Feature Creep : Constraining The Face

In software development, "feature creep" refers to the overly ambitious bloating of a project's scope.  When drawing the face of a pretty girl, a different kind of feature creep occurs, with eyes, noses and lips literally creeping across the curvature of the head, beyond where they ought to be.

Some of this can be stylistic choice, but we must remember that the head, despite being a modified sphere, still has a front, sides, a top and bottom.  One way we can keep ourselves in check is by constraining the face early on, by way of defining the area (really a series of planes) in which we draw its features.  The shape of the area, if we think of it one dimensionally, resembles a shield, or modified Superman symbol.  Eyebrows at the top, lower lip at the base, with the nose somewhere just below the midpoint.

Observe how much real estate this facial bounding area takes up on actual faces, represented here in green.  Look how much surface area of the head is left over on all sides.

Sticklers for proper proportion will scoff at such shorthand, but the goal here is to remain conscious of the curvature of the head, and to more accurately map the features onto it.  Experiment with modifying this bounding area to create an array of different facial shapes and expressions.  It should be a helpful constraint, not a hindering one! 

Because facial features are the really fun stuff to draw on a head, we tend to subconsciously enlarge them. We do this to the entire head, too, essentially giving us more area to play in. But, like little children running amok, it's probably best if we play in the yard.