Anatomy resources for artists: Head and Face


We, as humans, are very attracted to faces and wired to see them everywhere. We are basically face-reading machines. Faces are also something we know very well, and we see if something is off even a little bit. That’s why it’s so important to learn to depict them with the most accuracy. Face can make or break your art if you have characters in there.

Over the years, I have gathered a lot of helpful websites that can help you master a human face (along with the head). Most resources are free, but some of them are paid.

Free resources

Character Design Reference – Pinterest boards

I’ve already mentioned CDR in this post about General reference resources because this website is HUGE!
Here I’m pointing you on few boards specifically about head and face. Keep in mind that this is just a collection of Pinterest boards, so it’s pretty mixed.

American Country Fairs – Interesting faces

It’s a very unusual gem of a website. Especially if you want to diversify your characters or heal from the Same Face Syndrome 😉

An anonymous photographer, Earth, is traveling through the USA, taking pictures of the most interesting characters at local country fairs and posting all of this on his website.

He welcomes any artist to use them as a reference; everything is a Creative Common License (Non-Profit).

I’m personally absolutely in love with this website.

HeadAngle – Practice heads from specific angles

Have you ever struggled with drawing heads from different angles? Well, here is your savior!
An anonymous artist with the pseudonym Art Technician made this wonderful reference resource, where you can find a bunch of faces turned precisely as you need and with precisely the details you need, like gender, facial hair, accessories, and facial expressions.
Feel free to donate to them if you use the website a lot.

Anatomy360 – 3D scans to practice expressions

Anatomy 360 is an amazing resource for learning Anatomy because it provides a 3D reference that you can view from all angles in different modes. They even have motion packs. I’ve already mentioned this in my post about general anatomy resources.
Most of their stuff is paid, though, and fairly so.

But they do have some freebies. Here are some free references they provide specifically for the head and face.

Line of Action – Timed practice online

I often recommend Line of Action as a great tool for Gesture Drawing, and I’ve already mentioned it in the related post here.
But human bodies is not the only thing you can practice there. They also have a ref pack with just Faces. And everything is free!

Sketch Daily – Timed practice online

Sketch.daily is a neat little tool that I’ve mentioned in the Gesture Drawing post. But you can also practice only faces there. Just to make sure to click on Body Part and then Heads. Their reference library is not huge, but enough for a quick practice.

Quickposes – Timed practice online

Another resource that I’ve already mentioned in the Gesture Drawing post. But they also have a specific library to practice drawing only faces (check Face under the type). A great tool to improve your portraits!

Partially free stuff

Anatomy for sculptors – 3D reference

Anatomy for Sculptors is an amazing resource if you want to dive deep into the topic. They sell great books and have some 3D reference tools. I’ve already mentioned it in the post about Anatomy (Duh!)

Aside from having most of their stuff as a paid resource, they provide some free stuff, like this skull and other helpful things.

Bodies in motion – Timed practice for expressions

Bodies in Motion is the best resource if you are learning to animate humanoid characters. There is no comparison to it.

Most of their tools and references are paid for monthly subscriptions that vary from cheap to moderately expensive.

Here are links to their collection of Facial Expressions. Full access to them would cost you 25$ a month, but they have several free packs that you can practice with.

Reference.Pictures – more than 1000 ref pictures

Noah and Rachel Bradley are a couple who are together in life, business, and art. They created Reference Pictures – a huge shop with reference packs varying from Landscapes to people. These are the ones that could help you with your Facial Drawing practice.

Here are the top websites I use to practice Face and Head drawing. Feel free to email me your favorite resources if you don’t find them here. I hope it was helpful!

Good Luck with your practice!

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2 Responses

  1. Oh, these are awesome tips. Especially “reference angle”, I can see myself using it a lot from now on 🙂 Thank you for sharing!


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