Learn How to Draw

Learn how to draw using RFA’s simple, easy to understand and detailed drawing tutorials. These step by step drawing lessons are designed for people of all ages and skill levels.

Don’t be discouraged if you get stuck! I offer FREE one on one support where I provide you with specific drawing techniques, tips and suggestions which are tailored to YOU :)

No more expensive online art classes or programs! Follow my simple drawing lessons, interact with me and let me help you draw better!

How to draw lips from the side

This tutorial has 3 examples for you to draw from: Overbite, Normal Bite and Underbite. When going through the tutorial, please pick only 1 example to follow instead of drawing all 3 lips at the same time.




How to Draw Lips from the Side:

Step 1: Choose top and bottom lip positioning

1-drawing-lips-from-the-sideThis first stroke will determine whether you will draw an overbite, normal bite or underbite.


Step 2: Choose the lip angle

2-draw-lips-from-the-sideThis second stroke will determine the thickness of the top and bottom lip and whether the corner of the mouth with angle up or down.


Step 3: Draw a triangle

3-how-to-draw-lips-from-the-sideTurn your sketch into a triangle. The longer your triangle is, the wider the lips will be.


Step 4: Draw the mouth’s corner

4-draw-lips-from-sideDraw the corner of the mouth. This can be a simple dot, bracket, raindrop shape, triangle etc.


Step 5: Draw the top lip


You can start with the top or bottom lip. For this tutorial, I’m starting with the top.

Draw a curve that starts at the top left corner of the triangle. This curve can roughly follow the shape of the triangle, jut out or be drawn well inside the boundaries. It’s all up to you.

Step 6: Complete the top lip

6-draw-side-lipsConnect the curve you just drew to the corner of the mouth. Avoid drawing a straight line across. It’s better to draw a slightly curved line than a completely straight one.


Step 7: Draw the bottom lip


To draw the bottom lip, start your stroke from the bottom left corner of the triangle and wrap it up until it touches the top lip.


Step 8: Draw the upper and lower lip

draw lips from the sideDraw the upper lip. Be careful not to extend your line too far. The upper lip should be roughly the same thickness as the top lip or more.

When drawing the lower lip/chin for underbites, make sure the curve is less pronounced. The bottom set of teeth push the bottom/lower lip forward, reducing a lot of curvature.

Step 9: Draw the rim of the top and bottom lip


Using your HB pencil with as little pressure as possible, draw the rims around each lip, connecting them to the corner of the mouth. Then erase your guidelines.


Step 10: Add contour lines


Time to shade! If you think your lines are too dark, use your kneaded eraser to pick up 1 layer of graphite from your drawing. Then use a sharp HB pencil to lay down your contour lines.

Step 11: Shade the lips


Start building up more contour lines using your HB, 2B, then 4B pencils.

Around the rim of each lip, soften your edges so they don’t appear too harsh.


Step 12: Shade the skin

how to draw lips from the side

For this tutorial, I used circulism to shade the skin around the lips. I used a blunt HB pencil and built up layers and layers of circles. Then used a 2B to shade darker areas.

how to draw lips from the side

I shaded areas such as the lower lip, cheek, corner of the mouth and skin directly under the nose a bit darker. If you still see a lot of white space, use your HB pencil to go over the skin with even more layers. Don’t press too hard or your circles will be very visible!

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How to draw lips from the 3/4 view

how to draw lips in the 3/4 view

Struggle with drawing lips in the 3/4 view? With this method, you’ll be drawing perfect lips every time!

Since my first lip tutorial was so successful, I decided to base this one off the same idea of drawing lips using a simple triangle. If you liked that one, you’ll enjoy this even more! (If you haven’t tried my first tutorial, I suggest you do that first before attempting this one. Click here).

You can apply what you learn in this tutorial to this one on drawing a face from the ¾ view.



Step 1: Draw a Cross and Triangle


Using an HB pencil, make a straight vertical line. Add another line going through it that is slightly angled.

Then, draw a triangle.

Step 2: Add a curve at the top

step-2-3_4-lipsMake a curve close to the top of the triangle. This is the cupid’s bow. The distance of the curve to the base of the triangle will determine how big/thick the lips will be.


Step 3: Draw guidelines for the opening of the mouth


Draw a long shallow curve halfway down the triangle. The length of this line will determine the width of your lips.

Since the triangle is facing towards our left, the left side of the lip should be less visible, so draw your curve shorter on the left side and longer on the right side of the vertical line.

Step 4: Draw the rim around the top lip


Finish the outer rim of the top lip by connecting the cupid’s bow to the predefined corners of the mouth.

Step 5: Finish the top lip


While staying inside the triangle, draw another curve that sits on the outline created in step 4. Depending on how much you bring this part forward (left) or back (right), you can end up with a strong overbite or underbite.

Complete this section by following along the rest of the outline.

Step 6: Draw the bottom lip


Draw the bottom lip by starting at the base of the triangle and then curving your line up on each side.

The curve drawn for the bottom lip does not need to touch the corners of the mouth.

If the bottom lip looks like it’s coming out too much, simply erase and position it more to the right.

When you’re done, erase all the guidelines.


Step 7: Add some contour lines


Shading time!

Use any realistic shading technique of your choice. For this example, I’m going to use the contouring method. It’s great for shading lips because the lines help to create realistic lip wrinkles/texture. The more curved your lines are, the more plump the lips will appear.


Step 8: Shade

With an HB pencil, use my Shadow-Lining technique to do a rough outline of areas you want to highlight or areas of shadow. Then, shade outside the Shadow Lined areas. Use an HB, then 2B and finally a 4B to build up depth in your drawing. It’s okay to shade into the areas you Shadow Lined or even change it up slightly as you go along.

If you want the lips to look very glossy, make your highlights as clean as possible and your shading less gradual.





Step 9: Blend it

step-9-how-to-draw-three-quarter-lipsUse a blending stump to smooth out your shading. Blend using the same motion your contour lines are flowing. Do not blend from light to dark.

Step 10: Touchups

If your highlights are too dark, pinch your kneaded eraser and mold it into the shape of a curve similar to your contour lines and press it along areas of the lip you want to lighten.


how to draw lips in the 3/4 view

Continue to lighten your highlights or even add softer graphite to darken areas such as the creases, corners of the mouth or shadows under the bottom lip.


Step 11: Optional

This step is completely optional. But I highly encourage it because it may take your artwork to a completely new level.

Depending on your preference, use your left or right hand to navigate your mouse down to the share buttons on this page and click on any social media platform to share this awesome tutorial with your friends!

If you enjoy my teaching style and want to see more tutorials on a regular basis, please share so I can continue to do what I do. Thank you for your support! :)


Wanna share your 3/4 lip drawings with me and other RFA readers? Submit your artwork via my facebook page and I’ll post it in the gallery!

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Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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😊 Thank you for sharing!

Here is your PDF download link:

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How many tries did it take you to successfully draw lips in the 3/4 view? What steps did you struggle with the most? Let me know in the comments below!

More lip tutorials:

Drawing lips from the side

Drawing lips from the front

Drawing a smile with teeth

How to draw lips from the 3/4 view Read More »

7 steps to draw noses from the 3/4 view

how to draw a nose from the 3/4 view

This tutorial is a little different than the usual. Each step has 3 options for you to draw from: They are all noses in the 3/4 view, but the first one is level to the eye, the second one is a view from above looking down and the last is from below looking up.

