The 10 Best Books on Drawing Faces

The 10 Best Books on Drawing Faces
The 10 Best Books on Drawing Faces

Taking the time to study some of the best books on drawing faces can help you to master what is one of the most challenging things to depict artistically, the human face. 

Many artists struggle to draw the human face, so if you are struggling to master this difficult subject, you shouldn’t let it deter you from working on your skills so you can improve. Nobody is born knowing how to draw a perfect human face. It takes time and effort to learn the techniques necessary to do so. 

Capturing a likeness, getting shadows right, and having eyes that look alive are all difficult challenges. But these are all challenges that you have to meet each time you draw a face. What makes all of this particularly challenging is the fact that there is no single thing on the planet that we are more familiar with than the human face. As an artist, if you make a mistake when drawing a face, it’s going to be very apparent to anyone that looks at it.

The best way to get better at drawing anything is to practice it and to study and learn new skills and techniques. In an ideal world, you would be able to attend art courses regularly to hone your skills. 

But, in the real world, where many of us struggle to find enough time to do the things we want to do, it’s often necessary to find an alternative means of developing your skills. The following are some of the best books on drawing faces, and they can help you to take your artistic endeavors to the next level.


Proko: Portrait Drawing Fundamentals

There are numerous compelling reasons why Proko’s drawing videos work wonders for both beginner and experienced artists. First and foremost, each tutorial is carefully designed and thoroughly polished. The video content is better produced, articulately presented, and has a great tone compared to other online drawing videos.

How To Draw Lifelike Portraits From Photographs By Lee Hammond

Who is Lee Hammond, and why is she qualified to teach you how to draw portraits? With more than 30 years of experience as a professional artist, Lee Hammond takes readers of her book on an artistic journey where she shares the tips and tricks that have helped her to enjoy a long and successful career as an artist. Click here to view details How To Draw Lifelike Portraits From Photographs – Revised: 20 step-by-step demonstrations with bonus DVD

What makes this book an invaluable resource for artists is the step by step instructions. This simple, easy to follow approach gives students the ability to see each step in the creative process so they can fully understand the process of drawing a portrait. 

Drawing from life is a great experience, but it’s also far from the most convenient way to draw a portrait. Drawing from a photo is the next best thing to drawing from life, and that’s what this book focuses on. What will readers of this book learn?

Readers will be introduced to the Hammond blended pencil technique. This is a proven method for drawing people, hair, and clothing realistically, including using shading to create the illusion of three dimensions.

Readers will be shown in a simple to follow, step-by-step instruction on how to start, render, and then add the finishing touches to a portrait, while using a photograph for reference. Readers will be taught how to use Lee’s grid technique to draw faces with the correct proportions, while also being able to create a realistic likeness of their subject.

Readers will see examples of how to draw people with different ethnic backgrounds, various features, and also of all different age groups. 

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Artists looking to gain a solid understanding of various shading techniques will find this book very useful. Artists who need to refine their ability to draw facial features accurately will find this book helpful.

Artists who want to learn who to draw from photographs using a simple, easy-to-follow step-by-step method will benefit from this book.

Secrets To Drawing Realistic Faces by Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks is a certified forensic artist that has spent years working with law enforcement.

Using her talents to help them create composite sketches based upon descriptions from victims.

Carrie Stuart Parks’ expertise in drawing a human face, based only upon a description while still being able to come up with a solid likeness, makes her an ideal instructor for anyone that wants to improve their ability to draw people. 

Her work as a forensic artist demands a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail, which are two hallmarks of what an outstanding portrait artist should bring to the table.

If you buy her book, what skills will you learn? Click here to view details Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces

Readers will learn how to master the proportions of a face, and how to map out facial features accurately to create realistic likenesses of their subjects. 

Readers will learn to study shapes and composition, and draw them correctly, including rendering in shadows and highlights. By focusing on simpler shapes, an artist can break down a human face into it’s more basic forms, allowing them to draw with accuracy more easily. 

Students will learn to look for lights and shadows on their subject, and then learn to render them out. Creating a picture of a face that has highlights, mid-tones, and shadows will look much more realistic than a face without this type of shading.

Readers will learn how to render details that are difficult for many artists. This includes rendering hair and drawing realistic eyes, including placing highlights and reflections in them.

