View Full Version : Focus on: EARS

Lauren F-M
08-12-2012, 10:17 PM
Our new study focus is on the Ear here at Portraiture!

I need to get more familiar with the anatomy of ears, and figured that others might also feel the same way. Once I started looking at ears more closely, I noticed how much they can vary!

So, I've got some info on ears here:
anatomy of the outer ear (called the Pinna), info on the parts of the outer ear.
I've got some photos I took of ears (in pairs) of family and friends, as well as some shots that show ear placement on the side of the head. All these photos are from the profile side, so we can add more ears from other angles.... once we get going.

I hope that you will also share photos of your ears, and perhaps others you come across. The more, the merrier! :clap:

We have some interesting links with more info on ears.

You can draw or paint ears, post up photos, and perhaps also artwork with great ears....:thumbsup:

Lauren F-M
08-12-2012, 10:24 PM
Anatomy of the outer Ear (Pinna):


PINNA: visible outer ear – “prominent skin-covered flap located on the side of the head” with whorls and recesses

CONCHA: bowl-shaped part of ear around the ear hole that attaches to head and helps ‘cup’ sound

HELIX: Outer ring/edge of the upper ear, shaped like a question-mark.

ANTIHELIX: the Y-shaped raised part inside, contained by the helix, running from top to where it joins the antitragus. It forms a rim of the concha. The top of the “Y” divides into two cruses, known as the the upper crus and lower crus of the antihelix; between which is the Fossa Triangularis (or Navicular Fossa)

Antihelical Fold: the space/ fold running between the Helix and the Antihelix

Navicular (Triangular) Fossa/ Fossa Triangularis: triangular depression inside the the top of the ‘Y” of the Anti-helix

SCAPHA/ Scaphoid Fossa/ Fossa of the Helix: furrow between the helix and inner concentric ridge of the antihelix.

Darwin’s Tubercle: Some ears (approximately 10.4% of the human population) have a small prominence or thickening, which is seen along the upper, outer part of the helix. It is named after Charles Darwin because he wrote about it in “The Descent of Man.” More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin's_tubercle
I am not sure how this relates to Helix folds, which some people have on the helix, where the outer part looks folded flat.

TRAGUS: the little cartilidge ‘nob’ or bump that sticks out in front of the ear hole, across from the Anti-tragus

Anti-tragus: the little curved projection, or bump, that is directly across from the tragus

Intertragic Notch/ Ear Notch: lower space between tragus and anti-tragus.

External auditory (or acoustic) Meatus/ EARHOLE: - entry to the ear canal

LOBULE: soft fleshy ear lobe at bottom of pinna; lobules can vary a lot in size

Lauren F-M
08-12-2012, 10:30 PM
LINKS – with more information and references:


(This one thanks to Kevin!)
Scroll down to Anatomical information ->

Ear Pairs! I hope you will also take some photos of ear pairs to post up here -- even your own! "Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears!" :D

Young Caucasian woman in her 20s (with quite a few piercing holes):

Caucasian Man in 40s:

Caucasian woman in late 50s:

Caucasian woman in 50s (mine!):

Caucasian man, around age 60:

Caucasian man, age 88:

Caucasian woman, age 88 (my mom):

Lauren F-M
08-12-2012, 10:34 PM
Here are some profiles, showing ear placement on the head. Note where the tops and bottoms of the ears line up on the face.

This is a start in our ear journey! I'll be adding more to this thread.
I look forward to seeing your ear drawings! :D

08-12-2012, 10:42 PM
Great things to study Lauren, thanks very much. It's interesting to see the different placements on the face of the younger v older person.
The only body parts that don't stop growing as we age are our nose and our ears :eek: lol

08-12-2012, 11:11 PM
After looking at these photos I've concluded that ears are strange looking things, and what a variety of shapes and sizes they come in! I've got to admit I've never taken a great deal of interest in ears until I saw your comparative photos Lauren. Thanks for the info :thumbsup:

08-13-2012, 01:07 AM
Very cogent to portraiture, Lauren. I have been preaching this (to deaf ears) for years. While no two sets of ears are the same, all - as your illustrations show - are variations on a pretty much fixed design. Ear placement is equally fixed. The top of the ear is in the vicinity of the brow line. The bottom of the ear in the vicinity of the bottom of the nose line. "In the vicinity of" has room to roam, but far less than many portrait artists allow. The culprit is photographs. A camera has no depth perception, and can place ears in positions that are so unnatural they are ludicrous. I have seen countless artists reproduce these these wild ear misplacements with great accuracy, convinced the camera is more truthful than any set of human eye balls.

