RULE OF THREE- Eye and Mouth

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Tu Tor Plus, Tutorials

Rick Jensen is a good carving friend who is known among carving circles for his expertise in carving and teaching how to carve whimsical houses out of cottonwood bark.  He teaches all around the nation and has authored a book entitled “Carving Tree Bark.”   He is a popular teacher who has influenced untold number of students who go on to create their own unique designs of tree bark houses.  His fun loving personality, good sense of humor and generosity of spirit endears him to all who call him friend and beloved carver.  When I asked him if I could use his image for an instructional posting he more than graciously agreed which is just like his passion for encouraging carvers to experience the joy and satisfaction of carving.  He is sometimes known by his nick name of “Bark Boy” but even more he is known as a respected carver, teacher, judge and all around nice guy.  In studying his face in the photograph one will notice a strong face with character and a smile of friendly welcome.

In this introductory photograph the Rule of Three of Facial Proportions  is being illustrated with graphics.  The length of a face is divided into thirds while the width of the face is equal to two thirds of the length.  The Rule of Three is proportional measurement of the whole into equal proportions.  Thus the three divisions of the face are equal to each other in that the area between the hairline and eyebrow is equal to the area between the eyebrow and the bottom of the nose as well as equal to the area between the nose and the chin.  In like manner the width of the face when divided in half makes each half equal to each of  the previous three equal areas of the length of the face.

It should be noted that the eyes rest on a horizontal center line with half the head above the eye line and half the head below the center line.  Having  these landmarks fitted in the carver’s mind  helps to “see”  the proportions of the face  and guide the carver in the carving process.

Here is Rick again modeling a profile view  to teach a Facial Angle Study.   Using the tip of the nose as being the part of the face protruding off the face as the point of reference the face angles up and back towards the top of the head in one direction.  The other angle from the tip on the nose angles  down towards the chin.  Study each white dotted line to follow the angle and notice the form of the face that occurs under the dotted line.  Notice that there is a notch where the bridge of the nose and eye brow meet and that the forehead has some curve to its appeared flatness.  Notice next behind  the dotted white line going down from the tip of the nose to the chin how one half the nose rests on the upper dental curve, how the mouth mound comes out from the root of the nose towards the upper lip and then the bottom lip sits underneath the upper lip and mouth line to be followed by another notch between the bottom lip and the curve of the chin.  Notice also how the smile line frames the mouth area  as well as the mustache fills in an area equal to one third of the area between the nose and chin.

The next angled line to follow is the line from tip of nose through the cheek bone toward the top of the ear.   This angled line helps when it comes time to carve the cheek bone area of a face .   The top of the ear is in line with the eye brow and the bottom of the ear is in line with the bottom of the nose or the middle third of the face.

Finally notice that the neck angles forward off the shoulder and chest with the front and back of the neck having the same angle.  Allowing these angles to become fixed in the carver’s mind will help tremendously in carving a face to its proper form  and proportion and eliminate having flat faces.

This illustration using Rick’s face once again is continuing to use the concept of Rule of Three  as proportionate measurement.  It has been long understood that the human face at its widest point is equal to five eye widths.  In essence then there is a eye width across the bridge of the nose  between the two eyes and then on either side of each eye there is another eye width for the rest of the head.  This is illustrated by five (eye) illustrations.  Underneath each (eye)  illustration are vertical line  with numbers 1, 2, and 3  between the lines.  These numbers means that there are three thirds  for each  (eye)  proportion.  The two outside lines on either side represent the side of the face.  The next two longer lines coming in towards the nose represent the outside corner of the eye.  The next long line touches the apex of the upper eye lid and the middle long lines represent the ridge of the nose.

This Eye Rule of Three works for any size eye and face with the only measurement is dividing the area proportionately  be it the width of the face, the width of each eye or the ridge of nose across the bridge with the eye brow.  The ridge of the nose is one third measurement at the top of the ridge and angles downward towards the inside corner of the eye with a third of eye on either side of the nose ridge third where the nose and eye brow come together.

The Rule of Three Under the Nose  divides the mouth area proportionately.  Nose to top of upper lip is one third with the next third being the notch between the bottom lip and the chin.  The half way point happens to be the bottom of the bottom lip.  Keep in mind that the mustache is located between the upper lip and the root of the nose or the top third of the area under the nose.

Of equal note is to look at the bottom of the chin while looking at the shoulders noting that the chin is always above the line of the shoulders.  This is note worthy for when the face being carved has a long beard that covers the chin and if there is also a mustache then the Rule of Three Under Nose  plays an important role for positioning the mouth in proper proportion to the mustache and beard.  Many an Old World Santa, Wizard and bearded hillbilly carving have what appears to have a mouth coming out of the chest because the mustache was too thick making the mouth opening too low.  Knowing proportions is extremely important  for making carvings look natural and in proportion.


The Block Head  in the two above photographs show how what was learned from the previous lesson is carved into wood as  before and after illustrations.  The next photograph will illustrate the Rule of Three  as it relates to carving the upper eye lid by angling a cut up from the tear duct one third of the eye area and at that apex cut a stop cut down toward the out side corner of the eye.  The last photograph by Jack Williams  is of one of Rick Jensen’s whimsical houses that received a blue ribbon at the 2010 Artistry in Wood Show in Dayton, Ohio.  My thanks to Rick for allowing his image to help us all learn a lesson and thanks especially for his good friendship and contributions to the woodcarving family.  Stay Proportional in Carving Faces.


[A viewable and printable version of this posting in a pdf format is available under “BEE HIVE” titled “FACE EYE STUDY 2”]

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 9:01 pm and is filed under Tu Tor Plus, 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.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.