To help you learn faster, please draw only one each time you follow the tutorial, not all three at the same time.

Materials I used for this tutorial:


Step 1: Draw a 3D shape with trapezoid base

3/4 noseDecide on the angle you want to draw the nose. The slope of your 3D shape determines the height of the nose (how far it comes out of the face) and the width will determine the width of the nose.

Draw your outlines as light as possible using an HB pencil. I’m drawing them quite dark so you can see everything clearly.

Step 2: Add circles to the base

step-2-drawing-a-3_4-noseDraw two circles that are touching the far corners of this 3D shape (draw an extra circle for the third example. The circles should stick out of the bottom halfway.


Step 3: Draw the upper nose bridge

step-3-3_4-noseUsing a softer pencil such as a 2B, draw a curve at the top of the 3D shape to define the nose bridge and beginning of the brow bone. For a strong brow, exaggerate this curve more.

Step 4: Draw the nose’s tip and bridge

drawing a 3/4 nose

Draw the nose’s tip by following the shape of the main circle.

drawing a three quarter nose

Wrap your line up towards the bridge of the nose and give the tip a unique shape.


Connect that line to the top. It’s boring to follow the 3D shape exactly, so add some bumps and such to make the nose look more interesting.

Step 5: Outline the nostril wing

Draw a curve along the remaining circle(s) to make the nostril wing(s).


Step 6: Draw the nostril

drawing a nose from the 3/4 viewNot sure how big to draw the nostril? Use the circles and the base of the 3D shape as a general boundary.

I didn’t draw a nostril for the second nose because the nostril isn’t visible from this particular angle for this particular nose.

Step 7: Prepare for shading

3/4 nose drawing tutorial

In preparation for shading, draw a curvy line along the other side of the bridge that mirrors the bridge shape you’ve already defined from step 4.


three quarter nose

Lighten or completely erase any unneeded guidelines.

If your shading is very light or you’re afraid of any outlines showing through, use my shadow lining method.


After you’re comfortable with drawing a few noses, try skewing the 3D shape or experimenting with different circle sizes like the examples below:


how to draw uniquely shaped noses in 3/4 view

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Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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😊 Thank you for sharing!

Here is your PDF download link:

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More nose drawing tutorials:

Drawing noses from the side

Drawing noses from the front

7 steps to draw noses from the 3/4 view Read More »

How to shade & pencil shading techniques

You guys asked for it, so here it is: the most requested tutorial to date: How to Shade + Shading Techniques! :)

Shading is the process of applying varying levels of darkness to create the illusion of form and depth.

Aside from practicing proper shading and blending techniques, a good understanding of light, planes and contours are crucial for turning a flat line drawing into a realistic portrait that conveys the illusion of form, bringing your drawing to life.

Below is a breakdown of what you can expect to learn from this shading tutorial.

You can click on the links below to quickly jump to any section of the tutorial. However, I highly suggest you read all the way through!

Part 1: Understanding Pencil Grades
⦁ Intro to Graphite Pencils
⦁ Shading with One Pencil
⦁ Shading with a Variety of Pencils
⦁ Black and White
Part 2: Pencil Shading Techniques
⦁ Hatching

⦁ Cross Hatching
⦁ Circulism
⦁ Contour Shading
Part 3: Pencil Shading Tips & Tricks
⦁ How to Shade Smoothly
⦁ Increase your Range of Motion
⦁ Use the Right Amount of Pressure
⦁ Value Consistency
Part 4: Understanding Light
⦁ The Light and Dark Side
⦁ Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow

Part 5: Intro to Planes
Part 6: Representing Form
⦁ Abrupt vs Gradual Shading Transitions
⦁ Is Your Drawing Too Flat?
⦁ Bumps and Ridges
Part 7: Shading Practice

⦁ Shading Exercises and Printable Worksheets


Specific shading tutorials:

Understanding Pencil Grades


To achieve a realistic drawing that communicates form and depth, your drawing will need to have a wide range of values. Invest in a set of high quality pencils with a range of grades that fit your specific drawing needs.

A typical full set of pencils will range from 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest). Having a full set is not necessary for portrait drawing. The range you need depends on the type of drawings you do.

What are the best pencils for sketching and shading?

Hard pencils produce clean, sharp and light lines which are great for sketching, architectural drawings, product sketches, etc. The harder the pencil, the more difficult it is to blend or smudge.

Be careful when shading or outlining with sharp, hard pencils because they can leave deep indents in your paper which are very difficult to cover up.

Soft pencils produce dull and dark lines which are easy to blend. Soft pencils deposit more graphite with less effort, making it easy to fill in space, blend, shade and add texture to your drawing. They are the best pencils for shading and drawing portraits!

The pencil grades I use the most for portrait drawing are: HB, 4B, 6B and 8B from Derwent. You can click here to check it out on Amazon.

The best shading pencils should be free of impurities.

pencil graphite value scale H to 9B RFA 4

You can tell how hard or soft a pencil is by looking at the combination of letters and numbers printed on the end of each pencil.

H: Hard
F: Fine Point
HB: Hard Black
B: Black


Black and White

Black: With graphite pencils, you won’t get a deep black. However, you can achieve it with charcoal. They are actually very commonly used together with amazing results.

White: You may have seen artists use correctional fluid (whiteout), paint or white pencil crayon to bring out strong highlights in their drawing. This gives the drawing a very impactful look and can enhance the level realism. Here’s an example.


Shading with One Pencil

Shading with HB pencil vs Multiple pencils

If your tool belt currently consists of a single HB pencil, your portraits are probably lacking depth.

The HB pencil (aka #2 pencil) is absolutely great for drawing preliminary outlines and shading light areas because it doesn’t require much effort to produce faint lines. However, you’ll need to apply a lot of pressure when it comes to shading dark shadows. All this effort can damage your paper, resulting in a drawing that doesn’t translate well from multiple viewing angles. Not to mention, it will be impossible to erase.

Here’s an exaggerated example on thin sketch paper.

shading with the wrong pencil grade RFA

If you prefer to use only one pencil, I suggest using a 2B, 3B or 4B. They’re flexible enough to reach both ends of the value scale without much effort. If your drawings are usually light, go for a 2B. My favorite is 4B.


Shading with a Variety of Pencils

When shading with a variety of pencil grades, each pencil should only cover a small range of values.

For the drawing below, I used HB, 4B and 6B.

Shading using multiple pencils HB 4B 6B RFA

HB: Preliminary outlines, some highlights, first layer of shading, eye-whites.

4B: Mid-tones, light shadows, detailing, hair, first layer of shading for clothes, background.

6B: Darkest shadows, hair, clothes, dark areas of background, pupils, inside the mouth and nostrils.

Click here for a full step by step tutorial on how to shade a face

Using multiple pencil grades makes the job easy because there is less effort required to achieve a lighter or darker shade. For example, it would have been difficult to shade the background using an HB and even more difficult to shade highlights using a 6B.

If you need help selecting the best pencil grades for a portrait, create a value scale using your own graphite pencils, compare the values to your reference image directly and select the range of pencils that closely match the values you need.

The range of values can vary greatly from one portrait to another due to lighting or skin color. The 2 faces below have very different highlights, mid-tones and shadows.

