I recently became aware of the figure drawing tutorial on this site and it was extremely helpful for me! Kim says that she’s working on having similar things for faces and hands/feet, but until then I wanted to see if anyone had any favorite techniques of their own for faces in particular.
Today I tried doing some faces in 30 seconds and had a lot of fun! My technique is super basic, though:
1. Draw a circle/oval to approximate shape as best you can
2. Draw two lines to demonstrate the direction the person is looking to
3. Fill in facial features
4. If there’s time left, refine the face shape
Here are the results from this morning’s practice:
I’d love to get your feedback, or any advice on techniques that you find useful! My goals are: (1) increased speed in capturing expressions accurately, (2) eventually be able to compose expressions on my own, or with less references.
Updates! For Inktober #16 I did minute-long faces:
Then for Inktober day 17 I did 30 second faces again:
I wasn't always able to capture the face shape, but I think I'm getting better at facial expressions! I was also trying to draw larger faces for both days.
I'm not sure whether my goal should be to get the face shape down in 30 seconds, or to get better at distinguishing between various people. I try to capture unique features in this time, but the faces aren't always easily identifiable with particular models. Thoughts?
I do a lot of my life drawing sessions in the Procreate app, which automatically records a timelapse of what exactly I did in terms of strokes. I wasn’t particularly shooting for looking like the model in that session, just in getting across the gesture of the facial expression. Faces with strong emotions are (for me at least) a lot easier than more neutral faces. There’s more shadows and the shadows are often stronger than on a neutral face.
Gesture is something everything has. If it’s an inanimate object, the gesture describes how light moves over the object. If it’s animate, it also describes the way it moves. So with a face, there’s the overall gesture of the expression, there’s the light movement, and there’s all the tiny face muscles that are each making a gesture for the overall expression.
A lot of what we see as a “pretty” face is the expression is not too strong, the features are symmetrical, and all the shadows are very soft. Humans are really really good at spotting less symmetry in faces and in seeing when shadows on a face are subtly off. Our brain software is really good at this. So pretty can be really really hard. And we aren’t always great at verbalizing why it looks off.
Focusing on strong expressions and gesture means even if I don’t get an exact likeness the picture is less likely to be an inhuman monster with impossible eyes and strange nostrils.
Toning it down... that I haven’t figured out yet.
I don’t have any timelapses of faces where I’m tackling gesture using continuous line drawing. It’s a different approach, but it’s one I’ve found can work really well with video.