How to Draw Shadow Faces

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Shadows on faces can add depth, mystery and emotion to a character's face. Dark and shadowy faces can be used to depict a villain, a noir theme, or even a vengeful dark hero. Drawing shadows on a face can be difficult. However, if you pay attention to where the light source is located, you can effectively add shadows with a few simple lines. You can use this guide as a template for creating shadows on a variety of faces. Once you have mastered this important technique, try applying it to figure drawings and even still-life sketches.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Draw the face with an oval. Add a cross or "t" shape to the face for the eyes and mouth guidelines. Add a small horizontal dash for the mouth. Draw parallel vertical lines coming from the side of the jaw and extending down.

  • Add the details to the face. Draw the eyes with small ovals on the horizontal guideline. Inside this, add semicircles for the pupils and irises. Draw the eyebrows with bent lines over the eyes. Add the nose with a small triangle. Add two diagonal lines to the side of the nose. Draw the mouth by adding a lower lip with a curved line under the mouth guideline. Create the ears with small rectangles on the side of the head.

  • Erase the guidelines. Thicken the eyebrows by drawing parallel lines above the eyebrows and connecting them. Place your light source. Draw this out directly on the page and mark lines to show where the light is pointing. In the picture to the left, the light source is in the upper right-hand corner.

  • Add the shadows only to the areas of the face that are not being hit by the light source. Darken under the chin except for a thin part on the right hand side that is hit by the light. Darken the right side of the forehead with a triangular patch of shadow extending from the left side of the head and stopping at the end of the left-hand eyebrow.

  • Darken the entire left-hand side of the face, as this is covered in shadow. Leave a patch of white on the upper cheek. Extend this shadow to the middle of the nose. Curve the shadow down all the way to the mouth. Add a shadow to the line extending from the right-hand side of the nose.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always draw your light source on the the page. The shadows will always be on the opposite side of the of the light source.

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  • Photo Credit Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt
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