Portrait Drawing Value Scale RFA 2

For the face on the left, I would shade my drawing with an HB for outlines and eye-whites, a 4B for the rest of the face and maybe a 6B for the pupils.

For the face on the right, I would use an HB for outlines and highlights, 4B for my first layer of shading, 5B for the second layer and light shadows, 6B for darker shadows and eye detailing, and finally a 9B for the darkest shadows.

Portrait Pencil Shading Techniques

Below are a few portrait pencil shading techniques for beginners and experienced artists alike.

HatchingHatching Pencil Shading Example 1 RFA

This shading technique consists of a series of lines that go in one general direction. You can increase the value by applying more pressure and or using a softer grade of pencil.

This is my favorite and most used technique, especially for speed drawings! It’s a huge time saver.

When using this technique, always angle your pencil more towards the paper so your strokes are nice and thick. This allows you to minimize gaps, making it easier to blend.

Cross Hatching

Cross hatching shading technique RFA

The cross hatching technique consists of overlapping lines coming from multiple directions.

I use this technique to convey wrinkled or highly textured skin as well as some types of fabrics.

CirculismCirculism Shading Example 2 RFA

Circulism is my second favorite shading technique. It’s great for creating realistic skin textures. The idea is to draw many circles that overlap each other, building tone with each added layer.

This technique requires a lot of patience!

When using this technique to draw skin with fine wrinkles, use a sharp tip. For smooth skin, angle your pencil more so you get slightly blunt circles which are much easier to blend, giving the skin a softer appearance.

Contour Shading

Contour Shading Example Lips RFA 3

This technique is similar to hatching or cross hatching, except you’re curving the lines to follow the contour of the form you are shading. Contour lines can be drawn vertically, horizontally and even diagonally. This is a great shading technique to practice giving form to your line drawings. With a sharp pencil tip, it’s great for shading fine wrinkles.


In the image below, I used all of the realistic shading techniques above to convey wrinkly skin. For the first few layers, I used circulism, then I used the other three shading techniques to achieve various textures found in wrinkly skin.

Tip: When drawing wrinkly or rough skin, avoid blending your graphite.

Shading Techniques Closeup RFA

Pencil Shading Tips and Tricks


How to Shade Smoothly

There are a few factors involved in achieving a smooth pencil shade.

1.) Good Pressure Control

Maintain consistent pressure for each individual stroke.Shading Pressure RFA

If you’re shading into a lighter area, though, it helps to reduce the amount of pressure at the end of the stroke so you get a nice gradient instead of an abrupt change in value.

Abrupt Shading 001

2.) Tight Strokes

To get a smooth shade, you’ll want thick strokes which are close together. Move your hand high up on the pencil and away from the tip. The more you angle the side of your lead towards the paper, the thicker your strokes will be. The thicker, the better! These strokes can be easily blended.how to shade smoothly pencil angle 1 RFA

Tip: If you re-positioned your hand on the pencil for any reason while shading, scribble on a scrap piece of paper until you regain the same stroke thickness before you continue with your drawing in case you catch a sharp edge.

how to shade smoothly pencil angle 2 RFA

Avoid holding your pencil like you would if you were writing, especially if you just sharpened your pencil. The lines are more difficult to blend and it requires more time and effort to keep your strokes tight, not to mention cover more ground. A drawing shaded like this will look very scratchy.

This position can, however work very well for shading areas of the skin with fine lines/wrinkles.

3.) Shadow Lining

This is a method I came up with a while back where I only use a specific shading technique to outline areas of light and shadow before I shade. I don’t want to explain it using 3 paragraphs every time I refer to it, so I’m going to call it shadow lining from now on. I think it’s a car detailing term but it fits, so I’ll just use it.

For example: If I’m shading a face using the circulism method, I will also use circulism to outline shadows and highlights on the face. If you don’t outline your shadows or highlights, then this method may not apply to you (It’s very effective for drawing hairlines though).

Here’s an example from my face shading tutorial using the hatching technique.

Shadow LiningShadow Lining is a great way to plan out your shading without having your outlines show through in your final drawing.

4.) Reduce White Dots

The more textured the paper, the more white dots you will get across your drawing. This can make your drawing look very grainy.

getting rid of white dots in drawing RFA

You can reduce white dots by:

  • Shading in many layers. You’ll notice that with each added layer, the dots reduce in size and number.
  • You can also use a sharp pencil to carefully fill in large or weirdly shaped dots to improve the texture of your shading.
  • Or you can blend the graphite using a blending tool of your choice.

5.) Remove Black Dots

Again, if you’re using a highly textured paper, you might get some black dots across your drawing. If you’re shading skin, these dots can look like stubble (it’s even worse when paired with white dots). If you’re going to use a blending tool on your drawing, remove the dots first!getting rid of black dots blotches RFA

Create a pointy end on your kneaded eraser to dab each of the dots away. Dab lightly! It’s tedious but well worth it.


6.) Blend

Before you blend, make sure that your strokes are tight, the shading is even and there aren’t too many white and black dots. Blending smooths out your shading, but it’s not a miracle solution for lazy people. If your shading is sloppy to begin with, blending isn’t going to help.

Increase your Range of Motion

Are you frustrated by inconsistent, short, choppy strokes? Improve the quality of your strokes and increase your stroke length by harnessing the power of your elbow and shoulder.

RFA Overhand Grip

Use an overhand grip on your pencil paired with movement from your elbow and shoulder to create longer and straighter lines. This will give you a much wider range of motion compared to using just your wrist or finger joints. To shade darker, press your index finger down on the pencil’s tip.

You can also hold your pencil with a regular grip which would give you more precision, but it’s not as good for shading large spaces where you need the shading to be smooth.


Use the Right Amount of Pressure

Your pencil grip and wrist movement should be generally loose, except when shading the darkest values and doing detailing work. Use light to medium pressure and switch to a softer pencil when the one you are using cannot go any darker.


Value Consistency

Does the overall shading of your portrait lack balance? Make sure your lighting is consistent across the entire portrait by keeping track of how dark you shade each area of the portrait. You can do this by referencing back to one main value. For me, the main value is the darkest or lightest value already established in the portrait.

Create a value scale to use for cross referencing if needed.


Understanding Light


When shading, you are essentially reproducing the value of light as it interacts with a form. Understanding light is crucial in order to create a convincing portrait.

I’m going to use a sphere with one main light source as an example because the light is more predictable.Terminator and light source RFA

In the image on the right, the light source is coming from the top left. The area facing the light is the light side and the area facing away from the light is the shadow side.

The transition zone is referred to as the terminator.

The Light Side & the Shadow Side

Sphere how to shade with graphite light side dark side rfa
Image 1

The side facing the light consists of the core light, highlight and mid-tones.

  • Core Light: The area on the surface of a form that faces the light source directly. It is darker than the highlight.
  • Highlight: A reflection of the light source on the form. The highlight is the lightest area and will appear in different places depending on your viewing angle. At certain angles, the highlight will not exist in your line of sight. On glossy surfaces, it will be very defined, while appearing soft on matte surfaces.
  • Mid-Tones: Mid-tones are the darkest values on the light side, and are lighter than the core shadow. These areas are not facing the light directly. Mid-tones appear darker and darker as they approach the shadow side, as the surface of the form starts facing away from the light.
Sphere - Light and Shadow Side RFA Drawing 2
Image 2

The side facing away from the light consists of the core shadow and reflected light.

