Drawing Basics: Think Egg!

Ethel Smyth by John Singer Sargent, chalk drawing, 1901.
Ethel Smyth by John Singer Sargent, chalk drawing, 1901.
Adapted from an article by Dan Gheno

Facial features can be used and contorted to tell us all kinds of things in a drawing. But you don’t always have to think up dramatic scenarios for a drawing. Ideas can be subtle, too. Like using the mere tilt of the head to say something about the figure you are drawing.

It sounds simple, but there are a few easy drawing tips to think about when making a line drawing or contour drawing of figure with a tilted head. First, remember to tilt your measurement guidelines running along the cant of the head. For example, if you want to locate the position of the mouth in relation to the iris, draw a guideline that slants with the tilt of the head.

Measuring the position of the eye? Mark a tilted line up from the outside of the crease of the nose toward the inside of the eye.

If you really want to challenge yourself with drawing exercises dealing with the human figure and face, try to draw the head from below. Watch out for making the face too big-truncating the chin and widening the space between the nose and the eyes.

To prevent this, just think egg. Yep, remember the head’s structure is similar to that of an egg. The chin curves toward you, so it is going to be much larger than you’d think; and the forehead curves away, making it appear like the head recedes sharply at the hairline. Meanwhile the nose goes in the air and seems to jut out in front of the eye in a three-quarter view.



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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.