5th graders learned about human facial proportions with the use of a simple trick that involves a folded piece of paper, a pencil, a mirror, and/or a partner to look at.
Simply take a regular sheet of 8.5 x 11″ white drawing paper and fold it in half vertically (hot dog style) – this creates the line of symmetry for the face. Proportion rule: The face can be divided in half symmetrically.
Then, fold in half horizontally, this creates the line for the eyes. Proportion rule: the eyes are half way between the top of the head and the chin.
Unfold paper and then fold the bottom half of the sheet in half. This creates the line for the nose. Proportion rule: the nose is half way between the eyes and the chin.
Students should darken the folded lines with pencil. Then, using a mirror first and a partner later, students draw portraits following the proportions for the human face. The face should be drawn large so that it almost entirely fills the paper. There should be a small amount of room left over for the ears on either side of the face. The ears should be somewhere between the eyes and nose, however, as all people are different, this should be checked in the mirror or on partner’s face for accuracy.
Both sides of the paper can be used. Have students label the top with the word top to help prevent confusion. Have folded examples posted in the room and available for students to look at, as well as a diagram showing the guidelines for human facial proportions. My guidelines came out of the text books we use, Davis.
I used this exercise with my 5th graders as practice for a ceramic project on human busts. It helped them to look carefully and study the human face. We also practiced drawing human facial proportions in profile using the same folded sheet of paper. Students found this to be much more challenging but they enjoyed it nonetheless! Check back soon for examples of the ceramic busts.