Sunday, 23 September 2012

Thoughts on male face drawing

A tutorial in how to draw male faces? Nein! It's more of a train of thought kind of thing. I'm not really good atexplaining how I do things, but I can say a thing or two about why I do them.

So, let's start with a standard male face. A presentable face. The kind of face you would introduce to your parents.

Not too bad. But why do you assume right away that it's a male face? After all, it's a drawing--my particular interpretation of a 3D object on 2D media. I just used lines and yet I made you assume that this was a male. Let's delve on it.

Here's a quick cartoon of a girly face:

Now, as you can see, this isn't as realistic as the first male face but several of the key components of what makes a face femenine are in here. Now, this is important! Female faces, in general, have always been seen as something symbolic. You can tell that by looking at paintings from every culture, from renacentism to japanese portraits. Female faces are softer. Female faces are prettier if you use less lines. Hell, even when wearing make up, women try to accentuate their features first! Not the shape of the face, they want to make you notice their eyes, their lips, etc. Even stuff like earrings and necklaces drive attention away from the shape and help frame their features.

Here's a similar quick drawing of a male face

Males don't usually wear make up, and even those who do use it to accentuate their shapes. This is important. Male faces are anything BUT symbolic, they're statements! One look at a guy's face in any piece of art and you can tell right away if he's nice, mean, angry, tired, sad, happy, etc. This probably has something to do with the patriarchal ways of our society but I'm not completely sure. The point is, with guys, the "secret" is to find a solid shape of the face, and then add the features.

You're basically sculpting in paper, if you will.

Here's an example of how I usually draw male proportions and head shapes:

It's pretty easy to understand. This, I think, it's the most common set of proportions. It obviously changes according to the individual, but most of the time people fall into this standard set of measurements--however, you must ALWAYS remember that THE SHAPE OF THE HEAD IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT from person to person, and it's something that's actually noticeable if you look closely!

Here are some male heads I drew in different styles:

Even the cartoony ones have head shapes that work "as statements". Most cartoony ladies are always drawn in a way that "makes them pretty" ie they delve into symbolism. I'm not saying that I agree with that choice (I think cartoons are meant to be silly wheter you're a boy or a girl!) but I'm just pointing this out.

As always, there's a constant variation of rendering depending on the artist and their own sensibilities but I think this is a good starting place. Drawing people is one of the hardest things to do right, mainly because we're all insanely different from each other when you look carefully! But males in general are a lot more simple because you have lots more freedom when you choose to render their faces. I went crazy with lines in the faces of some of these drawings and they don't look as awful as they would do if I had drawn girls...!

Hope this rambling was helpful! I suck at explaining things, hahaha.