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Artists who want to understand proportions and prefer to work by first sketching out simple forms, then adding details later should find this book to be very informing. Artists who want to learn how to render details effectively and use those details to bring a face to life should find this book quite useful. 

Specialists who want to learn how to create a three-dimensional appearance in their drawings through the use of shadows, mid-tones, and highlights should find this book useful.

The Artist’s Complete Guide To Drawing The Head By William Maughan

Who is William Maughan? Born in 1946, he graduated with distinction from the Art Center College of Design in 1973. From 1976 to 1989, he was an instructor there, where he learned taught others many of the techniques he would later write about in his books. He continued to teach and held various esteemed positions and was even awarded an honorary Doctorates degree in 2012.

William Maughan has worked as both a professional illustrator with a wide range of notable clients, as well as being an accomplished fine artist. His tremendous wealth of experience makes him an ideal teacher for anyone that wants to sharpen their skills or from aspiring artists who are just starting their artistic journey. What will you learn from his book?

Emphasis is placed on studying chiaroscuro, an Italian technique developed by Leonard da Vinci himself, that teaches how to model a human head using lights and darks. This unusual approach to illustration focuses on extremes of light and shadow, which gives the illusion of three-dimensional depth. Click here to view details Artists Complete Guide Drawing Head

Students will learn how to use a pencil, white pencil, and toned paper to create illustrations that have a full range of values.

Readers will also learn how to use color in their drawings in the form of soft pastels. Soft pastels create an effect much more like a painting than drawing but offer the benefit of being able to work quickly with little prep time.

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Artists who prefer to use light and shadow to render out a portrait should find this book very engrossing.

This approach is somewhat different than other books about drawing the human face or head, and as a result, you will be able to achieve a more distinctive style after reading this book. 

Specialists who want to learn how to use toned paper as part of their work should find this book very useful. Artists who wish to learn to draw in color by using soft pastels should love this book.

Drawing in black and white is challenging, but adding color to the mix is both more challenging and also more rewarding.

You, Will, Be Able To Draw Faces By The End Of This Book By Jake Spicer

Jake Spicer is an artist, illustrator, and instructor who specializes in drawing the human form. He works in a studio with a team of other artists who draw from live models.

His experience teaching classes to live students has made him a tremendous author, whose many books about art and illustration have proven to be an invaluable resource to artists everywhere.

Jack Spicer approaches artwork in a simple manner. He breaks down techniques into smaller components, making them easier to understand, even for students that are beginners. 

More advanced students will also benefit from reading his book as they can see Jake Spicer’s approach, then integrate the parts of it that fit in with what they do as an artist. What can you expect to learn after reading his book?

Readers will be given a thorough education, from the ground up, so to speak, about anything and everything that has to do with drawing the human face.

The approach taken in this book is meant for beginners, but can also provide value to more advanced students. 

Readers will learn to understand how the face is made up of many smaller and more basic forms. By following these forms and how they relate to one another, the reader will get a better command of the underlying anatomy of the human face. Click here to view details You Will, Be Able To Draw Faces By The End Of This Book

Users will then go into a more detailed approach where they learn the finer points of drawing a face. All of the little details that Jake Spicer utilizes in his own work to create lifelike people will be shown to readers. 

Readers that dedicate themselves to studying the lessons in the book, and work hard at perfected the techniques, will be able to draw a human face. This goes for readers who are experienced artists, as well as those that are just starting out.

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Beginning artists who are looking for a way to get started drawing human faces should find this book very beneficial. More advanced artists who want to learn how to add fine details to their work to bring their portraits to life should benefit from this book. 

Any artist that draws human faces should benefit from learning how to break the face down into smaller components to build a solid foundation for their drawings.

Art Of Drawing: Drawing Portraits: Faces And Figures By Giovanni Civardi

Giovanni Civardi should hail from Italy, given that his background as an artist fits along the same vein as the old master Leonardo da Vinci. A master artist who also spent many years studying medicine and anatomy, Giovanni Civardi has an intricate understanding of the human form, and of the anatomy that grants us locomotion. 

He has taken his unique artistic perspective, based upon anatomy, and used it to publish many successful and highly influential books about art and drawing the human form. When you read this book, what can you expect to learn?

Readers will learn how to create quick sketches, informal portraits, and formal portraits. Readers will learn how to draw the face realistically by mastering proportions. 

