Portrait art tutorial - lesson on the basic structure and proportions of the face.

Face Structure

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Bald guy - shading illustration

In the above illustration I show the basic oval shape of the head (red line). The purple shading is showing the basic structure of the entire head. An egg-shape, with a some shading around the nose, eyes and mouth.

Bald guy in box

Another way to visualize the structure of the head it to think of it as being in a box. The head, like a box, has several distinct planes. The side, front, top, etc.The head is rounder-shaped than a box (of course) but you can still identify the planes to the head.

In the illustration above (yes, it's even weirder than previous illustrations!) I have indicated these basic planes. The side (in blue), the front (in reddish-peach) and top (in purple). Remember these planes when drawing and shading the head!

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Diagram of head, and proportions.

Here's how you align the features up on the head:

First, the vertical magenta line divides the face into two separate halves. Use this to keep each side of the face even and balanced.

The red line goes across the eye-line. The eye-line is right in the middle—between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin.

Halfway between the red line (eye line) and the bottom of the chin is the blue line—where the bottom of the nose is.

Then, a little less than halfway between the nose-line and the bottom of the chin is the mouth-line.

Also note the yellow lines that go up and down—they line up at the corners of the mouth, up to the pupil of the eye.

See? Everything lines up quite nicely! As long as you remember to use these alignment "rules," you are way ahead of the game. Much less trial-and-error.

When starting a portrait drawing, it's always a good idea to "block out" the features, starting with these alignment lines. (I usually don't draw in the line from the eyes to the corners of the mouth, though. But it's not a bad idea.) Draw these lines in faintly, so they can be erased later.

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