I am drifting off the course you set, but with reason. Replicating all those latin names you list is no great task. Just getting in the ball park will convince most viewers of realism. Correct ear placement on the head is far more involved, because the whole ear is an anchor point of other anatomical structures. Life studies only will teach this. A life study as simple as putting your finger tip in the pocket behind your ear lobe, then measuring down that finger with your thumb to the jaw bone. Mine is about two finger lengths. I have no doubt every adult on earth would measure his/her own two finger lengths more or less - another "in the vicinity of" fixture. Exceptions are very rare. Why is this tid-bit important?

Because you can get way off course trying to draw a credible jaw line. Knowing the ear placement in relation to the jaw hinge has made me correct many a jaw line gone beserk. The bottom ear line has made me give most every nose more, or less, length. Oddly enough, the ear I blocked in was pretty much it, and the nose length or chin length and jaw line needed the correction in relation to the ear placement. Ear placement really is an anchor point for other face parts.

Which brings up head position. The head tilts and turns on the neck to give facial expression all its marvelous variety. But the ears DO NOT MOVE ON THE HEAD ever. If the chin is tilted up as high as it can reach, the ears fall low toward the shoulders, but the top and bottom of the ears are still on a line with the brow and nose bottom. And the jaw hinge let us not forget. This can be imagined in profile, but it is true no matter what position the head takes on the neck. And this is where the camera so often goes absurd and places the ears in positions impossible in real life. Do life studies in the mirror, in public places, with no pencil and paper at all, and get ear placement fixed in your head. Then correct the photo, if you work from one. Better yet, with all these life studies in your head, you are equipped to correct your own head and eyes when doing a portrait of a live model. Don't kid yourself. Your eyes can play tricks on you, and the anchor of correct ear placement can tie in other facial parts that have gone a little helter-skelter. In effect, this a time when drawing what "ought to be" from all those life studies in your head, straightens your crossed eyes and what ought to be really and truly becomes what you are seeing in real life sitting before you.

Lauren F-M
08-13-2012, 09:26 AM
Thanks for the interest and input, Lulu, Jade and SaintLukesGuild! :D

I think it's important to pay as much attention to ears as we do to other parts -- and when drawing/ painting/ sculpting a face, we certainly can't forget those ears!

My need to get a good handle on them stems from my work doing courtroom sketching, where I often don't have much time to get down the info I need to get a good likeness, and often am doing profiles or semi-profiles.

I also find that the alignment of the tops and bottom of the ears varies a bit:
- the top seems to line up with an area between the top of the brow and the eye line
- the bottom seems to line up with an area between the mouth and the nose

Also, the ears are set a bit at an angle -- important to get it correctly, as well as the shape of the individual's ears.

I know if I take and post more ear photos, they will be different from these! :eek:

I welcome more ear photos, as those I've posted are limited, and I'd like to see a variety from other parts of the world. The journey continues! :D

08-13-2012, 09:36 AM
Great thread, Lauren!!!

I am in!

I will try to bring more picks about ears´s at the whole profile.



Lauren F-M
08-13-2012, 10:15 AM
Thanks, Luicre! :D

Here are some more photos from me, cropped to show ear placement. Most are in profile, but some aren't, or are at different angles than straight-on. Also, some have glasses on, or hats....
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Aug-2012/20772-Scott.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Aug-2012/20772-Susanna.jpg

08-13-2012, 11:16 AM
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:


08-16-2012, 11:15 AM
A few more ear references to augment the excellent images Lauren has provided. All shot by me.





08-16-2012, 04:45 PM
Lauren thanks so much for doing this section on ears. I've alway had problems drawing and painting them. I'm not sure if I'll be able to work on this right now, but I'm sure following along.

