Since we are in the midst of the ‘February Faces’ challenge, today I’m sharing some tips on drawing eyes. Eyes are one of the most important parts of a face. They not only portray a person’s personality, but also their mood. They tell a story, so getting the eyes right is more important than anything else.
Above is an example of an eye, which is fairly typical of someone who is new to drawing. The eye is an almond shape, the entire iris is visible and the eyelashes point outwards all the way around.
So, what’s wrong with that?
Well, pretty much everything!
The first thing to look at is the outer shape. Eyes come in all sorts of shapes; some are wide and round, some are very narrow and even eyes which are indeed more of an almond shape are always more of a complex shape than that.
How can I improve my eye drawings?
Firstly, you need to look beyond the surface when drawing your eye. The example above shows the eye as a flat shape, however, an eye is anything but flat. We firstly need to remember that behind that external shape is a ball…
Imagine that what you see above is an eye, which has been removed from its socket. This is what it would look like (but with an iris and pupil).
The first thing to notice is the variations in tonal value (lights and darks). It’s these variations that make the ball appear ’round’.
Below is an ideal example of a drawing that clearly shows the ‘ball’ within the socket…
Things to notice when you are drawing eyes:
- The upper and lower lid also follow (wrap around) the shape of the ball.
- The white of the eye isn’t actually ‘white’ at all. You can see that the tones vary. This gives it it’s ‘ball’ shape, like the previous example shows.
- Note the corner of the eye (the Caruncle)… That little membrane that you see. All eyes have this membrane and it forms an important part of the eye.
- The eyelashes don’t poke straight outwards from the outer edge of the eye. The actually grow from the inner rim of the eye and then curl outwards and upwards.
- The pupil is not always a sharp, round shape. Sometimes it is a much softer transition between the pupil and the iris.
- The iris is not just one flat colour or tone.
- The highlight is not always just one round spot, as so often depicted in an amateur drawing.
- The pupil might sometimes reflect whatever is in front of it.
- The eyelashes don’t always curl upwards, as clearly shown in the example above.
- The bottom lashes also grow from the inner rim, not the outer edge.
- Unless someone is very surprised (or scared witless), you would not be able to see the entire iris (the coloured part). Some of the iris will be concealed under the upper and lower lids.
- The inner rim is often missed out altogether in an amateur drawing.
- The eye shape itself is very much influenced by the skin and lid above it. Sometimes the lid can be heavy and push down as shown above. Or sometimes the entire lid is visible as shown below. It’s very important to take notice of the eyes surrounding area when you are drawing.
- The eyelashes do not sit separately in a perfect row. They often overlap each other, forming little groups. This is particularly evident in the above example.
- Often you will see that the eye is reflecting it’s surroundings. In the above example, you can see the shadow of the eyelashes casting across the eye itself.
The most important rule when you are drawing eyes…
Hopefully, this gives you some handy tips, but remember, observation is key! Never just assume. Look carefully at the shapes and tones that you actually see and keep looking as your drawing progresses.
Today’s guest is Tracey Fletcher King, an artist, illustrator, printmaker, and teacher from Queensland, Australia.
In this episode, Tracey talks about how she grew up within a creative family and how her own artistic journey was almost inevitable.
After leaving college, Tracey worked as an art teacher before getting married to her Golf-Pro husband. His career took them travelling for 9 years with their daughter, before they finally settled back in Queensland. She describes what it was like to start painting again following such a long break from art and how difficult it was to push past the hurdle of having to relearn her skills.
An Evolving Art Style
Tracey’s art style has continuously evolved over the years, from creating very realistic botanicals to lively paintings of household objects to the big, bold realistic watercolours that she is enjoying now. She talks about what led her style to evolve in this way.
Art journalling through difficult times
In 2013, Tracey was diagnosed with breast cancer. She talks about the art journal that she kept throughout this difficult time and how it helped her through some of the darker times. She talks about how it was also important to throw it away when she felt the time was right.
