Many skills go into drawing a face: capturing a likeness, giving it expression, and adding detail through shading or color. In this tutorial, we’ll limit our scope to capturing Avi Kaplan’s likeness in outline.
Now, several factors combine to make Avi tricky to draw: his hairstyle and beard style change from one picture to the next, and his fluffy 2017 beard style obscures his underlying face shape, making it difficult to follow typical face-drawing guidelines. However, we can still apply basic principles of capturing likenesses:
- Work large to small.
- Measure proportions.
- Look for shapes and angles.
We’ll keep it simple for this exercise: here’s a shot of Avi directly facing the camera, watching comments scroll by way too fast during a livestream. No hat or beanie, just pulled-back hair.
We’re going to work large to small. It’s tempting to jump in and draw Avi’s eyes right away, but if not everything is in its place, the face won’t end up looking like Avi, however beautiful the eyes may be. So we start with the outline of the head and face, and a few guides to help us shape them. Then we’ll draw facial features within, and then check our work before adding more details. Before each next step, make sure that the lines of your current step are shaped like Avi!
1. Head Outline
Study proportions. How does the height of his face compare to its width? I’d say his face, beard included, is roughly twice as tall as it is wide. (Most people’s faces aren’t this long and narrow, but this is Avi + beard we’re drawing.) So I’ve drawn a rectangle twice as tall as it is wide, and a line of symmetry down the middle.
Where’s eye level? A woman’s or child’s eyes are nearly centered between top and bottom, but a man’s are typically above that due to his longer chin. When we include Avi’s beard length, we end up with top of his eyebrows about 1/3 of the way down the head. Speaking of which, the bottom of his nose is about 1/3 of the way from the bottom of beard. This will vary depending on face angle, so don’t consider these hard rules. But you can use this same approach with any picture: study the reference photo and identify proportions based on what you see. Now I’ve lightly penciled in some guides.
Identify shapes. Above the eyebrow line, I’ll draw two shapes: the crown of the head, and the hairline. The sides of Avi’s head are sort of flat, and then the top rounds off. The hairline in this picture is not far from the top of the head. I’m not worrying about finer details yet, just the greater curves.
Below the eyebrow line, I draw two shapes: where face meets beard, and the outer edges of the beard. The face-meets-beard line has an angle conveniently close to nose level. There’s some mustache and beard running through here, but I’m going to extend the imaginary lines for now, to halfway between nose and bottom of beard. For now, just draw an outer bound for the bottom of the beard; you’ll give the edges their fluffy chaos later.
Check your work. Does it look like Avi’s face shape? If not, adjust anything that looks off.
2. Place Facial Features
Study proportions. Where to place the bottom of the eyes relative to the eyebrows and nose? Eye corners relative to sides of head, and to each other? Eyes are generally 1 eye width apart from each other. What about the nose width relative to the eyes? Mouth width, and placement relative to beardline? Mark some guides.
Identify shapes. Make the imaginary curve that the eyebrows follow. I spy a line of continuity from nose through mustache, so I’ll draw that. Rough out the shape of the eyes, nose, mouth, and beard. (Avi’s eye-folds are so pronounced that I actually draw them separately from the eyes, even during the rough outline stage.) Avoid adding details until you’re sure that everything’s in place! If you find you need to move facial features around, outlines are easier to move than detailed drawings are. Draw the shapes you see. Adjust as you go if anything doesn’t look like Avi.
3. Check Your Work
Now I’m at the stage where I need to start erasing guides drawing outlines in more detail to make sure things look right.
I’ve added irises to his eyes so that he looks alive. I see that I forgot the ears while the guides were in, so I’ve just added those. Ears tend to run from eye level to bottom of nose, but Avi’s ears are partly hidden behind his beard. There are a few other things to adjust: going to adjust the eye breadth, and fix the beard shape…
I’m mostly satisfied with the outline. The face is a bit too narrow, the eye area too large, but these are exaggerations of Avis’ distinctive facial proportions, so if I’m going for a more cartoony style I don’t even feel the need to correct. Now I’m ready to add detail as I shade or color.
As you get more accustomed to drawing a particular person’s face, you may find you can place features correctly with fewer guide marks and intermediate steps, as you’ll do a lot of the proportion-measuring and shape-finding in your head. Here’s a recap of our steps:
This is the first in a series of tutorials on drawing members of Pentatonix. The series so far: