Drawing skills are a great foundation for painting. We learn the building blocks for brush work, proportion, hand/eye skills, etc. In the beginning, drawing faces and figures is a lot like learning to play an instrument–there are mathematical proportions that we study and practice like learning musical scales. Over time the mechanics become automatic, allowing quality of line, shape and value to emerge and express more than the technical process of early attempts of sketching faces, for example.
If you’re new to portraits, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when sketching faces.
• Consider the placement of the eyes within the oval shape of the face. Looking straight on at an average face, the eyes are aligned horizontally approximately halfway within the oval. Often we place eyes too high between the top the head and bottom of chin. We forget that there’s a forehead and in most cases, a hairline that encompasses a similar space to that below the eyes.
• Consider the size of the eyes. We spend a lot of time looking into people’s eyes and have a tendency to exaggerate and enlarge the eyes. On an average face there are approximately five eye-widths from one side of the head to the other. Keeping this in mind, you’ll have greater success with rendering proportionate eyes.
Taking away the subject can remove fear and opens the door to seeing and shapes in values and colors. You may choose to grid your subject and surface as a method of drawing an accurate face.
Drawing should be enjoyable and, like fitness, the more you do the easier it becomes. Whether in an organized figure class or squeezing in ten minutes a day in your sketchbook, make drawing a part of your routine.