Making time for her art
Tracey’s diagnosis has also forced her to become an expert at time management. She has to fit her art in around her treatments and during the times when she feels well. Tracey talks about how she has managed to continue to produce so much work despite her dramatic reduction in working hours and she shares some of the time management tips that she’s had to learn along the way.
This is an inspiring interview about following your passion, doing what you love and making time for your art, no matter what the obstacles.
Where to connect with Tracey
Tracey’s website www.traceyfletcherking.com
Tracey’s Esty Shop www.etsy.com/au/shop/TraceyFletcherKing
Tracey’s online courses www.traceyfletcherking.com/classes-1/
What exactly are creative challenges?
A creative challenge is simply something creative you decide to do every day for a set period of time. It could be as simple as doodling on a sticky note, to creating a complete painting a day.
Up until a few years ago I really couldn’t see the point of these challenges. That was until a couple of people suggested I should create a cartoon a day for the 100 Day Project. My first reaction was, no way! I wasn’t sure I could come up with a cartoon every day for a week, let alone 100 days. But I did it.
If you’re anything like me you’ll start with enthusiasm and then life will get in the way. You will find yourself short on time and uninspired. It happened for me on about day 10! The important thing here is to still do something, anything, even if it’s not a masterpiece. So I created a cartoon about being fed up after day 10. It was pretty bad, but you’ve got to make bad art in order to get better.
What sort of challenge appeals to you?
You can either make up your own challenge or take part in an existing one. The benefit of taking part in an existing challenge is that other participants will cheer you on. If you decide to create your own challenge, make sure you are self-motivated. Better still, try and rope in a friend to give you moral support. Remember that some existing creative challenges such as “Miniature May”, are broad enough to be adapted to your style. This means they can be adapted to become your own unique challenge. For example, you could create a tiny ink drawing, a lino print, a pattern or choose a very specific subject to paint.
Why would you want to take part in a creative challenge?
There are many reasons you might want to take part in a creative challenge. Perhaps you have found that you just aren’t making time for your art and want to change that. Maybe your work has become a little staid and you want to experiment with different media or subjects. Creative challenges can also help you to practice your art or to build a body of work around a theme. But most of all, creative challenges can be fun!
What sort of creative challenge is right for you?
A few things you might want to consider before starting a creative challenge.
1. How much time have you got?
If you only have 15 minutes a day spare, commit to something simple. Alternatively, use your time each day to work on a larger piece of art.
2. How narrow or broad should your challenge be?
For example, you could decide you are going to draw a face every day using just pencil (narrow). Or maybe your only rule is to create a piece of art a day (broad). Whichever you choose make sure you don’t make it so broad that you spend most of your time deciding what you’re going to create, rather than creating it. On the flip side, don’t narrow yourself down so much that you get bored.
3. What length of challenge is right for you? 30 days, 60 days, 100 days?
If you’re not sure what time to choose, start with 30 days/month. At the end of the 30 days reassess how you are feeling. You can then decide to continue, try a new challenge or take a break.
4. Do you prefer to have prompts each day for inspiration?
Some organised challenges have optional prompts. These can help you decide what to create if you are not feeling inspired. If you’ve decided to make up your own challenge, you could always create your own prompts before you start. Another option is to go to ‘random word generator’ each day and use the random word as your prompt
Where can you find creative challenges?
Here at Kick in the Creatives, we have listed the most popular online creative challenges, plus we host some of our own. We also have a Facebook Group where you can chat and share your work. You can also look on Instagram for challenge hashtags, but sometimes they are a little hard to track down.
Whatever you decide the import thing is that you enjoy the challenge and enjoy creating more art.
As February Faces is in full swing, I thought I’d share some of my personal favourites from those that you guys have shared so far…
What You’ve Been Up To…
… This adorable sketch really made me smile! I just love those eyes!
…I just love how those colours work against the toned paper. Beautiful!
…This one I found to be really intriguing. Just who is this woman hiding from… Of course you might read something entirely different in to this painting, but then that’s what makes it so interesting, right?
