KEITH RADICK ~ A Facial Study

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Friends, Tutorials


Keith Radick has a strong face with character that is a good subject for study.  He is not only an accomplished carver but he also is a good sport by granting me permission to use his face for this study. The face on a WANTED poster is intended to be studied in case you ever see this character.

Studying a face for artist purposes even has greater value.  It is beneficial for carvers to learn to study features of a subject to be carved to become very familiar with characteristics that are often overlooked. Studying facial proportions, features and form add much to the creative process.  Artist have a mental image of what a face looks like but studying a face will sharpen the mental image to see what is often overlooked. Artists of old used models to enhance their study and also used a mirror to study their own image (the original “selfie.”) Yogi Berra is noted for having said, “You can observe a lot just by watching,” which is a simple way of emphasizing visual study.

Key to knowing the subject is being able to see the subject proportionally.  The RULE OF THREE for proportions have been very helpful for this old carver.  Proportional observation is learning how to divide the subject using a rule of thumb guide that will fit any size of a subject.  Dividing into thirds is a simple and quick guide that is not only easy to remember but is also easy to see.  The photo below is the “Rule of Three” of facial proportions.


The 1/3 divisions on the right side of the photo are the three proportions for the length of the face.  The three divisions are: Hairline to Eyebrow; Eyebrow to Tip of Nose; Tip of Nose to Bottom of Chin.  These are proportional divisions that with fit any size and gender of an adult face.  The middle proportion ~Eyebrow to Tip of Nose also applies to the length of the ear.

The length of the face is three equal proportions while the width of the face is equal to two of the three length proportions or three thirds long and two thirds wide. See the illustration under the chin.

On the left side of the photo there is the Rule of Three for the area between the Tip of Nose and Bottom of Chin.  The first third is from Tip of Nose to Top of the Upper Lip.  This is the area where the mustache is located. The second third is from the Top of Upper Lip to the Groove between mouth and chin.  The third division is from the Groove to Bottom of Chin.  Of course, the mustache and beard cover up these proportions.  It is important for the carver to know these proportions exist under the facial hair in order to keep the bearded face looking normal.  For example, the mustache is located in the first third under the nose and if the mustache is long and bushy it will cover up the bottom lip. This means that the bottom lip will not be carved and only an indention will be carved under the mustache to indicate that there is a mouth way up under the mustache.  It has been observed in some Santa carvings with a large and bushy mustache that the bottom lip has been carved which makes it appear that it is where the chin should be. This is an observation that “proportions” were not considered in the carving making it appear that something does not look quite right.

These proportions are for the general description of a “realistic” face of an adult.  Caricature carvers need to know these “realistic proportions” in order to know which proportions will be exaggerated. Caricature is a planned “exaggeration of realism” and it is not a mistake that makes it a caricature.


The photo above is intended to be a visual study of facial hair as one style of a mustache and beard.  Using this photo study as a beginning base line, study other photos of facial hair for different styles.  From this study one can notice that facial hair as well as hair on top of head is not straight lines.  Hair is wavy and curly lines that speaks of movement.  Look at the mustache and beard as being a “form” rather than as rows of hair.  Form has a shape to it and in the shape of that form there are individual strands of hair grouped together to fill in the form.  This does not mean that the carver carves individual strands but does carve the semblance of wavy and curvy lines that allows imagination to complete the picture. One good rule to follow when carving is “carve no straight lines” unless a straight line is required.  The bottom of the mustache and the back of hair should not have a straight line.  Rather a “saw-toothed” line of stair stepped curved cuts will created a more pleasing look. A straight line causes the line of vision to stop while an uneven line or curvy line allows the line of vision to continue following the path of interest.


The photo above is a visual study of the eyes, nose and smile line.  Notice the eyes are almost squinting and look very natural.  Seldom do eyes have a wide opened and ping pong ball round shape.  Notice the subtle shape of the bags under the eyes, the wrinkles at the bridge of nose and eye brows, and at the corners of the eyes.  Study the movement of lines of the bottom of the nose flaring in a “V” shape up to the wings of the nostrils, then the rounded shape of the nostrils as they connect up with the beginning of the smile line, notice how the smile line disappears behind the mustache as it travels unseen down along the corners of the mouth and notice the “ball” at the tip of the nose.  As the face is studied, more discoveries in observation will be made.

May this introduction to facial study of Keith be a guide for the study of other faces, even that beautiful “mug” seen in the mirror of the original “selfie.”  As someone once said, “The mirror never lies but I am glad it never laughs.”


This entry was posted on Saturday, October 3rd, 2020 at 11:51 am and is filed under Carving Friends, Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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