Forms of Skull

Examined in detail, the cranial mass takes on the appearance of a helmet, flattened at the sides, with a short, thick visor projecting in front. The helmet consists of five shapes fused together.

On the frontal curve of the dome, we see the shell of the forehead (frontal bone) which rises to the mid-region of the crown.

On top, we see the crown or vault of the dome (parietal bone) which partly covers the top, sides, and rear of the head.

In back, we see the rear bulge (occipital bone) which encases the skull base.

On the side of tire skull, we see the slightly concave temple wall (temporal bone).

In the lower front region wre see the heavy visor of the brow (superciliary arch). This prominence is actually a continuation of the forehead frontal bone, but it is useful to visualize it as a separate form.

Pencil Drawing Skull

parietal bone frontal bone yt* i* M

uperciliary arch tempqr, occipital bone

Four Close-ups of Skull

In these close-ups, see how the five fused shapes of the skull are expressed.


The crown has its own subtle but distinct contour, wTith slight dips where the five shapes meet.

Image With Five Shapes

rear bulge

The rear bulge is a somewhat stronger shape than the crown. The top edge of this bulge aligns with the upper eyelid.

temple wall

The temple wall curves inward,

Wall SkullsSkull Draw

brow visor

The brow visor is a powerful, thrusting form, especially noticeable in a three-quarter front view.

Forms of Facial Mass structure of jaw

Although the cranial mass is larger, the smaller facial mass commands more interest and attention, for it is here that the more decisive features appear. Indeed, the visual impact of the face and its features is so great that the student must force himself never to forget the relative proportions of the two great masses. Failure to give the cranial mass its correct size always labels a drawing as amateurish. In the facial mass there are ten visually prominent forms. One of these is primary and dominant : the lower jaw. The remaining nine are the eyes, nose, and other features.

Lower Jaw (Mandible)

The jaw is the decisive form in producing the contour of the face as a whole. It is the largest bone structure of the facial mass. Beyond this, it has the unique characteristic of being the only movable bone structure of the head. In general, the lower jaw is shaped like a horseshoe.

At its front—the central region of the chin mound (1) — the jaw is tight, constricted, somewhat angular. Just above is the dental arch (2) of the lower teeth. As the arch curves back and ends, the jaw widens and develops two broad, platelike structures (3) (the ramus) which rise steeply to each jaw hinge (4) alongside the ears. The jaw ends in two spurlike formations above each ramus, neither of which appears on the external aspect of the face.

Cranium Three Quarters View

Horseshoe of Jaiv : Three-Quarter Doivn View

Horseshoe of Jaw: Three-Quarter Up View

(1) chin mound

Dental Profile

(4) jaw HINGfe ramus dental arch profile of jaw two close-ups of jaw

Facial Features


From a side view, the base of the jaw is not horizontal. From the chin, it gently rises 12 to 15 degrees up to the angle of the jaw. From the angle or jaw corner, the contour is a steep diagonal to the jaw hinge.

Observe how the horseshoe of the jaw is drawn. The chin is angular. The jaw corners are aligned parallel with the chin. The ramus projections are widespread and equal in height.

The nine secondary forms of the face, small as they are, have the greatest visual impact. The subtle differences in these forms are what make one face different from another. Although the visor or brow ridge is really part of the cranium, note that we also include it here as a facial feature. The nine secondary feature forms are:

Brow ridge or visor of the cranial cap, widespread and horizontally arched across the mid-facial region.

Tapered wedge of the nose, descending steeply from under the brow ridge.

Eye socket, depressed and placed against both sides of the nose, opening immediately below the arch of the brow.

Cheek bones, thickly formed, mounded along the lower outside rim of each eye socket.

Barrel of the mouth, rounded and heavy-set, protruding below the prominent overhang of the nose.

Box of the chin, below the mouth barrel and farther forward.

Angle of the lower jaw or jaw corner, forming the rear edge of the facial area.

Side arch of the cheek bone, starting from the cheek bone, swept back and arched toward the mid-ear.

Shell of the ear, beyond the upper edge of the jaw, at the side of the face.

Drawing Human Face







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