I have made a mistake in this demonstration, and I will tell you about it at the end, if you cannot guess what it is! All right. I started with a piece of mid-toned paper taped to my board. On it, I draw (lightly!) a mid-line. The first thing to do in any head is to mark out the points of an inverted, equilateral triangle, or a three-sided figure with all equal sides such as I have here in red. DO NOT mark in red on your drawing! Mark in as light a dots as you can see.

Most of drawing is learning how to see and to overcome basic prejudices and to translate what you see to the paper. These three marks of the triangle mark the outer lower edge of the eye socket and the bottom of the lip. This is an essential method of measurement for the human face and almost never varies. In three quarter view, the triangle changes shape.

I will write many articles showing you the human facial paradigm, or the model human face. What I will NOT teach you is to do that egg shape and mark the lines on it that you see in so many drawing books.


Okey dokey, what most of you might have noticed, is that my triangle is too big. I didn't catch this until too late. But, thanks to the miracle of computer image adjustment, I will show you a fix in the last two images. I went ahead and left this as is, for it is vital to the student to make mistakes, recognize those errors (sometimes years later!) and learn from them.

In my next move, I lay in three more dots, here done in yellow. Again, DO NOT draw in yellow on your board. Just put down a lightly drawn dot. Use a ruler for this part of the lesson. The two dots between the top two angles of the triangle divide the line into thirds. Some of you have seen the weird pictures where the teacher demonstrates that there is an "eye" width of space between the two eyes of a person. This is like that.

The bottom dot, is a dot two thirds down from our "eye" line that marks the shadow of the nose. This measurement can change quite a bit in humans. Play with this measurement, moving it up or down just a little. Remember, even the slightest change in a human model can look very odd. It is thought that humans use up to 90 percent of their visual recognition "software" on the face. What this means for an artist is that faces are very, very hard to draw.


The next part of the lesson is to draw the main shadows of the face. There are six to eight; some teachers do another shadow under the orb of the eyes. This tends to look weird if not done correctly, I don't recommend it.

I start with the shadows cast by the brows into the eye sockets. They are triangular, like very elongated wings. Note, the shadow intersects the inside mark on the eye line but DOES NOT end there. My person has arching, wide brows. The shape of the brow shadows changes with lighting and with the structure of the face. For now, draw the shadows in lightly, pretty much as I have drawn them.

At the center of the "eyes" (the yellow dots on lesson 2) is our "pupil" line. Run lines in parallel down the face to the "corners" of the mouth. The bottom of our triangle is the lower lip, the uper lip forms the line, so form this line a little above the lower lip line. This changes quite a bit in people. I've sketched in a lower lip shadow and kept my upper lip shadow to a thin line because this person does not have a thick upper lip. Also sketch in a nose shadow. Nose shadows are hard, and I will do a whole article on them. For now, draw almost a flattend "m" shape. The corners of the nostrils are in line with the inner yellow dots of our eye line.


Get out your macchia or a very, very thick piece of graphite. DO NOT use a thin pencil. You must do this in swaths of darker color, but do it lightly. Make sure the tone is only about two or three shades darker than your mid tone. Put in the eye sockets. Darken those triangles of the eye shadows first. I also do a bit of a swath down the sides of the nose.

Swath the mouth, again darkening the shadows so you don't lose them. Darken the nose shadow. Then, drop down about the same measurement as your nose shadow to the lower edge of the lip shadow to the chin shadow. Here are the basic six shadows of the face.

Please do not get fussy here. The idea of the faint layer is so you can erase away areas of it like I demonstrated in the "Sargent Method on a Ball" article. For classical drawing, erasing is almost as important as drawing. Go ahead and put in the shadows, erase at them and let your eyes tell you what to leave behind. In other articles, we will spend hours looking at shadows on faces. Get a friend to model under a strong lamp in a darkened room and look for these six shadows.


My drawing is for a character in a book. The character has wide cheekbones and a solid, but tapering jaw and a wide forehead and arching brows. He does not have the American chin, but his chin is well defined. His nose is up-tilted and his lips are well defined, but wide and mobile.