Students will learn a variety of techniques, teaching them how to create tone and value by shading and adding highlights. Readers will be given simple examples to learn from and step-by-step guides that they can follow.

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Artists who want to learn how to draw everything from quick sketches to formal portraits should find this book useful. Artists who want to learn how to use tone and value to create a sense of depth in their portraits should find this book helpful. Click to view information Art Of Drawing: Drawing Portraits: Faces And Figures

Artists who want simple, easy to follow instructions that can help them to develop their skills should find this book very beneficial. Artists who wish to learn how to create everything from simple sketches to formal portraits would benefit from reading this book.

The Artist’s Complete Guide To Facial Expression By Gary Faigin

The co-founder and artistic director of Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Gary Faigin, is an accomplished artist and academic who has mastered the art of drawing facial expressions. He currently serves as a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. 

Here he teaches facial expressions to graduate animation students, helping them to master the art of depicting realistic human expressions. He also works with a research team that studies the human perception of stylized facial expressions. 

On top of all of that, he also works with computer graphics artists helping them to learn how to depict human expressions realistically.

Gary Faigin is a master at depicting expressions. Being able to draw an instantly recognizable expression can mean the difference between an ordinary drawing, and an extraordinary one.

What can you expect to learn when you read this book?

Readers will learn what the six basic emotions are sadness, anger, joy, fear, disgust, and surprise, and how to depict them when drawing a human face.

Each emotion is shown in various stages, giving readers a chance to see how they can show anything from minor fear to a drawing of a person that is utterly terrified. 

Readers will learn about the anatomy of the face and how the muscles move to create expressions.

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Any artist that struggles in depicting expressions should find this book to be beneficial and informative.

Artists who want to learn everything from realistic expressions to stylized ones should find this book useful.

Artists who want to understand the anatomy of the face and how the muscles move to create expressions.

Should find this book very interesting.

Click here to read further information: The Artist’s Complete Guide To Facial Expression

Drawing And Sketching Portraits By Jacquelyn Descanso

Jacquelyn Descano is a professional artist that runs a small art studio where she draws and paints. She specializes in the human form and has developed an economical style of art. 

That is, she draws without adding a lot of minute details, but still manages to create a piece that looks realistic, and has a strong resemblance to her subject.

She also takes on students offering them lessons on the basics of drawing human faces, as well as more advanced techniques. What can you learn from reading her book?

Readers will learn the basics of drawing the human face giving them the ability to quickly sketch out portraits that have a strong resemblance to their reference photo or model. 

Readers will learn time-honored techniques for drawing realistic portraits that artists have been using for centuries. Readers will learn how to start a portrait, get proper proportions, then render it out, so it becomes a finished piece of art.

Readers will benefit from the step-by-step instructions and the fact that there are over 60 illustrations by the author in this book.

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Artists who are looking to refine their ability to develop anatomically correct portraits with proper proportions should find this book useful. Artists who appreciate the techniques of the old masters and want to learn how to emulate them in their work should find this book very informative. 

Specialists who learn best when looking at simple, easy to follow, step-by-step examples should find this book very helpful for improving their techniques. Click here to find further details Drawing and Sketching Portraits: How to Draw Realistic Portraits for Beginners

Portrait Drawing By AndrAs Szunyoghy

AndrAs Szunyoghy is a freelance illustrator and artist who specializes in drawing portraits. He comes from an artistic family and began to show an interest and aptitude for art from a young age. 

While many portrait artists are attracted to drawing a more idealized depiction of a human face, AndrAs Szunyoghy often focuses on the strange, or even grotesque in his work. 

His work as an illustrator and portrait artist is definitely unique, and his unique take on illustrating the human form should be very interesting for beginners and seasoned artists as well. What should you learn from reading his book?

Readers will learn how to start with simple forms and then progress to more advanced features. Readers will learn how to measure distances between features to create a good likeness of their model. Readers will learn the importance of perspective.

Who Would Benefit From Reading This Book?

Artists who like to start a drawing by breaking down portrait into simpler forms, then ensuring that these forms align with one another in the right proportions should find this book very helpful. 

