Portrait Proportions Explained

Portrait Drawing 30 Heads in 30 Days Diane Dobson Barton

When creating realistic portraits it is always necessary to be aware of the correct proportions. If you look at the image below you’ll see lines marking comparisons to each area of the structure.

For a free printable version of this image go to the download page.

The best way to learn these in my opinion is by doing. Look closely at the  printout, other reliable resources, and practice, practice, practice.

Facial Proportions Drawing FREE

Start Comparing The Parts

If you look to the far right and follow the lines shown you will see that the eyes are placed central, half way between the top of the head, and the chin. The rest of the lines show the proportions in relation to the skull beneath.


NOTE: Remember that this is a view from straight on. The head is level and is not seen tilted in any direction. See how the ear tops align with the corner of the eye? The mouth aligned with the bottom of the ear



In the download, the ears are not visible due to hair. But you can see the relationship when examining features in other images, including your own.


Portrait Drawing 30 Heads in 30 Days Diane Dobson Barton

Portrait Drawing 30 Heads in 30 Days Diane Dobson Barton

Looking Closer

A good exercise is to look at yourself in a mirror and examine how your own facial features are placed in relation to each other. Use the downloadable guide above to compare them.

Ask yourself where the corner of your mouth aligns when using a straight line to the pupil, the inner eye, and the side of your nose? Compare it to the image above.


The example shown is placing the features in a classical sense. Do yours fit that standard? Or are they a bit one direction or another?


Take a sheet of sketch paper. Do a quick sketch of yourself while looking in the mirror and then compare your features to the download. Take note of what you see.



When these relationships are ingrained, you will immediately start to compare each feature’s location with the others.


Age and Gender

A persons age and gender can make a difference in the proportions also. The more youthful a person, the smoother the skin is, and the less dropping take places in the folds of the skin. One can see this, particularly in the length of the nose and ears.

Portrait Drawing proportions Diane Dobson Barton

Problem Areas

So what areas do you tend to have the most problems? That you ALWAYS seem to fight to get them the way that you want them. Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to share. Thank you again for stopping by!