Don't draw symmetry. People are wonky.

When trying to draw people, many get stuck on achieving perfectly symmetrical eyes. Once achieved it looks....wrong.


You remain stuck on a loop of erasing and redrawing for the rest of your life, getting more and more frustrated. You have no idea what you are doing wrong and why it's not working.


There are two reasons for this.


Firstly, photographers rarely capture a 100% front facing image. The face is usually angled ever so slightly to the left or right.


In turn the shape of the eyes change. They are no longer symmetrical.


It is your job as an artist to notice this. It will be a very subtle difference. If you don't, the image will look wrong. What tends to happen is you copy the slight angle change in the nose and mouth without realising is and your symmetrical eyes make them look wonky.


Secondly, despite our supposed attraction to symmetrical people, no-one is 100% symmetrical. Those who appear so are just.... a bit more symmetrical..... than the average person.


Conversely, have you ever seen someone with a "face full of character"? Chances are their features are a tad wonkier than Mr/Miss nearly perfect described above. Not obviously so; that would make them look deformed. It's still very subtle.


Thing is, when you're made of squishy animal cells you can never be perfect. Plant cells come closer to achieving perfect symmetry because they are more rigid and geometric. However they often still fall short.


Anyone who regularly wears eyeliner knows one eye is different. One underline forms the perfect eye shape. The other has a slight bulge. One wing is a perfect sweep, the other ALWAYS has a kink. It's not that you lack skills. It's not a product of using your non-dominant hand. It's your wonky eyes!

Until an artist realises that faces are inherently wonky, their work will look amateurish It can be a frustrating time in your development!


Choosing Steve here as an example of a front on pose, he has what I would call a face full of character. I faithfully reproduced what I saw in the photo, and you can see a slight wonkiness in the nose, eyes, eyebrows and lips. This is what what what conveys his characteristically wry demeanor. Had I tried to make him symmetrical, he would not be Steve.



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© 2020 by Fay Brotherhood Fine Art & Music, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, contactfaybrotherhood@gmail.com 

Background photo by Andrew Merritt Photography, 2020.

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