  • Core Shadow: The core shadow or form shadow is a dark strip that appears after the terminator. The appearance of the core shadow can be affected by reflections or multiple light sources. In ‘image 1’ the core shadow is less prominent on the left side due to reflections from the white table.
  • Reflected Light: Objects are not only lit by light sources, but also by reflected light. That’s why shadows are rarely ever black. Light bounces off different surfaces such as walls or even dust particles in the air, creating reflections. These reflections can vary in color and value.

Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow

A cast shadow appears when a form blocks light from reaching the surface of another form. The edges of a cast shadow can appear soft or hard depending on the intensity and distance of the light source. In direct sunlight the edges will appear hard, while in diffused light such as a cloudy day, edges will be soft.RFA Sphere - Cast Shadow Occlusion Shadow

The longer a cast shadow gets, the lighter and softer it becomes due to reflected light from the environment around it.

The area immediately below the sphere is called an occlusion shadow and is usually the darkest area as it is least affected by reflected light.

Tip: You can find the direction of the light source in a scene if you trace the edges of the cast shadow against the form it is cast from.

Can you label the values on the nose sculpture below?



Intro to Planes


The hardest part of shading hands down is being able to add the right amount of value in the right spots.

The surface of a cube is much easier for someone to shade realistically compared to a sphere because you can clearly see which sides of the object are facing the light and which ones are facing away. These flat surfaces are called planes.

Shading Planes RFA 3

Planes angled towards the light directly are the lightest. As the planes start angling away from the light, they receive less and less light, hence appearing darker.

Before shading a portrait, it’s good practice to simplify what you see by breaking areas of the face into planes so your brain can process the information better. This allows you to find patterns of light more easily and can also improve your overall drawing accuracy.

Representing Form


Is your shading incorrectly representing the form you intended to draw?

Before you shade anything, analyze your subject until you understand it’s contours instead of trying to figure it out as you draw. It really helps to observe your subject from multiple angles. Once you familiarize yourself with your subject, decide on how you will shade before you actually shade.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before and while you shade:

Abrupt vs Gradual Shading Transitions

Gradual Shading Transition RFA

If you want to convey a round edge, avoid abrupt shading transitions. The more gradual your shading is, the more smooth your edge becomes.


Is Your Drawing Too Flat?

It’s common for beginners to leave large areas of their portraits (such as cheeks) white. Areas that remain white or are shaded with a solid tone indicate that they are facing the same direction. Have a look at the center forehead plane in the three images below.

Flat Drawing Example RFA

The center plane in the first image is shaded with a solid tone, making it appear flat. The following two images introduce a range of very subtle tones, giving the surface slight bumps.

The addition of these values are subtle, but do their job in transforming a flat surface into a more shapely one. Also take a close look at the right forehead plane. The shading is even more subtle, but still does not come across as flat.

Shading Smile Lines RFA


Bumps and Ridges

Sometimes, we may have the tendency to over represent or exaggerate subtle forms such as eye bags, pimples and smile lines. Instead of defining a form using an outline or line, practice representing these forms using gradients.

Shading Practice


Download the printable worksheets below and follow the instructions carefully. If you don’t have a printer, that’s okay. Follow along using your sketchbook!

If you want to practice shading on simple objects, grab a bright lamp, a set of geometric shapes and set up a scene!

Page 1, Page 2

Exercise #1: Pressure Control

For the exercises below, try to implement the shading tips and techniques mentioned in Part 2 of the tutorial. You can apply different shading techniques to the exercises too (cross hatching, circulism, etc).

1.a)  Without lifting your pencil or taking any breaks, draw tight lines back and forth from one end of your sketch book to the other. Gradually increase your pressure as you go. Your goal is to get a smooth gradient.Shading Exercise 1a

1.b) Do it again, but this time, go from dark to light.

1.c) Shade a solid tone without lifting your pencil.

Shading Exercise 1c

1.d) Shade a solid tone from one end of your sketchbook to the other. Lift your pencil every now and then and rotate it slightly before you continue shading. Don’t forget to scribble on a scrap piece of paper to test your pencil’s sharpness before you continue! Your goal is to make it look as though you never lifted the pencil at all.

1.e) Pick out a few different pencil grades such as HB, 2B, 4B and 6B. Shade in order from hardest to softest pencil and go from left to right. Your goal is to blend the values together seamlessly so you get something that looks like image 1.a).

Shading Exercise 1e

1.f) Layering: Use an HB pencil to shade an even layer of graphite across the page. Split the area into 4 spaces labeling them 3, 2 and 1. Add a darker layer of graphite over your first layer from left to right and ease up on the pressure as you approach 1. Do the same thing except this time stopping at 2. Then the same thing for 3.

At this point, you may notice some inconsistencies. Make corrections by adding a few more layers where needed.

Shading Exercise 1d RFA

1.g) Select a few different pencil grades and shade a series of rectangles. Use only your pencil to blend each of the values together.

Shading Exercise 1g


Exercise #2: Stretch and Compress Values

2.a) Draw a series of wide to narrow boxes. Shade each one using vertical strokes. Follow this pattern using one or multiple pencils: Shadow, Mid-tone, Highlight, Mid-tone, Shadow.

Shading Exercise 2aExercise #3: Analyzing Contours

3a.) Add contour lines to each of the shapes below.

Exercise Contours RFA

3b.) Make up your own shapes and add contour lines to them. Once you’re done, decide where the light is coming from and shade them in.

3c.) Select 3 very different faces from a magazine and draw vertical and horizontal contour lines across each face.


Exercise #4: Edges, Light and Shadow

4.a) Determine the direction of the light and shade vertically along each jagged line. Around sharp edges, tighten your terminator and loosen it around smoother edges. If you really want a challenge, give each image cast shadows as well.

Shading Exercise Edges Light Shadow RFA


Exercise #5: Planes

5a.) Select any 3 objects around you and simplify them using geometric shapes. Shade them once you’re done.

Practice Primary and Secondary Planes RFA

5b.) Find 3 faces in a magazine and use a pen to outline major planes.

Face Planes RFA

5c.) Draw planar faces and shade them by coming up with as many lighting arrangements as you can think of.

How to Shade Planar Faces RFA

Exercise #6: Elbow and Shoulder

6a.) Shade the 2 shapes using an overhand grip while moving your elbow and shoulder. Make sure to scribble on a separate sheet of paper before you begin to increase the thickness of your lines. Make sure that each stroke you make reaches the full length of each shape. Only lift your pencil once you get from one end to the other.


This is my longest tutorial to date, consisting of more than 3,400 words! I tried to cover as much as I could in this tutorial. If there’s something you’d like me to add, please let me know!

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Click here for my extensive tutorial on how to shade a face!

What tutorials would you like to see next? Let me know in the comments below!


How to shade & pencil shading techniques Read More »

How to draw eyes from the side – 10 steps

drawing eyes from the side step 10In my last tutorial I mentioned that I would make a detailed post on drawing eyes from the side. I said that I would post it in a few days… However, I didn’t expect it to take more than two weeks! This is what happens when I procrastinate. But hey, I did manage to pump out two tutorials this month :) Not bad eh? If you landed on this page first, you may want to check out my previous tutorial on drawing faces from the side.

