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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Why, when I am drawing faces, might they always come out a bit too wide?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23293 points ) September 7th, 2011

I have noticed that whenever I draw a portrait, the face is wider than the person’s face that I am drawing. It doesn’t look distorted or disproportionate… but I always find that I have to elongate or narrow the face in order to be more accurate. Is this a common error in portrait drawing? It doesn’t seem to be an issue with shading, I just tend to draw the face too wide to begin with.
Could it be as simple as projecting my own image onto my art, just out of familiarity… or something? (I have a broad face, with high cheekbones.) I don’t understand why it seems to be a chronic issue for me, does anyone have a theory?

Artsy jellies: do you have a common error that always pops up in your artwork? Have you figured out why it happens, or do you think that figuring out the cause would lead you to a solution?

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16 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

I have the same problem and I believe it is a left brain/right brain phenomenon that simply takes practice to overcome.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Cruiser with faces being too wide? Or you have your own quirk? I am really a little bit baffled by this. I can’t figure out how I keep doing it.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I have drawn faces that have looked alot like mine when I “needed” a face in a drawing.I have a potter friend that incorporates his face into his face jugs and birdhouses.All that is on purpose though.
Chances are,you know your own face and are used to seeing it everyday so therefore it influences your work.:)
There are other people that I know so well,that I am positive that I could pick their face out of a lineup just by touch alone.
When drawing from real life,I think you need to just take a closer look at what you are actually drawing.Try looking at the negative space and it might put things in better perspective for you.Same goes for shading.If things are shaded properly,it will take the shape of the thing you are trying to draw.
Just get outside what you think something should be and draw what you see
I hope this helps.:)

Cruiser's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I find if you cover up each half or your face and look in the mirror you will see distinctly different faces…try it. So what you are attempting to recreate is a symmetrical face when we are really not symmetrical to start with. I have had better luck dividing the face vertically down the middle and horizontally creating axis boundaries to maintain a more proportional end result.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille wow, yes. I think you are right. I suspected that it may be my own features incorporated into it, but when you bring up other people’s faces that you know well.. suddenly it clicks for me.
When I draw someone whose face I know intimately, it is far less of an issue than if I am drawing a stranger or someone that I do not know as well. For example, I know my sisters’ faces as well as I know my own, and I find them very easy to accurately draw.
I think, though, when I am drawing a less familiar face… the proportion becomes more of an issue. I guess my brain is trying to compensate for a lack of familiarity by incorporating something that I know very well.
GA, that was very helpful. Thank you.

@Cruiser yes, very good point.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf – It is the lack of familiarity that can make things fun though! A new adventure in “noticing” things.XD
There some people out there with the most interesting faces.I try not to stare and instead try to commit it to memory quickly before they shoot me.XD
All things aside,if you look at drawing everything in the same way,it won’t matter what the subject is,you will be able to do it with amazing accuracy!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille haha, I was just commenting about my tendency to stare a bit too long while people watching… somewhere else on Fluther. I need to learn to be quicker about it, apparently. :)
Thank you for the advice, very much appreciated.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf—You’re welcome!
It is harder to be discreet after a few beers.Then,one just looks horny.XD I meet so many new people that way!!! LOL! jk

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Sure you’re “jk.” ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’ll neber feth up,Cutie! XD

martianspringtime's avatar

I do the same thing. I personally tend to draw on a very small scale, so I think that when I draw faces I overestimate the amount of space I’ll need to fit the features in so I draw it larger than I ‘normally’ would… but then it turns out being too big, so I guess I can ever get it quite right.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@martianspringtime I can relate to that. I’ve always worked on a small scale, and only recently am learning to draw and paint larger items. People that are able to do really large works, like murals, just blow my mind. Maybe that is part of it.

efritz's avatar

I draw the left side lower than the right side, so my faces look like they’re melting. Fortunately I’ve been drawing for awhile so I know to compensate for this. It’s helpful to draw in cafes and places where you have to draw really quickly; it becomes easier to figure out spaces.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@efritz have you figured out why you tend to draw the left side lower?

efritz's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf – I think because I draw the right side first, so maybe my brain thinks the left side is receding and should be lower? Anyway. I use guides and watch out for this specific pitfall.

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