one is a circle, and instead of drawing a circle kind of slowly and carefully like this, which usually turns out to be kind of wobbly, I start by going around my circle several times very quickly until I have a basic circle shape that I like. We're going to use this circle shape as the basis for our characters head, so that's really the beginning of the framework of where character space is going to be. You can also use it for different facial features such as Joe Lines or Eyes. It's really up to you this next year, will probably be using the most, and it's an ark. It's a curved line that could be curved upwards or down. It can be deep or shallow again. That variation is up to you or what you feel is appropriate in the situation. We're gonna be using arcs for all kinds of facial features like noses, eyes, eyebrows, all kinds of things. It's just a very useful utility player for us. As artists. Shape Number three is a compound curve company. Curve is a term that I've stolen from hand lettering, and it really just means Esquivel. It's two curves that are joined together that can go up and then down or down and then up. Or you can add in several curves altogether. Our last shape is a straight line, and if we're going to use parks, the most will probably be using straight lines the least. And the reason for that is in nature. Human beings seldom have perfect straight lines as part of their bodies. If you observe even a straight nose or a strand of straight hair really carefully, you'll realize that they have a slight curve to them. But straight lines can come in handy for us if we're style izing a character and making the very geometric. So it's important to include in this lineup of basic shapes. So there you have it, or four basic shapes a circle, a narc, a squiggle and a line play around with those for a little bit trying different variations of them and when you're familiar with them, will move on to building the basic framework of our character space. 4. Head and Neck: Now that you've mastered your for basic shapes, it's time to move on to building the framework of your character's head. So before you get started drawing, it's important to think about what direction your character is looking. This is going to inform the placement of all of your facial features from here on out. So for my character, I'm going to decide that she's looking to the centre left of where her head is. You can also choose to take a character's gaze up or down to the left or right, or straight onto the center. When you have a direction that you're going to use, it's timeto draw your circle. So just like I did over here, I'm going to take my pencil and go around multiple multiple times to make the basis of my character's head. And I realized that looks a little bit messy, but don't worry about it right now. You always have the chance to erase later. So now that I have the top of my character's head, I'm going to build her jaw for this character. I'm going to give her a dog that is too arcs that meet together in a point and because she's looking off to the left, the right hand side of her face is going to be larger than the left hand side. Because it's closer to us. You'll notice that my job begins and ends right at the bottom of the circle. That's because for this drawing, I want my jaw to be about half the size of the head. But you can continue to play with proportions, a smaller jaw usually used for Children, characters where if I'm drawing a big, burly man, I'll give him a bigger job. So now that I've got my head and jaw, I'm going to add some construction lines to help me center my facial features. Construction lines just show you where the center of the head is, horizontally and vertically. So first I'm going to erase the bottom of my circle and draw an arc from one side of the job to the other. Next, I'm going to take a line from the chin up to the top of the head because my character is looking to the left. This art is going to bend slightly to the left, so this shows you that the center of my characters faces right here again. The right side of this character's face is going to be bigger than the left side because it's closer to us. So the construction lines really help us keep that in mind. Is replacing facial features? No, I'm going to add neck by coming slightly and from the jaw and giving a gentle art on one side, coming slightly inside of the jaw on the other side and gentle arc. When did the neck again really depends on what kind of character you're drawing. Last but not least in this stage, I always place an ear, which is just a simple curve connecting to the top of the job. A few tiny arcs on the inside indicate that there's more inner workings to the ear than what I'm showing. It's really up to you as the illustrator to decide how much detail you put into this drawing for me. I think those two lines are enough, so that's the beginning framework of our character face. In the next lesson, we're going to start adding facial features with eyes 5. Eyes and Eyebrows: Now it's time to start adding facial features, and I always start with the eyes. People have a lot of different eye shapes, but my basic formula for drawing and I is an ark with a circle in the corner in the center . Wherever the character is looking, you can angle that arc any way you like to tell a little bit more about the character. You can make your people size bigger or smaller, depending on what kind of character you're drawing. You may notice that my basic formula doesn't include a bottom island. That's because I think the bottom eyelid is an unnecessary detail in most character drawings. There exceptions at the characters, narrowing their eyes. Sometimes it's necessary to add a bottom eyelid in there, but for the most part, if you want an open, expressive character, islands tend to get in the way for me. But you can experiment with different lines and arcs and see what works for you, sir, placing the right eye right of center of the face and just above the horizontal construction line, I'm going to take an ark that angles down very slightly and at a large people looking off to the left. I'm a thinking up this light a little bit to give the illusion of eyelashes. I'll be doing the same thing on the left side, but my construction lines are showing me that needs to be a lot smaller. And usually the farther away something is the less detail you see. Next, we have eyebrows again. There's a ton of variation you can do here with eyebrows to make them angled or less angled to make them furrowed in anger or tilted up in sadness or raised in surprise. But my general formula for eyebrows is an ark and another Arctic. It's wider towards the center of the face for this character. Since I'm going into the world of mid century fashion ideals, I might angle the eyebrows a little bit more and again on the left hand side. It's going to be smaller. Play around with your characters, eyes and eyebrows do the shape that feels right for the character you're drawing, and when you're ready, will