Tools I used:
Derwent Graphic Pencils – HB, 4B, 6B (H optional)
0.5mm Mechanical Pencils – HB and 4B
Blending Stump
Canson Sketch Paper (I really need to get myself more bristol paper. This sketch paper was quite difficult to work with)
Prismacolor Kneaded Eraser


Step 1: Draw an eyeball shape

drawing eyes from the side step 1

Use your HB pencil to draw a circle with a small bump (cornea) on one side.

Step 2: Draw a triangle

drawing eyes from the side step 2

Starting from roughly the center of the eyeball, draw an obtuse triangle. Make sure the cornea fits inside this triangle.

Step 3: Add iris and pupil outlines

drawing eyes from the side step 3

Draw a curved line to connect the top and bottom parts of the cornea to form the iris. Add a thin oval inside the iris to form the pupil.

Step 4: Draw the eyelids

drawing eyes from the side step 4

Erase everything outside of the triangle as well as the triangle’s right side. Give the remaining sides of the triangle a more natural contour. Then draw the upper and lower eyelids.


Step 5: Add a highlight/reflection

drawing eyes from the side step 5

Using your HB mechanical pencil, draw an outline of the glare in the eyeball. This can be any shape and size you want. Keep this area as clean as possible.


Step 6: Shade the pupil

drawing eyes from the side step 6

Shade the pupil using a 6B pencil.


Step 7: Draw spokes

drawing eyes from the side step 7

Use a dirty blending stump to shade the iris, making sure not to smudge the pupil. Grab your HB mechanical pencil to draw spokes in the iris. Start from the center of the pupil and work your way out so the starting point of each ray remains consistent.

You can curve the base of each spoke to add more depth.

Go over some of your spokes again with a 4B mechanical pencil, draw a wave-like pattern around the pupil, and/or add small slits randomly in between some of the spokes.

Step 8: Shade

drawing eyes from the side step 8

Use a blunt HB pencil to shade the white area of the eyeball. Depending on where your light source is coming from, you can draw some cast shadows from the upper or lower eyelids. You can add some subtle veins using a sharp H pencil. Then, soften your shading with a tissue.

Use a 4B pencil to shade the upper and/or lower parts of the iris to add more depth.

Follow up by using a blunt HB pencil to shade the skin around the eye in light circular motions. Use a tissue to blend the skin. When shading around the cornea, use a mechanical pencil to keep your drawing as sharp as possible.

You can make the fold of the upper eyelid deeper by going over it with a 6B pencil.

Click here to learn how to shade!

Step 9: Add the eyelashes

drawing eyes from the side step 9

Use your sharpened 6B pencil to draw the eyelashes starting from the root of each hair. Press and flick your strokes to make the roots thick and the ends nice and thin. You may need to sharpen your pencil every 2 or 3 lashes. For lashes that are close to the corner of the eye, use an HB pencil to draw them in lightly.

Click here for an in depth tutorial on how to draw eyelashes


Step 10: Fill in the eyebrows

drawing eyes from the side step 10

Draw the eyebrow using a mechanical HB pencil and a lighter flicking motion. Follow along the brow bone and arc the eyebrow around the eye. Avoid pressing too hard at the beginning of your strokes to keep the root of each hair fairly thin. Lighten your strokes as you approach the eyebrow’s tail.

For a more detailed tutorial on how to draw eyebrows, click here.

If you enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw eyes from the side, please share it with your friends! If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

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Want more? Click here to learn how to draw an eye from the front!


How to draw eyes from the side – 10 steps Read More »

How to draw a face from the side – 10 steps

how to draw a face from the side thumbnail 324x235Hey Guys! I’m back with a new tutorial as a followup to the last one: how to draw a face from the front. This tutorial is very similar to the last one because it uses the same ruler ‘a,b,c, center line, 1,2,3’. If you followed my last tutorial, this one should be easy for you to pick up.

This tutorial requires a bit of measuring, so bear with me!

Sorry in advance if the image quality is not up to par. I just moved back to Canada from a one year trip in Japan and couldn’t bring my scanner with me. So I scanned these images with my phone. I did my best to make everything clear, so I hope you guys enjoy the tutorial!

NEW: How to Draw Female Face (Side View)



Step 1: Start with an Oval

RFA draw a face side view step 1

Draw an oval and place a horizontal line below it that is a little bit less than one oval down. Then draw a vertical line down the middle.

Step 2: Draw a Ruler

RFA draw faces from side view step 2On the side, draw a ruler the same length as your drawing and divide the ruler into eight equal spaces starting in the center. Make sure the spaces are as equal as possible! Use a straight edge to extend these markings over your drawing without pressing too hard.

You can also create these lines without the ruler on the side, but I recommend using it at least the first 2 or 3 times you practice drawing a face from the side.

Step 3: Add the Ear

RFA draw face from the side view step 3 earDraw an ear on the left side of the head between line C and line 2. Click here for a detailed tutorial on how to draw ears.

Step 4: Face Outline

draw side face step 4 face and jawDraw a straight line down the front of the face (let’s call this the face line). Stop at line 2 and slant inwards the rest of the way down. Connect the ear to the chin to complete the jaw.

Step 5: Second Ruler

side face step 5

Make a horizontal line at the bottom of your drawing spanning from the middle of the head to the front of the face. Divide the line into 6 sections.

You can forget about this ruler for now. We’ll come back to it later.

Step 6: Define Brow Bone

RFA drawing faces from side Step 6 brow boneDraw a shallow ‘c’ shape where the Center Line and Face Line intersect. Shape the brow bone, working your way up to the forehead and merge the line back into the oval.

Step 7: Draw the Nose

RFA draw face from the side Step 7 noseDraw two small circles: one on the face line between lines 1 and 2 and another circle to the right of that.

Click here for a detailed tutorial on drawing noses from the side.

Step 8: Lips and Chin

RFA draw face from the side step 8 lipsLine your straight edge or ruler up to the marking labelled ‘H’ and draw a straight line through the face.

Draw the top lip under line 2. Now that we have one lip drawn, it’s time to draw the mouth’s corner. Place a small tick on line H.

RFA draw face frm the side step 10 jaw

Draw the bottom lip above line 3. Underbite or overbite?? Your choice!

Followup with the jaw and chin. Keep in mind that they do not need to follow along the underlayer created in step 4.

Step 9: Eye and Eyebrow


11-RFA-how-to-draw-a-face-from-the-side-step-11-eyeDraw a line from the marking labelled ‘G’ all the way up through the head.

To draw an eye, create a triangle between lines G and H on the Center Line.

Click here for a detailed tutorial on how to draw an eye from the side! If you want to apply the method in the link, create another vertical line shooting up from the tick labelled F and draw your circle (eyeball) between F and H on the Center Line.

RFA how to draw a face from the side step 12 eyebrow

Draw the eyebrow below line C.

Step 10: Back of the Head, Neck and Hair

RFA how to draw a face from the side part 13 hair 2

Draw the top and back of the head by following along the oval and taking a plunge all the way down, creating the back of the neck. When you draw the front part of the neck, try not to go too far left past the middle of the head.

Draw a regular hairline on the forehead between lines A and B or a receding hairline above line A.

RFA how to draw a face from the side step 14 hair

RFA side face drawing profile final 3

Add some finishing touches.. and you’re all set! Practice this a few more times and when you’re comfortable, try drawing without the two rulers on the side and bottom of your drawing!

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To learn how to draw short hair and shade it realistically, click here!

