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Working on Facial Expressions

Left: Using a Niji Waterbrush (round, large) filled with Hydrus watercolors and some left over Holbein gouache (background) I sketched this distorted face using a photo reference file. Read more about this below. Click to see an enlargement of the image.

The last few weeks something always comes up on life drawing night: a deadline, a family emergency, whatever. I need a fall back.

I picked up a book called Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists by Mark Simon. It's pretty fun. It is pages and pages of men and women of all ages and several ethnicities in rows of head shots with a range of exaggerated expressions. Interspersed with these pages there are examples of artwork made by artists using these references. (Some of the artwork is by cartoonists rendering the people as expressive animals!) (Simon also has a book of facial expressions focusing on babies to teens.)

I've been opening the book to random pages and sketching the faces when I have a few moments, especially on those nights when I can't get to life drawing!

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