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The Drawing Board Workshop Number 12 - FACES!

Discussion in 'The Drawing Board' started by Outlander00, Nov 20, 2003.

  1. Outlander00

    Outlander00 Another Stand Alone Complex

    Oct 15, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Hey everyone! Welcome to another installment of the revamped Workshops, where those who want to learn to be an artist can and those who are artists can get better. This will be an ongoing series of various topics put out 1 – 3 times per month where various issues in art can be covered. Critiques and comments are welcomed and encouraged around here… It is part of the process of how artists get better.

    However, there is a certain amount of expectation when it comes to critiques. When making comments like “cool” and “awesome” by themselves are great and all, but doesn’t forward the critique process that much nor helps the artist. We are looking for comments that’ll help the artists progress, like “That's great, but I think you should re-do his leg” or “Nice pencils, but your proportions are a bit weird”… Stuff like that.

    Not only do we want to see critiques, we'd like to see answers and tips too in here. Having problems with a pose that you can get just right? Drop a line and someone will get back to you. This place is yours to get feedback, tips, and info to help you become that much better in your art!

    Enough of the small talk… Lets get to the Workshop, shall we?

    This installment is on Drawing Faces!

    Copyright 2003 - Jonathan Stone/Outlander00

    Faces, like hands and feet, tend to be a significant feature that distinguishes individuals. Except for those rare occasions (identical twins), you will never have one person looking exactly the same as someone else… and this is despite the factors of basic genetics, race, gender, and age factored in to make it more varied. Also, like hands and feet, there is no one way that a face can be drawn because of various reasons.

    There are tips and tricks however, that will help you draw faces effectively. Follow what is discussed in here, and one of the single most challenging things an artist can learn will be that much easier for you to grasp.

    Know The Differences:

    copyright 2003 - Amanda Wong/Nightflower

    Before we get into actual tips, lets go over a few points to consider when drawing a face in order for you to better understand how to draw them.

    Drawing a face is much like a form of visual anthropology because of the many distinct features to consider when drawing one, even by observation. Part of the reason is that, during evolution, each tribe took on characteristics that either helped them adapt to their environment or (in certain cases) were socially pleasing and passed down in a form of natural selection. People from various regions of the world may have the basic structures, however due to conditions of the environment genetic alterations occurred to give specific people an advantage.


    Gender also plays a part, since the development of the genders resulted in many distinct differences (as Nightflower and I respectfully pointed out in the Drawing Females and Males workshops). These differences occur in the face as well. For example, where a mans face has a more hard, angular look with more prominent features, a woman’s tends to be softer, rounder, and less distinct.in hers.

    Age plays a big role in drawing a face that is unique to others. People between the ages of 21 – 50 may be fully developed; prior and post to that range our bodies are either still developing or deteriorating. For an example, a child’s face and head, since it is still developing, will be disproportionate to its body with a face that isn’t as defined and chubby opposed to an elderly person who’s features are much more distinct and defined (wrinkles, laugh lines, etc). There are other factors to consider as well, such as weight and disfigurements (if there are any).

    When drawing a face, remember to keep this information in mind in order to keep away from rendering one that is unnatural or the same features over again on different ones.

    Circles Are a Faces Best Friend:

    Now, for the part you have been waiting for… The tricks of the trade!


    If you recall from the Draw Female and Male workshops, the heads drawn with the bodies had the same basic structure when drawing them. This structure consists of two shapes: an egg shape and a circle. These two shapes will always be used in drawing the head and face of a human being.


    From there, three lines form the basic layout of the face: one vertical down the center of the face and two horizontal lines. The first line spans from the high points of the jaw (or ears) on either side, while the second is even with the bend of the jaw line on the side of the face. These three lines will guide the features of each face.

    MMMMMmmmm… Shading!

    Here’s another dirty little secret about faces… The features such as eyes, nostrils, and lips that you see on every face drawn? Except in real rare occasions (due to an artists style), the faces drawn do not you use shapes for features… it’s a combination of shading and lines!


    Now, before you go off and shade to your hearts content, you may want to take into consideration a couple things:

    You want to build the features up little by little. Lines are to be used in areas that need absolute definition (eye lashes and lids, the lip parting, and sometimes in places like the nostril ridge depending on how the light hits the area). If you are unsure, just remember how and where the light will be hitting the persons face.

    If doing a pencil or ink line drawing, build features up by using lines and solid black for shadow and depth

    Keep in mind features like high cheekbones, dimples, and low eye ridge… You don’t want to make a woman looking like Eddie Munster!

    Remember that male and female have different characteristics in their facial structures and definition.

    As I said, you could use lines and certain shapes for features (which they do for technical styles similar to Nightflower’s animated style), however without grasping the basics that style will either not look right or will pigeon hole you without allowing any growth as an artist.

    I’m Ready For My Expression Now, Mr. DeVille!

    Copyright 2003 - Amanda Wong/Nightflower

    Facial expressions also is what makes a face… Otherwise, how else can we express our feelings without saying them (except for the physical, violent kind)?

    I will do another workshop in the future just on this topic, for now though let me point out a basic point of reference.

    - Remember that facial expressions are a combination of muscles in our face, eyes, mouth/jaw, and/or nose.

    The Usual Suspects:

    As I said, there isn’t a real way to draw a face, especially right the first time all the time. It takes a practice and studying the anatomy of a face yourself to get any good at it. That is how artists get better, so just remember that what is talked about in here wont come to you at first without practicing. Also, don’t get frustrated after the first couple times… just keep practicing and, eventually, you’ll get better at it.

    There are several ways to practice and study, such as:

    - Drawing a still life of a skeleton
    - Drawing from observation (figure drawing or café sketching)
    - Studying other artists and see how they draw a face and its features
    - Experiment and practice!

    Well, that’s all the knowledge I can give at this point without sounding like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I am sure the other professionals may want to add something to this.

    Are there any questions? If you want to post any examples of your work for critique, please do so!
  2. Rune

    Rune off(world) model

    Jul 22, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Good god how did I miss this workshop? :eek: I'm always doodling faces so its very welcome indeed, especially the advice on shading / features. I know I often mess up by relying too much on sharp lines to draw in the eyes etc and then wondering why they look so much better is just 'fuzzed' in with a softer or blunter pencil.

    The urge to doodle again is strong in this one, thankies for the excellent pointers O alien maestro :p
  3. Outlander00

    Outlander00 Another Stand Alone Complex

    Oct 15, 2002
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