In another article, I will show you the lines of the basic head. Here, you can see that I am going to run out of room at the top. If you do not have the same amount of space above the eye line as below (to the chin) your person will look like a Neanderthal. Also leave that much space for the neck. One third above the eyes, one third below the chin, one third chin to eye line.

All right, lines: two temporal lines showing the forehead. Two short lines at the sides of the eye sockets. Two angled short lines to show the way the cheek bone comes "out" of the face. Two long lines to show the stretch of the cheek down to the jaw. These can be curved, or two angled lines for a man with hollow cheeks. A sharp curve for a strong jaw, a more shallow curve for a softer jow covered with flesh. Angle in the chin and then the line of the chin that is covered by the shadow. The neck is never wider than the jaw, as thick as the jaw in big men, thinner in children and women. My character here is about 15.


Darken in the space around the shoulders and cheeks. At this point, you can also darken in the space around the dome of the head; I don't have enough room to do so.

Note now that I have chosen to shift the light slightly to the left, to about 11 o'clock. The shadow on the right eye deepens along the nose and the mouth shadow moves to the right and the chin shadow moves to the right.

Keep the shadows light. The worst mistake you can make here is to use a heavy hand. Experiment with your lighting. I have not shown the cast shadow of the nose here yet, and I do not want you to draw it in. Photographs can capture the cast shadow of the nose. When you draw it in, it gets very weird looking anything from looking like a moustache to a mess. Leave it alone. The eye will see the cast shadow of the mouth and chin and infer the lighting, so leave the nose shadow alone for now, also leave the eye shadows alone.


For the next few images, my person is going to look messy. Yours will too. What we're doing here is putting in the bone structure. That is the secret of good drawing--structure. Until you are very experienced, you will not be able to look at photos and see the structure and not just the shadows of the camera. If you look at your friend and change the lighting over and over, you can begin to see the structure and not the shadows.

Darker is further back. Here, I am adding BONE shadows. These are called sub-shadows, not cast shadows. I began with the sub-shadows on the cheeks. Because my light is on the upper left, I have another shadow below the mouth box. Think of this as a muzzle shadow. Keep the shadows as light as possible and, again, don't fuss with them. Swath them in, and erase out a little bit if you need to.

Next there is usually a little shadow across the bridge of the nose where the eyebrow ridge juts out from above the nose. This shadow varies depending on how heavy the brow ridge is. In babies it is non-existent. Babies instead have a deeper shadow under the protrusion of the forehead. Adults have this, but it is modified by the brow ridge. Soften these shadows. Then go ahead and start to work on the eye. Indicate the upper lid and the cast shadow of the eyeball. DO NOT draw in the iris or pupil.


Here, I'm taking a photo to show you my sex indicators. Men and women have differences in the face, but they tend to be modified by bone structre, race, fat or thin, facial type, and age. A younger man will have less changes than an older. There are gender stereotypes that vary from culture to culture. The basic head is that of a 10 year old child. Hormones modify that head to be "female" or "male" but there is more modification according to type of head and type of features, so do not get caught in the trap of gender stereotypes like pouty mouths or anvil chins or deep set eyes or rounded jaws.

My character has deep set eyes, which are "male" but the brow ridge is what makes the man. Americans like to see jaws in their men, but the brow ridge is almost invisible in caucasian females and much less pronounced in females of any race. Even a teenaged boy will start showing some development in the brow ridge. Darken the temporal line and darken the shadow across the bridge of the nose and the shadows of the eye sockets at the top.

Do not worry about the chin. DO NOT darken the shadows under the chin. To indicate a male human, simply show the Adam's apple. Here you can see that I LIGHTENED the shadow of the chin on the left side, but the maleness comes from the Adam's apple, not the anvil jaw.


What a difference a hair line makes! Even bald people have a hair line. My character is a young man, so he needs a young hair line. The young hair line is NOT low over the frontal eminence of the forehead, but comes in on the SIDES of the forehead. The brow ridge is not covered, but if you reach up to your own head, or look at your friend, you will see that there is a whole lot of hair just above the cheek bone in the dip called the temporal fossa (side dip) of the head.

