Measuring the Human Head
Many artists use measuring of one form or another during the process of drawing or painting the human head. We will begin with some of the basic measuring rules that exist in a majority of human heads. Remember, each face is different and these rules need to be checked if you are trying to obtain a likeness
1. The eyes are placed in the middle of the face (not to be confused with the middle of the head)
2. The face can be divided into 3rds. Chin to bottom of nose, nose to brow, brow to hairline.
3. There is a distance of one eye between the eyes and enough room for almost a full eye on either side of the face from the outside edge of your eyes.
4. If you dropped a line straight down from the inside corner of the eye, you would run into the outside edge of the nose.
5. If you dropped a line straight down from the middle of the pupil, you would run into the outside edge of the lip.
6. The hair on top and side of the face has bulk. If you are drawing a portrait of a person with hair you will add at least the distance of one eye to the top and both sides of the face.
7. You should draw the head life size or smaller as slightly larger than life may seem monstrous to the viewer.
8. Life size of human face is aprox. The same size as the span of the human hand.
The Drawing Process
1. Measure the span of your hand and put a mark at the top (forehead) and the bottom (chin)
2. Divide the span into 3rds and mark the thirds
3. Look at your model. Are her brows at 1/3rd? Is her nose at 1/3rd? Adjust the mark to fit the model.
4. Measure your model’s eye
5. See how many times the model’s eye measurement fits into the space from the chin to the forehead. (Let’s say it is 6 times)
6. Find a measurement that will go between your forehead and chin marks 6 times. This is the size that the eye will be on your drawing. Make a note of it on a straight piece of scrap paper. You will use this measurement to measure everything on your drawing. If your model is a photograph you will also mark on this paper the actual size of the eye from the photo. (write the word photo next to one of the marks and drawing next to the other) Working from life you will use the tip of your paintbrush and fingernail to mark the distance of the eye, always holding your arm straight without bending the elbow when measuring the actual model.
7. Using your eye measuring stick, mark the distance in eyes from the chin to the forehead.
8. Let’s say that you notice that your model’s eye is located 5 ½ eyes from the chin. Count 5 ½ eyes up from the chin and place the mark for your first eye. You know how big to make this eye as you have it on your measuring paper. Now mark the other side of the first eye.
9. You are on your way. You can now see where to put the 2nd eye by seeing how many eyes fit between your model’s two eyes. You can see how far out from the eye does the side of the hair begin, how far out does the hair go? How wide is the nose? How far up do I put the brow?
10. You can also employ some of the tricks I talked about above such as checking to see if your model’s lips are directly under the pupil or a little less or more. Does their nose span the distance between their eyes?
11. The trickiest thing is to not get the two marks on your measuring stick mixed up. You will use “photo” measurement to only measure on the photo and “drawing” to only measure on the drawing.