A guest contribution by Maxim Simonenko

Drawing faces is very challenging in itself. It is therefore absolutely recommended to learn a construction model first. That is, a method of drawing faces with the same proportions. You first need an approach to orientate yourself in the hustle and bustle of all the facial features.

However, it becomes difficult if you want to deviate from this standard proportion model. Because you have to do that at some point in order to draw appropriate portraits and unique characters. The nose, the lips, the eyes, the ears – they are a unique selling point for everyone.

Drawing characteristic facial features and recognizing individual proportions in the face is a difficult but worthwhile undertaking. When you learn to recognize characteristic facial features in every person, I think that the greatest fun in drawing the human face begins.



Well, how do you learn to see faces more consciously and to customize your characters. Not by changing the hairstyle or adding different accessories to the figure, but by deliberately filling every part of the face with character.

Here are 3 tips that have helped me a lot in developing from drawing static faces to being a quick portrait draftsman of exciting quick portraits, which is in demand throughout Germany:

Tip 1: Construct your head drawing dynamically

What I mean by that is that you stop constructing too much and learn to realign yourself with each face. Is the head more square or round or more triangular or egg-shaped? Take your time at the beginning to look at the head and then choose shapes to match the head and build up your face drawing.


This will prevent you from starting with the same head shape at the beginning of your drawing. Most often, ovals or circles are recommended in drawing books or online instructions. If you start with the same frame on each face, it will be very difficult to break away from that frame. Therefore, each time start with a different frame, suitable for the person you are drawing or the character you are developing.

For this reason I build my drawing courses with three different characters. Mr cuboid, Mr circle and Ms triangle. These characters have completely different head shapes, eyes, lips, noses, and ears. As a result, my participants learn different approaches to drawing faces right from the start and it is easier for them to develop more individual characters.

Tip 2: First concentrate on individual face elements such as nose, ears, lips and eyes

Drawing distinctive facial features is really difficult and complex. So it’s good to break this complexity down into smaller chunks.

For example, first draw ears. One or more weeks. Even if it sounds boring! But it just takes focus and practice until you can consciously see how fine and different ears are. Each ear has its own character!

I wrote my own blog entries about drawing ears , eyes , lips and noses with strong character. There you can see how these individual facial components can be further divided.

It is interesting that everyone pays attention to something different, especially the face. So when you meet someone new. For me, for example, it’s my ears and forehead. The first thing I pay attention to is that, hehe. No idea why! A friend pays great attention to eyebrows. How about you? It is best to start your exercises with the part of the face that you find most interesting and draw your way through the entire face. After that, it will be much easier for you to draw a full face.

If you have a hard time focusing on exercises and sticking to them consistently, drawing classes are recommended. There are sure to be drawing meetups in your area or take an online drawing course. In a group with like-minded people and preferably with a motivating course instructor, it is simply easier to practice. I used to enjoy going to drawing courses. Today I love giving some myself. 🙂

Tip 3: Dare to draw real people live

© Maxim Simonenko

It cost me so much to overcome! And I have to say, I’m still nervous today when I draw people live. Although I have to say that I usually do it in front of a lot of people at an event and get paid very well. There is also other pressure. What I want to say is: it’s hard! Except you don’t mind and you can just draw someone without worrying about their opinion. I don’t have this serenity! And I don’t think a lot of amateur and professional artists either.

For me it is the fear of “failing”, of seeing the disappointment of the person portrayed if he does not recognize himself in the picture or that my client is dissatisfied. If you draw someone live, you get the feedback immediately. Whether you are ready for it or not.

BUT no practice has improved me more effectively in drawing faces than live portraying!

If you’re out with friends or family, ask if you could draw them briefly. And scribble off! No matter how bad (in your eyes) the drawing gets! Draw your way through this uncertainty and you will definitely be rewarded.

The feedback you get right away is super valuable. “I don’t have that big a nose!” Or: “My eyes look completely different!” Such statements make you take a closer look and perceive elements on your face that you hadn’t even noticed before. Others see differently and you can tap into a lot for your vision!

© Maxim Simonenko

It takes a series of live portraits to develop a certain routine. My old Russian drawing master told me that in her drawing school she had to hand in 75 quick portraits every week in addition to the normal drawing lessons. Over several years! I just want to make you aware that after 10, 20 or 100 portraits have been drawn, you don’t have to be sad if it doesn’t work out yet.

Drawing faces just takes time. In order for you to create this number of portraits, it is extremely important that you do not lose the fun of drawing. Therefore, draw what you like, practice in groups with like-minded people and keep finding out about the techniques and methods of drawers who are where you want to be with your drawing skills.

Who is Maxim Simonenko ?

Hehe, maybe you’re wondering who I am? And why am I writing all this? Well, I love to draw people and especially faces!

I have been a freelance artist for 12 years. Today I have specialized in versatile portrait drawing. As a quick draftsman, I draw live at trade fairs, conventions, but also at weddings and birthdays. I really enjoy talking to people and drawing them in the process.

I used to work as a draftsman in the games and film industry. But I had to realize that it wasn’t for me. I like to write, I like to record videos, take drawing classes, educate myself, and travel. As a permanent employee or a freelancer for companies, I can’t fully live out my life.