Tap to Read ➤

How to Sketch People

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Sketching is a powerful tool that expresses the artist's point of view. In the story below, you will learn how to sketch people, step-by-step.
A sketch is a visual mean of communication. It is an imaginative interpretation of the artist's drawing. It is defined as a method to practice and sharpen the drawing skills for a final painting. It does not indicate the replica of the subject; it is an inspiration of the original.
It is quick way for an artist to record the images that he gets attracted to artistically. It is the basic way for training future artists and developing the art of drawing. Drawing is an inborn talent; sketching takes you one step further.
If you want to learn to sketch people and interpret them the way you feel, then this article will help you with some basic points.

Why To Sketch?

Sketching helps sharpen the observation skills of an artist. It develops a sense of marking the minute details of the subject. Precise observation is very important to add a real-life feel to the sketch. It also helps build the freehand drawing talent of the artist. It helps understand and register the color and tone details.

Material Needed

Different paper textures give different effects to the sketches. The different textures of papers are graded as smooth, medium, rough, and glossy. To produce more contrast between the light and dark, you should use rough paper, as it holds more charcoal or graphite than smooth paper. Soft pencils should be used on smooth paper to give a dark tone to your sketch. Rough paper will give a grainy finish to the drawings. New pastels pencils help give more tone and control to the sketches.
Graphite pencils are labeled hard lead (H) and soft lead (B). The higher the number on the pencil marked H or B, harder or softer is the lead. Vine charcoal pencils are subtle, and the sketches made by them can be erased easily. It helps maintain fluidity in the sketch and helps in making the corrections easily.

Steps to be Followed

How to Sketch the Eyes?

  • The eyes are the most expressive features of the face. You should start drawing the outline of eyes to make sure they are proportionately placed near each other.
  • Next, add the creases over the eyes. Draw the eyebrows using many lines.
  • Then, draw the pupils and the irises. Now, you can add the eyelashes.
  • Give a definition to the eyelids as they touch the eye.
  • Depending upon the lighting, shade around the top between the eyes, under the eyes, temple, and eyebrows. Use the eraser to blend or define the shading.

How to Sketch the Nose?

  • Attempt the nose after sketching the eyes. The eye shading helps define the nose shape.
  • Gently outline the nose, adding curves at the bottom middle, then either side, to shape of nostrils.
  • Then, add curves to either side of nostrils to shape the bottom of the nose.
  • Shade the nose according to the light, just like you did for the eye.
  • The tip of the nose should be shaded lightly to give the effect of the light shining on it.

How to Sketch the Mouth?

  • Sketch the lips; let the upper lip be slightly darker than the lower lip.
  • Draw the trench between the nose and the top lip.
  • Draw the subtle lines in the lips to define them.
  • Draw the soft or hard lines around the mouth depending upon the smile of the person.
  • Do not make the lines too hard between the teeth.
  • Shade the area around the mouth, beneath the bottom lip, teeth, and wherever necessary.

How to Draw the Face Outline?

  • Outlining helps define the face and facial features.
  • Make inward curves around the eyes and outward curves around the cheekbones.
  • The curves should move out around the cheeks, jaw, and again move inwards near the chin.
  • Shade the face, as it will help you define the person's looks.

How to Draw the Ears and Hair?

  • The ears are mostly hidden beneath the hair, when sketching women.
  • There is a lot of detailing to be added here, as the curves inside the ears are different in different people.
  • Sketching the hair is similar to sketching the eyelashes.
  • Draw a few lines or faint lines where the light shines, and darker and closer lines in the shadowed areas.
  • Draw the hair using downward stokes that simply fall down, or make vertical lines for flaring hair in the area where the hair meets the head.
  • Draw the curls or waves accordingly, using more or fewer lines according to the light.

Other Details

  • Add the neck, collars, accessories, etc., to make the sketch look realistic.
  • The focus, however, should stay on the facial features.
  • Too much of detail on the accessories may take away the attention from the face.

General Tips

  • Observe the details of the face - the ending of the eyebrows, the shape of the nose, thin eye outline, curvier neck, etc.
  • Ignore the background and context. Sketching is not like drawing a portrait.
  • Observe the body language of the people; don't draw edges if they are not visible.
  • Overlap figures, and object to differentiate between the foreground, middle ground, and the background.
  • Do not try to draw everything you see in and around people.
  • Sketches can be kept incomplete, as they are not portraits that need to be defined from every perspective.
After sketching, add the finishing touches and small details. Add contrast using edges and deep shading. There is no need to be accurate, as it is just a sketch that can be used as a reference for a future painting or drawing. Try experimenting and have fun when practicing to sketch.