How to determine the brow line and middle lines on faces?
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    How to determine the brow line and middle lines on faces?

    Real beginner question here. I am working through the Loomis book on how to draw faces. One thing I don't fully understand is how I draw the brow line and middle lines in the correct postion each time after I have drawn my axis. Here is the page I am talking about.

    Can somone explain this to me please?

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    Grab a small ball, and place two rubber bands on it. One goes around the middle horizontally, the other around it vertically. Keep the ball handy to help you visualize what Loomis is talking about. That is probably the easiest way to get the hang of it. If you can find a get clear ball that let's you see through it, then even better.

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    Once you're able to draw the ball correctly proportioned on a consistent basis, placing of the equator and the middle line should fall right in. Remember that any point on the equator will be equidistant from the poles (where the "nail" is first visible outside the ball), and that the middle line will intersect the equator at right angles (keeping perspective in mind, I think).

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    Its just truncating a sphere. So learning how to draw a sphere and dividing it is essential and will take some practice.

    It would be nice to see your attempts at it and maybe a sketchbook thread so our advice can be better focused.

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    FWIW: I know this is a question pertaining specifically to Loomis' instructions, but I always thought it was more helpful in the beginning to use box shapes (a la Bridgman) instead of rounded or cylindrical shapes. This is because boxes have clear plane changes, so it's easier to control the light side, shadow side, etc. Along with that, the clear plane changes make it easier to find the center lines by drawing an "X" on the face you're dividing. Once you're comfortable with the box, dividing up a sphere becomes easier I think.

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    My question is, what is exactly meant by the 'browline'?

    Is it the orbital ridge of the skull's frontal bone? The eyebrows themselves? The top of the eyesocket? Or something else?

    That's been causing me a lot of confusion and many times I think I've figured it out, but I'm not sure.



    Last edited by Cortes; December 21st, 2012 at 08:53 PM.
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    The browline is where the forehead turns inward. Light your forehead, and the line which separates light and dark is your browline. I don't think it corresponds exactly to ridge, socket or brows: it depends on the precise way everything fits together, following individual differences. Don't make too much of it, it is just another useful construction line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cortes View Post
    My question is, what is exactly meant by the 'browline'?

    Is it the orbital ridge of the skull's frontal bone? The eyebrows themselves? The top of the eyesocket? Or something else?
    All of those correspond, roughly. It's just a guide, don't get hung up on it. We're not talking forensic anthropology here.


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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    The browline is where the forehead turns inward. Light your forehead, and the line which separates light and dark is your browline. I don't think it corresponds exactly to ridge, socket or brows: it depends on the precise way everything fits together, following individual differences. Don't make too much of it, it is just another useful construction line.
    Thanks for the suggestion but I'm afraid I don't follow. Do you mean the depression above the orbital ridge on the same level as the glabella?

    The browline is the biggest stumbling block right now for me. Since I thought it referred to something specific, I don't really understand how to place it and I am basically guessing. Sure, things do seem to fit together and I am learning the rest of the face, but it's that one area that I don't really know for sure how to place on the head and it effects everything else. Especially when it comes to placing the 'keystone' between the eyes which is so important.

    I've spent more time than anywhere else on the eyesocket area in general. Definitely the toughest area of the head for me and requires the most grinding.

    The Reilly Method is helping tremendously with everything else though. I'll just continue to do what I'm doing then, which is what you and Elwell are suggesting.

    Last edited by Cortes; December 21st, 2012 at 10:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cortes View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion but I'm afraid I don't follow. Do you mean the depression above the orbital ridge on the same level as the glabella?
    Forget about anatomy, for now. Shine a light on your head: the brow line is the demarcation between light and dark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cortes View Post
    My question is, what is exactly meant by the 'browline'?

    Is it the orbital ridge of the skull's frontal bone? The eyebrows themselves? The top of the eyesocket? Or something else?
    [/IMG]
    The browline refers to both the line level of the eyebrows and the brow ridge. Both eyebrows and brow ridge (supraorbital ridge) are located pretty consistently at the 2/5ths mark on the head (down from head top) and 1/3 down between hairline and chin.

    Don’t take measurements of skulls from photos. The are almost always distorted by folks using lenses that are too wide angle, making the skull appear too narrow, and the orbits and chin too large. Your photo is a perfect example.
    Anatomical structures should be photographed with long telephoto lenses, though this can be expensive and space prohibitive ( significant lens-subject-distance is required).

    Last edited by bill618; December 22nd, 2012 at 06:17 AM.
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    its JUST A GUIDELINE!... use it, if the result looks off, investigate why. over time youll get better at deciding where to put, and how to use it.

    you initially wanted to draw a face.... yet even going for a simple guide around a circle consumed most of the energy and the whole thing is postponed. do yourself a favor and just place it. youll see if it works out for what you want to achieve, or not. either way you know what to (not) go for in your next piece. take your time and read that fucking texts and diagrams, they are there for a reason. it will hardly get any better than a lot of those art books out there...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bill618 View Post
    The browline refers to both the line level of the eyebrows and the brow ridge. Both eyebrows and brow ridge (supraorbital ridge) are located pretty consistently at the 2/5ths mark on the head (down from head top) and 1/3 down between hairline and chin.

    Don’t take measurements of skulls from photos. The are almost always distorted by folks using lenses that are too wide angle, making the skull appear too narrow, and the orbits and chin too large. Your photo is a perfect example.
    Anatomical structures should be photographed with long telephoto lenses, though this can be expensive and space prohibitive ( significant lens-subject-distance is required).

