Skull and Head Proportions

Although the skull is what makes our heads different, all skulls are basically the same. We think that because everyone looks so different, the differences between one person and the next must be quite pronounced. But we're experts; we've been looking at faces every day of our lives. If you've ever watched an expert in another field at work— say, a geologist examining a rock, or a palm reader looking at a hand—you know how much more they see in what they're examining than we do. Their long experience lets them distinguish tiny variations between items we might think identical. The distinctions we are capable of making with the face are just as refined, but skulls are another matter—we simply don't have enough practice looking at skulls, and so the variations aren't ob vious. People, and skulls, are different, but not all that different. We're just used to people.

The consistent shape of the skull makes proportional rules for the head possible. The exceptions to the rule aren't off by much. It's not true, for example, that all people have eyes halfway up their heads. The exception might be someone with eyes slightly higher or slightly lower. And for the vast majority of us, this pattern will hold true.

Some Proportional Facts_

There have been a lot of rules invented concerning the proportions of the skull going back at least as far as the Greeks. I discuss below the ones I think the most important.

Overall Shape

The height of the skull and the depth of the skull are nearly the same. Keeping this fact in mind helps avoid the common drawing error, "cutting off the back of the head"—making it too short. In a side view, before marking off the end, compare the height to the depth, making sure they're approximately the same.

The width of the skull is the smallest dimension. The average skull is only about two-thirds as wide as it is tall. It gets that wide at the level of the cheekbones; it's narrower above and below. Skulls with wider cheekbones have a more oval shape. With slender cheekbones, the skull appears more rectangular, because there's less difference in size between the cheekbones and the rest of the skull.

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