When it comes to drawing portraits, many artists tend to overlook the importance of accurately depicting the subject’s ears. We often rely on facial features or other distinctive characteristics to recognize individuals. However, learning how to draw an ear and understanding its structure can greatly enhance your artistic skills.
The intricacies of the ear, with its numerous bumps, valleys, and folds, may initially seem daunting and complex. But fear not! Mastering the art of drawing an ear becomes much simpler when you learn to simplify its intricate shapes. Take a look at the example image below to get started.
For this easy ear-drawing tutorial, you’ll need the following materials:
- Blending stump
- HB Derwent pencil
- 4B Derwent pencil
- Canson Sketch paper (Note: I used Canson Sketch paper instead of my usual favorite, Canson Bristol Paper, as I ran out.)
Step 1: Outlining the Ear’s Shape
To begin, outline the general shape of the ear. Pay attention to proportion by ensuring that the bottom part of the ear (ear lobe) is slightly smaller than the top part (helix). Not sure where exactly to position the ear on the head? Click here to find out!
Step 2: Capturing the Bumps and Folds
Next, depict the ear’s bumps and folds. Draw two curves to represent the primary folds within the ear. The first curve should extend from the middle to the top of the ear and can be either smooth or jagged, depending on your desired effect.
Ensure you leave a small amount of space around the edges. The left side of the curve should gently curl toward the center of the ear.
The second curve should emerge from the first one and resemble a teardrop shape. Extend this curve upward to form a flap called the tragus. Remember to leave sufficient room at the bottom for the ear lobe.
Step 3: Preparing for Shading
In the initial stages of this tutorial, I mentioned three main shapes within the ear. We addressed two of them in Step 2. The remaining shape resembles the letter ‘y.’ You can either trace the ‘y’ shape lightly or visualize it for reference.
Determine the direction of the light source and use soft lines to indicate where the deepest shadows will fall. These areas correspond to the prominent folds and valleys within the ear. In this example, the light shines from the left side.
If any shadows intersect with the ‘y’ shape, ensure they align with the ridges, bumps, or valleys.
Step 4: Applying Dark Shades
Using a 4B pencil, shade the areas outlined in the previous step. Remember to deepen the shadows in the recessed parts of the ear while keeping the bumps lighter. For guidance on shading techniques, click here.
Step 5: Adding Mid-tones and Highlights
To create mid-tones, use an HB pencil to shade the remaining areas of the ear. Keep in mind that the bumps should appear lighter, while the valleys should be darker. For a seamless blend, use a blending stump to smoothen each section individually. Use a kneaded eraser if necessary to highlight the lightest areas of the ear.
If you found this brief tutorial on drawing a human ear helpful, please share it with your friends! What’s next? Learn how to incorporate the ear into a facial portrait here.