Head Drawing: Drawing the Ears

The simplest way to look at the shape of the ear is to view it as a question mark.

Drawing the ears 1
Drawing the ears 1

Like the lip, the ear has endless variations. The drawings below provide only a hint of some of these.

Ear variations
Ear variations

Photographs of the ear have been used as identification in the same way as finger prints. The basic pattern in the drawing below gives you the underlying design.

Drawing the ears 3
Drawing the ears 3

Looking at the head from above, you can see that the ears stick out, and again, the degree varies considerably.

Drawing the ears 4
Drawing the ears 4

In the drawing below, “A” is referred to as the cup of the ear and is useful in indicating the direction and angle of the head seen from the back as shown in the second drawing below.

Drawing the ears 5
Drawing the ears 5
Drawing the ears 6
Drawing the ears 6

The vertical length of the attachment of the ear where it connects to the head is roughly equal to the distance to the corner of the jaw. There is a strong tendency for the student to draw mistakenly the line from the chin directly to the ear.

Drawing the ears 7
Drawing the ears 7

By Glenn Vilppu

This article was taken from the Head Drawing and Anatomy, Volume One Manual. This book parallels very closely the head drawing classes that I teach, and a majority of the illustrations were created as lecture demonstrations in class. Consequently, this is in reality a head drawing and anatomy manual to be used by students in my classes as a textbook. The use of this manual should be of equal value to those working on their own who are unable to attend my classes in person. The material is the same as in my classes with the advantage of portability and no time constraints.

I have consistently found myself drawn to the fundamentals in teaching drawing. A solid grounding in the basics, approached as tools of expression, rather than rules that must be followed, free the artist allowing him or her to follow their individual direction.

The basis of my approach is founded on very simple grounds. First, you must know how to describe form. Second, you must understand the form you are drawing. These first two give you the freedom of expression.

As you go through the chapters, you will become aware of another basic element of my approach: to do anything you must have a clear cut procedure, the knowledge to put it to use and, of course, the spirit to carry it to completion. None of this is new, and in fact, everything I teach has a very long history. I think of myself as a student just as much as a teacher; each drawing I do is in reality an analysis of what I am drawing. I am constantly telling my students that we never copy the model, but that we are trying to understand it through visual thinking.

Approach this manual as you would any textbook, as a guide to learning.

Glenn Vilppu teaches life drawing at the American Animation Institute, the Masters program of the UCLA Animation Dept., Walt Disney Feature Animation, Warner Bros. Feature Animation, Dreamworks and Rhythm & Hues Studios. Vilppu has also worked in the Animation industry for 18 years as a layout, storyboard and presentation artist, most of this time was spent working at Disney. His drawing manual and video tapes are being used worldwide as course materials for animation students. Glenn Vilppu has, in effect, either through teaching them directly or teaching their teachers, trained an entire generation of professional animators.

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