Focus on Facial Features: Drawing The Ears
Understanding the basic structures of the various facial features goes a long way in achieving a realistic depiction.
By Paul Leveille
The features are what make human faces so interesting. Although most features are constructed similarly from person to person, each individual still exhibits subtle and not so subtle differences. For example, each nose has a bridge followed by cartilage and two nostrils, but some noses are thin while others are broad; some are turned up and others are hooked; and so on.
Here I’ll explain the basic structures of the ears and how to draw them.
From Ear to Ear
With all the swirls, dips and folds that can be seen in an ear, drawing one may appear difficult. However, when you study the ear you’ll see that if you simplify the shapes, drawing the ear becomes easier.
The ear is made up of cartilage and ends at the bottom in a soft fleshy lobe. The center is a bowl shape. In profile, the top of the ear is in line with the eyebrow and the bottom lines up with the base of the nose. The front of the ear is situated on the halfway line between the front and back of the head. The back of the ear has a slant similar to the slant of the nose. As with all features, the ears can vary greatly from person to person, but the basic overall shape and folds of the ear are similar.
The largest, most noticeable structures of the ear are the lobe, the bowl and the rim (below). When drawing the ear, look for individual characteristics in these structures. For example, some earlobes are long and fleshy, while others attach to the side of the head.
Anatomy of the Outer Ear
A When looking at the head in profile, we can see the inner bowl and other shapes that make up the ear.
B As we view the ear from the back three-quarter view, the outer bowl starts to appear. This is the same cartilage that attaches the outer ear to the head.
CViewing the ear from behind, we can see the outer bowl meet the head.
D Simplify by first drawing the ear as an elliptical, teardrop-shaped disk. Once the disk is drawn, sketch the bowl with the bottom a little below halfway on the disk. Proceed to the rim and let it flow down into the bowl.
E This drawing shows the ear as you look at the model head-on. Here the disk becomes more elliptical as it turns from view. Start drawing as before and keep all parts of the ear within the disk shape.
F The ears follow the angle of the head and are usually close to it. The tops of the ears line up with the eyebrows; the bottoms line up with the base of the nose. In the profile view, the front of the ear is situated on the halfway line between the frontal plane of the face (not including the nose) and the back of the head.