Sixteen is traditionally the perfect age for girls. By that time they have lost the ganglincss of fast growth, and all is smooth, round, and fair. Now that girls also engage in athletics, their faces tend to show more muscle than did those of their mothers at the same age. But the predominating quality is youth—the faces are unlincd. full of freshness and vigor.
These things are important in portraying young people, because the actual proportions of the face change very little from sixteen to sixty. The jaw in the girl may develop a little, but hardly enough to affect the drawing of the proportions much. That is why the artist must more or less "feel" the age he wishes to draw.
It is quite important to obtain good material to work from. Faking a drawing of a beautiful young American girl is a very difficult thing to do, until you have drawn a great many heads, and know the basic construction inside and out. I do not believe any of the outstanding artists proceed without adequate material to work from. Beauty, remember, is largely a matter of perfect proportions and perfect placement of features. The commercial illustrator will need to draw many pretty girls.
PLATE 75. Teen-age boys 128
PLATE 76. Teen-age girls 129
Perhaps no aspect of drawing is accompanied by more confusion and provided with less adequate material for study than is the drawing of hands. Much of the trouble is caused by searching for material instead of using the material you have available, because in your own two hands you have the best source of information available. Perhaps you have never thought about them in that light. Drawing of hands must be largely self-taught. All any instructor can do is point out the facts that lie right in your own hands.
The study of hands, aside from learning their anatomical construction, consists mainly of breaking down the measurements of various parts into comparisons. Fingers have a certain length in relation to the palm; spaces between the joints of the fingers are in definite proportion to the whole finger. The palm is so wide in comparison to the length. The distances between the knuckles on the back of the fingers are longer than those between the creases on the undersides. The length of the longest finger from its tip to the third knuckle in back is practically half the length of the back of the hand from fingertip to wrist. The thumb reaches nearly to the second joint of the first finger. The length of the hand is about equal to the length of the face from chin to hairline. You can make these comparative measurements as well as anyone else.
The hand is the most pliable and adjustable part of the whole anatomy; it can l>e made to fit around or grasp almost any shape within reasonable size or weight. This pliability is what causes difficulty for the artist, because the whole hand can assume countless different positions. Yet the mechanical principle by which the hands work remains constant. The palm, as a hollow, opens and closes, and the fingers fold inward toward the middle of the palm. The
^Mlancls nails are really a stiff backing for the tips of the fingers, as well as an extra edge for precise grasping. You pick up a pin with the fingertips; you pick up a hammer with the palm and fingers. The back of the hand is more or less rigid to the backward pressure of the fingers, as used in pushing. For adjustment to almost unlimited purposes, the hand is the most wonderful mechanism we know. In addition to its perfection as an instrument, it is perhaps more closely coordinated with the brain than any other part of the body is. Many of its movements are controlled by subconscious reflexes; examples are typing and playing the piano.
Man started to educate his hands long before he educated his brain in the cultural sense. The infant can use his hands effectively long before he can think. He will grasp a lighted match l>cfore he has learned that it will burn. The story of mans progress from prehistoric times must be closely associated with the adaptability of the human hand.
The fact that the hands and their movements require so little conscious thought may be one reason why so little thought is given to drawing them. Look now at your own hands; you will see them in a new light. Note how the hand automatically assumes a shape compatible with an object before grasping the object. To draw a hand in the act of picking up an object you must first study the contour of the object, then observe the automatic adjustment of the hand to fit that contour. Start to pick up a ball, a peach, or an apple and watch your fingers adjust themselves, just ahead of the grasp. The mechanical principle involved is very important in the drawing of the hand. Only by knowing how it actually works can the hand be drawn convincingly.
The back of the hand can usually be drawn in three planes-one for the thumb section as
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