Other face drawing tutorials:

How to Shade a Face

NEW: How to Draw Female Face (Side View)

NEW: Draw Female Faces from the Front


How to draw a Face Thumbnail 324x235 7

Part 1: Drawing Faces from the Front View

Part 3: Drawing Faces from the 3/4 View

How to draw a face from the side – 10 steps Read More »

Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners

How to draw a face _ Final Step

Many RFA readers have requested me to write a tutorial on how to draw faces, so here it is!

To make it easy to digest, I split the tutorial up into 3 parts: How to draw a face from the front, side and 3/4 view. This is part 1 of 3. I came up with the original methods in these 3 tutorials by measuring over a dozen adult faces, so each tutorial carries over the same measuring techniques. Drawing faces should be easy as pie after you get the proportions down.

This beginners’ step by step tutorial is for a basic male face. The proportions are different for females.

Click here for more face drawing tutorials…

Part 2: Drawing male faces (side view)

Part 3: Drawing male & female faces (3/4 View)

NEW: Drawing female faces from the front

NEW: Drawing female faces (side view)

NEW: SIMPLE version with video!

Note: Remember to use a blunt HB pencil for these steps. I used a 4B so you can clearly see what I’m doing. Remember, the darker you go and the harder you press, the more difficult it will be to erase your under-layers/guidelines.



Learn How to Draw a Realistic Face

Step 1: Start with a circle

How to draw faces step_1

Draw a large circle and make a horizontal line below it for the chin. Then sketch the jawline. Draw a vertical line down the center of the face and make sure both sides of the face are symmetrical.

Step 2: Draw guidelines on the face

How to Draw a Face Step_2

There are 2 ways to do this step: Ruler or no ruler. I highly recommend using the ruler method for the first couple of faces you draw. Why? Because doing this step without it can throw your proportions off like crazy. Especially if you have trouble locating the ‘center’ of an object with your eyes. The no ruler method requires you to split multiple sections of the face in half and then in half again.

Ruler Method: Make a ruler beside your drawing that is the same height. The ruler should be marked so there are 8 equal spaces. Always start with the center line.
Draw faint lines through the face on the markings labelled CENTER LINE, 2, 3, A, and C. As you get used to this, you won’t need to draw the ruler on the side.

No Ruler Method: Without the ruler, I draw lines in this order: CENTER LINE, 2, 3, B, A, C (B is included because it’s easier to break the forehead section in half first, especially when you’re drawing freehand). This is the method I use to draw heads all the time.Draw a face step by step small

Super SIMPLE Method: If it’s still a little confusing, check out my simple method here. It’s also paired with a video so you can see how I do it!

Step 3: Draw eyes in the right spot

How to Draw Faces Step 3

On the face, mark the center line with 4 ticks spread equally apart. The eyes will sit roughly on this line. Don’t be afraid to move slightly above or below the line, since eyes are usually slanted. If you want to draw more mysterious manly eyes, click here.

Step 4: Draw a proportionate nose

How to draw faces Step 4

Extend the 2 lines where the inner corners of each eye are located. These guidelines will determine the nose’s width. Now that we have a box, it’s time to draw the nose.
Click here to see my nose tutorial!
Start with a circle, resting it anywhere between line 1 and 2. You can give your male character a more chiseled appearance by drawing the nose using very angular shapes.

Step 5: Add the eyebrows

How to draw a face Step 5

Extend the nose’s bridge past the eyelids to define the brow bone (this step is optional). These lines should be very light!
Using a 4B pencil, draw the eyebrows along the brow bone. Facial features that can accentuate masculinity are thick bushy eyebrows!

Click here for my in-depth tutorial on how to draw eyebrows!

Step 6: Use a triangle shape to draw lips


How to draw faces Step 6

Draw a vertical line down the center of each eye. This will mark the lips’ outer boundary. Click here for my lips tutorial. If you’ve already read it, place your triangle in the small box under the nose to start. If you drew the nose well above line 2, extend the triangle so the tip touches the nose.


Step 7: Add the ears

How to draw a face with ears Step 7

The Center Line and Line 2 mark the general boundaries for each ear.

In-depth tutorial on how to draw an ear from the front

Step 8: Draw the hair

how to draw a face step by step _ Step 8
Draw the upper hairline somewhere in between line A and B. It’s up to you how large you want the forehead to be. To draw a receding hairline, go above line A. When you’re drawing a man’s face, bring in hair from the sides of the head to create a solid and visible looking hairline.

How to draw 6 different hairstyles – 7 detailed steps

How to draw a face _ Final Step

If you have an electric eraser, use it to quickly get rid of all the guidelines that run through your drawing. You can clean up certain dark spots or tight spaces with a kneaded eraser.

Click here if you want to learn to shade faces!

Experiment with Drawing Different Types of Faces

As always, you don’t need to stick to the exact guidelines above. Learn how to draw heads using the basic guidelines and then mix and match facial features and face proportions.

Take a look at the different faces I made below using rough measurements!

Experiment on How to Draw Faces

Learn to draw unique faces by experimenting with various eye shapes, eyebrow angles, nose lengths/widths, etc… Grab a piece of paper and draw as many faces as possible!

Through this fun exercise, you will be able to draw faces faster with little effort, identify proportional errors when you revisit old drawings, identify what makes certain faces look more realistic than others, be able to draw cartoons, caricatures and more.

I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw a face for beginners and found it easy to follow. If you have any questions or requests, leave it in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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Happy drawing!!

Other face drawing tutorials:

How to Shade a Face

how to draw a face from the side thumbnail 324x235Part 2: Drawing Faces from the Side

Part 3: Drawing Faces from the 3/4 View

NEW: Draw Female Faces from the Front

NEW: How to Draw Female Face (Side View) 

NEW: Simple method to draw male/female faces

Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners Read More »

How to draw hands part 2 – Beyond structure

how to draw hands old 2

This is the last part of a 2 part tutorial. Part 1 covers basic proportions of a hand. If you have not reviewed it, please click here.

Being able to draw the shape of a hand is great, but what happens after that? In this tutorial, I will be covering how to draw nails, skin, wrinkles and folds for several different types of hands: baby, elderly, masculine and feminine. What characteristics make a hand look strong, gentle or young? Read more to find out!

*Most of the drawing techniques are covered in the first section (how to draw elderly hands). Don’t skip this section if you want to get the most out of this tutorial :)

For more detailed instructions, checkout my new video tutorial! https://youtu.be/j739xyYn0fE


How to Draw Elderly Hands

How to draw hands - old elderly hands

1. Structure

Elderly people generally have less body fat, so when you draw the outline, make sure to pronounce the joints.

2. Skinhow to draw old hands skin 2

Instead of shading with long pencil strokes, use a fine 0.5mm HB
mechanical pencil
 to create layers of circles with even amounts of pressure. Avoid shading the nails. Switch to a 2B or even 4B to darken areas between bones or around tendons to make the hand appear even skinnier. Layer the circles on until the gaps are really small, but still visible to achieve the look of fine lines.

Click here to see an interactive diagram of a hand in layers

In order to retain as much realistic skin texture as possible, do not blend or smudge! If you feel the need to blend any area of the drawing, use an HB pencil to layer on even more circles.

I will go into more details in a future tutorial on skin. Follow me on Facebook to get an update whenever I post a new article!

Click here to learn how to shade!

