Don’t pay any attention to the critics. Don’t even ignore them

Part Four: Heads of Boys and Girls

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Part Four: Heads of Boys and Girls

I. Small Children

Let us understand that no branch of art can be reduced completely to a formula without endangering the very art that must go into it. We do, of course, seek ways and means to an end, and that end is correctness. Art, however, is not the justification of correctness. Art is not always perfection. Let us say that art is truly a form of expression, and full expression cannot be limited by formula, but only guided toward greater meaning and truth. African sculpture has expression and because of that it is art. It is certainly not truth as we know it, but it may be truth with a greater meaning as they know it. We may reach greater truth by simplification and even by subordinating minor truth. Detail may be minor truth but without real significance. Each hair in an eyebrow is detail and minor truth, but carries little significance. Each blade of grass is detail, but we may be more interested in the whole hillside and the effect of sunlight on it.

In drawing children, let us be guided as much by our feeling toward them as by rules of construction and anatomy. The light on a child’s hair may be just as beautiful and intriguing as the light on the hillside. The glint of mischief in the eye of a young boy may really be what we are drawing, more than the perfect anatomical construction of that eye.

It is easy to become so absorbed in technicalities that we miss the purpose. The technical must be united to the spiritual, because technique without spirit is meaningless. But feeling cannot be conveyed without technique and the knowledge behind technique.

Every area of every drawing, painting, or any other expression of form should be a part of a whole design. The lights and shadows, the edges, the textures and materials may all be considered as much from the standpoint of design and arrangement as for any other quality. In drawing heads, the pattern of the hair, the shadows cast from the head, and the bit of clothing all offer opportunity for design. The lights and shadows on the face itself create design, good or bad, whether we are conscious of it or not. The whole head is a design of forms fitted together. and it is a masterpiece of design, functionally as well as artistically.

I speak of all this so that we may approach our subject with humility and appreciation of its wonders. To me there is nothing more beautiful or wonderful in the world than the head of a small child. Life has left no sears, no lines of anxiety and frustration; it is the new flower emanating from the bud, fresh and as yet almost untouched.

If children do not move you, it is perhaps a mistake to try to draw them. You cannot draw them effectively from too great an emotional distance. When joy goes out of your work, it is apt to bog down in pure technicality.

It happens that much of my own work has been concerned with drawing children, and the more I do it, the more I find to enjoy in it. I feel that there is a mountain of fascinating truth of which I have barely scratched the surface, and this comes after drawing and painting perhaps thousands of heads of adults. Drawing children has a vast and relatively unexploitcd commercial market. We need more drawings of children and fewer photographs, both in advertising and on our walls. The fact that children cannot sit still need not discourage you. You can trace from photographs and still raise the quality of your rendering beyond the purely photographic detail to a more artistic expression.

Plate 59

Plate 59. Proportions of the little boy’s head

In the small boy the up-and-down proportions are about the same as those in the older baby. But now the face is relatively narrower, coming well inside the square in the front view. The eyes appear smaller, because they do not grow and the face does. We can only use the large “button” eyes for very young children. The jaw and chin of the boy pictured above have started to grow, making the chin more prominent. The bridge of the nose is higher, and the nose is a little longer, almost touching the bottom of the second quarter. The lips touch the bottom line of the third quarter. At a fairly early age a full shock of hair grows. This accentuates the large cranium but keeps the face looking small and adds to the cuteness of the child. If a child has curly hair, mothers sometimes let the hair grow until it begins to look grotesque. So it is well to know where the cranium really is.

It is hard for little boys to sit still; in drawing them, as in drawing babies, practice from photographs and clippings. Note that the ear is coming up to the halfway line. Little boys’ heads seem to extend far back because the neck is small and the muscles which attach to the base of the skull arc not yet developed.

Notice particularly that the nostrils have grown and the upper lip appears to be somewhat shorter. The ear grows considerably during this period and the one which follows. I believe the ear is fully developed by the time the child is ten or twelve. The space from the nose to the ear still appears quite wide. Lashes are quite long. The hair grows quite well over the temples.

Plate 60

Plate 60. Proportions of the little girl’s head

The proportions of the head are practically the same in little girls as in little boys. Little girls are characteristically wider at the eyes and the jaw and chin are rounder. Very often the crease of the upper lid hardly shows over the eye. All the lines of contour are usually rounder in girls. Knowing this helps you make a little face more feminine; blocky or squarish forms give a little boy a more rugged look. In little girls the forehead tends to be higher at an earlier age than in boys. Some authorities claim that certain qualities of mentality develop faster in girls than in boys. This may account for the higher, wider forehead, I cannot say. I do know that a closer hairline makes a boy look more boyish, while a larger forehead makes a little girl look more girlish. The treatment of the hair helps greatly in drawing little girls.

