How To Draw A Side Profile

How To Draw A Side Profile

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How To Draw A Side Profile

The art of drawing is a timeless and captivating pursuit that allows artists to express their creativity and bring their imagination to life on paper. One fundamental aspect of drawing is mastering the side profile, which can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. Drawing a side profile requires a keen eye for detail, a deep understanding of human anatomy, and plenty of practice. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of drawing a side profile, from the basic proportions of the face to the intricate details that make a portrait come to life. So, grab your drawing materials and let's embark on this artistic journey together.

Understanding the Basics of a Side Profile

Before diving into the step-by-step process, it's crucial to have a strong grasp of the basic elements of a side profile. In a side profile, you are essentially capturing the human face from the side, highlighting its unique contours and proportions.

  • Proportions of the Face: Start by understanding the proportions of the face. The face can be divided into three equal parts: the forehead, the mid-face (from the brow line to the base of the nose), and the lower face (from the base of the nose to the chin). These proportions are essential when drawing an accurate side profile.

  • Eye Level: Pay attention to the level of the eyes. The human eyes are generally positioned halfway between the top of the head and the chin, right in the middle of the mid-face section. Keep this in mind when drawing the eye line.

  • Basic Shapes: Break the face down into simple shapes. The forehead is often a rounded rectangle, the nose a small triangle, and the mouth a curved line.

  • Ears: The ears typically align with the brow line at the top and the base of the nose at the bottom.

Step-by-Step Guide to Drawing a Side Profile

Now that you have a good grasp of the basic elements of a side profile, let's move on to the step-by-step process of drawing one.

Sketch the Basic Head Shape

Begin by drawing a rough outline of the head. You can start with a simple oval or circle to represent the skull. This will serve as the foundation for your side profile. Pay attention to the size of the head in relation to the rest of your drawing, as it varies from person to person.

Divide the Head into Sections

Now, divide the head into the three equal parts we discussed earlier: the forehead, the mid-face, and the lower face. Use light, simple lines to create these divisions. The eye line should fall in the middle of the mid-face section.

Position the Eyes

Place the eyes along the eye line. Remember that the distance between the eyes is approximately the width of one eye. Draw simple ovals to represent the eyes. You can refine their shape and add details later.

Define the Nose and Mouth

For the nose, draw a small triangle shape in the mid-face section. The exact shape and size of the nose will vary depending on the person you are drawing. As for the mouth, draw a curved line in the lower face section to represent the lips. Pay attention to the distance between the nose and the mouth.

Add Ears and Hairline

Position the ears at the top and bottom of the mid-face section, aligning them with the brow line and the base of the nose. These can be somewhat simplified shapes for now. Also, sketch in the hairline. The shape of the hairline will vary from person to person, so take your time with this step.

Refine Facial Features

Now, it's time to add more details to the eyes, nose, and mouth. Refine the shape of the eyes by adding lids, irises, and pupils. Add more definition to the nose, paying attention to the nostrils and bridge. For the mouth, define the lips and consider whether the mouth is open or closed.

Create the Chin and Jawline

Draw the chin in the lower face section. The shape of the chin can vary, so take your time to get it right. Then, create the jawline, extending it back toward the ear. The jawline can be curved or angular, depending on the person's facial structure.

Add Details to the Ears and Hair

Now, work on the ears, adding more detail to their shape. Ears have intricate contours, so observe your reference closely if you're working from one. For the hair, add strands and texture to the hairline, making it flow naturally around the head.

Erase Guidelines and Refine

Carefully erase any guidelines or construction lines that are no longer needed. This is the stage where you refine all the details of the face, making sure everything is proportionate and accurate.

Shade and Add Texture

Once you are satisfied with the outline, start shading to add depth and dimension to your side profile. Pay attention to the direction of light, shadows, and highlights. Use hatching, cross-hatching, and blending techniques to create a three-dimensional effect.

Final Touches

Now, it's time for the final touches. Pay attention to small details like wrinkles, blemishes, and any unique features that make the face distinct. Fine-tune the shading and highlights to bring your side profile to life.

Sign Your Work

Congratulations! You've completed your side profile drawing. Don't forget to sign your artwork, adding a personal touch to your masterpiece.

Tips for Success

  • Practice: The key to mastering the side profile is practice. Try drawing different people and experiment with various angles and expressions.

  • Use References: Don't hesitate to use reference images. They can be invaluable for understanding facial proportions and capturing unique features.

  • Be Patient: Drawing a side profile can be challenging, so be patient with yourself. It's okay to make mistakes; they're part of the learning process.

  • Observe Real People: Spend time observing real people's profiles. Study the unique characteristics and features that make each face special.

  • Experiment with Style: Don't be afraid to develop your unique style. You can add your artistic flair to your side profiles once you've mastered the basics.


Drawing a side profile is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor that requires a solid understanding of facial proportions, anatomy, and patience. By following this step-by-step guide and practicing consistently, you can refine your skills and create stunning side profile portraits. Remember that art is a journey, and each stroke of your pencil or brush brings you closer to your artistic goals. So, embrace the process, keep learning, and, most importantly, enjoy the creative journey of capturing the beauty of the human side profile on paper.

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