- Lesson details
Master artist Steve Huston brings you his highly-anticipated advanced head drawing series. In the 4th installment, he shows you that the rigid and elastic parts of the face and head dictate their ability to move with a given expression. There are key points of the face that are pushed, and others that are pulled. Being mindful of the “marionette-string” features of the facial muscles allows you to emulate and exagerrate the expressions of your model in your drawings. Steve will do several demonstrations working from photo references, which you can find attached to this page.
- Sharpie Markers
- Colored Chalk
- Conté Crayon – Black
- Toned Drawing Paper
- Waterman Paris Fountain Pen
- Conté Drawing Pencil – Sepia
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we’re going to talk about expressions.
We’re going to talk about how the anatomy and the structure, the bones and the muscles
act to create those really endless possibilities of what’s being said
visually rather than audibly.
Everything else is working to pull out the lip away from the teeth,
away from the center point.
She has this kind of laughter.
It’s a laughter that’s a little hesitant, that ability to create a nuanced lift of the
eyebrows is, of course, critical.
There is a tremendous amount of things you can say just with your eyes,
just with your expressions.
Notice now that all these marks, all these highlights are stretching marks.
It’s like the rubber band is being pulled out.
It’s an interesting subject.
It’s going to be a fun subject.
Let’s go ahead and get started.
Transcription not available.
lay-in, and then we’ll talk about it a little bit.
We saw this when we were talking about the aging of the model. This whole section
here, the jaw drops open, obviously. The mouth is exposed, opened up. You’ve got the stretch
lines from the cheek, these levitator muscles pulling. You’ve got the apple of the cheek,
which is a fatty deposit on the front of that zygomatic arch. Then you get this kind of
marionette action going, where the lines that increase with age or increase, in this case,
with expression, with articulation of that jaw, go from either side of the nose right
down the inside of the cheek, over the barrel of the mouth and right down to the chin. It
all kind of groups together. It’s very much like a Pinocchio marionette puppet thing,
where you have not the whole mandible articulating, you have just the chin and lower teeth articulating
that little marionette. You very much get that kind of feel and look to it.
We’re going to make this somewhat crude just so I can show you quickly get to the
anatomy of it, and then we’ll do some more careful stuff a little bit later here. Alright,
put a little bit of structure in here with our shading, just quickly. I’m going to
keep these simple and kind of structural representation so we can see adjusted
how those shapes have and changed.
Let that sit here for the time being.
You’ve got these great ears that kind
of pin in to the head at the top and kick out at the bottom. They’re lovely and unique,
and that’s a nice combination for a character to get to find a somewhat different shape
to work with. It’s not the same old thing. That’s kind of nice. She’s got the headband
and the hair here. We don’t care about that stuff.
Let’s just work on this one side here and get used to it a little bit. Think about it.
Alright, so here’s the architecture. We’ve got the forehead coming down nicely. Nice,
smooth, brow there. Here is no bump of prominence there as we transcend from the forehead into
the nasal area, the nose area. As always, if we do an actual highlight, there is an
actual highlight that’s picking up, we want t sit on the corner of the structure.
Now, notice what’s happening here. The frontalis muscles here and here, notice when we drew
them in our little lecture section, they didn’t go straight up. I did the arrow straight up,
but they actually go out. Maybe I didn’t do an arrow out. Maybe I did do an arrow out.
I can’t remember. Anyway, they go out that way. That allows for two things. When it goes
this way, they can lift up, but also they can pull this interior part of the highbrow
up to show that kind of surprised laughter. She has this kind of ‘am I okay?’ Is something
horrible going to happen to me kind of laughter. It’s laughter that is a little hesitant.
That kind of nuanced ability. That ability to create a nuanced lift of the eyebrows is,
of course, critical. There is a tremendous amount of things you can say just with your
eyes, just with your expressions.
So, that’s pulling up here like so. Okay, so let’s do that to make it clear. Pulling
out. Now, the corrugators come across here. They attach across rolling right over the
top of that ridge there. They’re going this way and this way. In this case they’re pulling
out to separate the eyebrows. Look at how far apart they are. Again, that gives that
open-eyed surprise. Let’s do a little more work here. There is the upper lid. There is
the crease of the upper lid. Here is the fatty apple of the cheek in front and this and this
is showing the zygomatic arch over here coming wide. It’s attaching on that. As that arch
steps over and goes down, that’s why that shadow shape is where it is. Notice that the
lower lid here—let’s do this so that we can see it. The lower lid here
is cringing up. This one isn’t doing it as much, but I’m going to make it do it
as much to make the point. This is the kind of the generic eye structure there. Upper
lid, lower lid. That or orbicularis oculi is doing this, and when that constricts in
the bottom part, it’s going to force that lower lid closed.
