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Anatomy Lesson 19, Part 1 – Michelangelo David

Michelangelo David Video

In this video lesson, you will discover how to draw a portrait with Classical proportions. The model for this drawing will be the sculpture of Michelangelo David.

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Michelangelo David – How to draw a Portrait

This original marble statue of David is displayed in the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence, Italy.

This sculpture has a complicated history and Michelangelo wasn’t the first artist who started carving this marble. He had a very difficult job to pick up the commission left by other two talented sculptors who were unable to finish this complicated work of art.

The statue is of colossal size. It is more than five meters, or seventeen feet, high. Michelangelo was working on it from 1501 to 1504. It is arguably the most recognized statue in the world.

In this video lesson, I will show you how to draw a male portrait and explain classical body proportions and human anatomy.

I begin the portrait drawing by marking the scale of the head – its outer most top edge and the line of the lower jaw. Also, I mark the left and right edges of the head giving the lead room to the portrait – the space in front of the nose.

The central line of the face is a very important guide. Together, with the horizontal line of the eyes, it immediately indicates the position of the head in the space.

Michelangelo David

In our case, the head is looking to the right and seen from below. That is why the vertical virtual line is curved to the right and the horizontal virtual line is arched upward.

The eye line divides the height of the head into two equal halves.

At this step, I ignore facial features and small details. In the beginning, the task is to establish correct proportions in the portrait; therefore, I’m only concentrating on big masses marking main contours and outlines of the head in a series of straight lines.

David stands in the contrapposto pose. That is why he has one shoulder higher than another.

The collarbones repeat the tilt of the shoulders.

The neck muscle is an important feature in this portrait. The frontal portion of this muscle starts from the top edge of the breastbone and inserts into the base of the skull, behind the ear.

The length of the hands-block, from the wrist to the knuckles, is equal to the half of the face height.

The distance from the chin line to the base of the nose is equal to the distance from the nose line to the eyebrows line. It is also equal to the distance from the eyebrows line to the hair roots line.

The distance between eyes is equal to the length of one eye. When drawing eyes, you need to remember that they have a spherical shape with eyelids wrapping around this shape.

According to classical face proportions, the width of the nose is equal to the length of the eye.

As we established previously, this is the same dimension as the distance between the eyes. That is why we can use two virtual lines that vertically go from the inner corners of both eyes downward to the wings of the nose.

In one of his sketchbooks, the Renaissance genius, Leonardo da Vinci describes the following proportion for the mouth. The width of the mouth is the same as the distance from the line between lips to the chin line. This is, of course, the idealized classical proportion.

In the same sketchbook, Leonardo also mentioned that the height of the ear is equal to the length of the nose. The best way to put this proportion in place is to draw two lines, which horizontally go from the base of the nose and from the eyebrows to the ear. These lines will mark the bottom and the top edges of the ear.

The ear’s shape resembles the character “C.” It has two rims – the outer one and the inner. The inner rim, at the top, splits into two arms.
The muscles of the eyebrows are contracted, which give David’s face the look of concentration and focus.

As you see, at this step, we only focused on the construction of the head and the face, making sure all proportions and features are correct and in place…

To learn more about how to draw a portrait of Michelangelo David, enroll in the Anatomy Master Class.

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