09-01-2012, 03:23 PM
Lauren, I want to thank you for starting this thread. It prompted and helped me to do a better job on an ear than I would have otherwise. The ear is far from finished, but I thought you might like to see this stage anyway.
This is Rick's right ear. It's part of his portrait, oil on a 16 x 20" canvas. As you see, there's still work to be done on it, but even here, it's showing depth. I want to thank saintlukesguild, too, for the important information he gave us.
This thread prompted me to make the painting better. Many thanks.
For those interested, the portrait will be posted in the Easel thread for September here in portraiture.

11-05-2012, 11:38 PM
Great thread Lauren, it certainly appears that Ears have as much personality as noses.

Lauren F-M
11-06-2012, 12:16 AM
Crystal, Ella & Carol,

I'm glad you are interested in the ear thread. :D
Thanks to Ella for posting up a painting with good attention to the ear. :thumbsup:

I think we should keep this thread active for a while, as I think ears do need attention. I also plan to draw and post up some ears.... just need to get to it! :rolleyes:

12-10-2012, 09:38 PM
I was using Lauren's photos of ears for practice, and well, one thing led to another. Soon my ears were detached from heads and more than just ears.


Naked ears are ok too?


And then I thought a little color would be good.


Then I got kind of crazy.



All the ears are about 6 to 10 inches high. I apologize to those whose ears I augmented.


12-11-2012, 01:25 AM
:wave: Kate, what fun...you're a hoot!:lol:

12-11-2012, 11:41 AM
I'll take that as a complement, Nancy! I'm glad you get my humor. Not everyone does!

12-14-2012, 12:12 PM
This is a great discussion! I think noses would be great to do this kind of study on too. And possibly even lips in interesting or unusual positions (or me,I have a crooked smile most of the time and self portraits with a smile are always fun...).

Did you know, you can see it in at least one of the posted pictures that some people don't have either a tragus or anti-tragus. If you don't have one or its very small, it's especially hard to keep those in eat headphones in! There's another part of the ear though I'm no longer sure just which but higher up... I had this long uh, romantic fixation, with a politician and looking through pictures I discovered her ear almost seemed to lack this part higher up that my ears and most have. In fact I have drawn several portraits of her, so my excuse for noticing. Ill look up a picture if I remember.

And Kate, oh my gosh, I love your ear people!!!!

I have to say also, I think I've found my "home" or natural fit her on WC in this forum! Just geeking out on ears showed me that. Haha. Portraits is the one thing that comes more naturally and easy to me and just always has. At the very beginning of my formal art training at this arts middle and high school (was fine art and performing arts and in general a gifted and talented school. Really nifty place) I started in the dance program then switched to art halfway through the year and when I joined the class, the first lesson I was there for (which obviously was not the starting point of the class itself! i had missed the beginning stuff! We had three hour a day art classes even at that young age) that first lesson/ unit was portraiture and I just took toit so well, it really clicked with me. That teacher always loved my portraits so much and would show them off to the whole class. I wasn't so good at a lot of other things but that high praise at such a very tough age really meant a lot and I've just been big on portraits ever since. Hoping to find my favorite self portrait from that time of me in my gothy 12-13 year old phase. ;)

I still draw more portraits than anything else, often test new mediums or supplies by doing portraits. Just received my very first soft pastels and picked a portrait set by Sennelier and looking forward to trying it out as somehow my art experience skipped over soft pastel! Funny how that's be such an ambitious starting point for a lot of folks.

Anyway sorry to ramble kind of intro here. I just really connected with this thread somehow. :) my health issues have turned me into a medical geek too so that was also part of the fascination. The human body as a whole, especially faces are just the most beautiful and fascinating things, I think. :)

12-28-2012, 01:48 AM
I hope that you will also share photos of your ears, and perhaps others you come across. The more, the merrier! :clap:
This is my latest ear, it's a life drawing of a cast, charcoal on Roma paper, it's not done yet, I don't know when will I finish it, but it's my first charcoal drawing ever and it's been difficult to reach to this stage.


01-23-2013, 06:01 AM
Fabulous drawing Moscatel. I can see you have some atelier training there.