Be careful. If you bring the hair line down too far in the middle of the head, you get a Neanderthal again. The more "intellectual" a person is, the higher the forehead. This is silly and means nothing, but characterization is about prejudice. Be careful about too low of a hair line. You can always make the hair line lower later.


The next part of our drawing is to start working up the darks. No matter how dark a person's hair is, the eyebrows are dark underneath and light on top. The eyebrows are UNDER the brow ridge on the inside of the eye socket and go above the brow at the line of the forhead or the temporal fossa. Make sure to show this angle. Even the hair grows in different directions, horizontal on the inside of the angle and at an angle on the temporal side of the angle.

Indicate the nostrils. No matter how the head is tipped, do not draw in the nostrils. They are NOT commas. Draw in the shadow as a slight line, thicker on the outside. Where the nose coils around to form the nostil wings, there will be a lighter area. The nostrils are not black. If the nose is down-tilted or the head is even or down-turned, there will be a line for the nostril, but no nostril.

DO NOT draw in the lashes. I cannot say this enough. DO NOT draw in the lashes of the eyes. There is a shadow where the eyelid folds back under the brow ridge. Indicate this. For this boy, that shadow is almost at the same place as his eyelashes. Darken the outer part of the upper eyelids. DO NOT darken the middle. Darken the area where the brow ridge cuts back and the eye looks like it is held under the ridge. The cheek wraps up to the outer corner of the eyes. Go ahead and darken the shadow UNDER the eye, not the lower lashes. The rim of the lower lid is the lightest part of the eyes (not the whites.) Also draw in a darker shadow for the mouth line. Usually most people have a bit of a curl like a bow for the shadow, and, like a bow, a knob at both ends. We'll go into this in another article.


Only now do I put in the irises of the eyes. NO LASHES! What creates the illusion of lashes is the shadow cast by them, not the lashes. Women artificially darken their lashes, but no one in real life has a lot of lash that shows in this position. What you draw is a shadow cast over the entire eye. Also you have to show the eyeball going back into the eye socket. You must darken the outer edges of the whites to show this. My teacher used to say, "the whites of the eye which are never white."

What is white, and what makes the eyes look liquid is the rim of the lower lid. See how I've shifted the shadows UNDER the lower rim to indicate that the light is coming from the upper left? The shadows of the upper lid will also show this. Notice there is a high point at the inner corners of the eye under the tear duct.

There is another shadow cast by the ball of the tip of the nose. The ball of the nose will cast a shadow over the wing of the nostril. Indicate the nostrils with a slight line. On the shadow side, show a bit of a line of the line from the nostril to the corner of the mouth.


Here is a close-up to show you in more detail what I am doing. I've indicated the eyebrow loosely, but what I want you to look at is the iris of the eye. The iris is a colored lens that is a bump on the eyeball. Light comes into it and goes THROUGH it. The way to make an eye look like an eye is to show the light going through the lens. The pupil is a hole in the lens, but it is covered by the transparent membrane of the lens and will not look like a hole. DON'T draw a back hole. Pupils are never round and never look like holes in the middle of the iris.

My light is coming from the upper left. It strikes the lens and passes through lighting the entire lower third of the iris. See how the shadow of the lid wraps across the eye ball, but darkens down a bit over the lens? Most people have darker circles around their irises. Even a black eye has to have a lighter third to show the light passing through the color.

DO NOT draw the highlight as a spot. Think of it as a reflection on a metal ball, the light wraps around the lens, is warped by the shape of the lens. Sometimes the highlight is multiple, but don't get carried away, just make sure it cuts a bit into the pupil. The pupil and the shadow cast by the lid will be the same tone. You can indicate the lashes by making the shadow a bit jaggedy.