Yardell is completely new to drawing. What I loved most about this, is that it marked a turning point in Yardell’s technique. If you compare this to his drawing on day 1, the improvement is significant and shows that Yardell is not just drawing daily, but is actively learning too… He found the video which we posted on a previous blog post to be really useful, which he watched before drawing this one. I wonder what day 31 will look like!
…So, does this count as up to day 12??? If Unky created this digital painting in just one day, then I am in awe!! I really love the blushing noses and cheeks on these faces… I just love it!
Keep it up!
It’s fantastic to see so many faces appearing on social media as a result of this challenge… Keep it up! You are doing great!
If you’re taking part in our February Faces Challenge you may have already downloaded our Face Reference pdf (via our newsletter or Facebook Group). Here are some additional suggestions for finding reference faces for portrait drawing practice.
1. Dig out all your old photographs
The first, and easiest option is to have a look through your own photos. You may already have some perfect shots of friends and family either stored digitally or in old photo albums. Plus, it’s a great chance to have a wander down memory lane at the same time.
2. Use your own face
The world may have gone selfie mad, but here’s a way to put those selfies to good use. Photograph yourself making different expressions, wearing hats and sunglasses or face paints. Or if you prefer to keep it simpler just sit in front of a mirror and draw yourself that way.
3. People on the TV
A constant source of faces for sketching practice at the flick of a button. If you have a TV that you can pause, that’s perfect. Just wait for the person’s face to be in a position you want and pause the screen. If you haven’t got the pause feature, check out News Readers who will remain on the screen in a relatively static position. You may find you have to draw in stages as you wait for them to re-appear back on the screen. Remember, that if you do choose to draw people on the TV, you should only use it for practice, not for commercial purposes. Otherwise, you may be infringing on copyright.
4. Paint my Photo
Paint my photo is a place where artists can find and share their photos to be used as art reference. Any photo may be used to create (non-digital) art without worrying about infringing on copyright. This means that if you find a face you want to draw or paint, you will also be able to sell your art as well.
5. Free photos on Pixabay
On Pixabay you can find free photos to use in any way, even commercially without attribution. There is a slight caveat here. If you intend to draw or paint a person and sell the work, you will also need to check that the photographer has a signed “model release”. A “model release” simply means that the photographer has the person’s permission to take and use their photo. If you are simply looking for faces to practice your drawing and painting, there is a lot to choose from.
6. Free photos on Unsplash
Unsplash has some beautiful photography including faces. I am blown away that the photographers will allow us to use their amazing photos for free. As with Pixabay, if you are using the face images for practice there shouldn’t be any issues. If however, you do want to use the face photos to create commercial art, double check copyright and model releases with the photographers in question.
Happy drawing, we look forward to seeing the faces you create for February Faces.
That niggly voice of your inner critic
In this episode, we talk about that niggly voice in the back of our heads, our “inner critic”. It’s the voice that questions everything we do and whether it’s good enough. As creatives, we can spend a lot of time on our own with only that one voice for company… and it’s really hard not to listen! We talk about our ways of dealing with that irritating inner critic.
Make the inner critic work in your favour
We all see our inner critic as our enemy. What we need to try and do is make it work in our favour. That voice is only really there to protect us from being hurt. We have to try and use it to help us strive to produce better work, without letting it crush our confidence.
A little about Art Journal January
We also talk a little about Art Journal January and some of the art we’ve loved. As usual, we brutalise people’s names as we try to pronounce them. Plus I (Tara) talk about my experience of taking part in the challenge and trying to overcome my inner critic. Sandra, who was in the Caribbean for the first half of January mentions how she felt she was missing out by not taking part in the challenge. It was quite a hardship for her to lie by the pool in the sun and drink cocktails (PS. Can you tell it’s Tara writing these show notes!)
A mention of our February challenges
We also give a mention to our two February challenges –
February Faces, an art challenge to create a face drawing (sculpture, collage, etc) every day of the month
February Fables, a challenge to write a children’s story during the month.