3. Veins, Wrinkles and Folds

how to draw hands wrinkles and folds s2


Use a blunt 2B pencil to draw clean lines where prominent folds, wrinkles and veins appear. Then apply different shading techniques for each one.

Veins: Gradual, soft shading
Wrinkles: Less gradual, darker valleys, more prominent highlights
Folds: Gradual, less prominent highlights

Give some of the wrinkles at each finger joint some wider valleys than others.

4. Fingernails

how to draw fingernails on a hand 4

To make them easy to draw you can section each nail into 3 main areas: the lunule (the white semi circle above the cuticle), body of the nail and the free edge.

If you look at your fingernail up close you will notice many lines stretching across the entire nail. Because of these lines, there will be breaks in the light reflected off the nail’s surface. Draw lines to section off areas you need to shade or highlight. As we age, our nails grow thicker and the lines may become more apparent.

Shade these areas in one at a time. Make sure to give the nail some shape by making the left and right side darker.

How to Draw Masculine Hands

how to draw a masculine male hand

1. Structure
In order to draw strong masculine hands, we need to go back to part 1 and enlarge the bottom row of joints for each of the four fingers. For the thumb, enlarge the two bottom joints. If you look at your dominant hand, you may notice that the bottom two thumb joints are more prominent compared to your other hand. These joints change over time, especially for those who are frequently involved in laborious physical work.

2. Skin
With a blunt HB pencil, use circular motions to draw the skin, but this time follow up with a blending stump to smooth out the texture. Introduce lots of lines and shapes for a chiseled look.

3. Veins, Wrinkles, Tendons
Accentuate tendons and veins. You can find an interactive diagram with tendons and veins here. The only apparent wrinkles are located at each finger joint. Keep the lines narrow and shallow.

4. Fingernails
Draw short fingernails with lots of texture for a rugged look.

How to Draw Feminine Hands

how to draw a feminine female hand

1. Structure
Put less emphasis on the finger joints and knuckles. Especially the bottom 2 thumb joints.

2. Skin
Use a blunt HB pencil to draw the skin using circular motions and then blend using tissue paper. Unlike masculine hands, avoid harsh lines and shapes. Make the skin as smooth and consistent as possible.

3. Veins, Wrinkles, Tendons
Tendons should only be slightly visible with very gradual shading.

4. Fingernails
Most people think fingernails grow out straight, when really they’re curved. In fact, the longer they grow, the more apparent this curve becomes. Have you ever watched the episode of Guinness World Records featuring the lady who grew her nails 10 feet long? They literally spiral out of control!
Fake nails or real… there will almost always be a curve. Don’t overlook this detail!

How to Draw Baby Hands

how to draw a baby hand with pencil

1. Structure
Add thickness between each joint and round out the tips of each finger so they are nice and plump. If you are drawing a skinny baby hand, do not put too much emphasis on the bottom 2 thumb joints.

2. Skin
Baby hands are smooth and plump, so you want to focus on making your circles as close together as possible. Keep your pencil pressure consistent and work in layers using only a blunt HB pencil until you are ready to do some darker shading. Avoid using any lead softer than 2B. Stick to gradual shadows for a cute chubby hand. Use tissue paper to smooth out the skin.

3. Dimples
One big characteristic of babies or children’s hands are the dimples that appear on each knuckle (minus that of the thumb) when the fingers are outstretched. Use a 2B pencil to draw these cute little dimples, making sure to appropriately shade and highlight the space around it.

4. Wrinkles and Folds
Babies have very few wrinkles, so when drawing finger joints, draw only a few large wrinkles. They should appear thick, so stick to gradual shading with less prominent highlights.

5. Fingernails
A healthy baby has smooth, shiny nails. Avoid adding any additional textures.

Need some pictures for drawing reference? Click here to download a whole bunch! :)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw hands: beyond structure. If you have any questions or comments, please drop them in the comments section below!

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How to draw hands part 2 – Beyond structure Read More »

How to draw hands part 1 – Construction

Drawing realistic hands example gestures

Our hands are extremely expressive and can form endless amounts of gestures. These gestures can convey many emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and happiness. No wonder they’re so difficult to draw!

I’ll admit I used to draw people with their hands tucked away in their pockets or hidden behind their backs. I would always find ways to hide them because drawing hands was one of my biggest weaknesses. Don’t let it be yours! Tuck your fears away, take your pencils out and let’s practice drawing some hands together!

The easiest way to learn how to draw hands is to first understand its proportions and bone structure. This tutorial will cover how to construct a hand and help you understand it’s proportions but the bone structure is abstract. If you want to see a skeletal diagram of a hand, please click here. I will soon be making a part 2 covering nails, skin and wrinkles. You can follow me on Facebook to get an update whenever I post a new tutorial!

Update: Click here for How to draw hands part 2!

New!! For more detailed instructions, checkout my new video tutorial! https://youtu.be/j739xyYn0fE


How to Draw a Hand Step by Step

Step 1: Shape the palm

how to draw a hand step 1 Use an HB pencil to draw a rectangle slightly longer than a square. Make a slope at the top. The right side of the curve will dip down much lower than the left side since we are drawing the back of the right hand. Taper the right side of the rectangle as well.

Step 2: Draw five circles

how to draw a hand step 2 Draw 4 circles at the top with an even amount of spacing between them. These are the knuckles. Add a 5th circle for the thumb located on the bottom left about 4/5ths of the way down.

Step 3: Measure and draw the fingers

Draw Hands Step 3 To determine the length of each finger, measure the length from the wrist to the knuckles and duplicate that. The dotted line marks the maximum finger height. Our fingers vary in length and since the middle finger is the longest, we will use it as a reference to find the height of the other 3 fingers. To do that, draw a curved line that is similar to the first one drawn in step 1.

Step 4: Find the joints for each finger

How to Draw Hands Step 4 Now that we have all 4 fingers drawn, it’s time to locate each joint. Add 2 more ticks on the middle finger, each roughly 1 quarter of the way down. Using these ticks, draw 2 more curves. We now have reference points for joint placement! Wasn’t so bad, was it? Please note that these are only loose measurements for simplicity sake.

Step 5: Draw circles at each joint

How to Draw a Hand Step 5 For each finger, draw 2 more circles. Each finger should have 3 circles ranging from small, medium to large from top to bottom.

Step 6: Draw the thumb

How to Draw Hands Step 6 For the thumb, draw a curved line coming from the bottom left circle. The height of the thumb will change depending on how far it is spread out. Measure the length of the thumb and draw a circle at the halfway point. Add another circle halfway up from there.

Step 7: Make outlines around the hand

How to Draw Hands Step 7 Make an outline around the structure. Increase the fat between each finger joint for chubby looking hands or decrease the fat while making the joints stick out for a skinnier hand. Humans have some webbing in between each finger, so make sure you connect each finger with webs. Make sure they are not too low. They should be well above the knuckles drawn in step 2. Now that we understand the proportions and how to construct a basic hand, let’s practice drawing different hand gestures. Drawing realistic hands example gestures

Hand Images for Drawing Reference

Feel free to download and use the hand images below for your reference! You may find that it is difficult to use the measurement system for certain gestures. In this case, eye the approximate measurements and remember to implement the use of curved lines when drawing fingers. If you practice enough, you should be able to sketch them without the use of guidelines or better yet, be able to visualize and draw any gesture! Understanding muscles, tendons and fat tissue will help add a layer of realism to your hands. Click here for an interactive 360 degree model. You can view different layers by clicking on the thumbnails at the top.