Care should be taken not to draw the mouth too large on a little girls face, or too black. This can easily give an adult look, or a theatrical effect not pleasant in children. The little girls neck is round and small in proportion to the head. The crease between the neck and jaw seldom runs up to the ear but points below it. It is seldom sharply defined. The forehead may easily protrude a little at the top. The planes of the face are all well rounded, but to keep your drawing from looking too smooth and photographic, you can introduce a good deal of blockiness into the hair. The ear is more delicate in structure and it comes up to the halfway line. The brows should also be kept delicate.

Plate 61

Plate 61. Construction of the little boy’s head

Plate 62

Plate 62. Construction of the little girl’s head

Plate 63

Plate 63. Studies of little boys

Sometimes back lighting or rear top lighting is effective in combination with front lighting in drawing heads. The important thing is not to allow two lights to fall on the same surface, because this type of lighting cuts the area into crisscross shadows. Build up the hair in blocky forms.

Plate 64

Plate 64. Studies of little girls

The treatment of the hair has a lot to do with the appeal of a little girl’s head. Little pigtails will probably never go out of style. Bangs also seem to be ever popular, and hair hanging loose or in curls is always in evidence. In color drawings or paintings, a bit of color in a hair ribbon is always effective.

Plate 65

Plate 65. More little boys

As one progresses in the drawing of children, he becomes impressed with the distinctive character and personalities he finds. Children register as many feelings and emotions as adults, and much more freely and obviously. As we grow older we learn to hide our real emotions, sometimes too deeply. Most children are much more truly themselves than adults are.

Plate 66

Plate 66. More little girls

It is much easier to show a child’s expression in a drawing if we catch it first with a camera. Their changes of expression are lightning fast, and no child should be asked to hold an expression.







II. School Children

This section deals with children of the grammar-school age, or up to adolescence. That is the age of activity and rather gradual growth, before the spurt of growth that comes at the time of adolescence. It is also the age in which habit and character begin to be formed and to show in the face. We might also call it the age of mischief, because the energy cannot be confined to growth and overflows into physical activity.

It is most important to learn to draw children of this age with a smile—not only on the face you are drawing, but on your own face. Almost one hundred per cent of children in advertising must appear as both activc and happy. On the other hand, a youngster’s face can be particularly beautiful in repose. Sometimes you will wish that the editors and art directors appreciated this more often. At least when a story is touching, the child may be drawn without a grin. But in advertising, especially of foods, children have to be shown going into ecstasies over the product.

Children at this age live in a world of their own. Most of the time a little revolution seems to be going on inside them, against all the authority which is heaped upon them by parents and teachers and which they are not quite old enough to understand. Try to remember your own schooldays. When asked why you did this or that, you could hardly have answered, “Because I’m getting tired of so much authority.” Sometimes adults find it hard to understand why the effect of our authority slips off so easily, and the answer can only be that there is so much of it.

While we consider this the age of learning, we are likely to forget that much learning is gained by experiment, and not all by direction. All the wonders of invention are holding themselves out for inspection by the young. If your boy takes your alarm clock apart, or strews your pet tools out by the back fence, this comes under the head of experiment without direction, and you would have a dull boy if he didn’t do a few of these things.

When drawing children, or even when photographing them, forget that you are grown up. Try hard to meet them in their own world, and draw them out. A child who is afraid of you or who shuts you out is not going to be himself, and so will not be a good model, if you are interested in conveying the spirit of childhood. That spirit lies in their faces only when they are free of authority. Watch their faces change when authority descends on them. I am not speaking against authority itself; I just mean that it does not photograph well, and resentment or sulkiness certainly does not make an attractive picture.

Since proportions have already been thoroughly discussed, you can learn from Plates 67 and 68 to apply them to the faces of school children. It is helpful to understand them, but merely to get them right is not the ultimate objective.

Plate 67

Plate 67. Proportions of the schoolboys head

Children between eight and twelve are more difficult to draw than either very young children or adults. The character of the head is pretty well established by this time, and some children have even taken on quite an adult look. But there is a trick to indicating this age group which is quite dependable. The eyes have moved up to touch the halfway line, and the space from the hairline to the top of the head is three-fourths of a unit instead of one-half unit as it is in the adult. In the adult the halfway line cuts through the middle of the eyes and out through the outer comers, while in the child approaching teen age the whole eye is below this line. The nose is still slightly above the second quarter division in the lower half of the face. The lower lip touches the line of the third quarter division.

In boys there is notable development in the ears. The mouth loses much of the baby look. The second teeth have replaced the baby teeth and the jaw has developed to accommodate them. The nostrils develop and the cartilages of the nose spread. The bone at the bridge of the nose develops a little more slowly, so many boys retain a tumed-up nose until they are well into their teens.

This is the age of freckles. It is also the age of mischief and carefree happiness, as the expressions show. The hair is unruly; the front teeth look large. While the front of the jaw develops, the rear of the jaw at the comer below the ear does not develop until later. A large square jaw does more than any other feature to give a look of maturity. If you want to keep the face young, keep the comers of the jaw rounded.

