28 November 2007

merriman

Strathmore drawing 130gsm, 14" x 11".

this is aubrey mather, who plays merriman, the head butler in the worthing country household. the frame is at 1:05:36, and shows merriman's reaction to a dubious statement from gwendolyn. this is the classic look askance that one english social circle casts on the improprieties of another, and it is quite funny in context. (in the film, a cuckoo calls in the distance.)

it's expressions such as this that show how complex and subtle human facial signals can be. quite a lot depends on relatively small details, in particular around the mouth and nose, and in the drape of the eyelids. the director (anthony asquith) takes considerable pains to capture the facial communication that accompanies the verbal jousting among wilde's characters.

i'll use this drawing to illustrate a method i devised to critique the accuracy of my drawings. i photograph both the original and the drawing, and superimpose one on the other in photoshop, resizing and aligning the two layers until they match as closely as possible. i then use the transparency option to make both visible at the same time, which shows the size and form of any discrepancies.

the electronic image shows this as a gif animation. (this is only visible in the full sized image -- click on the image at right to see it.) as you see, the spacing of the eyes and nose, and the general size and shape of the head, are pretty accurate, but the mouth and left eyebrow are misplaced, and the ear and jaw line are extended too far. however these errors emphasize the expression and makes it somewhat clearer -- as it appears in motion in the film, rather than in a single frame.

3 comments:

W. K. Moore said...

thx for your treatment on facial cues. observing the play emotions on a face like cast shadows sweeping across the ground on a partly sunny day is always a 10.

Nick said...

a great idea, very interesting...this whole series is intriguing, and I like knowing the precise frame from the film. too many to comment on, but algernon (looks like a caddish scoundrel, maybe because cravats and ascots always seem to be the accesory of choice) and Delpine are faves. And I'm learning about some films I don't know. Carry on!

Adam Cope said...

cool idea to superimpose.

so...a drawing from freeze frame (photo) which resembles a personality in real life or resembles the freeze frame? i suppose photographs resembles people?

interesting series of drawings of video stills, bruce!