**Click here for the second part of this tutorial: How to Draw Hands Part 2: Beyond Structure


Hand Images for Drawing Reference 1 Hand Images for Drawing Reference 2

Have any questions or requests? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

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How to draw realistic hair: The ultimate tutorial

how to draw realistic hair in 4 steps

Are you struggling when it comes to drawing hair? Drawing hair can be an intimidating task for those who are just learning how to draw. With the overwhelming amount of detail and commitment required, many people lose their patience and resort to a series of sloppy scribbles.

To some of us, drawing hair can be a nightmare. But a change in your approach can help you leave those fears behind. In this tutorial, I will introduce 4 simple steps for drawing realistic looking hair.

UPDATE: I’ve broken the steps down further (7 steps) in video format. It’s a really detailed video tutorial that covers 6 different hairstyles:

It contains additional tips, techniques and close ups so you see exactly what I’m doing.

Tools I used for this tutorial:


Tutorial Breakdown:

  • 4 steps for drawing hair
  • Close look at drawing a small lock of hair
  • How to draw curly hair (Mini tutorial)
  • How to draw short hair (Mini tutorial) Expanded tutorial is now available! With over 2000 words of valuable content + detailed images!

The steps below can be used for drawing all sorts of hairstyles from short to long and straight to curly hair. So without any further ado, let’s jump right into the lesson! Here are 4 things you need to keep in mind when it comes to drawing realistic hair:

Volume, Flow, Value and Texture

how to draw realistic hair in 4 simple steps

1. Volume

It helps to make loose outlines of the skull before you start drawing hair. If you draw hair without the 3 dimensional shape of the human head in mind, it will lack volume and you risk chopping off a part of the skull. Hair hugs the head, but it isn’t plastered to it. For most people with long hair, you can expect at least 2 centimeters of “hair height” on top of their actual height and at least 2 centimeters on the sides as well.

Having difficulty drawing heads? Click here to learn how to draw one from the front and here to draw one from side.
RFA How to Draw Hair Volume

2. Flow

In order to draw hair with flow, you need to be aware of the structure underneath. For long hairstyles in their resting state, the hair flows down, hugs the head and wraps around the shoulders. Somewhat like a liquid. You want to begin by sketching the basic structure of the hair and keep your strokes loose and simple.
rfa how to draw hair example 2

3. Value (Shadows, Midtones, Highlights)

A head of hair contains many shades, so before you start scribbling away, take some time to determine where the light source is coming from and how it will affect the tonal value of the hair.
If you are working off a reference image where the lighting is too soft, posterize the image or turn up the contrast using a free image editing program such as gimp in order to exaggerate the 3 different shades – Making them much easier to identify.

Posterized reference image:

posterize comp
Posterized Image in GIMP (image editing software)

Once you have the lighting down, start drawing boundary lines between groups of hair that appear to be overlapping. Decide where you want the light to fall and then outline those areas using the shadow lining technique. Shade your way around the highlights. If you often find yourself getting lost in the details, this step will help you keep track of the overall lighting so you can be more confident when drawing the individual hairs.


Click here to learn more about light and how to shade.


4. Texture

An average human head contains around 150,000 strands of hair. Just the thought of this can be very discouraging. FirstHow to Draw Realistic Looking Hair of all, you don’t need to spend 90% of your time meticulously drawing your subject’s hair. In fact, this step can be done so quickly it might even become your favorite step. The key to adding texture is using confident, steady strokes and maintaining a consistent flow.

Tip: You can produce long, continuous and smooth lines using an overhand grip on your pencil  while harnessing the power of your elbow and shoulder instead of your fingers and wrist.

Work on one part of the hair at a time, while following the general direction in which the strands flow. In dark areas, don’t be afraid to press hard (I used a 6B to 8B for these areas). To bring out highlights, flatten your kneaded eraser and swipe it in the desired direction. The eraser will become too dirty after the first swipe, so fold it in and flatten after each stroke.

You can add more or less detail depending on the level of realism you are trying to achieve.

Let’s take a closer look at drawing a small lock of hair:

When creating your first layer of pencil strokes, mix it up with how to draw hair close up RFAa variety of different line weights. I use a mixture of dull and sharpened pencils as well as mechanical pencils. As you are creating each stroke, remember to press and then lift as you approach the area you want to highlight. Work your strokes inwards so they fade in the middle of the lock.

Add a second layer of strokes. In this stage, I usually opt for a 0.5mm HB4B for touch-ups and a very dull 6B to fill some white space without making it look too busy.

Keep doing this until you achieve desired results. If you want to create a shiny look or replicate harsh lighting, try to keep the highlights fairly clean. You can use an eraser if need be.

For hair ends, work outwards so your hair tapers nicely without looking too blunt and dull.

Useful Techniques

Drawing hair isn’t just a bunch of lines in boring repetitive patterns. Use the 4 techniques below to make your drawings more interesting to the eye.

techniques on how to draw hair


If you’re having difficulties drawing long hair because your pencil strokes are too short or choppy, try holding your pencil further away from the tip. This will give you more range of motion, producing longer, smoother strokes.

Are you ready to draw some hair? Let’s implement the steps and techniques above in the 2 mini tutorials below! Pencils I will be using: 4B, 6B, 8B

How to Draw Curly Hair

Drawing curly hair is really fun and absolutely great for building confidence when it comes to adding texture.

How to Draw Curly Hair 4 Steps RFA

1. Practice drawing curls using a cylindrical shape. This will help you achieve realistic curls with plenty of volume.

2. Sometimes it helps to make associations. So think of a curl as a ribbon. They have many ringlets which stretch further apart near the bottom. Use curvy lines and avoid any straight lines in order to achieve a more realistic feel and flow. (4B)

3. Pay attention to the highlighted areas of the hair and keep it consistent. For this example, the highlight is in the center. As you can see, the hairs closest to the front have more prominent highlights than the back. (6B)

4. Use swift strokes to add texture. Break free from patterns and boring lines by overlapping or adding stray hairs. Be creative and look to reference images or even the mirror for inspiration. (4B, 8B)

How to Draw Short Hair

Drawing short hair is really no different than drawing long hair, except that you will find yourself covering less ground in the same amount of time because the strands are much shorter.

Click here to go to the expanded version of this mini tutorial (more than 2000 words and tons of detailed images)

how to draw short hair tutorial RFA

1. Construct the shape of the head and position the ear in the correct place. (4B) Click here to learn how to draw a head/face from the side and where to draw the ear.
2. Draw a loose outline of the hair using strokes that flow in the actual direction the hair is pointing. (4B)
3. Shade the dark areas, keeping in mind this step is for helping you see the big picture. (6B)
4. Add texture by working on one area of the hair at a time. Outlining groups of hair and then adding texture is also a good technique. For thin hair, use ‘v’ shapes to taper most hair ends. Keep in mind that thick hair usually does not taper at the ends. Instead, most hairs will stand on their own. (4B, 6B, 8B)

This is my longest tutorial to date! I hope it covers everything. If you want to see more tutorials like this one, please let me know. Also, don’t forget to share the love using the share buttons below :) Does the thought of drawing hair make you cringe? Let me know in the comments!

Share to Unlock

Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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😊 Thank you for sharing!

Here is your PDF download link:

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