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This post is part of a series called Learn How to Draw.
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What You'll Be Creating

If you want to learn how to draw an ear, you must first understand its construction. Although human ears look quite complicated, they can be drawn quite easily once you deconstruct them. In this tutorial I will show you such an anatomical deconstruction, and I will also explain how to use it to draw ears in three views: front, side, and in perspective.

1. Ear Anatomy

If you look at the general form of the ear, it looks quite complicated. Where would you even start? Let's simplify it!

ear skull overlayear skull overlayear skull overlay

Let's start with a little dome attached to the side of the skull.

ear simple domeear simple domeear simple dome

If you make an opening in the front of this dome, the sounds will be caught by it and sent directly to the hole in the skull. So this structure already works like an ear, but let's just add some improvements.

ear simple dome openingear simple dome openingear simple dome opening

If you thicken the walls of this dome, its edges will look softer, like this:

ear dome curled edgeear dome curled edgeear dome curled edge

Create a radar shape around the dome.

ear simple radar shapeear simple radar shapeear simple radar shape

Curl the edge of the "radar" inwards

ear outer side curlingear outer side curlingear outer side curling

Add one last part on the bottom.

ear simplified completeear simplified completeear simplified complete

Compare our deconstructed ear to the real ear form. It should look clearer now!

how to udnderstand ear structurehow to udnderstand ear structurehow to udnderstand ear structure

If it's still confusing, take a look at an ear during rotation. Try to locate the dome and the radar. You can also take a look in the mirror and try to see all these forms in your own ears.

ear form rotated viewsear form rotated viewsear form rotated views

To make it even easier, let's simplify the big form into separate ones:

  1. Helix (the curling of the "radar")
  2. Antihelix (the thick edge of the dome)
  3. Tragus (a "roof" for the ear hole)
  4. Antitragus
  5. Auricular tubercle (an optional thickening)
  6. Concha (the dome)
  7. Lobe
ear structure anatomy partsear structure anatomy partsear structure anatomy parts

2. Ear Position

But knowing the shape of the ear is just half of the task. Where exactly on the head is it? It's quite easy to remember: it's located exactly behind the jaws, in the space defined by the eyebrows and the bottom of the nose.

ear position on skullear position on skullear position on skull

You also need to remember that the ear is slightly rotated in two ways:

  1. In the side view, it's tilted in relation to the plane of the face.
  2. In the top/front view, it's rotated slightly towards the front of the face.
ear proportionsear proportionsear proportions
ear proportions face overlayear proportions face overlayear proportions face overlay
Photo by Laura Auffray

3. Ear Shapes

To draw an ear, you only need to know the parts building it and some very general proportions. For example, the "upper oval" is always much bigger than the lobe, but the actual size relation is not strictly defined. You can experiment a lot with these proportions to create a unique ear for your character!

various ear shapesvarious ear shapesvarious ear shapes
Notice that sometimes the lobe is "free", and sometimes it's attached to the face with its whole side.

4. How to Draw an Ear in the Side View

Step 1

Prepare the head in the side view. You don't need to draw any details—just make sure you've marked the crucial proportions in some way.

side view simple skullside view simple skullside view simple skull

Step 2

Draw an oval in the upper part. Leave some space for the lobe.

ear side view big ovalear side view big ovalear side view big oval

Step 3

Add the lobe. It can overlap with the oval, but it doesn't have to—this will affect the final shape of the ear, but not its realism.

ear side view small ovalear side view small ovalear side view small oval

Step 4

Sketch the helix.

ear side view helix curveear side view helix curveear side view helix curve

Step 5

Define the thickness of the helix by drawing small ovals on its ends. You can also add the auricular tubercle if you want.

ear side view helix widthear side view helix widthear side view helix width

Step 6

Outline the helix and the lobe.

ear side view helix outlineear side view helix outlineear side view helix outline

Step 7

Add the antitragus.

ear side view antitragusear side view antitragusear side view antitragus

Step 8

Sketch the "y" shape of the antihelix.

ear side view antihelixear side view antihelixear side view antihelix

Step 9

Define the width of the antihelix by attaching an oval to its end.

ear side view antihelix widthear side view antihelix widthear side view antihelix width

Step 10

Outline the antihelix.

ear side view antihelix fullear side view antihelix fullear side view antihelix full

