Symmetry is the basis, but asymmetry is what you want

22 Sep

Knowing something for a fact, and having experienced something are two separate things and have a profound influence on how you approach life. Everyone knows a face is more or less symmetric, but not in a mathematical sense. Left and right are somewhat different in real people (in case you didn’t already know that, now you do).

Still in my B-series of sketching to prepare for caricature drawing, I needed a new model to draw. I decided on Mr. Bean, because he was mentioned in the book about caricature I was reading.

After I found a reference photo of Rowan Atkinson in 3/4 perspective view, I decided to try and draw him in front view, although for someone with his relatively large ears, a 3/4 view is much better. His eyes are somewhat lower in the face than average, while he still has a manly chin. All this means his nose should be wider than average, as his eyes should be somewhat further apart than average.

More caricature prep, part 11 (version 5)

When I tried to apply these observations into the above sketch, I came across a serious flaw in my drawing skills. His left eye was drawn slightly narrower than his right eye, and also lower in the face.

While one could argue that this should help to make your drawing look “more natural”, it was not what I intended. Perhaps I should have used helper lines, but that would have ruined the spontaneity of the sketch, made it more mechanical and less artistic. I can make the excuse that I had to translate one perspective (3/4) into another (front view), but that doesn’t help me, really. I want to get better at drawing, not better at defending my lack of drawing skills.

As I see it, the skill I clearly lack at this moment and I should be working on first is drawing symmetrically. If I can’t do that, introducing the appropriate amount of asymmetry is going to be hit or miss. Or to put it into comics drawing terms:

What is hardest about drawing eyes? Answer: the other eye!

Of course, I already knew that, but I had never experienced it. That is the difference between knowing and having experienced something, between wisdom from books (or, shudder, Wikipedia) and having done it many times yourself.

That is all.

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