Drawing Childrens Faces
Drawing a child’s face
For a portrait artist, drawing a child's face is particularly challenging, but also rewarding. Children's faces, with their bright, large eyes and innocent smiles can warm the hardest heart, and it is immensely satisfying to produce a good portrait of such a beautiful subject. When drawing a person's face, it is important to look at the individual, and not try to fit the face into some ideal set of proportions. Carefully observing the main forms and placing the features really needs to be done according to the size and shape of each person's head, as despite our basic anatomical similarity, small variations in bone structure characterize the individual. The canon of ideal proportions is useful when trying to become familiar with the head structure, but is otherwise of limited use. This is particularly true when drawing children, as their soft bones and rapid growth dramatically changes their head structure.
When drawing a child's features, remember than often 'less is more'. Don't be tempted to outline every detail. Often leaving the middle of the lower lid white, like a highlight, will help to brighten the eyes. The bottom edge of the lower lip often blends into the skin tone.
•Reserve whites carefully - especially in the eyes.
•Try to avoid overworking. Keep your drawing fresh and light.
•Avoid harsh outlines. Sketch softly.
•Use a full range of value and shade skin tones carefully.
Study pictures of children. Notice how their faces differ from adult faces. Eyes are the only organs in the human body that never grow. Eyes are the same size from birth through adulthood. The larger eyes make the task of learning how to draw a child's face challenging for many artists. This is because the proportions are different. It is always surprising how large a child’s skull is, and, surprisingly, the eyes will appear lower than halfway down the total length of the head. Having established some general proportions I change my approach, sharpen my pencil and home in tightly on the eye area. The eye area is the focus of the portrait and warrants the closest treatment. Locate the eyebrows precisely by relating them to the eye line and the hair shape. Look at the shape of the eyebrows and ask: ‘where, exactly, is the high-point of the curve?’ This is always a good question to ask when drawing any curved line. Some eyebrows are dark and individual tiny hairs can be seen. With a sharp pencil concentrate of the direction and the flow of these tiny hairs. Be precise and quick. Do not labour over it. Many children have very fair eyebrows, often so feint that only the merest indication is needed. Be true to what you see and consider how the two eyebrows relate to each other.
Each persons’ eyes have their own distinct shape, so it is crucial to see and draw these shapes precisely. Drawing the eyes is all about seeing the character of the shape. Use a good, sharp pencil for precision, and also to describe the fine creases that flow round the eyes and define the shape of the lids.
When shading the iris use marks appropriate to the eye as it appears. Sometimes radiating lines are appropriate; sometimes the merest smudge is enough for particularly pale eyes; or heavy shading for liquid brown eyes, but I would never shade in solidly, because some light and life needs to come from the eye. I rarely shade anything in flatly.
There is a muscle under the eye that tightens when the child smiles, so I will always ask the child for a brief smile. To indicate this muscle I place a brief curve, a mere mark, just below the eye. Be careful, because if drawn too clumsily it can simply make the child look tired. Locate it carefully and make sure it is always the product of observation, because, of course, every child is different even in the seemingly insignificant details.
Working downwards, the chin forms part of the face shape. At the same I would run my eyes around the general face shape and establish it as narrow, broad, round, triangular, square, or permutations of these. The face shape is such an important part of the portrait and perhaps the hardest and most satisfying aspect to get right.