Thursday, January 28, 2010

TEETH: A short lesson for the anatomically illiterate internet


What our fancy-pants posters at have to say about this:

"That's not real, we shouldn`t be able to see the tops of his bottom teeth or the bottoms of his top teeth."

"First of all, it's a chick. Secondly, it`s fake as hell....the teeth are WAY too far down compared to where the lips are."

Hold the press, internets. I know it's hard to think while rubbing down your ego, but your stupidity is showing.

I was going to talk about something else, but this picture is too good of an opportunity to talk about the only part of our skeleton we see on a day to day basis. This picture is so awsome.

I'm not here to argue whether or not it's real (it totally is though), nor do I care what gender the person is (it's a chick), I just need to set the record straight with the teeth.

To address the first point.

There is such a thing as a relaxed jaw. This crazy thing happens when you open your mouth. Your teeth separate.

Couple that with the fact that lips are centered over the upper teeth. If you poke your fingers between your lips right now, it will hit your upper teeth. If you open your mouth, you'll notice that the lower lip covers the lower teeth with room to spare.

So let's get this straight.
The line between the lips would sit here-ish naturally.

But it's being pushed up by this plastic thingy.

And she let her jaw go slack a little, revealing more of the pointy parts of her teeth.

Then she got this crazy clear plastic thingermabob in it. The end. There's no reason to photoshop something that's totally plausible and easy to do (if you happen you have a massive hole in your lower lip.)


Monday, January 25, 2010

The Postulate of LipsAreDisgusting

I don't understand how lips have become a symbol of beauty. It's just a slimy, swollen orifice. I can't help but think of other parts of the body that function similarly, in a backwards sort of way, and think ", Holy Batmobile, I don't want that on my face."

Demystifying them makes them easier to draw, though. It's like looking at Tyra Banks without make-up for the first time. (For those of you like me, Tyra Banks is... well hell, I don't know what she's around for either. Nevermind.)

It's story time with your Auntie Alfi!
(Old school, because my tablet's being nasty to me today.)

Once upon a time, in my head, the mouth was just like any other part of the face, except stretched over this cone shape made by the teeth.

One day, the Magic Mouth Gnome came with his Magic Machete...

...and cut a gash through the fat and muscle for us to shove food through.

Unfortunately, the Mouth Gnome forgot to clean inbetween people, and so the wounds got infected. That's why our lips are still poofy and pinky and wrinkled and gross.

The end.

The moral is that lips are only bent up planes and not to be feared.

Join us next time when Auntie Alfi tells her findings on the planes of the upper lip and lower nose.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why parts of your face aren't important (The Theory of General Indicators and Face Quirks)

And the day was MONDAY and thus, there was a post. And henceforth was there always a post on MONDAY. Amen.


I put what makes your face look like your face into two categories:

"General indicators" (Fig. 1 on the left), which includes very little more than head shape, hairline, eye socket shape and maybe nose length but the juries still out on that one

and "Facial quirks" which is all those weird little specifics like bug eyes, snub noses, rabitty mouths and those intense lines that Willem DaFoe gets all across his cheeks. (Fig. 1 on the right. There are some indicators left in the quirks picture, they're hard to draw by themselves, it looks too weird).

Quirks are the parts they use on South Park to make celebrities.


The less important ones may be little more than an interesting plane or two, or a weird bump, or a freckle.


General indicators are the parts that they say matter more in art classes. These are the parts that they attempt to describe in every single how-to portrait book ever. Mostly they kind of fail.


I prefer to make people look absolutely like themselves. So I use just about everything I can find in a face. But this isn't entirely necessary to making some one look like themselves. That's why caricatures work. The trick is figuring out which indicators and quirks are important. I'm coming to realize that this list isn't set in stone though. The mind is a weird thing, it doesn't always weigh the features the same way.

If your friend is standing across a big field and you recognize them, you're using the general indicators, because that's what you can see.


But supposing you re-meet some one you met very briefly some time ago. If you ever remember looking at them at all, most likely, the part you remember is just going to be some quirk you glommed onto.


So sometimes when we're drawing, we can just forget about some parts of the face.

Just because a part of the face isn't important, doesn't mean you're allowed to get it wrong. Wrong looking features detract from the familiarity.

No. Bad. Very bad.

What you need is a completely neutral filler feature.

A good neutral filler is more symbolic than literal. Like South Park. I've been watching too much South Park lately.


They have a certain kind of eye they use on just about every one, so it become so normal you look at it and say "oh, that's an eye. Um... cool." And then you move on and recognize the character by some other quirk or indicator.

Generalizing is touchy stuff because not every one sees the same way, but this is the general idea of it.

Ps. Happy Martin Luther King Day. Peace and love y'all.

Pps. Skin color is a quirk. That's because lighting changes skin tone as much as genetics. The shading just ends up a little different with dark skin. We're all built more or less the same.