Monday, May 31, 2010

The Evolution of the Face Map: Part 2, 3d Puzzles, A WIP


Where were we... oh yes. I finished up the stupid flat way of seeing things and moved on to bigger and better things.

It's like this, when I want to draw a face, I have to make the picture in my head before I draw it. I used to do this by lining up two dimensional shapes like tan-grams, but now it's like building models out of foam.

I start by making a kind of contour drawing of the forms I know and how they fit together on that face: a map.

The shapes that I mark out are fairly consistent, and only getting more so as I practice.

They bear a resemblance to the points marked out by facial research groups.

Have you ever looked at the faces made by those programs? They're often hideous and make no sense. I think their models neglect the third dimension and facial structure. (You all know giving people creepily tiny chins is more attractive, right?)

I have a bad habit, starting with that dumb circle. I don't like circles, they don't leave any lines on the page to help me with depth of field. I like boxes and intersecting lines much better.

I tend to mark in the forhead or brow line next these days. From there is easier to sketch in the trapezoidal prism of the bridge of the nose.

I know I should be putting that curved line that shows the center of the face first, but I never think of it until I've already failed at the nose a couple times.

The base of the chin has to come next.

Next is the marking out of the cheeks and eyebags.
Depending on the day, I might mark the top, crest, or bottom of the cheekbones. I haven't figured out which is the most useful yet. As long as I remember which one I'm marking, it's all good.

Especially on the right side, hopefully you can see some fancy parallel curves (wow, I thought I made that up) happening.

Recognizing curves that are parallel, or the amount by which they are not parallel helps define form.

It's one of those things you have to practice.

Here, the line-age is about to get complicated, so let's turn Chris into a mexican wrestler so you can see what I'm doing.

If you've got a good eye, you can see the shapes I've got below the nose don't quite fit together right below the nose.
If you've got a poor eye, I'll just tell you. I have trouble lining things up below the nose.

List! Everything I just marked out up there:

- The dome of the forehead is marked in pink, and the temples in yellow

- Nose-turning-into-forehead-triangley-bit, in yellow

- Two halfs of the eye socket in purple and green, with that little triangle bit I like so much (discussed already Here)

- Sides of the face, under the cheekbone, in green.

- Third eyebag shown in pink.

- Nasal labial folds in green.

- Boney nose bridge in green.

- Ball of nose in blue.

- Mouth cone in pink.

- Upper lip planes in green and pink.

- Lumpy bits that make up the lower lip, in blue.

- Chin ball in green.

It's a work in progress.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Evolution of the Face Map: Part 1, Overcomplicating Ed Emberley

(I have no excuse anymore! I have way too many discoveries that I've failed to post while my life was a bowl of nasty rotten curry. It sucked for a while, but now I need to get over it.)

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In the beginning, Ed Emberly taught me to draw an Aligator.
In case you're not familiar with Ed and his drawing books Here. I used to draw out of his books all the time as a kid. He's a genius, and he's influenced the way I think about drawing at the most basic level.
You can see that best when I first sketch out a picture.

When I first sat down to try to draw people proper I would set up my reproduction kind of like this:

I'd start with the old divided up ball thing. This is the "easy" way people say to do it. (They're crazy.)
I've found that if I start with a frame that doesn't really look like the person I want, the final is far less likely to work. Or at the very least, it's going to give me shit all through the process. I had hoped never to share the following image.

For the good of the masses, Alfi's terrifying fail demons have been released! Agh.
As you can see. His facial features are floating around unpleasantly through the versions. I know I marked them out, just like people say to. Technically my fault, I know. But still... that can't be the best way for a beginner to mark up the page. It leaves too many variables and relies on visualizing skills that a beginner just doesn't have.

Chopped up circles can be all sorts of shapes. I know, faces do too, whatever. But if you're looking for a certain face, what good is a framework that shifts around so freely?

It's kind of like alligators. They'll bite your face off. No. You can make a variety of different kinds of alligators, just by shifting the sizes of a few of the shapes Emberley gave us.

And the chopped up circle thing isn't even half as specific as an alligator! At least with alligators, we know for sure that the point bits of the tail shape have to connect to the point bits of the rectangle body, right? All we know about that jaw-ish shape is that it ends somewhere.

Ok, there are tricks to make that work right. Tricks that are mostly eyeballing ratios of sizes and angles and other things that I couldn't do two years ago.

I'd then mark out the eye sockets, assuming that they'd be the darkest area. Which isn't always true, because of lighting. More problems. Though it did help me visualize...

After that, I'd start marking out simple geometric shapes in the shadows and highlights.

I used geometric shapes at first so I could see exactly how things lined up. It was useful then, as I didn't have the eyeballing skills to line it up the way I do now.

My poor brain would have imploded trying to see all those weird curvy lines.

I think maybe it's like fractals. Shapes within shapes, you know? I can use curvy lines now because I break them down automatically.

Art is a lot of hand/eye coordination. But I think the eye is the more important half*. Or at least, the more difficult. Everything else is just shipping your brain fruit out to the masses.

Join us next time as Alfi explains exactly what she's doing with all those weird-ass curvy lines nowadays. For reals! And it's not going to take three months either!

Ps, don't go telling me your Brain Fruit is awesome, and your fruit pickers suck. They're squishy, and no amount of preservatives will get squishy fruits from Cuba to Cali.

Sorry, I'm making a lot of assumptions there. Some people actually do have crappy workers. But most likely,: SQUISHY. The end.

(*Politically Correct Police! Blind people still conceptualize space, and Art around like the rest of us.)