Her Face Is Round--But in a Good Way!

22 Nov 2012

Figuring out how to draw people is often a matter of breaking the body down into geometric shapes. When it comes to drawing people--specifically faces--you have to think of the sphere and the ovoid. Now, I'm not really a fan of looking at drawings of shapes. Booooooring. Instead, I study this concept by looking at how contemporary artists draw people.

Young Girl from Kilimanjaro by Susan Lyon, conte drawing, 18 x 15.
Young Girl from Kilimanjaro
by Susan Lyon, conte drawing, 18 x 15.
Susan Lyon is a great example of an artist who really understands the roundness of the face. This doesn't mean she just draws people with full cheeks. Rather, Lyon is able to evolve the ovoid from a geometric form to a shape with the curving depth that mimics a face.

Lyon uses two devices really well to accomplish this. First, she knows how to subtly tilt the egg shape of the head to make it seem like it occupies three-dimensional space. Rarely does Lyon draw people straight on without any tilt to the head, because such straight, frontal drawings can diminish the illusion of three dimensions, especially when you haven't yet mastered rendering a likeness.

The artist is also incredibly consistent in making sure that the features of the face follow the construction lines of the ovoid when the head is seen from different perspectives. What I mean by this is that the invisible construction line that runs across a person's face--from the tip of the ear, over the eyes, to the tip of the other ear--bends up or down depending on the tilt of the face, but it always moves or curves as one. Lyon shows this to great effect.

A portrait drawing by Susan Lyon.
A portrait drawing by Susan Lyon.
Susan also strengthens her people drawings by constantly moving around the work while she draws and never staying in one place for too long. It's made me really mindful of how I progress through my sketches as I am learning to draw people with more skill.

It was mesmerizing to watch Susan's Mastering Portrait Drawing DVD, and it's where I got the great tips that I shared here. I hope you find the resources that give you these same kinds of informative takeaways, or that you decide to delve into Mastering Portrait Drawing for more great techniques. Either way, enjoy!


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