ArtistWorks Blog

Art Lessons with Justin BUA: How to Draw an Ear

The next topic in our "how to draw" art lessons series is about drawing ears.  Drawing ears can be tricky, so it's a lot easier to break it up into different sections. The external ear is broken up into four parts, and in this sample art lesson from the Online Art School with Justin BUA, we'll cover exactly how to draw the four parts so that you can shape and shade a realistic ear.  

Let's begin by going over the four parts of the ear which we'll be drawing.  The upper and outer rim of the ear is called the helix.  It’s the top of the ear and has a rim-type feel to it.  The next part of the ear located below and parallel to the helix is called the antihelix, and it is mostly made up of cartilage.  The third part of the ear is called the tragus and it covers the ear's hole and faces rearward. We'll be using the tragus to measure the size of the ear.  Lastly, there's a part of the ear called the lobule which is the flimsy part we call the earlobe.  

Overall, the ear is primarily made of cartilage and the earlobe is made out of fat.  Understanding these different parts is important when learning how to draw an ear.  Becoming familiar with these parts will give you the insight to the right amount of shading and strokes.  So now that you have the basic parts of the ear let’s work on how to draw them.

When drawing an ear you'll want to start with a question mark shape (?) but -  with more sophistication of course.  The concept is that you draw a question mark to start the wider rim of the helix.  Then begin to draw the inner rim of the ear (antihelix) by drawing a Y shape.  So think of the helix as a shape that contains a top and side plane.  Think sculpturally and draw around your forms.  Remember, ears come in all different shapes and sizes so it's ok if your illustration is also different. As you learn more about how to draw, you sketches will begin to become more detailed and life-life. 

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When drawing the tragus, try to make it as if you can put your finger into the ear. This will give it dimension and will give your ear a realistic touch and a natural size.  Apply some shadow for a convincing shape and also be sure you are always feeling the texture when you are drawing parts of your ear.  Think about the gradation when going from dark to light and give it a soft and delicate configuration.  In general you want to glaze a layer of value on it because some parts of your ear will be sitting back inside of the shell of the ear.  

The earlobe also comes in many different sizes and shapes.  Sometimes they hang low, some are square shaped, or there are also earlobes that are just attached to the base of the skull.  Keep your drawing consistant to the shape of the ear you want to draw.  If you are going to make your earlobe round then you want to feel the texture of the object where it’s supposed to be.  If you're going for a fatty earlobe, give it that feel.  Or if part of your ear is cartilage give it that sculpture.  

In the shell area where you look inside the ear, give it a deep shadow so that it will feel as if you are looking deep inside.  As you shade the rest of the ear, feel the form and cast shadows inside and around for depth.  Having the right amount of gradation and light is equally important here. Feel a ridge around the helix giving the proper gradation and drawing in your form.  Soon it will begin to start looking more like an ear and you'll be all set.  Be sure to study the video for more tips and instructions and check out more art lessons from Justin BUA!


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