A pencil portrait drawing from life starts with the "striking" of the arabesque. Striking the arabesque means drawing the outer contour of the head with the accurate proportions, shape, and thecorrect symmetry.
Once you have drawn a reasonably correct arabesque it is time to establish the main landmarks of the head. That means that we will appropriately establish the most important places of the head. These places will then be used as references for mapping out the rest of the head features.
Here is something that may assist you with this task: work with your eyes to some extent out-of-focus. This is called observing with a "soft eye". Somehow this makes it easier to appropriately decide forms and sizes. It also aids you with suppressing the predetermined notions we all have of certain entities.
Let us suppose that we are working from a three-quarter head pose.
* The Brow Ridge - is the first critical landmark. To locate the brow ridge you must first take your best guess at where you think it is and only then check it by sighting.
Note that to coach your eyes it is better to first guess lengths, angles, etc. and check them second. There is nothing to gain from pre- sizing.
Sighting signifies to use your pencil with locked arm and checking lengths along the pencil with your thumb and index finger and one eye closed.
So then, first sight from the bottom of the chin to a point on the brow ridge (just choose an arbitrary point on the ridge. But once chosen you should hold on to it.
Now hoist your pencil so that your thumb is on your point on the brow ridge and make note of where your pencil point is. It should be a small distance above the top of the head. Mark on your drawing where you can best place that spot above the head. This point is called the "check-point".
Remember that whenever there is a choice, you should always measure the shortest distance because doing so tends to be more right.
Your point on the brow ridge should, if it was placed appropriately, be precisely halfway between the bottom of the chin and your check-point. If it is not â€“ then correct the placement of your brow ridge.
* Jaw Hinge - Now you can tag the width of the face. In the three-quarter view the hinge of the jaw is an essential landmark. Again, take your best guess then check by sighting horizontally from the hinge of the jaw to the far edge of the cheek bone and vertically relating that measure from the bottom of the chin.
* Top Nasal Bone - Since we have already positioned the brow ridge we now only have to guess a short distance to fix the top of the nasal bone. If you established the hinge of the jaw appropriately, it should equal the distance from the bottom of the chin to the nasal bone. If you are off a little, then correct the placement of the hinge of the jaw. Again, suppose that the shortest length estimated is the right one.
Now that these main landmarks are positioned you can continue drawing the arabesque. I find it best to further resolve only the back, less, part of the head at this early point.
* Facial Angle - Lastly, you have to establish the facial angle which is the center line of the face. Draw a slightly arching line from the middle of the mental tubercle up through the center of the brow ridge.
The positioning of the facial angle is very critical. You have to feel your way through this as there is no way to correctly measure it.
Once the facial angle is positioned proceed with drawing the arabesque carefully observing the shape of the mouth area, the forehead, and all the other features that are articulated in the shape of the arabesque.
With this, we have positioned all the fundamental landmarks that will assist us with the mapping of the rest of the features such as the ears and nose.
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Course. Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert sketching teacher. See his work at Pencil Portraits by Remi: http://www.remipencilportraits.com Visit Tips on Pencil Portrait Drawing - Positioning Head Landmarks.
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