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In the first 5 parts and 7 sections of "Shapes of the Head", you learned a gang of stuff. Most all the guidelines you learned (save for the vertical center lines) were horizontal lines. In this section we're going to focus on the front view of the face and add the vertical guidelines.
Main horizontal lines of the face
These are guidelines used as far back as the Romans - averages and standards even Aristotle thought about. None are of the "perfect" face, none are of any particular person. They're guidelines "composited" by those who've studied thousands of faces over lifetimes and they've uncovered what seems to be the basic "average" formula for a face. Certain authors call this face the "in-betweener", or the "proportionately perfect face" or just plain Ms./Mr. Average. (Some people get nerdy about it and call it "Mr. Johnny Average Face".)
The usefulness of this "average" face isn't to compare your own face to and say "drat, I just don't have that Hollywood look". Quite the opposite! People with "perfect" features and facial proportion might be easy to look at but are actually the hardest to draw. In the words of Norman Rockwell, they're just not as "interesting" as a face with wrinkles, or age, or "imperfections".
The "Average Face" is a face to look at, ingest, internalize and then compare other faces to. It allows you to say "this is why Bobby's face is so unique", or "this is what makes Paula's face so special", or "this is why I think Billy's nose seems noble - even though he's no Roman". Simply said, it's a jumping off point. Will you use it forever? Maybe. Hopefully not, because your style of portrait or caricature will take on a uniqueness of it's own - just like the miracle of your own God-given, one-of-a-kind face and personality.
Lets jump in
You know the horizontal lines: go ahead and name them. Here they are again for your review.
Review all the horizontal lines
Adding the vertical guidelines
Piece by piece we'll add the vertical lines. One other note here. The eye is the unit of measure for horizontal distances and thus dictates the placement of vertical lines. Generally, the visible part of the eyeball is used as the measure. What's the visible part? Medially, that's from margin of the caruncula (that little triangular pink fleshy area at the medial canthus on the nose side, see pointer in illustration 1):
Medial margin of eyeball
It spans to the lateral canthus on the temple side as shown in illustration 2:
Lateral margin of eyeball
The eye as the unit of measure
Is this always the exact measure? No. It's a general rule. Some people squint, some people stare wide-eyed, Some people's eyes just plain bug-out. Some people are in between. Race will play a role. You have to judge - and in a short time, after you look at and observe enough eyes and faces, it'll be clear. You'll find your way through this.
Still the idea of using the width of the eye as the standard unit of measure works. We'll can describe shapes and distances on the face as "about an eye width wide, about three eye widths high", etc". Just for you information, the face is about 5 eye widths wide, the eyes are about one eye width apart, there's about an eye width of space on each side of each eye that's either cheekbone or skull. You'll hear this again before this lesson is over.
As you've seen before, watch the animation and you'll get the overall idea of this lesson and a visual reference of what I think is most important. It's about 39 kb in size.
1. The first set of vertical lines
The first set of vertical lines run from roughly the medial margin of the eyes, to the lateral (outside) margin of the nose. That is the, the widest margin of the nose generally falls within the width of space between the two eyes. See this illustration:
Nose and inside margin
2. The second set of vertical lines
The second set of vertical lines line up the widest border of the mouth with the pupils. Said a little differently, the corners of the mouth line up underneath the middle of the pupils. I should be saying the corners of the mouth almost line up under the pupils - since generally people's mouths don't get quite that wide. (Please don't beat on me for being a little wishy washy here - it's a general rule.)
Just for comparison's sake, here's the first two sets of vertical lines in the same picture together: the medial margin of the eye/widest part of nose, and mid pupil/widest margin of the mouth lines:
First two sets together
The third set of vertical lines:
The third set of vertical lines mark off the lateral border of the eyes. They really don't have a counterpart in the features the way the first two sets of vertical lines do. They're just kind of there. Some would argue that where they intersect with the mouth's horizontal guideline they provide a landmark for directing the cheek lines down to their home on the chin. That is, the cheek line should cross through this intersection. In fact, that's exactly what they do in this picture. The intersection keeps Mr. Average's face from getting too skinny or too fat. (You'll see in a moment what other good they'll do.)
4. The fourth set
of vertical lines:
The fourth and last set of lines we'll concern ourselves with are the lines that mark off the widest margin of the face. The widest part of most people's face is usually at the cheekbones or just to the sides of the eyes.
The widest part of anyone's head is usually not on the face - it's found farther back. Remember the head is egg-shaped if you look down on it. The narrowest part is in the front and the widest part of the "egg" is about two thirds the way back. Often you don't see the widest part of the head because it's hid behind hair. Perspective can play a role in close-ups too: with the face so close, you just plain can't see the rest of the head. (It's farther back and so is shrinking towards the vanishing point.)
It can be deceiving, so you need to look at the whole shape of the head to find the true margins of the face as you try to draw somebody. You really have to jump into a "negative space" mode to recognize it.
Dividing up the face according to vertical lines
This next picture shows how the face might look if we color the different sections we talked about about. (I'm skipping the pupil/widest part of the mouth pair of lines.) Here's what I want you to notice. Notice how each of these sections are about the same distance apart?
The eye as the unit of measure
All the vertical dividing lines, except for the pupil/widest part of the mouth, are about one eyewidth apart. Is that convenient or what? If we superimpose an eye over each section, notice how the eyes end up distributed pretty evenly over the top of each section?
Distributing eyes across the face
The take home message
And here's the take home message:
This next picture illustrates how the sections of the face correlate with eye widths. (I superimposed eyes over each colored section.)
Adding eyes over the sections
Finally, I've added the pupil/widest part of mouth lines in amongst the rest of the vertical lines.
If you didn't take the time to really look at the lines, the illustration above will be a little complicated. All in all, this illustration has the necessary guidelines you need to "frame" your drawings of the face. Watch the animation several times, then re-read the text above. You should start getting a pretty good feel for this if you do all that. Then take the short quiz below.
You are doing awesomely.
Don't worry about getting any of the features looking perfect. Don't worry about perfect proportions. Just draw the grid of the face, mark off the horizontal guidelines, then divide the face into five equal sections like you see in this picture and sketch in the features as best you remember them.
The idea is to get you to look and "feel" for placement and distances between features. I recommend doing this assignment after you've worked your way through drawing al the features. One last thing - don't forget the vertical lines lines between the pupils and the corners of the mouth .
Go for it!