We will both be taking part in February Faces. We’re also going to put a twist on February Fables by collaborating. I will write exactly 250 words, then Sandra will write 250 more until we have completed a story. Who knows what that will turn out like, but we’re sure to mention it in an upcoming episode.
If you haven’t already, you can join our Facebook Group, where you will find like-minded creatives. Plus we have some free downloadable inspiration pdfs for the challenges. They are also available when you sign up for our newsletter.
We hope you enjoy the show!
We are just starting our February Faces art challenge and looking forward to seeing some amazing face drawings! Faces can be tricky subjects to draw! With that in mind, if you would like some useful tips on how to draw a face, then read on…
When we attempt to draw a face, we are often so caught up with getting a likeness that we freeze before we even start… We find ourselves reaching for the eraser the moment something ‘doesn’t look quite right’ and the whole process becomes a battle.
The first thing to avoid if you are inexperienced at drawing faces, is attempting to draw someone you know. You’ll be much closer to the subject and so you’ll immediately be more self-critical. Start with a photo of a stranger to begin with… this way you know the model isn’t going to ask you if they can have a look, so there’s no pressure… and they won’t be moving either!
You can get our free prompt and face reference pdf by when you sign up for our newsletter
Remember, that for now, it’s more important to capture the character of the person rather than a perfect likeness. You can save that for later!
So… Where do you start…?
Start by looking at the angle of the head. Is your model tilting his/her head to one side, or looking down? Or are they looking straight ahead? Often if you get the angle of the head just right, you’ve already begun to capture some of their character.
Once you’ve noted the angle of the head, you are then ready to start making marks. But don’t rush! One of the most important things to get right are the proportions and although every face is unique, there are a few ‘average’ proportions we can set down to begin with and we can adjust them to suit our model as we go.
Have a look at the video below, which I think explains the basics in a way that’s really easy to grasp…
So, now you have drawn your face but it still doesn’t look right…
It’s probably something quite simple. Here are a few of the most common mistakes that beginners make when drawing the face.
- The eyes are too big – The eyes are rarely bigger than the tip of the nose!
The eyes are too far up – The eyes should be about halfway between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin.
- The ears are too far forward – The ears should sit behind the jawline
- Everything has an ‘outline’ – Take a look at the face you are drawing and you will see that most features are distinguished only by shadow and light, particularly the nose and the lips… Rarely will you see an actual outline.
- The teeth look weird – Try indicating only the bottom shape of the teeth. It’s best not to add obvious lines that separate the teeth as this can make your model look as though they’ve swallowed a piano!
- The hair looks bad – Don’t try to indicate every strand of hair with a line. Instead, concentrate on the larger shapes where the light catches and the shadows fall.
I hope you find these tips useful. Meanwhile, good luck with the challenge and do share your faces with us!
…But where do you start?
Along with February comes the brand new creative writing challenge, ‘February Fables’. So if you’ve always fancied having a go at writing a children’s story, now is the perfect time!
But maybe you’ve never written a story before… Maybe you find it hard to come up with a story at all… Maybe you just don’t know where to start.
It’s actually not as hard as you think…
You just need to tap into a part of your brain that you haven’t visited for a while… like, since you were a child. And I say that loosely because the chances are, you regularly use that part of the brain without even realising it… particularly if you spend any time around children!
For example, every Christmas, we share a story with the children around us that a herd of reindeer and a bearded man are going to land on the roof, climb down the chimney and leave presents under the tree. And as unbelievable as that is, somehow, using our own unique ways to make the story seem even more real, they believe it! We even find ourselves becoming totally invested in it too… leaving out mince pies for Santa and of course a carrot for rudolph. We find all kinds of ways to make the story believable… and we do a good job of it too!
One great way of reconnecting with that ‘story-telling’ part of the brain, is to spend time with children. Watch them play, listen to what they are saying to each other… They have the most amazing imaginations and in their world, absolutely anything can happen!
