You know what’s oddly satisfying? Drawing glasses on faces! It adds so much character, story, and interest to the face. But as you probably already experienced, drawing glasses isn’t without its challenges.
So, in this post, I’ll try to condense the process of drawing glasses on a face into seven simple steps that I have personally found to be helpful.
The basic strategy.
Drawing glasses on faces is more than just copying shapes blindly; it’s about understanding the anatomy and structure of both the glasses and the face.
My approach is to focus on basic shapes and use fluid motions with a hard pencil in the first 6 steps, then switch to darker pencils and firmer marks when it’s time to add shading in the last step.
Step 1 Get the structure and proportions of the face right before drawing the glasses.
Before diving into drawing glasses, it’s super helpful to nail the structure and proportions of the face. I used to rush into drawing glasses early on and ended up with countless frustrating edits. Lesson learned!
It’s better to start by drawing the portrait’s structure, including the eyes, as if you won’t be drawing glasses at all. This way, you’ll be confident that everything is in the right place.
Here are some proportions you need to get right as a first step:
- The spacing between the eyes should be about one eye width.
- Align the browline and top of the ears along the horizontal axis of the head.
- The wings of the nose should align with the inner corners of the eyes.
- The eye line should be about the halfway mark of the head.
You can check out my post on the proportions of the face if you want a more detailed guide.
Step 2 Draw a gesture line connecting the browline to the top of the ears.
Now that you have the face structure in place, draw a gesture line connecting the browline to the top of the ears. It sets the stage for the glasses to sit perfectly on the face.
Step 3 Sketch a rectangle over the face where the glasses are supposed to go.
Time to define the perspective of the glasses by sketching the smallest rectangle that can encase them, referring to the gesture line from Step 2.
The angles of the glasses’ sides rarely parallel each other, so take note of those differences. The main thing to focus on in this step is to figure out how the angles of the left side of the rectangle differ from the right side and how the angle of the upper side varies relative to the lower side.
Step 4 Outline the shape of the glasses.
In this step, we carve out the shape of the glasses within the rectangle we sketched earlier and depending on the perspective, add volume to the shapes to suggest its three dimensionality.
It can often be tricky to get the symmetry between the left and the right sides of the glasses just right especially when drawing a portrait in the three-quarters view.
The following tips are helpful in drawing the shapes of glasses well:
- Aim to draw the shapes fluidly.
- It is okay if the shapes in your drawings look slightly different from the reference because over-correcting is more noticeable compared to any minor imperfections in your drawings.
- Draw the left and right sides of the glasses simultaneously instead of sketching the outline of one whole side before moving on to the other side.
Step 5 Block in the shapes of key highlights on the glasses
Before diving into shading, pinpoint where you want those prominent highlights on the glasses to be. This will keep them crisp and shiny.
Step 6 Block in the shapes of shadows cast on the face by the eyeglasses
Make sure to place the shadows confidently though, because messy corrections can negate the crisp highlights. So before you begin shading with darker pencils in the final step, it is helpful to sketch the general outline of the cast shadows now.
Step 7 Render the glasses according to the art style you’re going for.
Now comes the fun part—shading! This is where all your hard work pays off (fingers crossed!).
To draw glasses in a way that complements the overall art style you’re going for, it is helpful to do lots of quick practice studies to experiment with different techniques to figure out what works for you and also understand how different glasses blur, reflect, distort, and interact with the surroundings.
So, have fun, keep practicing, and embrace the small imperfections! Happy drawing!