Artists who have struggled to create likenesses of their subject should find that this book helps with that tremendously. Artists who want a better understanding of perspective and how it relates to portrait should find this book very useful. Click here to read further details Portrait Drawing

The Fundamentals Of Drawing Portraits By Barrington Barber

Written and illustrated by a teacher and professional artist Barrington Barber, this is a book that can benefit new and seasoned artists alike. Who is Barrington Barber? Originally, he worked in advertising and television as a designer and art director. 

Later, he would teach at Ealing Art School, before trying his hand as a freelance illustrator, designer, and painter. What can you expect to learn by reading his book?

Readers will be encouraged to develop their unique style and approach while being educated on how to overcome common mistakes, and how to master the technical aspects of illustrating the human head and face. 

The main aim of the book is to provide artists with a solid foundation in the basics of drawing people, that they can then use to develop their own style.

Who Would Benefit From This Book?

Artists who want to learn the fundamentals of portrait drawing would benefit from this book. Artists who want a form of instruction that will allow them to learn while still developing their own distinctive style should benefit from this book. 

Artists who want a better understanding of the fundamentals of portrait drawing should benefit from this book.

Lessons In Masterful Portrait Drawing By Mau-Kun Yim

Mau-Kun Yim is an artist that learned how to draw and paint the way that the old masters did. When you look at his work, you can see the influence of the pioneers that produced classical artwork during the Renaissance. 

He attended the Canton Academy of Fine Arts, and developed an ability to paint extremely realistic, yet still emotionally engrossing portraits.

He is an extremely well-rounded artist that has done everything from ink painting to expressionist landscapes to realistic portraits or scenes in oil. What can you expect to learn from his book?

Readers will start out by learning how to draw a classical bust. Mau-Kun Yim strongly feels that this should be the foundation that further techniques are built upon. Readers will learn how to sketch quickly and loosely, focusing on form and features. 

Readers will be able to follow 12 step-by-step examples so that they can better understand the approach of the artist.

Who Would Benefit From This Book?

Artists that have an appreciation for the techniques of the old masters, and want to learn how they created the amazing works of art that we admire today, should love this book.

Artists that want to learn how to reproduce the same style of art as the old masters should love this book. 

Artists that enjoy learning by following step-by-step examples should find this book to be very informative and useful.

Artists who want to master the art of sketching quickly and loosely to quickly capture the essence of their subject should find this book exceptionally to be quite educational.

Is It Truly Possible To Improve Your Portrait Drawing By Studying From A Book By Yourself?

Is reading a book the best way to learn new techniques and refine your skills as an artist? Probably not. To really grow and develop as an artist, you need instruction from a professional. 

This will enable you to not only learn new techniques but also to get feedback on your work. Input from an instructor can help you to see what kind of progress you are making, and how well you are picking up on the techniques you are being taught.

Feedback from fellow students will let you see how your work compares to theirs, and see if your artistic style is one that they find interesting.

While studying from a book may not be the best way to learn and grow as an artist, it certainly beats the alternative of having no instruction at all. It’s also much more convenient than having to actually devote time to going to an art class regularly. 

Many people simply lack time to spend driving to and from an art class, not to mention the hours that they spend in attendance. For people like this, instructional books are a great alternative.

How should you use the previous best books on drawing faces? The best way is to use these books as a supplement to classes you are taking. Or have taken in the past. 

You should also spend a lot of time practicing what you learn from them. The best books on drawing faces can show you what you need to do, and demonstrate how to do it, but without regular practice, you won’t be able to master the techniques you are learning. 

So, take a look at the drawing books mentioned above, learn from them, and spend time doing what you love, drawing as much as possible.

My Favourite Drawing Resources

General Drawing Courses. I really like Udemy if you are looking to develop your knowledge of drawing techniques Udemy is an excellent choice due to its wide range of creative courses and excellent refund policy. They often have monthly discounted deals for new customers, which you can check here. Use my link.

Sketching and Collage. Take a look at this sketching resource I have created. Use this link.

Proko. Is one of my favorite teachers who surpasses in the teaching of Anatomy and Figure drawing. Prokos course breaks down the drawing of the human body into easy-to-follow components aiding the beginner to make rapid progress. For this, I really like Proko.

Art Easels. One of my favorite ways to draw is by using a drawing easel, which develops the skill of drawing on a vertical surface. The H frame easel is an excellent vertical easel way to add variety to the style and type of marks you create when using a drawing board.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I made for you.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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The 10 Best Books on Drawing Faces