I decided I needed to learn the ears but rather than start with a drawing I thought it best to begin sculpting one. Sculpting will hopefully help me remember the parts of the ear better and see form in my mind when I come to drawing it.




Lauren F-M
02-18-2013, 09:37 PM
Moscatel and Amrit -- thanks for posting your current work on ears! :clap: Nice to see different treatment of them; very informative for us all. :thumbsup:

Moscatel -- I see that you are in Florence, and also that you are drawing a cast in the classic 'atelier' style. Very well done! :clap: Are you studying at an atelier there? :confused: I was studying with an artist here in Canada, and was also doing an ear cast -- using sight-size method. I lost patience with it, and never completed it. Good for you that you are working hard at yours; many hours of hard work and dedication! :thumbsup: Also -- it's very hard, if not impossible to get Roma paper here. My teacher had done some of her Bargue and cast studies on it, but we have to make due with another kind. :( Thanks for showing this, and I hope you will post up more! :clap:

Amrit -- very interesting that you are modeling the ear. What kind of modeling medium is that? :confused: Very good idea! :thumbsup:

02-19-2013, 12:30 PM
Hi! I used sculpey clay. I've actually painted it white now, ready to be used as a cast for drawing, as soon as I finish my current project.


Moscatel and Amrit -- thanks for posting your current work on ears! :clap: Nice to see different treatment of them; very informative for us all. :thumbsup:

Moscatel -- I see that you are in Florence, and also that you are drawing a cast in the classic 'atelier' style. Very well done! :clap: Are you studying at an atelier there? :confused: I was studying with an artist here in Canada, and was also doing an ear cast -- using sight-size method. I lost patience with it, and never completed it. Good for you that you are working hard at yours; many hours of hard work and dedication! :thumbsup: Also -- it's very hard, if not impossible to get Roma paper here. My teacher had done some of her Bargue and cast studies on it, but we have to make due with another kind. :( Thanks for showing this, and I hope you will post up more! :clap:

Amrit -- very interesting that you are modeling the ear. What kind of modeling medium is that? :confused: Very good idea! :thumbsup:

04-23-2013, 12:13 PM
Wow, this is great. Very informative. Thank you.

06-05-2013, 09:10 AM
Some good information in this thread, good cast drawing too :).

I've also done a cast drawing of an ear, nitram and utrect charcoal on paper,



12-11-2013, 11:54 PM
Indianakate, love your ear interpretations!

love all the casts and drawings.

Moises Menendez
12-12-2013, 11:03 AM
Interesing thread! From the medical and anecdoctal standpoint, the ear lobe is considered important especially when the so called Earlobe Crease develops. The appearence of this crease may be associated to cardiovascular disease. The first photo is a typical earlobe crease in an elderly gentleman.
In fact, when I was working on Dr. Robert Koch portrait I noticed the ear lobe crease on his right ear. It was quite prominent. He suffered a heart attack in 1910, and never recovered and passed away at the age of 66.
Not all physicians are in accordance with this finding. However, it is well know in the medical community.
BTW I have that famous crease on my right earlobe!

12-15-2013, 06:24 PM
Thanks for this thread on ears. It is most interesting.

12-18-2013, 08:53 PM
It's rare that I post on WC lately, but the ears thread caught my attention and before I knew it, I had sketched one of them. Thank you for sharing the images and the idea. Drawing or painting individual body parts is very good practice for constructing the whole head.

Here's my sketch in graphite - about 4 x 6"


12-19-2013, 12:07 PM
Another day, another ear... :) I'm enjoying drawing these.


12-28-2013, 11:17 AM
I guess I'm the only one drawing over Christmas :)

Here are a few more ears:






01-27-2014, 08:12 PM
Great ears, Jeanette. Graphite, ink, then Bam! Color! Thanks for posting.


03-06-2014, 01:57 PM
Oil pastel ear from a recent portrait.

03-06-2014, 03:53 PM
REally enjoyed seeing all these ear drawings!


03-07-2014, 11:10 PM
Ear sketches graphite in sketchbook.

01-03-2018, 08:58 AM
here's my sketch. I always struggle with ears maybe because my portraits are mostly done on A4 size and somehow i cant tackle them when they are that small or may be I am just lazy