The last designer seminar was devoted to the principles of proportions and their reproduction in a portrait drawn from life. Dasha Ermolova, an artist with an academic background, was the one to explain the secrets of shape perfection and what one should pay attention to, when using these skills in UI design, web design, or just any time you use your hands to create beautiful things on paper.


Why portrait in the first place?

A human face is a good tool to practice on. First of all it is easily accessible as there are always people around, which is great news once you have a pencil. Secondly, a human face is something that has a triple layer, so to say. I mean, whenever you draw a picture of some object it is always good to know what makes its shape look the way it does. This is all based on the invisible part or something under the surface, like a skull, muscles, and skin if we talk about a face. Understanding of such a complex structure of things around helps to develop spatial or I’d say dimensional thinking.

It’s not necessary to dissect the item you’re about to draw (I wouldn’t mind that, though) but it will only do you good putting a bit of educational effort to know more about the hidden component.

Measure twice cut once

Apart from the underlying pillars or shape holders, keeping to proportions has a lot to do with measurements. Don’t rush to grab a ruler though, true artists never use this instrument in their creative work. By looking at the object and using our eye instrument for measurement we can identify the size of the parts that form proportions. For example, here are the following conclusions we came to using our eyes to measure the face:

  • a face can be divided into 3 parts and they will be equal
  • those equal parts are: from the top line of the forehead to the level of the eyebrows 
  • from the eyebrows level to the base of the nose; from the base of the nose to the lower line of the chin
  • the inner corners of the eyes are on the same level as the nasal wings


Measuring proportions is very useful for any kind of art or a field of design. As the company who knows well what the customers like, we can argue, that a designer creation should look perfect and professional. These two adjectives among other things, imply understanding the rules of perspective and proportion. The truth is, the majority in the user circle aren’t really fond of disproportional and weird, giving preference to simply beautiful and correct.

So every time you are about to give your work a bit of tasteful air of proportional masterpiece, we would recommend to compare the details and look at them from the point of view of a ruler (no rules required though).

Pencils sharpening

The whole seminar was much of a practical task. We exercised in drawing a face from live following the rules of the academic drawing and using the principles of proportions that I was talking about as long as the creative process was going on.

In order to build a composition in the graphic design, it’s important to look at the whole and then proceed to small details in order to catch the right proportions. Drawing from live helps to capture interesting moments, put emphasis on the brightest features and reflect the emotion.


To tell the truth it was a funny seminar as drawing a portrait following strict academic rules is a something to joke about. What usually happens is that the artists catch the shape by looking at it and not reading the manuals from academic books. In the most cases, they have a feeling for proportion and shape, including shade matter, color, and volume. But it is always useful to have more theoretical knowledge added to what the skillful hands can do.