It has been a couple of months since I began my study of figurative art. This post discusses a summary of some of my findings regarding the face and its proportions, how to draw the face using the light and shadow of the chiaroscuro method, and a display of a few quick sketches detailing my progress so far.
Getting right down to it, the proportions of the face are as follows.
Eyes are located halfway between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin. Place the brows visually.
Then divide the distance from the brow to the bottom of the chin in half to get the location of the bottom plane of the nose and the placement of the hairline. Use the distance between the bottom of the nose and the chin to find the division between the lips, which is located one-third below the bottom plane of the nose, with a two-third increment to the bottom of the chin.
The ear is equal in distance from the brow to the bottom plane of the nose. The distance from the top edge of the wing of the nose to the inside corner of the eye is equal to the width of an eye. The distance between the inside corners of the eyes is also equal to the width of an eye. The corners of the mouth, in a non-smiling face, come out in a vertical line with the pupils.
In the three-quarter view, foreshortening will always occur. Therefore, the ear will appear smaller than the proportional measurement from brow to nose since the ear is foreshortened in perspective. If you are looking down at the model, the half-distance will appear greater from the top of the head to the eye than from the eye to the chin. Conversely, if you are looking up at the model, the half-distance will appear greater from the chin to the eyes than from the eyes to the top of the head.
Rather than practice line drawings of the face, I studied how to render the face in blocks of light and shadow. In this method, facial features are not outlined, they are shaded in. For example, instead of drawing a nose by outlining the shape, the shape is shown by shading in the planes of the nose. See below for an example of line vs chiaroscuro:
I have made 4 sketches, which, to date, are my knowledge put into practice. They’re not perfect; I still need more practice, but I am getting there. The first two are straight from the practice drawings in one of my books.
The next sketch was done from a photo of a woman that I got off the internet. This one was a bit more difficult because it wasn’t a straight copy of a sketch; I had to find the form in shadows from the full color photo.
The last sketch is of myself as I looked into a mirror. I noticed something odd about my face as I was drawing: my lower face does not follow the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio of the bottom of the nose to the division in the mouth and the division in the mouth to the chin. The span between the bottom plane of my nose and the division between my lips is quite a bit more than 1/3 the distance. Hmmmm…. I wonder if these facial proportions have anything to do with exterior beauty. I may have missed the boat on that one. I also seemed to have missed the boat on the amount of eye shadow on the lower eyelid. A bit heavy, I’d say.