Left is right and right is left

23 Sep

In my pursuit to improve my drawing skills for caricature and cartooning, I searched for a photo of Mike Myers to manipulate and use as a reference to draw. What I was particularly interested in was the difference between the left and right side of the face. We think they are the same, but in reality they seldom are.

Mike Myers left side mirrored Mike Myers right side mirrored

As you can see from both the photos above, the left and right side are really nothing alike.

I tried to draw these photos as an exercise to train my feeling for symmetry.

More caricature prep, part 11 (version 6) More caricature prep, part 11 (version 7)

As I already feared, that feeling isn’t very well developed.

At this point I had filled several A3 sheets with schematic drawings of eyes, in the form of mirrored parallelograms, and most of them weren’t really mirrored (I measured them). I don’t know what that means. It could mean I lack the skill, or perhaps even the discipline to draw a horizontally mirrored image. I hope it is just the former, and it will improve with practice.

However, I noticed that if you put your mind to it, the results get better. I guess that means you have to use your brain and think about what you draw, rather than just “doodle” (draw mechanically without thought). This differs from the school of thought that promotes drawing what you see, from direct observation, in other words, the drawing-with-the-right-side-of-the-brain method of self expression. Apparently, if you want to draw more stylized, you can’t just rely on that part of the brain, you need to use some other parts as well, especially the reasoning part.

As I wrote yesterday, before you can draw something asymmetrical with intent, you first should be able to draw symmetry. It is an important skill to have as an artist, because many things in nature have some kind of symmetry, although not perfect (as in the human face). However, to notice what degree of asymmetry something has, you need to have a mental image what the symmetrical version of that something would look like. If you do, you know where what you see in real life differs from the “ideal”.

That’s about all the thoughts I have to share on this at the moment.

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