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Needing Critique and Advice for a Sketch (WIP)

Needing Critique and Advice for a Sketch (WIP)

I can't find character art for a character I'm trying to play, but I want an image of him anyway. So, I've decided to draw him. I'm a little rusty with a pencil and paper, so there are certain things I just can't figure out how to fix.

A little about the character I'm working on:
He's a middle aged half-orc cleric of Kord. I want him to appear wise and battle roughened, yet kind. I want it to look like he's quick to smile, but utterly unafraid of combat (kind of a gentle giant concept). I also want him to look "orc" strong, which will be better to illustrate once I've moved past the neck.

Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
I can't find character art for a character I'm trying to play, but I want an image of him anyway. So, I've decided to draw him. I'm a little rusty with a pencil and paper, so there are certain things I just can't figure out how to fix.

He's just a black and white sketch of the head at the moment, but I intend to do a whole body version of him by the time I'm done. So, without further ado, here we go:

I'm a big boy. I can handle criticism. In fact, I strongly encourage it. Politely saying "it's good" will be nice when I'm finished with it and have no intentions of making more changes. But for now, I need you to be nitpicky. There's a lot about the drawing that bugs me, but I can't figure out how to fix it. To list a few:
  1. I'm terrible at eyes, and don't know how to do orc eyes. I could use some pointers.
  2. I meant for the nose to be crooked, as it's been broken a few times, but it doesn't look like it's been broken... it just looks badly drawn, and I can't figure out how to make it look properly gnarled.
  3. The tusks don't look right. They don't look like they're coming out of the mouth.
  4. The scars and wrinkles look exactly the same. You can't tell one from the other.

A little about the character I'm working on:
He's a middle aged half-orc cleric of Kord. I want him to appear wise and battle roughened, yet kind. I want it to look like he's quick to smile, but utterly unafraid of combat (kind of a gentle giant concept). I also want him to look "orc" strong, which will be better to illustrate once I've moved past the neck.

I shortened and sloped his forehead to make him look orcish, but then I worried that made him look too unintelligent. He's supposed to be smarter than he looks, but I don't want him to look entirely like an oaf either. So I gave him the Picard hairdo to give him a touch of wisdom and sophistication, which I think fixed it, but the rest of it still looks... off.

I want to hold off on coloring and inking him in until I have his final form. Any advice before I do?
Nice portrait. Does he have a name?

1- Eyes are their own special pain in the ass. As a good rule, and it WILL be mentioned again later... to make something look fresh and youthful and energetic, you use an upward facing crescent. See: just about any anime face ever. To make something look old and tired, reverse the pattern and have a downward facing crescent.

Except with the mouth. Mouths face the opposite direction. Downward crescent= smile... upward crescent= frown and/or age.

2- Needs less nostril and more bridge. Then, you can make the nostril jagged as you see fit. But large flat nostrils just looks like you're drawing a black caricature.

3- Add shading to the tusk to make it look three dimensional. Draw curves in the lips in that area (and more shading) to make the the lips look like they're being pushed by the tusks.

4- The lines of the face... go back to crescents. This rule applies to wrinkles and sag just as well as it does eyes. Wrinkles, fat, jowls, the list keeps going. Perky and healthy is upward facing, aging and weak is downward facing, because it's being dragged down by gravity.

5- You really gotta fix face proportions. Here's a bunch of rules to follow. Now, none are absolute- because no two faces are identical and no face forms to "mathematical precision", but the Greeks came up with all sorts of rules to what the "perfect human form" looks like, and while we've graduated to a more nuanced view of the universe, these rules are still a great guideline for artists.

Draw the head as a perfect sphere, then carve away the sides to get the shape you're looking for. Add imperfections where you desire. The closer to perfectly spherical the face is, the more "cute" it's perceived to be. Though too round goes into "uncanny valley" territory, and really only works in cartoons.

The eyes should be roughly in the middle of the face. The mouth roughly halfway between eye and jaw. If not cross-eyed, you should be able to draw parallel lines from the pupils to the corners of the mouth.

If you draw an eye-level ring around the skull, it should line up to the top of the ears. A mouth-level ring should line to the bottom of the ears.

Older people have a slightly larger nose and ears. This is because cartilage never completely stops growing in humans.

The jaw and chin, if not obscured by fat, form a relatively straight line. Having a butt for a jaw is not normal.

If you flip it upside down, the hairline more or less matches the line of the mouth.

... There, these rules will help you a whole hell of a lot.

That does help, but it raises other questions.

The eyes and mouth:
Do you have any suggestions for keeping a certain degree of joy in the eyes and mouth while still preserving the age? I accentuated the crescents on the eyes and mouth, and he looks older... but he looks sad. I'm trying to maintain a sense of joy, even whimsy within the character that I tend to see in role models of wisdom like the 14th Dalai Lama, or Nelson Mandela.