Now, it’s about 85%, 90% or something like that of the movement of opening and closing
your eyes is done in the upper lid. The lower lid has some limited movement. It can kind
of twitch. What’s happening is that constriction of the orbicularis and the fact that we’re
slightly underneath, but much more just in the expression rather than the angle of observation.
It then take that lower lid and moves it up just that little bit. That’s what we have
here, that little bit of motion gives that kind of squinty, you know, my eye is going
to twitch in fear and concern and consternation kind of thing that she is displaying so beautifully
in this particular pose.
Then all the tones over here, of course, are affected by, created by the eyeball. There
is that ball in there so that ball is catching shadow and light and broken light because
of the lid structure or the ball structure, all that good stuff. Then, as is said, since
we have that cringing of—notice how beautifully that lower lid tracks over the eyeball and
even gives us a sense that we’re underneath that eyeball because it’s reminiscent of
it being underneath a tube. There are a lot of subtle things that are happening in expressions
on top of our subtle and dynamic structure of the whole big head ensemble. We need to
be aware of that.
Now, there is also, if we go back to that orbit and zygomatic arch, we have the corrugator
along the nasal track here, along the side of the nose. Not corrugator, the levitator
muscle. These were levitator muscles here and here. Those were on the surface. Then
there is an underneath muscle there stretching right across, and there is one up here up
a little bit higher stretching across. This one actually comes down here, stretches across.
That’s attaching to the nose. We have a little bit of action on that nose. Notice
that as she opens her mouth wide, not only is it dropping down, the material is being
pulled back, the cheek and dimple material, that lower jaw outside the barrel of the mouth
material, is being pulled back, and we can see by closing blinds, we can see the corrugating
I’m just going to pretend that is catching light just so we can see it. We’re getting
up this wadding up of material here like so. It not only pulls back the lips and mouth
of the skin away from the teeth to expose that. It’s pulling on that nose. You can
see then that that nose here
is pulling out, too. You’ll see a nose go from maybe—if we’re looking down on it,
doing this structure it can stretch out wider and flatter when these muscles pull on it.
I’ll show you it in back. It opens this way. Again, all you have to think of is that
idea that these radiate out from the center of the mouth in every direction, more or less
like that. They have slightly different angles of attack, but that’s what they’re doing.
So, I can have a little bit of effect on the toe. And this anterior here can actually crinkle
the nose. It’s not happening in this expression. That’s what’s going on there. Let’s
just do that real quick just so we can get the idea. We looked at this in aging as well.
It’s going to be really critical on these kinds of things for expression for character
and for age to understand how that contour, how the wobble of the contour line or any
line, it could be the core shadow line, too, for that matter, or the highlight. But, where
the corner of that curve is. This is the zygomatic arch under here
with the muscle attachments to it.
Yet, this is an expression of size and it’s fighting. The lips are curling up. The head
is tilting back and lifting away from us. It’s fighting. She wants to get away kind
of thing. Oh my God, I thought it was funny but it’s not. I thought I liked it but I
don’t. And so, all those things are aggressive in that sense. We don’t want a contour line
that sags or that is low end. We feel that gravity taking over. We want to feel like
this is fighting gravity and going up that way. And so, the way you lay in that line,
just the bump, what I’m really saying is look at the corners of the curve. This curve
speeds up here and speeds up there. Those are the corners. Here it speeds up right here.
The higher I get that corner, the more aggressive it will become. The more of a fight as opposed
to a flight kind of thing. That’s actually not a good analogy, aggressive as opposed
to submissive. In flight you’re still making action. You’re still having to act and make
your body move against the gravity. The digastric plane is always critical because that’s
going to help us feel how far underneath the head we are, although we have all sorts of
other clues. Also, it’s going to make sure that face is not a mask.
Then we have a series—this kind of screaming, tensing. If you clench your open mouth and
strain against your neck, you’re going to have the clenching of these tendinous muscles
here. That’s going to give that idea of abhorrence of what’s going
on. Those were originally muscles that would help puff out the neck, but now they just
kind of strain and we get these rope-like tendinous, kind of these tent pole kind of
structures with the sagging material between. Again, that adds to that tension. Notice how
we lose that jawline and it flows right in to that. Let’s stop there on that. We’ll
look at the mouth on a different—we’ll do a little bit more on
the mouth on a different drawing.
