Drawing a Portrait in a Quarter Angle Using Pencil

Most artists prefer to draw a face in a quarter angle view because it exposes the shape of the nose bridge and the jaw line. It also gives a better definition of the ridges (cheekbone, forehead and eye socket) of the plane (face) on the farther side of the head.

An easy way to draw a head in a quarter view is to start with a quarter-angled box. 

To approximate the distances and the gradual change in size of the facial features, use reference lines in perspective.

Lines in perspective are reference lines that begin or end in a spot called vanishing points, the vanishing point represents the certain spot in which a horizon ( person’s sight) outlines the farthest space a human’s eyes can see. Every perspective lines need a vanishing point to base upon. Thus, the position of the vanishing point is very important before marking any perspective lines.

  • Use 2 vanishing points

The first vanishing point will serve as a guide for aligning the facial features perfectly; the other vanishing point is to establish the mass of the head and the placement of the ear.

  • Observe how the head is angled, if it is evenly aligned or if it is slightly tilted or vice-versa.

I will use the image below as an example of the process. 

Since the portrait only shows the face and not the head as a whole, we only need to make sure that the facial features are properly placed according the certain angle of the head.

  • Observe what parts of the facial ridges are aligned and use it as a base. 

In this case, the brow bridge and the cheek bone is aligned.

Using a base line will easily discern how the facial features should be positioned, even without establishing the certain diminishing point that it follows.

  • Start with the head’s outline, establish the edge of the jaw line and then the head’s thickness/mass
  • Take note of the alignment of the lip’s nearer end and the center of the nearer eye.

  • Define the details of each facial features using a pencil with a darker lead or with a higher B grade (like 4b or 6b), at least darker than the one you are going to use for shading.

  •  remove the reference lines and start shading on the left side (or right side if you are left handed).

it is much easier to start with the obvious shades which are the darker ones if the skin tone is bright. These shades will be blurred later on and will serve as the one to base upon for the other tone values (to even out the general skin tone).

  • Blend it gently and even out the dark shade, then use the same blending medium on the other areas with a brighter shade.

  • Redefine the tight corners.


  • Keep on smearing the shades until it evens out. Keep in mind what parts should be brighter and what parts should look darker.

Smear the dark shades to make it blend with the other dark tones by using the stained or used smudge tool.(either the cotton you previously used or a smudge stick) Use the same tool to create a mid tone with light hand strokes.

  • Once all of the shade values of the skin tone are conveyed, start contouring the hair style of the model.

Our model has a black layered hair. In this case, you only have to convey the layers and how it flows on the side down to her shoulder (not shown).

  • Establish the flow of her hair, and then use a darker lead or charcoal to establish the darkest areas.
  • Some portions of her hair highlights are better left barely marked, which means that the highlights would be a line of bright-gray lines.

  • To leave the hair highlights as thin as possible, use a mechanical pencil to define the hair flow as a whole.

 Overlap the dark shades you have made before by defining the hair flow once again with the mechanical pencil, to make it appear like the dark shades are just shadows of the hair’s dimension values (to establish the hair layers).

  • Do the same process for the other side of the head. Make your final retouches and you're done.

If you wish to see more examples of drawing portraits, grab a copy of "Learn to Draw - Faces and Portraits - For the Absolute Beginner". Each facial feature and how to draw them are covered; how to easily establish the outlines and how to construct the shapes. The very basics of drawing portraits are discussed step-by-step so even a beginner with no experience at all can easily follow and learn to draw.







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