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Drawing & Painting Life Portraits

Lesson #2


Again we begin with a two-inch square divided into four one-inch squares. The process is much the same as for the male profile except that the forms are softer, so try using more curved lines than straight. The lifesized head of a female of average height measures 81/4 inches from the tip of the nose to the back of the skull, and 8 1/4 inches from the top of the skull to the bottom of the chin. Again, this charted female head is a more or less "ideal" classic Caucasian.


After making several charts, put tracing paper over the head, drawing the woman with some hair as shown in the top two drawings to the right. Change her hairstyle. Note how these changes affect her age and personality. Try at least ten different looks. Draw her middle-aged, then make her eighty years old.


Study the features in the drawings to the left, then draw the woman as Black, then Oriental. Begin to really look at the heads of the people around you.

Remember, there is no substitute for thoughtful observation of life.




An infant's head is quite different from an adult's. The face itself (eyes, nose, and mouth) takes up a relatively small area of the head, the face is much flatter, and there is virtually no chin. The infant's face is sometimes nearly lost in fatty tissue. In profile, the cheeks can totally obscure the corners of the mouth. The distance from nose to chin is quite short, since there are no teeth. The eye appears very large in the tiny face because the eyeball is nearly the size of an adult's. Very little of the white of the eye is visible, but that which is observable is blue-white. The skull is sometimes flatter and longer rather than round. The infant usually doesn't have very much hair. You can try drawing the heads of babies of different races, but you'll find there are considerably fewer differences at this age.


THE CHILD: When the child is four or five, the face is till quite small in proportion to the entire head, but the eye has "moved up" from the infant proportion. This is because there is more mass in the lower quarter of the face. - there are now upper and lower teeth and a jaw that has grown to accommodate them. This lengthens the facial mask. Study the illustration here and see if you can draw a child's head with similar features.

THE PRETEEN: As the child matures, the eye "moves up" until it reaches the halfway line at adulthood. The above child is eleven or twelve years of age. Baby fat has gone and is replaced by more clearly defined features. It is quite difficult for an artist to get a child's age right at any stage of life, but from age eleven to fifteen this becomes a challenge to the best of us. Extra careful observation is the key.


Work very carefully on what we have discussed this week. Remember, repetition is the key so allot as much time as possible to charting and drawing faces in profile. See you next week!