First you start with the shape of the head. In a moment you will have your own basic symbol for the shape of the human head, and you will be able to vary it according to the type of person you are drawing. But first, it is a good idea to begin by studying the ideal head form and the average proportionate placing of the features.
Begin by drawing an oval. Extend the side lines to form the neck, sloping slightly inward. Suggest a shoulder line. Draw a light vertical center line, dividing the head in half. Place eyes at one half the distance from the top of the skull to the chin, equidistant from the center line.
Draw eyebrows a little bit above. Place the nostrils at a point halfway between eyebrows and chin. Draw the mouth one third of the distance from eyebrow to nostril. Keeping the same proportions and dividing the head vertically and horizontally in half, draw heads in a series of different positions. Keep practicing.
When you have a full understanding of the ideal proportions of the face and head, start creating your own head shape. A cartoon isn't funny when it is drawn too carefully by rule. Your individuality must show in all your drawings. But knowledge of the fundamentals when you are first starting out is a major asset.
A good cartoonist knows which facial lines produce given emotional expressions. He is constantly studying people, and he often takes a
mirror and studies himself! Make faces at yourself in a mirror, real faces expressing all sorts of dramatic and deep emotion. Watch how the brow changes its line, the changing shape of mouth, the expressiveness of eyes in different positions, and the change in shape of cheek line. Note that the key actors in the drama of facial expression are eyes, brows, and mouth. Variations in these affect the entire face.
The faces opposite show some of the major emotions. Note the position especially of brows, eyes, and mouth. There are hundreds of other expressions. Try as many as you can, using yourself as a model. Then draw from memory and compare, after you have made your drawing, with your face in the mirror. Correct your errors, and start again. Facial expression is very important in cartooning.
The expression on a face may be completely changed by the mere moving of the line of the brow-nothing else. Or it can change by movement of the eyes, or the mouth and jaw. It is an interesting thing with which to experiment.
Using the examples on the opposite page for a starter, draw a row of faces which are identical. In one row leave out the eyes, and fill them in later. In another row leave out the mouth. And in another row leave out the brows. Make all other features exactly alike in each face. Now draw a varied succession of brows and watch the changes in the whole row of expressions. Do the same with eyes and mouths. Keep them simple until you learn the principle behind the lesson.
These expressions are not extreme, since only one feature is moved at a time. To make more extreme expression, move two or more features.
On the right, below, are examples of typical eyes, noses, and mouths in cartoons. As you see, there is wide variety, and every artist chooses his own favorite.
Note the changes in physical features in growing older. The figure shown represents a very young man and the same man when he has grown old.
Continue to How to draw hands and how to draw feet