Painting Facial Features

When painting the facial features, start by drawing the contour of the light and dark masses, and make this line expressive. Keep areas of light and shadow simple and distinct. Think of shapes geometrically, compare the direction and proportion of several forms at once, and squint your eyes to get the effect of what you see. When blocking in color, think broadly, in big, simple masses and use a large brush. Don’t think likeness at this stage; think character.

Eyes are softer than you may think—they swim in the socket. Be aware of your light source and its effect on the gentle, bowlike shape of the eye. Don’t paint the eye whites too white; they’re generally related to the middle-value flesh, but a bit cooler. The highlight is almost always on the side of the pupil where the light is coming from, and the eyes are wet—this is an important characteristic to remember.

The nose is a strongly planed area of the face. The bridge is cleanly planed, like a box, and the tip of the nose is much like a ball. Note the subtlety of the value changes as the side plane of the nose moves into the cheeks.

Often considered the most expressive and difficult area of the head, the mouth is a very supple part of the face. Generally, the top lip is darker than the bottom lip, and the edges are much softer than you may think. Never paint the lips without considering them to be part of the greater mouth area of the face.

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