Fine Tuning the Portrait Generator

I’ve spent most of today fine tuning the portrait generator bits, moving the anchors around a pixel or two at a time, and I am now so burnt out on faces that I don’t even want to look in a mirror.

While researching how other artists draw cartoonish or caricatured faces, I found something that I hadn’t noticed before: many Japanese cartoonists draw the cheekbone really low. Instead of placing the sharp point of the cheek just under the eye, they’ll move it to under the nose or even beneath the mouth.

Left: Ataru Moroboshi from Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi;
Right: Konata Izumi from Lucky Star by Kagami Yoshimizu.

I realize that this stylistic feature is probably old news to most people, but I am partially faceblind and this is a way to abstract faces that I never could have imagined. Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi does a lot of creative things with faces, and her use of this style is pretty interesting. For characters who are young or cute, she typically draws the cheekbone beneath the nose.

But for characters who are older, more serious or statuesque, the cheekbone rises to the level of the nose or all the way up to a realistic position right under the eye. I suspect that the lowered cheekbone resembles chubby cheeks, making a face look younger, rounder, and cuter.

I found some nice evidence for this theory in the character designs from Mobile Suit Gundam.

Cartooning is complicated stuff, especially when it looks really simple.

2 comments

    • nanashi2_jp on February 16, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Well, they are just the ‘highest’ point in the cheek-curve, not always (or necessarily) represents a cheek bone…
    just look at young children, babies, or a very fat person in real world.

    Generally speaking, young, girlish or non-muscular figures tend to have such low highest point in the curve,
    while thin, slender or muscular figures have their cheek bones as the highest point in the curve.
    And of course, many examples sit in the middle of those two.

  1. You are right, of course. I should have referred to it as the inflection point or something else.

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