Step 11

Add the tragus.

ear side view tragusear side view tragusear side view tragus

Step 12

Outline the opening of the ear carefully.

ear side view openingear side view openingear side view opening

Step 13

With all the guide lines defined, you can add the final lines...

ear side view final linesear side view final linesear side view final lines

... and shade the whole ear, if needed.

how to draw ear side profilehow to draw ear side profilehow to draw ear side profile

5. How to Draw an Ear in the Front View

Step 1

First, sketch the head with the basic proportions marked.

ear front view skullear front view skullear front view skull

Step 2

Draw a big oval taking most of the space for the ear. Remember that it's not actually flat—it's an oval rotated slightly towards us.

ear front view big ovalear front view big ovalear front view big oval

Step 3

Add the smaller oval for the lobe.

ear front view small ovalear front view small ovalear front view small oval

Step 4

Add the rhythm of the helix right on the edge.

ear front view helix curveear front view helix curveear front view helix curve

Step 5

Add the width-defining ovals.

ear front view helix widthear front view helix widthear front view helix width

Step 6

Outline the helix and the lobe.

ear front view helix outlineear front view helix outlineear front view helix outline

Step 7

Add an oval on top of the lobe—the antitragus.

ear front view antitragusear front view antitragusear front view antitragus

Step 8

Add the "y" shape of the antihelix. Notice how its lower part bulges out, outlining the shape of the dome.

ear front view antihelix curveear front view antihelix curveear front view antihelix curve

Step 9

Add an oval on the end of the antihelix to define its width.

ear front view antihelix widthear front view antihelix widthear front view antihelix width

Step 10

Outline the antihelix.

ear front view antihelix outlineear front view antihelix outlineear front view antihelix outline

Step 11

Add an oval for the tragus.

ear front view tragusear front view tragusear front view tragus

Step 12

Outline the opening to the ear.

ear front view openingear front view openingear front view opening

Step 13

The guide lines are finished, so now you can draw the final lines and shade the ear.

ear front view final linesear front view final linesear front view final lines
how to draw ear front viewhow to draw ear front viewhow to draw ear front view

6. How to Draw an Ear in Perspective

You know what an ear looks like in the front, and what it looks like on the side. Drawing in perspective is simply creating a state between these two!

Step 1

Sketch the head to have a base for the ear.

ear in perspective head skullear in perspective head skullear in perspective head skull

Step 2

Draw the big oval.

ear in perspective big ovalear in perspective big ovalear in perspective big oval

Step 3

Draw the smaller oval for the lobe.

ear in perspective small ovalear in perspective small ovalear in perspective small oval

Step 4

Add the curve of the helix.

ear in perspective helix curveear in perspective helix curveear in perspective helix curve

Step 5

Add the small ovals defining the width of the helix.

ear in perspective helix widthear in perspective helix widthear in perspective helix width

Step 6

Outline the helix and the lobe.

ear in perspective helix outlineear in perspective helix outlineear in perspective helix outline

Step 7

Add the oval for the antitragus.

ear in perspective antitragusear in perspective antitragusear in perspective antitragus

Step 8

Add the "y" shape of the antihelix.

ear in perspective antihelix curveear in perspective antihelix curveear in perspective antihelix curve

Step 9

Add the small oval on its end to define its width.

ear in perspective antihelix widthear in perspective antihelix widthear in perspective antihelix width

Step 10

Outline the antihelix.

ear in perspective antihelix outlineear in perspective antihelix outlineear in perspective antihelix outline

Step 11

Add the oval of the tragus.

ear in perspective tragusear in perspective tragusear in perspective tragus

Step 12

Outline the opening of the ear.

ear in perspective openingear in perspective openingear in perspective opening

Step 13

Finally, draw the final lines and shade the ear.

ear in perspective final linesear in perspective final linesear in perspective final lines
how to draw ear in perspectivehow to draw ear in perspectivehow to draw ear in perspective

Good Job!

Now you know how to draw an ear, both from scratch and step by step! If you want, you can now paint it digitally!

If you want to keep learning how to draw other facial features, check out our other tutorials:

Or maybe you simply want to keep drawing? One of these may interest you:

how to draw ears step by step anatomyhow to draw ears step by step anatomyhow to draw ears step by step anatomy
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