Collage Art Lesson: How to Make a Pleasing Face

Babies. Puppies. Disney princesses. What do they have in common? Big eyes, a large forehead, and features scrunched up cutely in the middle of the face.

mixed media collage art balzer face
Pleasing face collage art by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

It's what's called a pleasing face, according to artist Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. One that makes you want to look at it. One that makes you smile. In other words, a face that might be useful for your art.

Julie demonstrates how to draw a pleasing face in her Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM video, All About Faces: How to Draw, Paint, Stencil, and Collage Faces in Mixed-Media Art. Here are the basics:

1. Draw an upside-down egg shape for the head.

2. Draw a line vertically down the middle of face shape. This creates symmetry, a key element in a pleasing face, Julie says.

3. Draw a line horizontally across the middle. Normally, this is where the eyes go, but Julie suggests putting the eyes just below this line, to enhance that cute, scrunched up appearance humans seem to love.

how to draw a pleasing face
How to draw a pleasing face.

4. Add a line midway between the horizontal eye line and the bottom of the face, and another halfway between those. These points are for the nose and top of the chin, respectively. The mouth goes in between.

Now that you know where to place the features. Here's how to make a collage background for your pleasing face.

1. Choose a substrate. When selecting the base for your background, think about the techniques and supplies you're planning to use. If you're going to use a lot of wet media, choose a material that will hold up, like watercolor paper or canvas. If you'll be stitching, fabric is the natural choice, but you could also consider fabric-paper or heavy-duty paper like a manila folder.

2. Add background texture. Texture can come in many ways, including: adhering torn papers (newspaper, art papers, scrap papers) to the substrate with gel medium; painting it with gesso and scribbling into it with a plastic fork or the tip of a paintbrush handle; applying found materials like vegetable mesh or punchinella (sequin waste) to the background.

mixed media collage art balzer faces
Mixed-media collage art by
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

3. Apply color and stamping. A wash of paint, ink, or glaze unifies the collage background. This is also when you might want to add tissue paper shapes or stamped shapes and images.

4. Make your face. Using ink, paint, permanent marker, stitch, or whatever else strikes your fancy, apply your face onto the background. Or, cut the features out of ephemera or fabric and apply them to the mixed-media collage background.

5. Add personality. Doodle hair with a permanent marker or glue on flower "curls." Fill in the cheeks with paint, gelatos, or oil sticks. Draw or stamp symbols onto the collage or dress up your face with found object jewelry and hair accessories.

I think Julie's methods take a lot of the stress out of drawing faces, and collaged face portraits are just fun to do. Use materials you have to practice and play around with the facial features. How can you create different moods and personalities?

In All About Faces, Julie gives you a wealth of tips, tricks, shortcuts, and practical advice for creating faces that will please you.

Here's something else that will please you. This week, to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness month, all this week (through 11:59 PM MST on 10/5/12), 30% of all Cloth Paper Scissors Shop proceeds will go to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

P.S. How do you make faces? Draw freehand? Use a stencil or template? Collage the features? Share your tips below.


Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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