Alright, so let’s look at this one here. On this one we’ve got those corrugators
working in the other direction. That’s why I picked the pose. Then we have that open
mouth again that we can play with. I’m going to keep this pretty quick here in the eye
section. Okay, obviously eyes closed here and then kind of a scrunching up, a delighted,
I’m surprised like I was as a child kind of delight there. And so, what’s happening.
Then we’ve got this stuff down here that we’ll deal with in a second. What’s happening
is because the corrugator muscles are pulling in, we’re getting that corrugation, which
is where the name comes from. We get these kind of real fun highlight actions going there,
under the camera lights, presumably. It takes off down the nose.
In this case it adds to the expressiveness of those eyes. We’re feeling that forehead
bump a little bit. I’m playing it up a little bit more. We won’t do this eye. Get that
in there real quick. Alright, so corrugator muscles are pulling in, drawing in this way
to wad up that material. She has soft, kind of supple, smooth skin, and it makes sense
to kind of have a sense of, whether it’s rough skin, brittle skin with age, smooth
skin because that’ll pick up highlights a little bit differently. It’ll bunch up
a little bit differently.
Then that orbicularis is squeezing in on that. You’ll see that that’s where these little
hatch lines are here binding up, pulling in there. This is pulling in. That’s pulling
in. It’s showing off that brow ridge. Those rather subtle muscles are bunching up a lot,
and so we’re getting that sense. Notice how the whole brow ridge works around that
upper brow where the eye socket is that thick part before we go into the temple area. It’s
building up. That’s popping out. There is a lot of work done with those muscles. They
are flexing. They’re showing that off there nicely.
You get this greater rhythm rack being around, and that adds to that compression, that tightening
in. It’s not tightening in because I’m afraid of the world. It’s tightening in
to take in that joy, take in that humor and to hold on to it for as long as possible.
It’s a different type of hanging on. That does that. Notice when we’ve got that pull
going up so strongly from those orbital muscles there, it’s dragging the apple of the cheek
up too. And so the apple of the cheek is really
balling up there. Its’ pulling, it happened here too a little bit. You can see it over
here right there. This pulls down. You can see it on this side. Those highlights really
catch it nicely. That becomes the corner where it drops off. Then we’ve got the mouth pulling back.
Again, it’s like opening the blinds, those curtains pushed to the side and bind up, blinds
bind. The barrel of the mouth pulling across. Now, we’ll skip that nose again, but you’re
getting really the same action of the nose, the nostril, the wings really stretching back
across, but we’re not going to mess with that. That upper lip now is going to stretch
over the teeth. We see those teeth clearly. Here I’m just going to lay these in really
simply so we can stick with the main big points. Then in our little assignments together we’ll
do some actual sketching of them. That sits in there with the thickness of the lip. I’m
just going to treat those like a denture, just a mouth guard all the way across. Notice
what’s happening here. Let me get this a little better so I can make the point.
Notice the way that tracking happens of that line of the upper lip. It’s pulling over
the rounded teeth and then dropping down with the corners of the mouth as it’s being pulled,
exiting out. Then it kicks in. We need that tight corner pulling down, and it actually
steps kind of over the top. It’s almost like an awning or a valence over the curtains.
You’ve got this structure that’s thicker on top and the thinner structure underneath
hangs out. There is a step in and down. All those kinds of things are going to be critical
for getting us to turn over that structure. It pulls here, and the tongue fills in, and
we’ve got the shading and such that we’ll not muck with for time’s sake.
Notice that as I’ve done these highlights to articulate, but also here is a highlight
here. Notice the character, it’s in the line quality, core shadows, and contour too,
but we can see it more clearly with the highlights. Look at the highlights. Here is the light
or half-tone here, light or half-tone here just to make that a little clearer. Highlight
here and a highlight here. There are a ton of highlights. I wouldn’t put all those
in a typical drawing. There would too many. At least create a hierarchy of them so they
are not all competing. The point I want to make by putting them in here. Let’s do that
instead of an actual contour. Look at how stretched all those marks are.
I always think of N. C. Wyeth, the great illustrator. He would say by the end of the day, if I’m
painting some guy with his scythe mowing down the field, I end up having the same sore shoulder
and back muscles that he would have having worked all day because I’m trying to feel
that tension and that work ethic and that dauntless perseverance to the task. I’m
trying to apply all of that to my art so that that painting feels to the audience as they
are working with the guy. They are right next to them with their own tool, mowing down their
own field. These marks need to have an energy to them and a certain personality to them
if they’re going to be successful. We talked a little bit about where that corner of the
curve happens. Notice now that all these marks, all these highlights are stretching marks.
