Announcing FACES – a library for facial expression study

Explore the FACES library

A critical part of figurative art is portraiture – every well drawn or sculpted figure need a well constructed head on it. There are quite a few reference libraries out there for faces, but they miss one critical thing – multiple camera angles so the artist can study each expression from different points of view. This is critical for understanding the construction of the face in ‘the round’, i.e. really developing a sense of the spatial structure of the face and expression. This is a necessity for sculptors, but also for painters, illustrators, comic book artists, riggers and animators.

For the FACES shoot Scott, in collaboration with Aviv Yaron, synced five high-resoltion DSLRs together to provide simultaneous 20+ megapixel captures of expressions from: front view, 3/4 view, profile, and also upper and lower 3/4. Combined, these camera angles give the artist enough information to fully understand the construction of each expression.

During the shoot, each model worked through a sequence of isolated facial expressions based on Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (FACS). FACS is an industry standard sequence of facial expression sequence used in the VFX and games industry to comprehensively capture a full range of shapes that the face can make. Each of these facial action units is now available to study at high-resolution from 5 camera angles, for 21 diverse, unique faces. Our hope is that artists will take the time to really study from these new sequences. They are a goldmine of information for the dedicated artist who wants to get better at faces and expressions. Study, draw, and share what you’ve learned!