Studio Saturdays: Making Faces

Faces show up often in my sketchbooks and art journal pages, but I’m not talking serious portraits—these are silly character faces I draw and paint to amuse myself. Recently I decided to show these creatures more respect by creating a little handmade book just for them, with accordion pages and a folded cover (the instructions for the book can be found in the Winter 2015 issue of Pages magazine: A Pocket Folded Journal, by Melinda Canino).

Book of character faces
This book contains some of my favorite character faces.

These are the types of faces you’ll find in my sketchbook. I like playing with face shapes, and I also like challenging myself to see what I can put a face on–like a teapot. I don’t know about you, but I love to anthropomorphize inanimate objects. My character faces are pretty basic–if you’ve never done them before, give it a try. As you can see from the sketches below, this face consisted of a wide oval, some swoopy lines for the hair, and simple eyes, nose, and mouth.

Sketchbook faces
Faces from my sketchbook.

To make the book, I created a seven-panel accordion. I did the initial sketches in pencil, then drew them again in permanent black pen.

Sketchbook faces
The sketchbook faces were first done in pencil, then pen.

I added color with acrylic paint, watercolor, watercolor pencils, and markers to feature a variety of looks, from bright and opaque to soft and translucent. Each face seemed to demand its own style. I also added collage elements to some of the pages, like book text and washi tape.

Faces colored with various media
Some faces were colored with acrylic paint, others with watercolor or markers.

After drawing these funny faces, I decided they needed names and a little backstory. Tea Pot Tasha, for example, constantly finds herself in hot water and often feels empty inside. Mr. Albert’s whiskers may be askew, but his bow tie is perfectly straight. And Flora knows where to find the best mulch.

Character faces
Each character got a little backstory.
Mixed media faces
Mixed media was added, including washi tape and book text.

When I finished making the book I realized that creating character faces isn’t a silly pursuit after all—sketching and painting them help me work on drawing features, expressions, and perspectives. And they allow me to have an enormous amount of fun, too.

Ready to make your own faces? These books and videos below are exactly what you need to create serious portraits, playful mugs, and colorful mixed-media characters.

Want to draw more faces? Discover great resources to inspire your next project!


Blog, Handmade Books, Mixed-Media Techniques


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