It’s like the rubber band is being pulled out. That’s kind of the point I was making
with this, too. Everything is pulling out and around or pulling up and away. In this
case, pulling, spreading the curtain kind of thing.
Go ahead and do the sketch for five, 10, 15 minutes on each piece.
Do as many or as few as you feel like.
Take your time and go back to them.
What you might want to do is do a traditional drawing, just really carefully work on the
Then come back and do it again and work out the expressions and really pay attention to
exactly, not just the placement of the mouth, but how that mouth tracks and thinking through
those corrugators, those levator muscles, all that kind of stuff that contracts.
It pulls and pushes and creates the action.
Go ahead and give that a shot, and I’ll see you on the other side of the that.
Alright, you had you turn so now let me have a shot at this.
We’ll take this lovely young lady here.
She’s got just a glorious smile, doesn’t she?
She just really does glow, and the shape of that mouth and the teeth and all that, and
even the turn of the head is really very nice.
You can feel how high that corner, she has these great eyebrows.
I’m just going to pick them out this way.
We talked about the lift here in this section on male and female.
That lift there is archetypically female, and her expression is accentuating that.
There is a little bit of corrugation going on.
There is a little bit of the—I’m going to play it up a little bit more than it is
right here, drawing those eyebrows together.
Let me dust this back now since I’ve got those little corrugating lines.
Just ever so much pulling it in.
Again, more taking it in then being suspicious, aggressive kind of corrugation.
Pretty smooth brow.
We have this nice round top as the end of the face meets that frontal lobe of the skull,
and the hairline just tracks nicely around it.
We have this kind of shape going back this way if we thought of it as a much more architectural
shape than it is.
Then that comes out this way and pulls off.
The shading picks that up.
She has that lovely feminine nose that we associate, that’s in favor this century
in our culture, where it turns up.
As we said before, male to female, female tends to have smaller ears and nose.
The male tends to have high, larger.
That just becomes the typical ideal.
It’s not necessarily true but the ideal of.
She has that kind of turned-up nose, and then those nostrils are stretched with that stretching
smile so they’re pulling out this way and this way.
That affects the shape.
I’m going to try to get lines that pull out.
I might even, if I’m really kind of dialed into a drawing and just kind of got, rather
than talking as I go, really kind of trying to be the drawing, you know, trying to connect
in a deep level.
I’ll change the direction of the stroke.
I won’t hatch this way if I’m trying to create action that way.
The audience isn’t going to see that, but it gets kind of a Zen kind of method acting
in a way.
You kind of live the part.
All that can kind of help.
Then on this eye we get that same slight squinting of intimate humor, you know, holding in the
humor of the moment or the joy of the moment.
I’m so happy to see you, and I want to take you in.
I’m so happy to see you, and I want to take you in.
As I was talking I put that too high.
I blame you all for that, but that’s okay.
By lowering that she’s a little more serious in her smile.
It changed it, but anyway, we’ll leave that as it is.
As we’d seen before, here is the side plane over that zygomatic arch in here.
That’s as the eyes squint up this way.
We get that apple, the lovely apple, and that’s that bloom of youth.
Most of us characters get older, the atrophy happens, and you get much, much older, the
skin things, and the fatty, you know, the reserves start to fail.
The muscles get thinner.
The skin gets thinner.
The fat content goes down.
You’re not going to get those apples, that nice little ball of a cheek in there.
For her, this lovely young lady we absolutely get that.
That’s something to play up.
So now, as that mouth stretches and is pulled in all those directions,
we get the lips sitting high.
We’re a little underneath her, too.
It’s going to track over.
Notice, again, the pulling out in and away here.
Here is that shape pulling away and then building down.
It’ll be important to feel that.
Here is that little marionette.
I’m playing that up.
It’s going to add weight.
It’s going to be less flattering and make too big of a deal out of it so you can see that.
Right here, this whole chin structure, pick it up on this side too a little bit.
Then this pulls back and because of those action lines going up, it’s going to break
up that clean jawline.
We’re going to want to be careful.
That’s going to be something we’d work out if it is was going to be a portrait.
A sketch, we’ll just let it be what it is.
If we’re going to be a portrait, whether in charcoal or pastel or oil or whatever,
then we’re going to want to make sure that this break here isn’t unflattering.
It’s a little overdone as we explain it here.
It is a little unflattering.
Notice that this action pulls all the way back up here.
From here all the back up there.
These are pulling out this way and this way and this way, and this contracting structure
here pulls the lines up this way, and so we start to get that point right back up.