    I guess this is my problem: I've been using photo references for all my head drawings. Perhaps I am focusing too much on the photo. I am learning other construction methods than the 'sight-size' style that I use the most. By that I mean I am learning to break the face down into planes and using Reilly style rhythms.

    But I'm still limited by the limitations of the photo.

    Not to mention, the majority of all my drawings are 3/4s view or views where the head is tilted, though there are a few that have been more head on and profile.

    I don't think I have ever seen any book or lesson that explains a good method to proportioning the face 3/4s (I've seen the prokopenko video and vilppu and et al) that really gives me a 'solution' in any way. Because I don't think there really is any 'answer' here that one can use as a guideline, that there is with the more Platonic 'profile' and 'side' views.

    Not to mention there are no consistent 'rules' for judging proportions in any 3/4 or tilted view, so I'm just guessing with each drawing. You could say all artists have done the same.

    That's my dilemma, which I think is applicable to any beginning artist really.


    I'll take a life drawing class that has long poses where I can draw the person's head. I've never focused on the head in any of my life drawing classes before as the body is the focus and is enough of a challenge; I never have any time for the head and never am able to get a satisfying base even with the longest poses.

    So would it be a good idea that I try to focus just on the model's head whenever I am at a figure drawing model session? Fortunately for me, there is an atelier nearby that is running classes this winter.

    I know the stock answer to end all questions here is 'just draw', but I'd rather not just keep doing the kind of drawing (from photo ref) that may be limiting my understanding of proportions, despite the slow improvement I'm seeing.

    Life drawing arguably is the best form of practice according to many here, so it makes the most sense.

    Last edited by Cortes; December 22nd, 2012 at 11:15 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    its JUST A GUIDELINE!... use it, if the result looks off, investigate why. over time youll get better at deciding where to put, and how to use it.

    you initially wanted to draw a face.... yet even going for a simple guide around a circle consumed most of the energy and the whole thing is postponed. do yourself a favor and just place it. youll see if it works out for what you want to achieve, or not. either way you know what to (not) go for in your next piece. take your time and read that fucking texts and diagrams, they are there for a reason. it will hardly get any better than a lot of those art books out there...
    Are you responding to me or the OP?

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    does it matter? if you feel theres something in it for you, take it. if not... sorry man, maybe next time .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cortes View Post
    I guess this is my problem: I've been using photo references for all my head drawings. Perhaps I am focusing too much on the photo. I am learning other construction methods than the 'sight-size' style that I use the most. By that I mean I am learning to break the face down into planes and using Reilly style rhythms.

    But I'm still limited by the limitations of the photo.

    Not to mention, the majority of all my drawings are 3/4s view or views where the head is tilted, though there are a few that have been more head on and profile.

    I don't think I have ever seen any book or lesson that explains a good method to proportioning the face 3/4s (I've seen the prokopenko video and vilppu and et al) that really gives me a 'solution' in any way. Because I don't think there really is any 'answer' here that one can use as a guideline, that there is with the more Platonic 'profile' and 'side' views.

    Not to mention there are no consistent 'rules' for judging proportions in any 3/4 or tilted view, so I'm just guessing with each drawing. You could say all artists have done the same.

    That's my dilemma, which I think is applicable to any beginning artist really.


    I'll take a life drawing class that has long poses where I can draw the person's head. I've never focused on the head in any of my life drawing classes before as the body is the focus and is enough of a challenge; I never have any time for the head and never am able to get a satisfying base even with the longest poses.

    So would it be a good idea that I try to focus just on the model's head whenever I am at a figure drawing model session? Fortunately for me, there is an atelier nearby that is running classes this winter.

    I know the stock answer to end all questions here is 'just draw', but I'd rather not just keep doing the kind of drawing (from photo ref) that may be limiting my understanding of proportions, despite the slow improvement I'm seeing.

    Life drawing arguably is the best form of practice according to many here, so it makes the most sense.
    Do you own a mirror?


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    That never occurred to me (honestly). It's time I tried drawing self-portraits. The photos are just holding me back.

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    I just touched my face now... in my eyeball and the eyes (closed of course), than I've felt where they are in my skull... maybe you shoud do this too, thinking of the bone structure

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    Here's another approach that isn't Loomis, although it's very similar:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EPNYWeEf1U

    ^ That one made more sense to me for practical use than Loomis did. To each their own. My advice would be to spend quality time fleshing out each tactic, and see which helps YOU the most.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syle View Post
    Here's another approach that isn't Loomis, although it's very similar:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EPNYWeEf1U

    ^ That one made more sense to me for practical use than Loomis did. To each their own. My advice would be to spend quality time fleshing out each tactic, and see which helps YOU the most.
    That one is the Loomis method, better explained.

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    Just been studying the plane changes of my own face in the mirror and I noticed a few things:

    the plane change from the frontal eminence, or front plane of my skull happens a little bit to the side and above what I call the 'corner nub' of the orbital ridge (where the zygomatic bone and the frontal bone combine to form the outer arch of the eyesocket. Man, that area really needs its own official anatomical label ).

    Going by the methods I study online and in books it was never clear where exactly the plane change should be. But of course it's slightly different for each individual too.

    That's why looking at my own face is so important because I can see for myself and not have to guess with a guideline that's not supposed to provide an exact answer anyway.


    Merry Happytimes to all!

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