Hey, I’m Darlene and in this tutorial, I’m going to explain the Loomis method for drawing the face/head from the side view. It took me a long time to understand and be able to draw the Loomis heads properly, so my goal with this tutorial is to make each step as easy to understand as possible and bridge any gaps. I also added some methods of my own.
This is part 2 in a 4 part series on drawing the Loomis heads. ** You do NOT need to go through the series in order**, but doing so will help you understand how to draw a face from any angle that you want. It’s a very useful skill to have for portrait artists!
Part 1 covered the head from the front and can be viewed via this link.
These are the tools I’m going to use. But feel free to use just a regular school pencil and eraser.
How to Draw a Face from the Side View
If you already went through Part 1 of the series, these steps will look quite familiar to you. If not, don’t worry, you can still draw a face from the side view using these detailed steps.
Important Note: Some text will be marked with an asterisk “*”, meant for those of you who are going through this series in order. The text here may not make sense for people following this series out of order.
Draw Construction Lines for a Head in the Side View
Start with a circle. Then draw a straight vertical and horizontal line through the very center. I’m using a colored pencil so the instructions don’t get too confusing, but pencil crayon isn’t easy to erase, so I would recommend you use your graphite pencil and sketch very lightly so you can erase the construction lines easily once you’re done.
* Since we’re drawing a head from the side now (facing to the left), the middle line that runs down the middle of the face is going to be located on the left side of our circle. The vertical line is now called the ear line.
Extend your middle line straight down, creating the front of the face.
Find Where the Facial Features Go
The horizontal line is called the brow line, since that is where the eyebrows will be drawn (but more on that later). To find where the rest of his facial features need to go, we’re going to split the ear line into 6 equal spaces. Use small tick marks.
The topmost tick will mark the hairline. The bottommost tick will mark the nose line.
The space between each facial feature should be equal. So to figure out where the chin line goes, take a measurement from brow to nose and add it below for the chin line. You should now have 4 facial feature lines that are spaced evenly apart.
The eyes are going to be located about 1/3 of the way down from the brow to nose. For the lips, make a line a little higher than the midway point between the nose and chin lines.
Draw the Final Construction Lines
Draw a circle that spans from the hair line to nose line to represent the flat side of his head (aka the side plane).
* Remember when we chopped off the sides of his head in the front view? This is what it looks like from the side.
To complete the head shape, draw the jawline which runs from the bottom of the side plane to the chin.
To draw his neck, let’s first make the head shape less circular, as I’ve done above.
To draw the back of his neck, align your pencil with the nose line and base of his cranium. Halfway between the front of his face to the ear line, draw the front part of his neck.
Let’s Draw his Facial Features from the Side… Finally!
Now that we’ve constructed the head shape and know where his facial features should go, let’s use these as guidelines to draw our details on top!
Let’s draw the ear between the brow line and nose line, placing it in the bottom right quadrant of the head. It’s actually slanted back instead of perfectly vertical, so draw a slant that looks like a forward slash “/” before we actually draw the ear.
I think the ear shape is kind of similar to an oval, so if you want to have a rough guideline to draw within, create a faint oval.
Using the slanted line and oval as loose guidelines, you can more easily draw an ear. You can follow the steps as pictured above to draw the ear. You can see that I’ve now switched to drawing with a graphite pencil. At this point, I usually draw darker to differentiate the drawing from my construction lines.
To learn how to draw and shade an ear with more detailed steps, please visit this tutorial.
To draw the brow bone and forehead, start your pencil stroke just below the brow line, creating a deep convex curve. Extend your pencil stroke upward to create the forehead. I gave him a forehead that slants inward, but you can make it steeper or have it jut outward if you prefer. Try not to follow the circle shape, otherwise, his head will look too round. Stop when you reach the hair line.
Below the brow, you can draw a light triangle (the simplified version of a nose to use as a guideline to draw a more detailed one). Experiment with different shapes to get the nose shape you prefer. The base of the triangle should rest along the nose line.
Use the triangle as a rough guide to draw a more detailed nose shape. I’ve provided some examples above. You can manipulate the triangle to get some very interesting nose shapes.
After you’ve drawn the nose bridge, tip, and septum, add the wing of his nose to the right side of the middle line (the vertical line that marks the front of his face). For the nostril, draw a slight curve between the tip and wing of his nose.
To learn how to shade a nose, check out this tutorial.
Time to draw his mouth. I’ve included some steps above, showing the order I recommend for drawing the mouth. On the lip line, without going too far past the wing of his nose, draw a small tick to mark the corner of his lips. Define the opening of the mouth by drawing a wavy line. Then draw the top and bottom lip, making sure they are drawn on the left side of the middle line (the vertical line that marks the front of his face).
To learn how to draw an underbite, overbite, or normal bite, visit this tutorial.
Below the lip, bring your pencil stroke out to create a round, full chin, instead of following the construction lines too closely.
Then use the construction lines to draw the neck, jawline, and the rest of his head shape in more detail. Don’t forget the adam’s apple along the front of his neck :) For his head shape, try to deviate slightly from the circular construction line. I’ve made it so the back of his head is a little pointy.
Let’s draw his eyebrow along the brow line. I like to align the eyebrow arch with the side plane (the small circle we drew within the largest circle)
To draw the eye, first, draw an imaginary line going up from the wing of his nose. We’ll draw his eye to the right of that.
When referencing the numbered steps in the image above, the red line marks the imaginary line drawn from the wing of his nose and the blue line marks the eye line.
- Draw the eyelids using a shape similar to a rotated “V”, but more curved.
- Then add the eyeball using a curved line.
- The eyelid crease can be drawn using a curve that is similar to the shape of the top eyelid.
- Add eyelashes if you would like.
How to Draw Hair from the Side View
Time to draw his hair! Start along the hair line and draw hair-like strokes toward the right to frame his forehead until you reach the side plane. If you want to draw a large forehead, draw above the hair line. For a small forehead, draw below the hair line. Follow the side plane down toward the eyebrow, but don’t get too close! Angle your stroke down toward the ear. When you get to the brow line, create his sideburn, and then end your stroke near the top of the ear.
Continue your stroke on the right side of his ear, working down the nape of his neck.
Looking at the head on the right in the image above, you’ll notice how the hair highlighted in red is close to his head in certain areas and further away in other areas. The closer the hair is to the head shape, the shorter the hair is and vice versa. Use this knowledge to design his hairstyle the way you want. I made his hair mostly short but gave it much volume at the top.
Once you’re happy with how the face/head looks, erase your faint construction lines (what I’ve drawn in blue pencil crayon). And that’s how you draw a head from the side view using the Loomis method. If you want to learn how to draw 3 more head positions, please navigate to those tutorials using the links below.
Other Tutorials in this Series
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.