The nose:
Admittedly, I used an image of a member of the Ko tribe in Africa (a black man) as the model for the orc's general features. But I didn't intend to make a caricature. They tend to scar their faces intentionally as a form of decoration, and I thought the guy looked pretty badass. I accentuated the nostrils to give it more of an orc snout, and I guess I didn't realize what I'd done. I can diminish the nostrils, but now I'm in a bind, because orc noses don't seen to have a lot of bridge, so he's going to end up looking like Voldemort after the first movie.

And nobody wants that.

Which leaves me with a problem. How do you make a broken orc nose? I suppose I could use John Cena's broken nose... it's pretty busted looking.

But I wouldn't mind sticking true to the source materials found in D&D lore. For example, the 3.5 half orc is almost too scary, but has kind of a pig snout. The 5E half orc has more of a bridge (and it seems that it's the bridge that gets broken) to work with, so I could probably go with that. But how would you recommend I adjust the nose to give the impression that it has been broken and mended, but not magically?

I have to confess, I only ever broke one bone in my life and it wasn't my nose, so I don't have a lot of material to go on. The only thing I do know is that without surgery, a broken bone rarely heals quite right. It's always a little off. So I want to capture that in the nose, to kind of tell a story about the rough and tumble life of the character.

I did some red-lining to help you out. Drawing the head from a low angle like this is always tougher than drawing at a more even viewpoint. Hopefully this helps.

I'm not entirely sure how to help with some of the specific changes you mentioned -- busted noses, how to make the eyes more "orcish," etc. But I can help with the overall face structure and a few details.

Now, onto the specific points you mentioned.

1.) The eye placement you have is actually fine. Eyes are roughly at the middle of the face, and you had them more or less right. Don't be too down on yourselfif they don't look perfect. A lot of the time we fool ourselves into believing something is wrong when we're not used to it.

As far as making them more "orcish," I don't have any specific pointers. That said, the character is half orc so you can probably get away with leaving more human-like eyes. Much of the rest of his design says orcish. I probably would have pegged him as a full orc if I didn't know better.

As a side note, I'd make his right (our left) eyebrow longer and darker. At first glance, I thought it was another eye.

2.) The main issue with the nose is that it's flat, and I think you see that. This is arguably the hardest part to get right when you're drawing a face from a low angle like this. I struggled with it for a long time and I still wrestle with it often. What usually happens is the nose gets drawn out of perspective and it looks flat compared to the rest of the face. I do it all the time. You've done it here. The tip of the nose needs to stick out more, the top of the nose needs to scoot over more, and the slope needs to come out more. See my redline for an example.

I do not agree that this looks like a black caricature. I think it just looks like you have some things to fix. Like I said, this is probably the hardest thing about drawing the face like this.

Instead of worrying about making it gnarled or broken, I would worry first about getting it in the right place. It'll be easier to play with features like gnarling and misshapenness once you have the general anatomy down better.

3.) So when the tusks protrude from the jaw, this means a couple things.

First, the face is going to have one heck of an underbite. Most humans don't have a mouth that can accommodate protruding tusks. Our bottom teeth are typically behind our top teeth. Orcs and tusky half-orcs, on the other hand, can't have dental structures like this because otherwise their tusks just go into their mouths. So you have to jut the entire jawbone forward more to accommodate. This means the chin should be more forward.

Second, tusks are bigger and thicker than the other teeth. That means the lower lip should look a little fuller to accommodate the teeth. You can see this in these photos of Spike from Buffy: vampire Spike, not-vampire Spike. Note how his mouth, especially the upper lip, looks more full when he's in vampire form. That's because all the extra volume from the prosthetic has to go somewhere.

A lot of the time if you move the jaw and chin forward enough, this takes care of itself, so you may not need to do anything specific. But if you find it still doesn't look right to you, try making the lower lip fuller to accommodate the bigger teeth.

4.) I would look at what another pencil artist has done to help with this. Either find some examples on Google or go to Youtube and find a tutorial. I say this because depending on your specific style and approach, there are a million different ways to pull this off. Someone going for a more realistic look would draw this differently from someone like me who draws in a comic book style.

One thing to remember, regardless of your style and of the race of the character: The more lines you put on the face, the older the character looks. It doesn't matter if the lines are wrinkles or scars, every extra line ages the character a little bit. So that's something to keep in mind when you're taking another pass at it. Think about how old your character is versus how old you want him to look.

If you try fixing it and it's still not working, it's okay to scrap it and start over from scratch. You can use the same angle or do something different. I find a lot of the time I just need to stop and start over to get something to look right. Sometimes I draw roughly the same thing, sometimes I do it different. But if you get frustrated, it's never a bad idea to just start over.

Something else that may help you is to draw over a photo. You mentioned that you used a reference. If you can draw digitally, put that photo into your drawing software, then draw the basic facial structure over the photo, kind of like what I did with your sketch. This is a good way to understand parts of human anatomy that you might struggle with.

Also, the mention above that the mouth is about halfway between the eyes and the jaw isn't really accurate. It's really more like 2/3 or so from the eye to the mouth, and then another 1/3 to the bottom of the face. Facial construction really is kind of a whole thing on its own, though.

