Hey! You’re reading episode 1 of the “Fix my Drawing” series, where I take common drawing mistakes and walk through possible solutions with you.
If you’ve ever tried to draw a male, but he ended up looking more like a female instead… or the other way around, don’t trash your drawing because there’s always a way to fix it!
Let’s go step by step and pinpoint which facial features make a drawing look more masculine or feminine. I have a drawing of a female face here that I’m going to gradually change into a masculine one, one facial feature at a time, so that if you’re working on a drawing right now, you can easily pinpoint which changes you want to apply to your own drawing.
This blog will be broken into 2 sections:
- Conversion of female to male
- Conversion of male to female
If you want to watch the narrated video version of this blog, click here to you to watch it on Youtube.
Let’s get started!
Male to Female Drawing
For the purpose of this tutorial, I’m going to keep my character bald, so you can see how powerful it is when you apply changes to only the facial features. It’s easy to plop a stereotypical feminine hairstyle on a drawing and call it a female, but that’s sort of a lazy approach that we don’t want to depend on.
Anyway, let’s move onto the first facial feature… the eyebrows. I’ll try to exaggerate the masculine features, so let’s create super thick eyebrows that are closer to the eyes and are less curved.
The function of eyebrows are to block sweat from entering the eyes, and men usually have larger, bushier eyebrows than women. You can add some additional stray eyebrow hairs around the eyebrow as well.
As you can see, her eyes are outlined very thickly to accentuate or bring attention to her eyelashes.
When drawing males, I like to put less emphasis on the outline of the eye so it doesn’t look like he’s wearing eye makeup. If your eyes are drawn very thick and you don’t want to completely redraw them, simply make your outlines thinner.
If that doesn’t do it for you, try making his eyes more narrow by erasing just the eyelids and bringing them closer together.
Along with narrowed eyes, I’ve also given him hooded eyelids. You can learn how to draw hooded eyelids in my eye tutorial – that’s where the skin below the brow bone droops down and folds over the eyelid crease. That part is optional of course, but I think it adds to his masculinity because it can make the brow bone look more prominent.
The more testosterone a male has, the stronger his bone structure. So areas such as the brow, nose, jawline, and chin will all be larger in size.
Let’s work on the nose next. I’ll darken the bridge of the nose to make it look taller and chiseled. I like to give the bridge bone a wider and more distinct shape. Instead of a smooth outline for the bridge, I’m introducing angles. You can make the cartilage around the nose tip more apparent by outlining the shape, giving it a shadow.
Men have larger noses, in general, to provide more oxygen to the muscles, so let’s make the nostrils larger. Don’t forget to make the sides of the nose wider as well (you can also make them more angular).
Next, let’s make his brow bone stronger, and by that, I mean, make it stick out more. To do that, we’ll need to add some shadows around it so it no longer looks flat. If your light source comes from above your character, you can add a shadow under the eyebrow. Feel free to adjust the shadow length and darkness to your liking. The darker you shade, the deeper the eyes will sink in and the more prominent the brow bone will appear.
If you have light coming from the front of your character’s face, shade the sides of the head and forehead to help bring out that protruding brow bone.
Let’s work on the lower half of the face now.
Okay, so large, full lips can indicate high levels of estrogen in females, so I’m making them narrower and less plump-looking. Something very easy that you can do to make lips look less plump is reducing the thickness or darkness of the lip outline.
Chin and Jaw
Moving on to the chin…
We can make the chin wider, longer or more angular. Keep in mind that a slight change can make a very big difference!
I’m making mine slightly wider and more angular.
One of the most effective things you can do to make a character look more masculine is to widen the jaw and make it more angular as well.
Body fat is also linked to testosterone, the primary male sex hormone…
The more testosterone your character has, the less fat tissue you might want to give him. Adjust the level of fat tissue based on your preference.
Now there’s only so much fat you can trim when drawing the outline of the face. So to reduce fat further, try to add some shading around the chin, mouth and/or cheeks to make them appear hollow. Some light shading may be all that you need.
The last area to work on is the neck. Here we have a narrow, slender neck. You can see that it’s currently vertically aligned with the outside corner of the eye.
I’m going to align it with the outside of the eyebrow instead, making the neck thicker, more muscular. You can add some more muscle along the traps and shoulders by drawing them higher.
To add to his muscularity, I’m going to further define his neck muscles and lower the amount of fat tissue by darkening the shadows of the neck. Let’s draw an adam’s apple too!
Less Masculine Features
A small note I want to add is that not everything has to be so squarish and angular. It really depends on what look you’re going for. For example, the chin could be rounded, giving the face a softer presence.
Same thing with the jawline.
If you’re going for a less masculine look for your character, soften up some of the harsh angles. You can also make the eyebrows smaller, soften up the nose bridge or reduce some of the shadows to indicate a higher level of body fat.
Just play around with each feature until you get a balance that you prefer
Male to Female Drawing
Now that we’ve covered how to fix a drawing that looks too feminine, let’s see how we can do the opposite. Let’s say you’ve drawn a character who’s supposed to be female, but looks more like a male instead.
I’m going to start with the nose this time. Let’s make it more narrow and smoothen out the outline of the nose bridge (reduce sharp angles), which will make the overall nose appear softer. You can also reduce the nostril size as well.
Let’s make the eyebrows more narrow and curvy. You can also play with the eyebrow height, drawing them higher to indicate higher levels of estrogen.
The average female has quite a bit of facial fat tissue, so let’s get rid of the shadows that make the cheeks look hollowed out.
Our character is starting to look quite androgynous at this point. Let’s see how many facial features we need to change before we tip the scale!
For females, I like to draw big lips and shade/outline the rim pretty dark so they appear plump and are more apparent. But of course, you can draw a female with narrow lips that are not at all plump.
Let’s make the neck look less muscular by making it more narrow. If you’re not sure how narrow to draw it, use the eye as a reference point. I’m aligning the neck to the end of the eye vertically.
Let’s lighten up the shadows of the neck to give the appearance of added fat tissue, making it look soft and supple. We’ll need to get rid of the adam’s apple as well.
Okay, for the jawline, I’m going to make it less wide and less angular. I’m trying to soften up all the features. If your character’s jawline and chin are still too strong, try making it even more narrow.
This shadow around the forehead makes her brow bone look very strong, so I’m going to erase these completely.
The shadows under her eyebrows make her eyes look deep-set. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the darker these shadows are, the stronger her brow bone will appear, which is a very strong masculine feature. Once I erase the shadow, you can see how much softer the eye area will look:
Now that the shadow is gone, the brow bone looks less prominent.
Let’s enlarge those eyes.
For a line drawing like this, I like to make the outline around the top lid quite think so it looks like she has some eye makeup on.
One last thing…
Women generally have more body fat than men, but if you want to make the face look slim, try shading around the cheeks very lightly and/or around the chin.
Here’s a look at the total transformation:
I hope you found this episode helpful! If you want me to address a common drawing problem that you have in a future episode, please let me know down below in the comment section. To watch this tutorial on Youtube, please click here.
Darlene created RFA In 2013 with the goal of sharing simple yet detailed drawing tutorials with other artists on the world wide web. She is a self taught pencil portrait artist and Youtuber.