Step by Step Guide of How To Draw 3/4 View Face | The Loomis Method | How to Draw Facial Features at 3/4 View | Tips and Reminders
If you're looking to have a look back on the key proportions of drawing a face, do check out our previous article - How To Draw A Basic Portrait. It's a step-by step guide to the fundamentals of basic portrait drawing. There you will find the very useful proportions for drawing an easy frontal view of the face! It's a good intro before learning how to draw 3/4 view face.
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Step-by-step Guide of How To Draw 3/4 View of the Face
Once you have learned the how tos of basic portrait drawing, it will be a much smoother transition into learning how to draw 3/4 view face. I highly encourage you to try this out as many artists still prefer to draw portraits at this angle. Try not to limit yourself to just drawing a frontal view of faces. It's more challenging but definitely worth it as it gives you more freedom in your compositions. Here, you will learn how you can break down the seemingly complicated human face into more manageable smaller parts.
Keep in mind that there will be foreshortening especially when the head starts tilting upwards or downwards. Facial features go through varying changes and it's important to be observant to those changes. I promise that if you just keep practicing, you'll eventually get the hang of it. So please don't be discouraged, each obstacle you overcome is a great achievement. Just learn to be patient with yourself and your progress, give yourself time to learn each step. You can do it! But before we start drawing, let's first gather and prepare the materials we'll be using.
What You'll Need:
- A handy sketchbook made of good quality paper and high GSM.
- Graphite pencil
- Ruler (optional)
- Kneaded eraser
- Reference photo (optional)
- Good light source (optional)
The Loomis Method
There are many ways and methods of how to draw 3/4 view faces, and artists have their own preferences or develop their own methods. I find American illustrator, author, and art instructor Andrew Loomis' method comes with very helpful and very clear instructions. And, can actually be used for practically any angle. Let's go ahead and see the step-by-step process he has shared to all of us.
1. Placement of face on your paper
First things first, plan out the placement of your subject's head on your paper. You don't want to finish working on a fully rendered drawing, and then suddenly realizing it looks oddly unbalanced. A good composition can make a huge difference. For a handy guide to creating eye-catching compositions, check out our other Toolkit articles - Golden Rules of Composition and Tricks of the Composition Trade. Lots of nifty tips and techniques await you there!
Okay, now that you have the placement down, let's continue to our next step of drawing 3/4 view face.
2. Outlining and dissecting the skull
- Draw a circle, this will be the upper part of the skull. Now, let's turn that circle into 3D form - into a ball!
- Next, let's pierce a pin straight through the ball. This pin will serve as the grounding for the axis. The pin's head stands for the top of our head. That's easy to remember!
- Now you will divide the ball in 3 sections: the BROWLINE, MIDDLE LINE, and the unlabeled one that divides the head into the front and back part. The MIDDLE LINE is the line that divides the face in half, from the hairline straight down to the chin. BROWLINE is the brow line, it intersects the MIDDLE LINE and the unmarked line which will later be useful for determining the proper ear placement.
- Below you can clearly see how the BROWLINE follows the angle of where the head is tilted towards. For instance, when the head is tilted upwards, the BROWLINE is curved upward. Similarly, when the head is tilted downward, it curves downward. This axis-like function of the pin is an important starting point on how to better understand the process of how to draw 3/4 view face.
If you have observed a skull, you'll have seen that yes the tops and backs of our heads are rounded, but the sides - where our ears are - are somewhat flatter. This means that we have to slice off the sides of our ball to replicate this. Usually beginning at the same level as the sides of our temples down to the base of the ears. Below you will see that as a smaller circle, with an added cross-section tilted in the same angle as the tilt of the head. You'll end up with a shape that looks like a partially flattened ball - similar to a cranium.
3. Laying down the facial features
Take a peek below to see how the sliced off parts look like even though the other side is out of our view, let's imagine it anyway! To be able to invisibly see the hidden side is an essential part of drawing 3/4 view face. Next, extend the MIDDLE LINE downwards to mark the lower middle part of the face down to the chin where you will be aligning your facial features. Then, determine where the hairline is on your subject's face and mark it, this varies from person to person. Divide the face from the hairline to the chin into three equal parts. Below, the first mark you'll see is for the hairline, followed by BROWLINE for the browline, the third mark for the base of the nose, and finally the last one for the bottom of the chin.
- Let's first make sure we place the ear on the right spot, an oddly placed ear can ruin a portrait. The top of the ear is on the same level as the line for the eyebrows, and the bottom is on the same line as the base of the nose. Use the lines of the bottom right slice found in the smaller circle as your guide. It is color blocked in green in the drawing above.
