Position the Face

I always start a portrait by drawing an oval or egg shape to represent the head.  While it is true that some heads are round, and some quite narrow, a basic oval provides a reference point for completing the drawing.

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Next, I draw light, or dashed, lines to divide the face in half both horizontally and vertically.  For a head that is directly in front of you facing forward, these lines go right down the middle and across, halfway between the top of the head and the chin, like this:

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These guidelines are the foundation for positioning each of the features.

What if a face is turned away, looking up or looking down?   By keeping the vertical and horizontal lines in the center of whatever direction the face is looking, we maintain the reference for locating facial features.

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As an example, when I drew the pencil of this young girl from a three- quarter angle, I started with this initial drawing before moving ahead to complete the portrait.

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Note that although my illustrations here are in ink (so that you can see them clearly), I always do this step in pencil no matter what medium I’m using.  These preliminary guidelines are a valuable. I keep the light lines on the paper throughout the drawing because I frequently go back to them while I’m working to check positioning.  You’ll see what I mean as I start adding eyes, nose and mouth in the next few posts.   When the drawing is complete, then I erase them.

A good way to practice just this much is to look at photos of faces in magazines and on the internet.   How would you draw the bisecting lines through the middle of their faces?

 

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