Hope this helps, and feel free to @ me if you have any questions

The fact that you're drawing an orc makes this both harder and easier - harder because you have no real reference and have to alter things if you do use a picture to go off, but easier because the proportions are probably meant to be slightly wrong - maybe orc faces are just longer, etc.

Actually I think that looks pretty decent as a lineart-type picture. The main thing I think you're lacking is a sort of sense of shape. Kaitou Kage's red-lines picture looks really good I think and illustrates this wonderfully. It may help to think of the face as a bunch of 3D shapes, spheres and things all stuck together, and then detail onto that - when you're drawing a nose it's very easy to get so focused on the nose that you draw something which looks like a nose if you just look at that bit of it but is the wrong scale or the wrong shape or is seen from the wrong angle. You end up with a face which looks like a face but sort of a bit squished or something. Yours looks a little bit like that, though it's mostly the nose I think, the bridge just doesn't look quite right. I think it also extends a bit far up the face (up into the forehead, really - the brow should sort of blend into the eyebrows) but you get away with that, especially since he's an orc (he looks a bit "Star Trek alien" but not in a way which is infeasible).

Also the right eye. A happy smiling person will have a more squished-up eye like that, but the shape is a little bit wobbly even for that. Plus it doesn't quite match his left eye which is less squished. People don't usually smile with only one eye. I would probably just make it an oval. You can practise drawing eyes separately and I'm certain there will be some OK walkthroughs on the web. Again, though, think spheres - the eyeball is actually a quite large sphere which is mostly concealed under the face. If you look at your left eye, it looks better than the right eye at first glance but it's very flat. Ideally the eyelids would have more shape, especially the bottom. This is harder for the left eye since it's in the middle of his face so you need to add extra lines or shade, whereas the right eye it's easier to give shape.

The right brow looks pretty good, but the left brow also looks flat. For a more lineart/cartoon-style image I think you only need to go so far with this as you are probably not looking to shade the whole face. I would probably try to emphasise the 3D-ness of the left brow just a little bit more, though, especially if you are trying to give the impression of orcish browiness.

I think you can get away with having the mouth more or less as it is; KK's image is good but as I said, you can just say he has a long face (and maybe that's normal for orcs) and not angle it up quite so much as KK has done. The gap between his nose and his mouth does look maybe slightly too big, though putting a bit more definition on the upper lip (the bit where it's creased, I forget the name) might help with that there.

A quick tip to remember is that perspective applies to everything, even faces. If you draw a line where the mouth is, one at the bottom of the nose (where it joins the face), and a line between the center of the two eyes, you should be able to extend these lines off somewhere in the distance behind the face—that is, to the right of the page—and have them meet up at a single perspective point. Kaitou Kage's redlines do this, but in the original, those lines are getting further apart as they recede into the distance instead, because the mouth is tilted the wrong way, with its further-down end further away from the viewer. That makes it look like his mouth is sliding off his face.

@Kaitou Kage
Thank you for the red guide lines. They really helped! I've never had an art class before (except for the ones in elementary school where you make macaroni faces), so I never really got the grasp of perspective lines on organic things. Buildings and cityscapes are easy enough, but for some reason, all the lines turn blurry with people and animals.

At everyone else who has been offering me extremely helpful advice, thank you very much! Hopefully, you will stick with me and keep helping me through this. Once I finish coloring it, I'm going to start adding the rest of the body. Hopefully, I can redraw it smaller, but still with detail, so I can fit the final version on one page.

Anyway... here's what I have. Is there anything I missed before coloring it in?

I thickened out the bridge of the nose and diminished the nostrils. I took the tusks out and redrew the mouth (much higher this time) and jaw. Then I added the tusks and made the necessary changes. In order to fit his tusks back in, I had to lower his jaw again, but this time I already had his lips in place, so I think it looks more balanced. I filled out his eyebrows, and then added another scar, and I used shading instead of lines for his wrinkles so that his scars look distinct. Furthermore, when I color the scars, I think I'm going to use more yellow than green to give the look of scarification, and just use darker green shading to grant the effect of wrinkles. I think that will fix the problem there.

Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
@Kaitou Kage
Thank you for the red guide lines. They really helped! I've never had an art class before (except for the ones in elementary school where you make macaroni faces), so I never really got the grasp of perspective lines on organic things. Buildings and cityscapes are easy enough, but for some reason, all the lines turn blurry with people and animals.
I'm glad it helped!

Like Zamorra said, remember that everything on the human figure is drawn in perspective. You just have to break it all down into the right shapes. If a sphere is hard to make sense of, then you can use a rectangular box for the head and accomplish a similar effect

The new version looks a LOT better! I think the biggest change I'd make is pulling the tip of his nose out some more. It still looks a little bit flat to me. On the other hand, this could work since orcs and half-orcs sometimes have flatter noses than humans. The tusks look much, much better and the jaw feels like it's jutting forward to better accommodate the tusks. I really like that you can see the imprint of the tusks on the lower lip area, too.


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