Before you add details to your drawing, run through this checklist.
Author: Sonia Reeder-Jones
When drawing, I make mistakes. I often make similar mistakes time and time again. Analyze your work often and pinpoint where you most often make errors when drawing facial proportion, drawing values, etc. Before you add and refine details within your drawing, take a moment to check the proportions of the face.
Look at the space between the features of your subject. We devote our focus to drawing the features. Remind yourself to check the spaces between each of the features. Is the distance between the eye and edge of face the same on your subject as on your drawing? Is the width of the cheek the same distance on your subject as on your drawing? If the head is turned, is there a sliver of cheek showing beyond the nose? Does the actual width of this sliver match what you see on your subject?
This is where I most often get it wrong. Is the distance from the bottom of the nose to top lip the same on both your subject and your drawing? Pick out a point along the outer wing of the nostril. Is the space between this point and the bottom of the eye the same on both your subject and your drawing? Check the distance between the bottom lip and the dip in the chin. Check the distance between every feature of the face. Does the distance between each feature match what you've drawn?
Measure from the corner of the mouth to the wing of the nostril. Is this angle the exact same on your drawing as on your subject? Is the distance the same? Check the angle and distance from the corner of the mouth to the outside corner of each eye. Have you captured the exact same angle and distance as what you see on your subject? Check the exact angle of the jaw line. Have you captured the same angle on your drawing? If the head is turned, can you see the curve of the back of the skull? If so, check the distance between the outside edge of the ear to the outer edge of the skull or hair.
Look for shapes within the negative space. Take a moment to look at all of the negative spaces within your source photo or surrounding your model if drawing from life. Compare the geometric shape of these spaces to the same spaces within your drawing. For instance, the negative space created by the models chin, edge of neck and shoulder should be the same on both your drawing and your model. If the head is turned slightly to the side, you may notice a negative shape formed by the space between the eyebrow bone and the cheek. Check to be sure this negative space is the same shape and size on your drawing as what you see on your model. Checking the negative space can be really helpful when drawing hands as there are often open spaces between the fingers.
Casually look at your model. When you look at the largest shadow shapes or darks, what geometric shape are they? Be sure that the shadow shapes on your drawing are exactly the same shape as those you see on your model. Look at the dark shadow shapes within the hair. Do you see angular shapes between the largest sections of hair? Copy these exact shapes onto your drawing. Check the distance between these shadow shapes and other features of your drawing. Are they placed at the correct height? Are they placed the proper distance from other features? Often you can see core shadows or darker shadows within the shadows. What geometric shape are these darkest areas? If you draw your shadow shapes exactly as you see them, it can be helpful in establishing a likeness and keeping proportions accurate.
When you look at the lightest areas on your subject, what geometric shapes are these light areas? Lift out the exact same shapes with your eraser. Check the distance between these lights and other features to be sure they are placed correctly.
Blend the halftones where light meets dark. Once you've established your shadow shapes and filled them in, blend the edges to creat halftones. Look closely at your shadows. Do they have soft edges or hard edges? If they have soft edges, carefully blend the edges where your lights meet the darks. By blending your half tones, you can create the illusion of the form turning or curving.
If you've lost the likeness of your subject or model, double check the outside shape of the face and all of the shadow shapes. Adjusting either of these things may help you regain the likeness of your model.