Placing the ear in a profile portrait

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The next measurement is extremely important in helping you perceive correctly the placement of the ear, which in turn will help you perceive correctly the width of the head in profile and prevent chopping off the back of the skull.

On almost every head, the position of the ear doesn't vary much. On your own face, use your pencil again to measure the length from the inside corner of your eye to the bottom of your chin (Figure 9-18). Now, holding that measurement, lay the pencil horizontally along your eye level line (Figure 9-19) with the eraser end at the outside corner of your eye. That measurement coincides with the back of your ear.

Putting that another way, the length from eye level to chin equals the distance from the back of the eye to the back of the ear. Make a mark for the ear placement on the eye level line of the blank, as in Figure 9-20. This proportion may seem a little complex, but if you will learn the measurement, it will save you from another stubborn problem in drawing the human head: Most beginning students draw the ear too close to the features when drawing a profile. When the ear is placed too close to the features, the skull is once more chopped off, this time at the back. Again, the reason for the problem may be that the expanse of cheek and jaw is uninteresting and boring, and therefore beginning students fail to perceive the width of the space correctly

You can memorize this important measurement as a saying or mnemonic, similar to "i" before "e," except after "c." To place the ear in a profile portrait, memorize this mnemonic: eye level-to-chin equals back-of-the-eye to the back-of-the-ear.

Note that enlarging the features and diminishing the skull produce strong, expressive, symbolic effects, a device you can always use later if you wish. Right now, for this "basic training," we want you to be able to see things as they really are in their correct proportion.

Visualizing is another useful technique for teaching the correct placement of the ear. Since you now know that two measurements are equal—from eye level to chin, and from the back of the

Drawing Profile Human Eye
Fig. 9-21. Check the location ofthe bottom of the ear relative to the upper lip.

Fig. 9-22. Locate also the point where the neck joins the skull (the place that bends) relative to the upper lip.

Correct point in relation to the facial features.

A common error: misplacement of the point where the neck joins the skull.

eye to the back of the ear—you can visualize an equal-sided right-angle triangle (an isosceles triangle) connecting these three points, as shown in the drawing in Figure 9-12, page 170. This is an easy way to place the ear correctly. The isosceles triangle can be visualized on the model. See Figure 9-20, page 175.

Practice seeing proportional relationships now by looking at photographs or drawings of people in the profile view and visualizing the isosceles triangle, as in Figure 9-12. This technique will save you from a lot of problems and errors in your profile drawings.

We still need to make two more measurements on the profile blank. First, holding your pencil horizontally, just under your ear, slide the pencil forward as in Figure 9-21. You come to the space between your nose and mouth. This is the level of the bottom of your ear. Make a mark on the blank.

Again, holding your pencil horizontally just under your ear, slide the pencil backward this time. You will come to the place where your skull and neck connect—the place that bends, as in Figure 9-22. Mark this point on the blank. The point is higher than you think. In symbolic drawing, the neck is usually placed below the circle of the head, with the point that bends on the level of the chin. This will cause problems in your drawing: The neck will be too narrow. Make sure that you perceive on your model the correct place where the neck begins at the back of the skull.

Measurements For Portrait Drawing

Fig. 9-22. Locate also the point where the neck joins the skull (the place that bends) relative to the upper lip.

Correct point in relation to the facial features.

Now you will need to practice these perceptions. Look at people. Practice perceiving faces, observing relationships, seeing the unique forms of each individual face.

You are ready now to draw a profile portrait. You will be using all of the skills you have learned so far:

• Focusing on complex edges and negative spaces until you feel the shift to an alternative state of consciousness, one in which your right hemisphere leads and your left hemisphere is quiet. Remember that this process requires an uninterrupted block of time.

• Estimating angles in relation to the vertical and horizontal edges of the paper

• Drawing just what you see without trying to identify or attach verbal labels to forms (you learned the value of this in the upside-down drawing)

• Drawing just what you see without relying on old stored-and-memorized symbols from your childhood drawing

• Estimating relationships of sizes—how big is this form compared to that one?

And finally:

• Perceiving proportions as they really are, without changing or revising visual information to fit preconceptions about what parts are important. They are all important, and each part must be given its full proportion in relation to the other parts. This requires bypassing the brain's propensity to change incoming information without "telling" you what it has done. Your sighting tool—your pencil—will enable you to "get at" the true proportions.

If you feel that you need to review any of the techniques at this point, turn to the previous chapters to refresh your memory. Reviewing some of the exercises, in fact, will help to strengthen your new skills. Pure Contour Drawing is particularly useful in strengthening your newfound method of gaining access to your right hemisphere and quieting the left.

If, as occasionally happens, your L-mode remains active as you start to draw, the best remedy is to do a short session of Pure Contour Drawing, drawing any complex object—a crumpled piece of paper is fine. Pure Contour Drawing seems to force the shift to R-mode and therefore is a good warm-up exercise for drawing any subject.

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    How to draw a profile portrait?
    8 years ago

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