Think back to when you were a child…
When I was a little girl, my best friend and I used to play a game where we had been accidentally swallowed by a giant. We used to throw ourselves around the garden pretending that we were sliding down to his stomach. Then we’d pretend that he’d burped and then promptly throw ourselves in the opposite direction! We would spend hours making our way right through the giants digestive system, until we finally ‘plopped’ out the other end (usually when our Mum’s called us in for tea)!
These days, that same friend and I drink coffee and natter. Humph!
But she now has two young kids of her own and I have a 3 year old Grandson, so both of us are still able to tune in to that storytelling part pretty easily when we want to.
Every day, I walk the dog in the woods behind our garden…
We walk through the gate at the bottom of the garden, down towards the cut-through, past the one way badger door, alongside the badger setts, past the tree stump, past the pond and then make our way home. It takes about 50 minutes.
Whenever our Grandson comes to stay, I also take him down the woods behind our garden. And even though we take the exact same route, it is a whole new adventure…
We walk down the garden to find the ‘magic gate’ to the ‘secret garden’ beyond and tiptoe through the gate really quietly, so as not to frighten the ‘woodland folk’ away. Next, we make our way to ‘Goblin Alley’ to find the ‘Fairy Door’ that the elves, fairies and goblins use, stopping for a while in case we are ever lucky enough to see one. Then we make our way to the big holes in the ground, where the two of us crouch down with our torch and ponder on what might be down there… a Fox? A Rabbit? A Badger? A Monster????
Then we make our way to the ‘Goblin Chair’ and look out for any magical things that might be going on… Once we are satisfied that all is as it should be, we make our way to the pond, looking for the perfect branch to use as a fishing rod on the way. Perching our bottoms on a log, we spend some time fishing for leaves, weeds or anything else that gets caught at the end of the branch. Eventually, myself and a very tired little boy make our way back to the ‘magic gate’. It takes us around 2 hours.
You see? Anything can happen!
Spending time with children is a great way of unlocking our own imagination. But even when they are not around, you can still do the same. The next time you are doing something ordinary, challenge your mind to imagine that it’s something ‘extraordinary’. What if, when you open the fridge to get some milk, there was a whole other world behind it… Would you explore it? Well, that’s what’s so great about imagination… You can explore everything in a whole new way! You just have to think like a child again.
February Fables children’s story writing challenge
If you are taking part in this challenge, there are a lot of useful tips on the ‘February Fables’ page to help you with your story. And there, you can also sign up to the newsletter for our free Children’s Story inspiration pdf.
I really hope you join us and please do share your writing experience with us! We can’t wait to see what adventures unfold!!
But Yee-hah! Here comes February and our Lastest Creative Challenges!!
Well, we are rolling swiftly towards the end of January already and I for one am quite sad to see the end of ‘Art Journal January’ approach. Of course, some of you might actually be delighted to see the back of it… I certainly know how hard it can be to commit to a daily task!
And this month I can’t even say I joined in myself because as you may already know, I was swanning around in the Caribbean sunshine… Cocktail in one hand, another in the other… And since Tara and I had put so much time into creating this whole thing for the last few months, I figured I ought to give my hubby the full focus he was due while we were away!
Still, as much as I couldn’t actually do the challenge myself, I took every opportunity I could to check in and see what you guys had been up to and I was utterly delighted to see your wonderful journal pages sprinkling my social media feeds! Some of them really made me chuckle… and in a good way of course!
I can honestly say that despite where I was, I actually felt like I was missing out!
Never mind, the challenge will go on again next January and hopefully, I can join in then.
And besides, as January comes to an end, of course, February begins and this brings some brand new challenges along with it and I’m NOT missing out on this one!!
So, we have the following two challenges of our own going on and it is taking me AGES to decide which to do… I certainly wouldn’t be able to do both!
Hmm… Decisions, decisions… I’m still tapping my fingers as we speak.
