If you are trying to improve your ability to draw faces, what better face to draw than that of a celebrity?
It is helpful to try drawing celebrities from time to time. Drawing well-known faces will help you to fine-tune your observational skills and catch those subtle characteristics that collectively build the likeness of a face everyone will recognize.
In this tutorial, we will enlist the help of well-known movie actress and Scandal star Kerry Washington. We will learn how to draw a face by using her very recognizable face as a reference.
Sketch the Basic Guidelines
The first step is to make a lightly-drawn outline of the head. Keep it almost oval-shaped, more like an upside-down egg. As we look carefully at the reference photo, we notice that Kerry doesn’t have a very wide head, so the oval should look more long than wide.
Draw a vertical guideline almost down the center, since there is a barely noticeable tilt to Kerry’s right side. Next draw a horizontal line midway between the top and bottom of the oval, as seen below. This will serve as placement for Kerry’s eyes.
You will need to draw three more horizontal guidelines. The one near the top will be the hairline. The second should be roughly halfway between the eye guideline and the chin. This will be for the nose. The last should be about a third of the way down from the nose line for, you guessed it, the mouth.
Carefully place four vertical dashes that will mark the inside and outside corners of the eyes. The width between the two eyes needs to be one eye length. Roughly from the midpoint of each eye, draw a vertical line to note where the corners of Kerry’s mouth will be.
Next, sketch an outline of Kerry’s neck and shoulders. You can also sketch the general shape of Kerry’s hair at this point. Sometimes I wait to do this after drawing in the facial features, but this time I decided to do it sooner. Use the reference photo to form yours roughly the same.
The basic guidelines above are foundational when learning how to draw a face. If you need additional info on basic facial proportions and guidelines, or some extra help with drawing the facial features below, you can read my previous post on simple tips for drawing faces.
Draw the Eyes
For Kerry’s eyes, begin with the outline of each eye between your previously-made guidelines. Make them slightly almond-shaped while making the inner-corner tear duct areas as natural-looking as possible. Next sketch in circles for the irises, pupils, and highlights. I sketch each iris first for proper placement, and then I go over each one with a circle template to make it perfectly round.
Then you will want to sketch in the eyelids, including the lower rim of the lower eyelids. There is also a visible line of makeup above each upper eyelid. Finally, sketch in the eyebrows. If you plan to add any shading to your drawing around the eyes, I recommend holding off on the eyelashes.
Draw the Nose
Drawing the nose should not be too complicated. For the nose, first sketch a bridge and the ball of the nose. Then, around that framework, add details to the lower part of the nose to form the cartilage around the nostrils. There is a small highlight on the tip of the nose. Also notice that, even though we didn’t draw guidelines for it, the inner corner of each eye is pretty much in alignment with the outer edge of the lower nose.
Draw the Mouth
Look closely at the reference photo to try and capture the likeness of Kerry’s mouth. Begin with the upper lip. Keep the corners of the mouth within the guidelines drawn earlier (each corner directly below the center of each eye). Next, draw the lower lip. In our reference photograph above and most others that you see of Kerry Washington, there is a slight opening of the center of her mouth even when her lips are closed. Be sure to capture this identifiable characteristic, as well as some sketched lines around the corners of her mouth that give a soft expression.
Define the Face
Finish forming the face by drawing Kerry’s well-defined (but nicely formed) cheekbones and jawline. This will help with developing a recognizable likeness. Notice that I didn’t trace perfectly along that oval guideline drawn at the beginning? Rather than stay faithful to your guidelines, treat them as the “guide”lines they are by being flexible. Stay faithful instead to your reference photograph.
Below the Head
Again, use the reference photo as a guide to sketch in details below the head, including on the neck and clothes. For the neck, indicate the collar bones and other identifiable features surrounding it. There is a prominent shadow under Kerry’s chin in this image, so I drew the outline for it to shade later. Luckily for the clothes, they won’t add or detract from the likeness of our subject if you veer away from the photograph. Still, it’s good practice to draw a close representation of even the clothes.
Draw the Hair
Begin by sketching in where large sections of hair are grouped together. This will help you to develop the body and volume of the hair. Then begin on one side and draw strands of hair as they naturally flow from one location to another. Notice that there are areas of highlights even in the hair. You can leave some of these areas lighter with less visible strands while darkening other areas.
Keep repeating the process, working one section at a time until the initial sketch of the hair is essentially complete.
At this stage of the process, you should erase your visible guidelines. Use caution to not erase important parts of your drawing.
You can choose to stop here if you wish, or keep going by adding additional details and/or shading. I chose to add a few extra details, including some extra volume to the hair.
I also drew in the eyelashes (don’t forget those!) and added a little bit of light shading.
Of course, the more details and shading (and hours) you put into your drawing, the closer of a likeness you will achieve. Keep working on it until you are satisfied. Not only have you seen how to draw a face, but you have a completed drawing of Kerry Washington!