That kind of peek-a-boo past the shoulder, the body language would be another lecture
to do at some point.
The body language conveys a tremendous amount of personality on that.
It’s really endearing.
This is someone we looked at earlier.
She is just so expressive.
Mark this stuff out here.
Again, what I’m interested in—not again, but in this case what I’m interested in
is that wonderful mouth.
Let’s just get this done so that you look to those core shadows or you look to those
highlights, figure out what corner they’re sitting on.
Here is the front plane in here.
Here is the top plane up here, front plane here.
This is the corner plane.
The shadow, the beginning of the shadow begins at the corner plane.
Then we have the corner plane here.
You can see that the corner plane extends out because of the brow ridge here going out
around that orbit.
This would be the temple area, the side plane over here going back.
We really have one, two, three planes.
Two are in shadow.
This one is in light.
Then we have this other corner and side plane.
The temporal plane gets covered by the hairline here.
It’s a good idea to try and visualize that stuff.
A little philtrum there, let’s mark that so you can see it.
Then we have this philtrum acting as a front plane.
Here is a big front plane.
Here is a big front plane.
There is a little tiny front plane to the mouth structure.
You can see kind of the—I won’t do it on the drawing, but the little kewpie doll,
capital M thing that wraps around that philtrum then drops down radically here.
We want it to still go over the barrel of the mouth, so we’re going to make it drop
down radically but give it a little bit of a curve.
Since we’re underneath it, we want to curve that way but not that way so that it stays
You can make it a more or less of a curve.
You can play that curvature up a little bit more to get the roundness of that barrel,
or you can stiffen it up to get the more plane boxy quality of that barrel.
The lower lip is crazy, a fun lower lip there.
There is a particular shape.
It kind of drops down here.
Then we have an interesting thing going on.
I’ll show you in a second here.
That sits in there.
Let me just do a little bit of work.
Here is a little bit of the dimple area.
Just do that for the nose for now.
Not for now, for the drawing.
We don’t need to worry about that.
Alright, notice what’s happening here.
We’ve talked about this in some of the other advanced head lessons, this pouty area.
What’s happening is those levator muscles are pulling that chin up from the outside here.
The orbicularis muscle, the oris of the mouth is constricting in, and that’s pulling it up.
And so we’re getting, and then this, these guys are pulling down.
We get that little pouty area in there.
I’m going to make it more strident than it is.
That’s the intrusion of the chin.
Let’s make the chin a little box pushing up, and then the other muscle is pushing down.
Tremendous control and subtlety going here with all these muscles.
These do this.
They pull and sag down in that pouty look.
This pushes from the orbicularis oris, pulls the lip up as we saw, and then this ends up
after all the machinations here, all the manipulations, all the structures colliding with structures
wraps right back into the barrel of the mouth that’s affecting the shape, barrel of the
mouth on top of the bigger shape of the face and then with those pillowy lips that are
a little stretched like so.
You’ve got a tremendous amount of action going on there.
A lot of interesting work going on.
Again, we get the little dimple here because it’s pealing back that way.
It’s dragged down.
That apple of the cheek now is suppressed.
It’s not lifting up because of the squinting eyes.
The eyes are pretty well open, standard opened eyes like that.
The corrugators pull that way.
Then, of course, as always we look to that digastric plane.
The other thing I was going to say is the little chin here, little front plane of the
chin here is sitting on the bigger mandible there, and so we have that little separation
Notice all this stuff pulling up and the rough texture there.
It’s all kind of gravity fighting stuff that’s being drawn up, and that kind of
broken line is kind of a grumbling chin, disgruntled chin.
Again, that adds to the charm of this mock disappointment or mock outrage or whatever.
Alright, so we’ll leave it there.
Alright, that was our expressions chapter.
I hope you enjoyed it.
That’s something you can spend a lot of time with, a lot of practice can be had with that.
Work out, do some analytical stuff.
That’s mostly what we did in the drawings we did together.
Kind of figuring out why the shape moved that way or this way.
Take some time and do more of that, but also then start working out the aesthetics, just
how to make that shape just the perfect beautiful shape you want it to be, balancing those two
between the mechanics of getting the features to do these rather extreme relationship positions
Take some work.
Spend some time with it.
As always, with these kind of lessons, there is a lot of information.
Don’t listen to them once.
Don’t listen to them five times.
Listen to them over and over and over.
Keep a little sketchbook maybe on them.
Take the time to make sure that the information is just submerged and rooted into you.
It’s just a reflex.
So, go ahead and have fun with that.
Thanks for joining me, and I’ll see you next time.