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How to Draw Ears, a Detailed Step-by-Step Guide

drawing the ear - studies

Drawing the ear is often overlooked by artists, as it is not typically a focal point of facial expression and can be hidden by hair. However, mastering the art of drawing ears not only adds completeness to your artwork but also showcases your artistic expertise and understanding. This detailed step-by-step guide will help you learn how to draw ears with precision and skill.

A Two-Step Approach for Drawing Ears

We will follow a two-step approach to simplify the process of drawing ears. As someone who struggled with drawing ears in the past, I can assure you that this method significantly improved my drawing abilities. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, I have included my own ear drawings in this tutorial. Let’s dive in!

Step One: Familiarize Yourself with Ear Landmarks

how to draw ears - step one

To begin, it is essential to understand the main features and landmarks of the ear. There are six key landmarks, four of which are cartilage sections with distinctive names (such as helix and anti-helix). Familiarize yourself with each of these landmarks, as we will discuss them further.

Step Two: Observe and Study Different Ears

To fully grasp the intricacies of drawing ears, it is crucial to study real-life examples and observe the variations in shape and size. Every individual has unique ears, ranging from small to large, more curved or less curved. Studying different ears will help you identify and understand the commonalities among these variations.

Remember, although ears may differ in appearance, the essential landmarks we discussed earlier will remain present and identifiable. To enhance your understanding, I suggest examining multiple references and studying ears from various angles.

“In one way, ears are like chairs. There are many kinds of chairs, but all have the four legs and a place to rest on. Similarly, each specific feature of an ear can change in shape and design, but each feature will still be there, waiting to be identified properly and indicated in your drawing.” – Gvaat

Take note of the variation in features and pay attention to the shape of each landmark. Understanding the physical masses and how different sections interact with one another is crucial. The best way to learn is through real-life observation, so try observing ears from different angles or take pictures for reference.

how to draw ears - step two

“Don’t learn to draw the ear from just one example. There is enough variation that when you see another example, it may be difficult to figure out what-is-what at first. I suggest looking at least three different references to learn.” – Gvaat

Now that you have familiarized yourself with ear landmarks and studied their variations, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. Grab your sketchbook and let’s draw some ears!

Ear Anatomy for Drawing

Although ears come in various shapes and sizes, they have defining anatomical features that you should keep in mind when drawing. Understanding these features will enable you to accurately depict ears in your artwork. Here are the six key anatomical landmarks of the ear:

  1. The Ear Lobe
  2. The Helix
  3. The Anti-Helix
  4. The Tragus
  5. The Anti-Tragus
  6. The Concha

The Lobe, or Lobule

lobule - anatomy of the ear for drawing

The lobe is the fleshy, lower part of the ear. Its appearance can vary greatly from person to person. Some lobes resemble flaps, while others seamlessly blend into the rest of the ear. Remember that the lobe is just one feature of the ear; there are five more to understand.

It’s important to note that four of the main cartilages of the ear are raised off the surface, resembling elevated bumps or flaps. Let’s explore these features in more detail.


helix - anatomy of the ear for drawing

The helix is the prominent outer rim of the ear. Pay attention to its shape and the fact that it is further away from the head at the top, gradually moving closer as it descends toward the ear lobe.


anti-helix - anatomy of the ear for drawing

The anti-helix is a visible part of the inner ear. It follows the curvature of the helix and resembles a curved mountain ridge. As it reaches the top, the anti-helix flattens and splits into two sections. The top part tucks under the helix, while the bottom section morphs into the anti-tragus.


tragus - anatomy of an ear for drawing

The tragus is a flap-like piece of cartilage located at the front of the ear. It serves to protect the ear canal.


anti-tragus - anatomy of an ear for drawing

Opposite the tragus, at the bottom of the ear, sits the anti-tragus. Its name reflects its position relative to the tragus.


concha - anatomy of an ear for drawing

The concha refers to the “bottom of the bowl” of the ear. It is surrounded by the anti-helix, tragus, and anti-tragus. The helix divides the concha into two parts known as cymba and cavum. While the names of these sections are not crucial for drawing, it is essential to remember their presence and the fact that the helix extends into the concha.

Proportions of the Ear for Drawing

To achieve accurate proportions when drawing ears, it is helpful to divide the ear into three equal sections from top to bottom. This provides continuity in proportion regardless of the angle or perspective. While developing a sense of proportion is a skill that improves with practice, measuring out proportions can be beneficial in the early stages of drawing ears. Consider the following guidelines:

proportions of the ear for drawing

By drawing lines at the top of the helix, where the anti-helix connects to the front of the ear, through the anti-tragus, and at the end of the lobe, we can divide the ear into three equal parts. Alternatively, marking the top and bottom of the concha and the top and bottom of the ear with lines will yield the same result.

Physical Features of the Ear

Before we proceed with a step-by-step approach to drawing ears, let’s take a moment to observe the ear from different angles and make note of its physical features.

same ear at different angles

Here are some key observations:

  • The lower part of the ear is closer to the face than the upper part.
  • The ear creates a surface dip where the jaw steps away from the rest of the head, forming a space filled by the bowl of the ear.
  • When viewed from the front, the ears slope inward from above.
  • The ear resembles a bowl, with the rim (helix) tucking inward.
  • The tragus protects the ear canal from the front.

drawing an ear - backview

Drawing the Ear: Step-by-Step

Now, let’s delve into the process of drawing ears using the knowledge we’ve gained so far. Based on my own experience, understanding the anatomy and landmarks makes the process much smoother. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to draw an ear:

step-by-step ear drawing

Step 1:

Start by outlining the helix, ensuring you gauge proportions and angles accurately.

step 1 of ear drawing

Step 2:

Next, mark the tragus and anti-tragus, as their positions guide the rest of the ear drawing in this example.

step 2 of ear drawing

Step 3:

Identify the remaining features, such as the width of the helix and the location of the anti-helix.

step 3 of ear drawing

Step 4:

To add depth to your drawing, begin shading areas that recede and remain hidden from light.

step 4 of ear drawing

Step 5:

Focus on identifying darker tones in the concha area and create a terminator at the ear lobe. Pay attention to shading, light, and shadows for more detailed rendering.

step 5 of ear drawing

Step 6:

Continue shading to depict areas of light versus shadow, adding depth and dimension to your drawing.

step 6 of ear drawing

Final Drawing:

Tidy up the outline, focusing on achieving a clear silhouette that accurately represents the ear.

final ear drawing

How to Draw an Ear: Step-by-Step Example 2

For further guidance, let’s explore another step-by-step example of drawing an ear:

step-by-step ear drawing 2

Step 1:

Begin by outlining all prominent features: the helix, anti-helix, tragus, and anti-tragus.

ear drawing step 1

Step 2:

Focus on shaping the ear and refining the outline. Begin shading areas in shadow, considering the cast shadows created by the helix.

ear drawing step 2

Step 3:

Enhance the separation between light and dark to create depth in your drawing.

ear drawing step 3

Final Drawing:

Refine the shape of the lobe and further detail the shadow sections of your drawing.

final ear drawing 2

In Conclusion

In this comprehensive tutorial, we followed a two-step approach to mastering the art of drawing ears. By learning the anatomical features and studying real-life examples, we gained valuable insights into drawing ears with precision. From proportions to physical features, we explored every aspect of ear drawing.

I hope you found this drawing guide on how to draw ears helpful. Now, armed with this knowledge, it’s time to unleash your creativity and create stunning ear drawings of your own. Keep practicing, and you’ll be amazed at how your drawing skills improve over time.

Happy drawing!

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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