- The C curve of the ear will not follow a vertical line, but is instead angled backwards closely following the curving shape of the back of the head. Ears also differ for each person, so just study your reference or model's own ears for copying.
B. Eyebrows and Eyes
- Measuring from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin, divide the face in half and mark it. That half mark is where the eyes will be, this works best when drawing 3/4 view face at eye level.
- Depending on the shape of the eyebrows of each individual, draw a curving line that aligns with that shape. The tapered end of the right eyebrow is right next to the edge of the smaller circle on the side of the head. While the left one is foreshortened and may even be partially hidden by the bridge of the nose, similarly with the left eye.
- To help you with the eye placement, mark the bridge of the nose found at the corners of the eyebrows. Determine the width and the correct angle and connect it to the eyebrows, again this differs from person to person.
- Having determined the inner corner of the eyebrows will help a lot when drawing the eyes. Make sure to draw the eyes on the same horizontal line that you have already previously determined to avoid drawing eyes at different levels. Both eyes will have similar curvature.
- Don't draw the right eye's corner too close to the nose. First determine the corner of the eye before drawing the whole eye shape, so you can still easily adjust it as you see fit. At this angle, the left eye may be partly covered by the nose. Drawing eyes at 3/4 view can be difficult, but it will get easier as you keep practicing it.
- Draw your irises and pupils depending on where your subject or reference is looking - at the viewer or elsewhere. The eyelids will be similar to the curvature of the eyes, the thickness will be determined according to each individual's own measurements.
- For the neck, draw a cylinder that connects to the skull, imagine a doll's head that pops into place when attached to the neck.
- For the placement of the sloping back part of the neck that connects to the shoulders, use the same line as the bottom of the chin as a marking for the start of the slope. In the images below, the cylinder is drawn using blue lines.
- The lines that connect the neck to the shoulders aren't straight out flat, they slope gently downward. But, this also varies as some people have more sloping shoulders while others have a more hanger-like form.
- Finally, you can draw in the collarbones if you wish, though they don't necessarily appear all the time. This depends on the clothing your reference or model is wearing or drawn in. At any rate, it's always good to know how to draw it just in case.
Photo Examples of How To Draw 3/4 View Face
To help you better visualize how to draw 3/4 view face, I overlapped the proportion lines on three photographs as well. First with a simple eye-level 3/4 view face, followed by a downward tilting 3/4 view face, and an upward tilting 3/4 view face.
Eye-level 3/4 View of the Face
Downward Tilted 3/4 View of the Face
Upward Tilted 3/4 View of the Face
Here are some reminders that I hope will help you out:
- Have more patience, be kind to yourself, and trust the process. As long as you keep trying and practicing, you'll see great results in no time.
- Draw your proportion lines and guiding lines lightly, having to erase stubborn unwanted lines later on will be one thing less for you to worry about.
- Be observant to how the face and each feature changes depending on the tilt and angle of the head. One single face can vary in a hundred different ways, that is the challenge of drawing angled faces. But it gives you more options to choose from.
- The Loomis method of drawing angled faces gives you a great foundation for all the different faces you will be drawing from here on out. It's very flexible and can be easily modified to show specific characteristics such as a wide forehead, a square-ish jaw, wide lips, and other distinct features. So don't be afraid to adjust each feature to match the reference or model's own individual features. After all, that's what makes each of us special.
- Try to practice drawing each feature separately as well and in varying angles, this way you can also closely study each part one at a time and how they differ depending on the angle. I still remember moaning and groaning when our teacher asked us to draw 30 ears from different angles and of different people. But now I am sooo grateful that I did those exercises, I will never forget how to draw an ear after that!
Most importantly, have fun and don't forget to celebrate each milestone you achieve!
Which angled face did you want to draw first? Which angle do you find the most challenging to draw? Do you like to use your own face as your usual reference or do you prefer to have another model to draw from? Let us know what you think, we'd love to hear back from you. Feel free to leave a comment, and we'll be happy to answer any queries you have.
For our next one - Color Meditation - Meditative Painting With Watercolor , practice the art of mindfulness and calm through watercolor meditation exercises. Watch out for it! Until then, keep practicing and have a great time drawing!
- MEET THE AUTHOR-
Kathleen is the Wordsmith at ZenART, resident artist and art editor. When God sent a shower of talents, Kathleen made sure she got a basketful of them! She's a visual artist with practical knowledge on various fields from painting and sculpture, to costume and set design which comes in very handy when writing about various art techniques and theories. She also shares her passion for the arts through teaching. She runs her own brand of handmade wirework jewelry designs.
Loomis, A. (1956). Drawing the Head and Hands.