There is ‘February Faces’ an Art Challenge
February Faces challenges you to draw (or create – sculpt, sew, collage…) a face every single day throughout the month of February. It’s a fantastic way of practicing faces and drawing 28 in a row is a great way to improve quickly!
For this challenge, we have created a list of helpful (optional) prompts and even lots of images to inspire you, just to make it as easy as possible for you to get involved without having to do too much thinking!
Sign up for our newsletter or join our Facebook Group to get the free pdf with optional reference and prompts
And you can make each of your faces as fun and as individual as you like, in whatever style or medium you like… So there’s no reason to get bored!
We also have the ‘February Fables’ Writing Challenge
This challenge is for those of you who love to write, like me!
We are challenging you to write a children’s storybook during the month of February.
Of course, we don’t expect the book to be written, edited and ready to publish!! The challenge is, to have the first complete draft of your story down, ready to edit.
For this challenge, we also have a pdf with inspiration and optional story prompts for you to download
Sign up for our newsletter or join our Facebook Group to get the free pdf with inspiration and prompts
…I’m torn between the two!!
I’m thinking Faces… No, Fables…. No, Faces… No, Fables… No…. Gaaagh!
So, which challenge are YOU going to rise to?
Megan Jeffery is an illustrator, maker and teaching artist who lives in Connecticut. She came from a family where they were always making things. They used up a lot of old things that would normally be thrown away for art and craft. She continues to do this to today.
Megan has always had a lot of notebooks. When she was a kid they weren’t necessarily journals, but she used to write and draw in them. She also used to attend a lot of art and craft camps as a child. When she was in second grade at school she decided she wanted to be an illustrator. Later she went to Rhode Island School of design and got a degree in Fine Art and illustration.
Now she loves to try and infuse some sort of craft into her illustration work. She does educational illustration (creating illustrations for educational workbooks).
How Megan Started Journalling
Megan first got inspired to start journalling when she saw some Youtube videos by Liz Drake She saw she was doing something called Faxubonichi. This was using stuff that she already had in her home. Megan liked the idea of using existing “junk” that she already had, it was very much like her childhood.
Megan also finds she gets ideas for her work through her journalling. Sometimes the prompts that people give through different challenges spark off new ideas via word association. They might give her ideas for characters or images.
Tips for starting an art journal
Megan likes to use cheap composition/exercise books for her journals. She covers the front and back of them and makes it look like “her” or the season, she will also laminate it. Inside she glues 2 pages together with a glue stick so that markers or wet media don’t bleed through. She washy tapes the edges too. She likes the fact that using cheap composition books means that you don’t have to be precious about your work. If you make a mistake it doesn’t matter and if worst comes to worst you just start a new one. Start off by putting simple things like the date and the weather/temperature. You can also put the type of moon for that day. By doing all this you have immediately got rid of the scary blank page.
Megan’s painting and craft work
Megan also paints and creates puppets. She has a series of paintings on her blog “Girls in a Dress” which were inspired by a book called 100 Paintings by Tim Biskup. She has completed about 30 paintings so far. Claudine Claudine Hellmuth also has a book called Collage Discovery Workshop, where she explains how to make backgrounds that you weren’t expecting. Megan started the paintings by creating a background and then seeing how she could make what she created into a Girl in a Dress.
The finger puppets that Megan makes were inspired by a magazine from Martha Stuart. It was a craft that Megan had not yet explored and so she wanted to try it. Megan enjoys going into detail and so the puppets became very elaborate. She sold the puppets at craft shows and stores and did an exhibit at the children’s museum.
New creative challenges
Megan is now trying a sketchbook challenge. If you are intimidated by drawing she suggests having a conversation or listening to a podcast at the same time. This means you can allow yourself to draw freely, without worrying what your drawing looks like. When she starts sketching she might begin with an object that is in the room like a lamp but then adds to it with patterns and things from her imagination.
Books Megan Likes
Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti
Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry
Year of The Doodle by Dawn DeVries