Although each face is different, there are identifiable landmarks in human anatomy that can be helpful for artists. Beginning with skull structure, artist Savannah Tate Cuff takes us through key points that will help you establish your portrait drawing. First, Savannah notes that while these landmarks are important, never let what she calls “the lens of anatomy” override what you see and observe.
Next, Savannah reviews the bones that make up the cranial mass—including the occipital, parietal, frontal, sphenoid, ethmoid, and temporal—and some of the 14 bones that make up the facial structure, including the nasal, lacrimal, zygomatic, maxilla, and mandible or jawbone. Moving on to a live model, Savannah begins by pointing out the brow ridge, noting that it is likely to be more prominent on men and gentler on women. Savannah notes other key points to look for, including the glabella, which is the section centered between the brows, and the nasal bone. As you move down the face, note the angle of the jaw and the pit of the neck. The tragus is a landmark point in the external ear. On the back of the head, the occipital protuberance, at the lower back of the skull, is also an important point to locate. The parietal eminence—incorporating the crown of the head—is the widest point on the skull.
As you become familiar with these anatomical landmarks, you’ll be able to pinpoint them on your subjects no matter how much their features vary, and it will help you tremendously as begin your drawing.