Do you ever sit down to sketch, but you don't know what to draw? I have been working on drawing faces and heads lately using the Andrew Loomis method for head construction and I wanted a good way to challenge myself and my friends. I finally figured out how to draw the head facing in any orientation, so I was thinking about a way to randomize a view to get me to practice. At the same time, a friend of mine showed me Scott McCloud’s 6 basic emotions and 36 compound expressions, from Making Comics, p. 85. He argues that there are 6 basic emotions that can be combined to show the range of human expression.
So, I came up with Warm-up Dice to generate both a random face orientation and expression for a pose. You can play with regular dice, or make your own with blank dice. Roll a six-sided die five times. Three times for position, twice for emotion. Click here for a roll. On the first roll:
- 1-2 = Low angle
- 3-4 = Nothing
- 5-6 = High angle
On the second roll:
- 1-2 = Left
- 3-4 = Nothing
- 5-6 = Right
On the third roll:
For example, if the roll is [Low, Left, Front] then the head position is a low angle shot so you are looking up at the character, from the left and front (I use my left rather than the character’s left). If it comes up [__, Left, Front] then it is a level shot, 3/4 view. [__, __, Front] would be a nice, easy front view. [Low, Left, __] would be a side view.
- 1-3 = Front
- 4-6 = Nothing
For the emotions, the fourth and fifth roll are the same:
Add the two emotions together as in Scott McCloud, Making Comics. Fear + Sadness = devastation. Anger + Disgust = outrage, etc.
- 1 = Anger
- 2 = Disgust
- 3 = Fear
- 4 = Joy
- 5 = Sadness
- 6 = Surprise
Table pinched from the summary here.
|Sadness||Betrayal||Empathy of pain||Devastation||Faint hope||Grief||--|
|Surprise||'What the --?'||'You ate it?'||Spooked||Amazement||Disappointment||Shock|
There you go. Start sketching!
Add a face
This method of randomization seems particularly suited to people who want to be sure that they can draw a particular character in any pose. Animators and comic artists will already have a character in mind.
If you need a face for your sketch, try these options:
IMDB’s fresh faces gallery
This skews toward pretty and young faces, and there is no convenient link. The faces refresh every week. Or, use the Whose Birthday is Today feature on the front page.
They have portrait photos. Hit shuffle. The content seemed very pretty-girl-heavy.
Or, I just grabbed a magazine from the rack at the coffee shop where I was and used the girl on the cover, Lea Michele, ever heard of her?
If the position roll comes up [ ___, ___, ___ ] then re-roll. [ High, ___, ___ ] and [ Low, ___, ___ ] are also re-rolls, because they would just be top or bottom views.
If the same emotion is rolled twice, then roll again for the intensity of the emotion Joy + Joy = roll again. I use a 4-sided die to match the intensities in Making Comics, p. 84. 1 = heh, 2 = lol, 4 = omgroflmao.
Other sketch idea generators
Paul Greveson’s SpeedPaint script:
Paul’s script has characters, scenarios, vehicles and structures. I usually reserve the option to delete one of the descriptors, maybe I am satisfied with a “wrinkled, small troll” and don’t need a “wrinkled, small troll with wheels,” okay?
Andrew Bosley’s brainstormer:
Includes a ‘story conflict’ section, some kickass adjectives and (..clicks ‘random’..) Tim Burton-ish nouns.
Grab the old game of Pictionary and draw a card from the deck, pick the item that you like best and think of the most clever way to show it. It is a different sort of experience when the 1 minute timer isn't dropping sand.