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Find out more about the famous faces in the Club of Dreamers

Read a description of the story, check out the reviews, take a peek at some of the remarkable illustrations, and watch an interview with the author – the award-winning bestseller Dream

Dream

 

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HOW TO DRAW A FACE

Every face is different, uniquely personal

Faces are fascinating. Each person's face is distinct and tells a story about them. Some of our facial features connect us to our parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren. Facial expressions change as our mood changes. And our face evolves as we grow up and older.

Famous faces from throughout history are brought together in the Club of Dreamers illustration in the award-winning book Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes by Susan V. Bosak. The detailed oil illustration is done by artist James Bennett in a caricature style. A caricature is a portrait in which some distinctive features are exaggerated or distorted. How would you describe each person's face in the illustration? What shape is each face? How do eyes, mouths, noses, and hair differ? Who are the oldest people in the illustration? The youngest? How can you tell? How would you describe each person's facial expression? Which people look friendly and which look stern? How do the facial expressions suit the setting and mood of the illustration?

Try your hand at drawing a face. It can be yours or someone else's. Start by looking through several photographs of your subject's face before you start drawing. Choose the photo you would like to recreate for your drawing. Choose a full-face, frontal view (rather than a profile view).

Before you put pencil to paper, familiarize yourself with the general rules of thumb for standard facial proportions:

  • The eyes are halfway between the top of the head and the chin.

  • The bottom of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the chin.

  • The mouth is halfway between the nose and the chin.

  • The corners of the mouth line up with the centers of the eyes.

  • The top of the ears line up with the center of the eyes.

  • The bottom of the ears line up with the bottom of the nose.

These standard proportions will help you place facial features and find their orientation. But keep in mind that these are only general guidelines. Even very small differences in a person's nose or eyes, for example, is what gives them their unique individual appearance.

Study the photo you're using for your drawing. Examine each of the key facial features – eyes, nose, mouth, ears. Where are they positioned? What do they look like? What shape are they? What interesting lines or folds do they have?

Using a pencil, start by drawing an oval on your sheet of paper. The oval should be the size you want the final face to be, or a bit smaller. Leave room at the top of the sheet for hair and at the bottom of the sheet for a neck and shoulders. The bottom of the oval should reflect the jaw line of your subject (i.e. is it square, rounded, pointy?).

The next step is to make a very light pencil grid to help you locate facial features (you'll erase the grid when you're finished drawing). Follow the sample illustration below, making adjustments to match the face of your subject.

Portrait Grid

To start the grid, draw a light horizontal line at the top of the oval and another at the bottom of the oval. Then draw a horizontal line midway between the first two lines to divide the oval in half. This is the line on which you draw the eyes, which are roughly the shape of a football.

Draw a horizontal line midway between the eye line and the bottom line. The bottom of the nose falls just above this line.

Draw a horizontal line midway between the nose line and the bottom line. This is the line on which you center the mouth (which is the general shape of an elongated, pointy football, with two bumps on the top and one on the bottom, and a subtle line across the middle).

Next, draw some light vertical lines on each side of the oval. Draw four, equally-spaced vertical lines between those two lines to divide the space into five equal parts. The eyes fall in columns 2 and 4. The nose falls in column 3. The corners of the mouth line up with the centers of the eyes.

Draw in the ears by aligning the tops with the center of the eyes and the bottoms with the bottom of the nose.

Some additional tips on adding detail to the face:

  • Add a shaded eyelid fold above the eye for depth (the eye is, after all, a three-dimensional ball sticking out of the eye socket).

  • Add eyelashes to the top and bottom of the eye. The thicker the top eyelashes, the more feminine a face tends to look. In real life, men's eyelashes are actually longer and thicker than women's, but women tend to accentuate their eyelashes more with mascara and other makeup. You can add emphasis to the upper eyelid by making the line a bit thicker than the bottom of the eye.

  • Using light strokes to mimic tiny hairs, pencil in the eyebrows. On a real face, the eyebrows are generally a finger's width above the eyes. The eyebrows on women tend to be more fine, shaped, and delicate; on men they tend to be slightly more bushy and erratic. The eyebrows generally extend a little past the corners of the eye.

  • The curvature of the nose flows down from the eyebrows following the curve of the letter "S". Make the sides of the nose visible by shading in a subtle shadow (don't use strong pencil lines – the only real lines on the nose are around the nostrils and the bottom edge). The tip of the nose is a soft sphere shape. There's also usually a subtle shadow under the nose (but don't make it look like a moustache!).

  • Add some subtle shading for the cheekbones. Cheekbones can really change the character of a face. Press into your own cheeks to feel your cheekbones. They are usually low, ending along the same line as the bottom of the nose.

  • Sometimes both lips are about equal in size, but most often the upper lip is smaller than the lower lip. Make the line between the two subtle.

  • Where are the wrinkles on the face? Most people have wrinkles of some degree at the far corners of the eyes (crow's feet) and at the corners of the mouth (laugh lines). Including a few subtle lines can add character and realism to your portrait.

  • Sometimes ears are completely covered by hair. If they're not (or are partially covered), notice how much they stick out and their wiggly folds. Include earrings if you like and if appropriate.

Once you've refined all the facial features and are happy with what you see, erase the pencil grid.

Now you can add the neck, shoulders, and hair. In general, the shoulders should be wide enough to support three heads. For the hair on a life-size portrait, one or two inches of hair above the head looks most realistic. Add bangs or hair at the sides of the face if appropriate. Make the hair loose looking (think of wind blowing through the strands) so that it's more realistic.

To finish off the drawing, shade in appropriate areas (e.g. hair, lips, around eyes, cheekbones, background) to add some contrast.

You can use your newfound skill at drawing faces to add your face to the Club of Dreamers.

Recommended Reading:

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces by Ed Emberley. Little, Brown, 1992. Step-by-step instructions for drawing a wide variety of simple, cartoon-like faces reflecting different emotions and professions.

Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces by Carrie Stuart Parks. North Light Books, 2003. A beginners book for drawing faces realistically by perceiving proportions and accurately rendering -- using facial mapping -- the features that make one face distinct from another.

The Art Gallery: Faces by Philip Wilkinson. Peter Bedrick Books, 2000. The fascinating history of faces in art, with reproductions of works of art by da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Picasso, Kahlo, and others.

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org

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