Next I keep working on the darks. I work on the shape of the brows and the mouth. In most people, the lip is not all the sticks out. The flesh sticks out and the lip line cuts across the flesh. The lip line is often a sharp angle so the flesh comes out and then angles back sharply at the line of the inner flesh showing that we call lips. It is a mistake to show the lips rounding out of the face. It is the flesh pushing out of the muzzle and then the lip cutting across it.

The same is true on the upper lip. Often the fleshy part is hightlighted and the lip looks dark because it cuts back into the mouth "box." If the upper lip is full or inverted, the line of the lip will cut across the flesh.

There are many muscles that pull the lips into different positions. The mouth corners go back into this layer of muscle and make a dimple at the corner of the "bow." The more a person smiles, the more of this muscle shows and casts a shadow across the ball of the mouth box, like three balls in a row, a large one flanked by two smaller balls. Often a person will have another dimple on the outer sides of the mouth muscles. Also note that the shadows of the face are not on the edge of the face because the reflection of the shoulders softens the jaw.


Hair! Indicate only. My character wears his hair with a far part on the right of his head and drags his hair across his forehead. (My son used to do this.) His hair is slightly curly, brown and usually messy. It's dot his shoulders in the back. Notice that I put the hair in in large swipes of my chalk/graphite and darkened the cast shadow of the head.

Be careful about the neck. The neck is often in very deep shadow in photographs, but never in real life. The structure of the neck muscles is complex and hard for a beginner. For now, stay away from it. Lightly darken the side of the neck away from the light, but keep it lighter than the background behind it (usually hair, if not, darken the bacground.) On the far side of the neck, do a bit of dark to indicate the neck as a column (going back.)

Obvious to me now that Teig (my character) is a boy of low cunning, or no head. I love the computer becuase I can fix stuff like this. Don't rely on the computer. It's extremely difficult to fix stuff there. It never looks right. If you are new at drawing, you will be attached to each drawing. The more you draw, the less attached you will become. I've thrown out about 99 percent of my work. Don't expect to see your mistakes, either. And don't ask friends to point them out. Just keep drawing and you will learn.


Rather than dwell on Teig's faults, I'm now showing you sublights. Sublights are a step or two up from the mid tone. Be careful. You cannot lay in a light on top of a dark or they will mix and become muddy. Erase away anthing you want to lighten before you put down the white chalk. Again, soften and blend as you go.

This is the fun part where the face comes alive. Rules: sublight on the brow ridge and on the front of the forehead (usually in the hair). Sublight on the bridge of the nose and on the ball of the nose. Sublights on the top of the cheeks and on the mouth muzzle. Sublight on the top of the chin and the top of the Adam's apple (men only.)

Highlights are the lightest part of the picture. A line down the nose and a point on the ball of the nose. Sometimes a highlight on the brow that is in the light. Highlights on the rim of the lower lid of the eye, a little on the highlight in the eye, but not as much as on the rim. Highlight on the top of the lip on the line where the skin ends and the inner flesh starts, even when a man has the beginnings of a beard, there is a line here. Highlight on the chin and sometimes on the Adam'a apple. If the figure has a longer torso, highlight in the hollow where the muscles meet the collar bones (not showing here.)


I put Teig into the computer after I dit a bit of line work. Do line work only AFTER you finish the drawing. NEVER do line work until you've finished. Line work should be laid onto the drawing over the layers of color.

In Sargent method painting and drawing, the focus is determined by the fineness of the work. If you get sketchier and freer out of the focal point, this will act as a way to keep the focus on the part of the work that is important. Overworking the clothes or hair is a sure way to create a false look that seems studied and stilted. Even masters usually got more gestural with clothing and backgrounds.

I made Teig's head taller and went away and refreshed my mind. When I came back, it still didn't look right. If you flip the drawing in your computer program you will also see the mistakes.


I widened his hair and made his head even taller to indicate more hair since he's so young and that did the trick. I was also able to put in a highlight in the hair where the light strikes his head. Now I have a picture of my astronomer boy who is a brilliant mathematician. I also softened the neck shadows even more. Don't worry about sides matching. Sides of people never match and people look weird if they do match. Teig is a bit lopsided as a real human should be.

© 2016, A.R. Stone

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