Today I wanted to draw some more random faces. I decided to take a bit of a more structured approach this time though. I’m still really just trying to learn basic form and construction so I spent a bit of time studying up on it earlier in the day. I’ve been enjoying and learning a lot from the portraits I’ve been doing but one of the things I really want to be able to do is capture interesting faces and expressions quick it and also make up my own that look realistic. I’m definitely not there yet but I’m going to keep working at it. The first step is to get a firm grasp on the underlying form and structure.
I haven’t done any skull sketches in a while but today I decided to focus on something different. I was making some pretty big claims the other day about how I was able to capture faces in strange angles using construction theory. That was mostly true but in order to actually be able to explain it I had to brush up on it a bit more myself. The skull studies I did a few months ago actually did help me understand it a little better than the last time I looked at it. It all really does tie together.
People always say that the best way to really learn and absorb something is by trying to teach it to someone else. With this in mind, as well as a promise I made about showing some process sketches for how I construct faces in difficult poses, I decided to put together a little tutorial. This is entirely based on Andrew Loomis’s great books Fun With A Pencil and Figure Drawing for All it’s worth. He also draws much better and has a much more sensible way of explaining it that I do so I highly encourage you to check out his books if you haven’t already.
- Draw a circle.
- I lied. It’s actually a sphere. Draw two dividing lines on it (contoured to fit the form of the sphere). These can be drawn pretty much anywhere you like. The horizontal line will be the brow line and the vertical line will be the center line of your face so decide which way you want your face to be looking and place the lines accordingly.
- Place the final axis on your three dimensional sphere. It should divide both the center line and the brow line effectively cutting the sphere into eighths. The top intersection will be the top of your head. Draw a line here (like a north pole on a globe) to indicate the tilt of the head you’re drawing.
- Cut the side off your sphere by dropping a straight line down the side of the head parallel to the center line of the face. Draw a perpendicular straight line dividing the brow line along the side of the head. These new cross hairs will be the starting point of the ear. Then draw a circle around these to indicate the area that you are chopping off and the new boundaries of the face.
- Drop the center line of the face down below the bottom of the sphere, approximately doubling it’s length.
- Divide this new center line into another four equal parts, each approximately half as large as the distance between the top of the head and the brow line. These four divisions will mark (in order from top to bottom). The hair line, (the brow line, already marked), the nose line (at the bottom of the sphere), the mouth line, and the chin line.
- Draw another line just under the brow line, curving around the face to the edge of the second circle. This will be your eye line.
- Draw a curved line down from the eye line to the chin line and another up from the chin to just before the ear line.
9. I just repeated 8. for continuity on the next page. The rest of the steps can really be done in any order though.
10. Draw the eyes along the eye line. There should be about an eye’s width between them divided by the center line.
11. Draw the nose starting at the brow line and going down to the nose line (the bottom of the sphere)
12. Draw in some eyebrows that match whatever expression you want to get across (or your subjects eyebrows if you are doing a portrait)
13. Draw in a mouth, again keeping in mid the expression of the face.
14. Draw in some hair, using the hairline as a rough guidepost.
15. Draw in an ear (starting at the cross-hairs in the cut off section on the side of your head).
I have no idea why I left the ear until last. I think I kept meaning to do it earlier but getting distracted by other features. By the end I had almost forgotten that I hadn’t given the poor guy an ear yet. I’m afraid after all of that I didn’t actually put much effort into the face though. i basically just wanted to show where the features go on the construction.
For practice, and further illustration of the method, I drew a whole bunch of basic construction models for the head from different angles and at different tilts. To be honest this was pretty much what I actually wanted to draw today. Everything else I did was just to give me an excuse to draw a bunch of robot heads. Here they are.
I think some of them turned out better than others and I definitely didn’t get the proportions quite right on a lot of them. Then again a lot of the proportions were a bit off in my tutorial sketches too. Oh well, that just gives me a wonderful excuse to keep practicing! That means I get to draw a lot more strange looking robot heads. These are almost as fun to draw as silly faces.
After all of that I still decided to draw some silly faces anyway though. The original intent was to further practice and illustrate the construction method. To be honest I didn’t actually use it properly for all of these though. Mostly I was just having fun with them and doing my own thing. I like the construction method as a guidepost and it’s definitely a very helpful learning tool. Still, sometimes it’s fun to be a bit unstructured and just play around with things (even if they look bad).