Okay, I'll admit that skull
reading and phrenology sound a little silly to me. Trying to get a sense of a
person from the hollows and grooves on their skull? Not buying it. But I do
know that "reading" the skull as an artist is key when it comes to learning how
to draw a human head for a portrait or figure study. The planes and angles of
the skull determine how everything else in a person's face works, from the
angle at which they hold their head to the way their mouth is pursed to how
their eyes rest in the cavities of their eye sockets.
|Shadden by Kristin Kunc, 2008, 8 x 10, oil on board.
These anatomy drawing
art lessons are crucial when it comes time to render a person's likeness, so
here are a few tips on skull anatomy:
When drawing the skull,
proportions are of primary importance.
When you are doing the anatomy drawing in profile, you'll usually find the head
can be split into three equal parts: from the chin to the upper lip, the upper
lip to the brow bone, and the brow bone to the top of the head. When drawing
the head straight-on, the head can be split into four equal quadrants, with the
horizontal axis drawn at the bridge of the nose, and the vertical axis
bisecting the face right through the center of the nose.
If you are drawing eye
sockets, note how big those suckers actually are! Usually the eye socket is three to four times the size of the eye that we
see on the surface of the face. These openings impact how far the brow bone and
cheeks jut out on a person's face. Drawing the depth of these areas will give a
realistic sense of dimension to your anatomy drawing.
I always try to keep
the anatomy drawing of the mouth in my mind when I am drawing this area of the
face, because my instinct is always to draw the mouth much lower than where it
actually is. Avoid this by remembering how much space our teeth and gums
take up behind our lips. The lowest part
of the gums (not the lips) rests right on the top of the chinbone.
||Antonio by Kristin Kunc, 2008,
8 x 10, oil on board.
For the artist trying
to become better and better at how they paint people, keeping the anatomy of
the face in mind will serve as a roadmap for painting every feature of the body.
I didn't realize how essential drawing anatomy is when you are rendering a face
or doing a body drawing until I spent time with our anatomy DVD, Anatomy for Artists: The Human Head, and our downloadable DVD, The Human Form Revealed.
They show that human anatomy for artists is really about painting and drawing
the body with dimension, and explain that although the skin of the figure
may appear smooth, underneath are complex interrelationships that you want to
capture visually in order to create a realistic painting. Check out these resources and enjoy!