Plate 68

Plate 68. Proportions of the schoolgirl’s head

Young girls seem to mature faster than boys as far as facial characteristics are concerned. Most girls acquire a fairly mature look quite early in their teens. As I mentioned earlier, they usually have higher foreheads, and the hairline is well up. The cheeks are rounder and there is often more space in the front view between the comers of the eyes and the edges of the face where the ears attach.

It must be remembered that here we are dealing with averages. There are always variations and exceptions. Photographs of girls ten to twelve years old often look more mature than the children actually look. Sometimes this is because we are seeing only the head and shoulders, and not the head in association with the rest of the body. In a girl of thirteen or fourteen the head is almost full grown, while the body is not.

Full lips are always appealing in the face of a young girl, and roundness rather than boniness. Girls as well as boy’s often have freckles at this age, but do not overdo the freckles in drawing girls.

To draw heads of children of this age group well, you will have to practice on a great many.

Plate 69

Plate 69. The four divisions—schoolboys

If you plan to do advertising illustration, or are already in that field, you will find drawing growing boys and girls very remunerative. Practically all foods are advertised to mothers with growing children and the children appear in profusion in such advertising. You can practice from the heads here, or find others in the women’s magazines that offer excellent practice.

Plate 70

Plate 70. The four divisions—schoolgirls

At the right, above, we have the usual quarter spacing. It is interesting and helpful to note how the diagonals cross in a young girl’s head. The diagonals from the corners of the eyes through a point at the middle of the face of the nose also cut through the corners of the mouth; those from the outer ends of the brows cut through the corners of the mouth to a point at the base of the middle of the chin.

Plate 71

Plate 71. Sketches of schoolboys

Plate 72

Plate 72. Sketches of schoolgirls


III. Teen-agers

Teen-agers are popular subjects in fiction, advertising, and portraits. Since the proportions of the head are so nearly those of the adult head, we are almost back to where we started, but I hope with much more understanding.

In drawing teen-age boys and girls we must take into consideration the great variety of types. In boys, bony faces with well-marked muscles are associated with athletic types. The muscular activities contribute to a certain leanness. Some boys grow so fast they are robbed of some vitality; others simply do not lean toward athletics. Another type of teen-age boy has a round face, long legs and arms and large hands and feet, tends to drape himself over anything suitable to rest upon, and hates effort—especially home chores. As a rule, these boys develop more energy later when they attain full growth.

Since most teen-agers-girls as well as boys are bigeaters, if they do not exercise, they have a tendency toward fatness. Fortunately, they lose most of this excess weight in the spurt of energy that follows full growth.

Treat teen-agers with as much understanding as possible. Remember that this is the age of the first big heart throb, the age when the urge to be different from their elders comes out in every conceivable fad, in dress, hair-do, and personality. Study teen-agers closely to catch the spirit, for youth is elusive in more ways than one.

Now that we are completing our study of heads, you will find it rewarding to review parts of this book which might have given you trouble earlier. The new drawings should show great improvement over your first ones. You will find everything much easier, and will also have gained confidence from your practice work.

Plate 73

Plate 73. Proportions of the teen-age boy’s head

The proportions of the head in teen-agers are almost identical with adults; the difference is largely a matter of feeling. In boys the bone structure has become quite evident, though it should not be stressed as much as in men’s heads. There are no noticeable lines. The flesh is firm and still inclined to smoothness. The cheeks are smooth without much definition of the muscles. The jaw has developed considerably in a short time. The bridge of the nose has taken permanent shape. As the jaw and cranium have grown, the ears appear smaller in relation to the whole head than they do in a little boy. The cartilage of the ear is now well defined; the ears have lost much of their roundness and taken on more angular lines.

The hair has moved back somewhat from the temples. The brows have definitely thickened. The lips are fully developed in size. The chin has come forward in permanent shape.

The only bone not fully developed is the corner of the jaw. This continues to develop, research shows, until the age of twenty or more. I suspect the cranium itself does not reach its maximum growth until full maturity, though further growth does not perceptibly affect the proportions of the head.

Plate 74

Plate 74. Proportions of the teen-age girls head

Sixteen is traditionally the perfect age for girls. By that time they have lost the gangliness of fast growth, and all is smooth, round, and fair. Now that girls also engage in athletics, their faces tend to show more muscle than did those of their mothers at the same age. But the predominating quality is youth—the faces are unlined, full of freshness and vigor.

These things are important in portraying young people, because the actual proportions of the face change very little from sixteen to sixty. The jaw in the girl may develop a little, but hardly enough to affect the drawing of the proportions much. That is why the artist must more or less “feel” the age he wishes to draw.

It is quite important to obtain good material to work from. Faking a drawing of a beautiful young American girl is a very difficult thing to do, until you have drawn a great many heads, and know the basic construction inside and out. I do not believe any of the outstanding artists proceed without adequate material to work from. Beauty, remember, is largely a matter of perfect proportions and perfect placement of features. The commercial illustrator will need to draw many pretty girls.

Plate 75

Plate 75. Teen-age boys

Plate 76

Plate 76. Teen-age girls

praxis | Part Four: Heads of Boys and Girls