Q&A: lan­tern jaw

Ques­tion How can I de­pict the face of a clas­sic lan­tern-jawed hero? Danielle Law, Eng­land

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John replies

Mak­ing a male face ap­pear heroic in­volves much more than just cap­tur­ing the steely look of de­ter­mi­na­tion in their eye. Fa­cial struc­tures are es­pe­cially im­por­tant tools for cre­at­ing the vis­ual bear­ing of a char­ac­ter, and thus strengthen their back­story.

The an­gles in the face should be sharp and clear, with lit­tle to no soft edges. The eyes should be nar­row, and slightly smaller than nor­mal, The nose should be on the smaller side, but chis­elled. The char­ac­ter’s cheek bones should be pro­nounced, and the cheeks them­selves should be tight on the face. The chin should be slightly larger than nor­mal. Fi­nally, and most im­por­tantly, the hero’s jaw­line should be boxy with clearly de­fined sharp edges.

The colour tones of the face should be slightly warm on the nose, with cool, bluish tones on the chin. Avoid the use of vi­brant skin or lip colours to help pre­vent the char­ac­ter from ap­pear­ing flushed or flus­tered. In ad­di­tion, sim­ple tricks such as draw­ing the char­ac­ter at an an­gle from which the viewer is placed slightly be­low them, adds to the im­pres­sion that they’re some­one of im­por­tance, and should be looked up to.

Even though I’ve used ev­ery heroic fa­cial fea­ture in the book, in most cases just a few of thm will help achieve the re­sults you want.

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