move on to the nose and mouth 6. Nose and Mouth: moving to the bottom half of our face. Now we're going to focus on the nose and mouth, so we'll start with the nose and I usually place the knows about halfway down the job, and I start with the tip in bottom of the nose. So moving over here, my basic formula for the bottom of the nose is a line going down for the tip and a compound curve for the nostril and the outside of the nose. You can use a line or a arc to connect a bridge, too, if you like, especially if your character has a prominent news. But sometimes it's not necessary. You could play with the curvature and width of the nose to make it wider. Maybe you see a little bit of it on the other side. You can style as your nose to make it very big and pointy again. It's all up to you in the character that you're drawing for this character. I'm going to start about halfway down the job and just show the very tip off the nose. It's going to split center on my vertical construction line, and maybe I'll take a line bending slightly up, but not show the entire bridge. Last but not least in this stage, we have the mouth for male characters. Usually it's sufficient to show the curvature of the mouth and maybe the suggestion of a bottom lip for women. I give a little bit more detail, and this is really where you can play with variation. You can have, ah, compound curve to show a Cupid's bow and an arc at the bottom to show the bottom lip. Or you can have a full curve top lip and a narc in the bottom to show the bottom lip. It's really whatever version of arcs and compound curves feels right, and you may notice as I'm doing this on the edge of most mouths, I add a little dot where the mouth blends into the cheek. So for this character, I definitely want to give her that fifties cubits bow. So again, the left side of the mountain will be smaller than the right side because the right side is closer to us. Starting on the left, I'm going to draw a curved lip. The Cupid's bow will be right in the vertical construction line, an end with a much bigger lip on the right hand side, little dot on each side. Follow that around and a narc for a full bottom lip. And at this point, if you feel like your cheek and jaw, need any tweaking. Feel free to do that. You're not locked into anything when you're sketching and pencil. So now I've got all my facial features on my character's face. I'm going to carefully erase my construction lines, and then in the next lesson, we'll talk about finishing it off with hair. 7. Hair: we're almost finished. It's just time to add some hair, so the first thing you need to do before you add your characters hair is to erase the top of their circles. Now, after you've erased, you should still see a little shadow of where pencil line waas, and you're going to follow that as your characters hairline. Once I've erased the top of the head and established where the hairline is, I start by determining where the characters part is for this character. I'd like her to have a deep side part, and so I'm going to put it way over on this right hand side with V right on my characters. Hairline, Where you go from here really depends on the kind of hair style you want your character toe have for me. I'd like this character to have ah, half up half down 19 fifties hairstyle. So to express that I'm going to start right next to the part that I created and go around the hairline with parallel arcs, I don't feel like you have to keep your hair in one specific shape. Nobody's hair does that and realize the more variation you can add in the more natural it will look. I'm going down a little past the ear with these arcs and then around the back again. This is whatever combination of arcs and compound curves you feel is right for your characters, hairstyle and hair type. For this character. I want her hair to be pretty wavy. So I'm not doing very deep compound curves, but compound curves, air great for curly hair as well. If you want a really tight curl pattern for your character. Okay, I'm pretty happy with how the top half looks. So to add the bottom part of our half up, half down hairstyle, I'm going to come about halfway up the head and start some long, loose compound curves to give the illusion of those waves. I'll follow that in parallel lines. My goal here is not to show every single hair on this character's head, but rather to give the idea of different sections of hair so I can start a different curl right over here and slowly melded into the other one just a little bit on the other side again. We don't see as much because this side is further away to finish off with hair. I always add a few light loose pencil strokes to show a few stray hairs because everybody has them, and it just gives your character the appearance of being a little more lifelike, all out. A quick little hearing and a quick little collar. And I'm very pleased with my princess, a character. Once you finished with your character, you conjoined me in the next lesson for some final thoughts. 8. Final Thoughts: great job on finishing your character. I can't wait to see your work. So please do post a picture of your sketch to the Project gallery and I'll give you some feedback as well. If you have any questions, you can leave them in. The discussion were below, and I'd be more than happy to answer them for you. I hope you had a great time today and that you can continue to use these simple shapes. Exaggerate them, explore with them. I can create a bunch of characters from your imagination. Thanks for warning me. 9. Next Steps: Facial Expressions: Hi there and thank you so much again for taking this class. Learn to draw faces with four simple shapes. When I first made this class a year ago, I had no idea that it would be so well-received by the skilled shared community. It has been so amazing to see your characters and your drawings as you begin your journey of sketching and developing an art practice. In reviews for this class, a lot of you have mentioned that you would love to have more information on sketching facial expressions and emotions. You've also mentioned that you'd like to see more examples of different types of characters, men and women, young and old, et cetera. So today I'm excited to share a brand new class that covers those topics. It's called facial expressions, sketch characters with emotion. In this class we're going to be sketching all kinds of facial expressions. And we'll introduce the topic of working from reference pictures. So you can begin to draw from real life while still maintaining your own artistic style. So if you finish this class and you're looking for more opportunities to practice your character illustration skills. I would recommend checking that out as we're going to be building on the content for this class and creating many, many more characters experiencing a wide variety of emotions. You can find that class, facial expressions, sketch characters with motion on my skill share profile right now. Many thanks and Happy Drawing.