Task 6: Portrait Proportions

Hi there,

This week we move onto PORTRAITURE!


Ah! Portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come

Vincent Van Gogh


If you take the image all at once and dwell on how many details you have to draw and how difficult it will be, trying to tackle drawing a portrait would be intimidating for anyone! You can make the process significantly less daunting by taking it one step at a time.


Step one & this week’s task: Portrait Proportions

When drawing, it is easy to let your brain take charge and begin to draw what we think is there instead of going with a fully observational approach, and drawing what we actually see-remember Task 1?? One way to overcome this problem is to draw lines in order to analyse how the features align on the face. Using this technique will help you learn how things like the eyes, hairline, nose, ears, cheekbones, etc. interact with each other.

Draw vertical and diagonal lines to get a sense of how the placement of the nose relates to the placement of the mouth, and chin; how the corner of the eye interacts with the neck and jawline; or the relationship between the eye and the edge of the nose…I will go on to show you how to do this 🙂

Determining the proportions of the head is an important factor when approaching self-portrait drawing. These proportions are generally common to all faces and need to be right in a portrait.

So your task is to follow these rules to sketch out a basic drawing, leaving in all measurement lines, just to showcase these rules in action. Refer to the resource below where there is a much more detailed step-by-step approach to this task. In short, here are some of the rules:

  • The eye line – typically half way between the top of the head and the chin
  • The width of the distance between the eyes – the width of one eye
  • Eye level to the end of the nose – end of the nose half way between the eyes and the chin
  • The centre line of the mouth – typically about half way between the nose and the chin
  • The inside corner of the eyes line up vertically with the edge of the nostrils
  • The centre of the pupils line up vertically with the corners of the mouth

Interesting stuff.  Test your own measurements against these and see how you get on with this sketch! It is the beginning of this section where we are focused on learning to draw portraits 🙂

Resource with a step-by-step guide: portrait proportions

Enjoy! This is tremendously encouraging, to witness as we slowly improve our skills and get better right before our very eyes. After all, that’s what practice is all about, nothing but a beautiful journey of discovering how much we are capable of.


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *