Monthly Archives: February 2015

DRAWING PORTRAITS – THE FEATURES OF THE FACE

Once you have the correct proportions of the face, and have considered the planes of the face as it turns away from the light, it’s time to put in the features of the face:  the eyes, eyebrows, nose, ears, mouth.  This is the time for careful observation, because even though everyone’s features are close to the same, it is the little differences that cause you to draw a true likeness.  Here are some pointers.

THE EYE:  The eyeball fits into the eye socket and the eyelids wrap over the eyeballs.  The pupil is quite large in dim light, and smaller in bright light.  The iris is darker under the eyelid because of the overlapping shape.  Be sure that the eyeballs are placed in the same position in the eye socket, so the model doesn’t look cross-eyed, and make sure that the highlights in the iris and the pupils are in the same place.  Light colored eyes usually have a darker rim (limbus) around the iris.  Eyebrows vary from individual to individual and help to contribute to a correct likeness. As the face turns or tilts, the eyeballs can be foreshortened.  Don’t forget the tear duct.  Pay attention to the lower eyelid, the wrinkles and shadows around the eye.  Shadows are darker close to the nose — these shadows often give structure to the nose.

A lot of expression can be put into the placement of the eyeball — for instance, if surprise or fright is to be shown, the whites of the eyes can be seen around the eyeball.  If the model is sleepy, uninterested, or even angry, the eyelids squeeze together – maybe even in a squint.  Careful observation is necessary.

Don’t make the mistake of putting in lines for eyelashes — simply darken about the eye to suggest them.  The eyelashes are thickest toward the outer corner.  The lower lid has a mild highlight along it’s edge.

eyes

 

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DRAWING PORTRAITS – THE PLANES OF THE FACE

Getting the correct proportions of the face you’re drawing is one thing, but what about shading the face so that it looks three dimensional?  You need to think about the structure of the face as consisting of several planes that either catch the light or seen in shadows.  Imagine that you are sculpting a head out of a big block of stone or clay. You have to remove chunks at first to shape the head, and then you have to chip away in slices — no curves as yet.  You are modeling the form, which is what you need to do in drawing a portrait as well.

In your drawing, you will look at the planes to shade the portrait as it recedes into space.  You can use hatching and cross-hatching to define the areas.  Always remember one simple rule — what comes forward catches the light; what goes back is in shadow.  So the nose is always in light, as is the forehead, the chin, and the cheeks to some degree.  Darker values will be seen under the eyebrows, the nose, and the lower lip.  Here is a diagram to illustrate.

planes

DRAWING PORTRAITS – FORESHORTENING

Knowing about the basic proportions of the head is fine, but what happens when the artist doesn’t have a frontal view, or the head is tilted causing foreshortening?  A bigger problem, of course.  Actually, a profile view is easiest of all to draw because you have the negative space to help, and maybe because you only have one eye, one ear, one nostril, one-half of the lip to draw! At any rate, most people would not like to have their portrait done head on – like a wanted poster.  The best view for portraits is a 3/4 view.

And if the head is tilted upward, or downward, the basic proportions of 1/3, or 1/2 no longer work.  If the head tilts upward, you see more of the chin, neck, nostrils, etc. and less of the forehead.  The proportional ‘thirds” diminish near the top of the head, and the nose appears above the lower part of the ear.  If the head tilts downward, you will see more of the hair, the forehead and less of the eyes, lips and nose.  The top “third” seems to be larger and the nose is below the lower part of the ear.  Always remember to find the center line and the slant of the head.  Notice the curves in the vertical and horizontal center lines.  Here are some examples.  Although not the best drawings in the world, you can see what happens in each case.

foreshortened

DRAWING PORTRAITS – BASIC PROPORTIONS

CURRENTLY, I AM TEACHING A PORTRAIT/FIGURE DRAWING CLASS AT THE MAUMELLE SENIOR WELLNESS CENTER.  I AM SHARING SOME OF THE LESSONS ON MY BLOG.

WHEN YOU DRAW A PORTRAIT OR A FIGURE STUDY FROM LIFE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF PROPORTION – MEASUREMENT AND COMPARISON.  EVERY PERSON IS DIFFERENT, BUT THERE ARE SOME SIMILARITIES – SOME BASIC PROPORTIONS THAT WILL HELP YOU GET A LIKENESS.

ALWAYS BEGIN WITH A SKETCH – USE YOUR EYE TO SKETCH THE SUBJECT LIGHTLY – THEN YOU CAN USE MEASUREMENT AND COMPARISONS TO BECOME MORE ACCURATE.  KEEP IT SIMPLE AND LEARN TO USE OBSERVATION.  BEGIN WITH A STANDARD LINE – A BENCHMARK, AS HEIGHT. MAKE LIGHT MARKS TO INDICATE THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE HEAD.   DRAW A LITTLE BIT SMALLER THAN LIFE SIZE.

WE ARE TRYING TO DEPICT A 3 DIMENSIONAL SUBJECT ON A 2 DIMENSIONAL SHEET OF PAPER.  IT HELPS TO THINK OF THE PICTURE PLANE AS AN INVISIBLE PANE OF GLASS BETWEEN YOU AND THE SUBJECT.

 Start with basic oval shape. Draw lines to divide the shape in half vertically and horizontally.  The eyes are located on the center line of the shape.  

 Measure – the width of five eyes for the width of the face and the length of seven eyes for the height. 

 Draw eyes on horizontal line with one eye width of space between.

 Draw horizontal line halfway between eyes and chin, — this is the bottom of the nose and ears.

 Mouth line is about a third of the way down from the nose line.  The hair line is a third above the eyebrows.

 Draw vertical lines down from the inside corner of the eyes to the nose line = the width of the bottom of the nose.

 Lines from the center of the eyes drawn vertically place the edges of the mouth.

 Eyebrows line up with the tops of the ears and the bottom of ears line up with bottom of nose.

 Add neck and shoulder in cylinder and wedge forms.

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