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Яков

Прокофьев

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Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ

Господь Вседержитель, 25 х 38 см, частное собрание Иисус и Cв. Закхей на смоковнице, 44 х 53 см, частное собрание
The Pantocrator, 25 x 38 cm, the private collection The Christ and St. Zachaeus on the fig tree, 44 x 53 cm, the private collection

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Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ

Преображение Господне, 31 х 41 см, частное собрание Господь Вседержитель, 50 х 70 см, частное собрание
The Transfiguration of Christ, 31 x 41 cm, the private collection The Pantocrator, 50 х 70 cm, the private collection

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Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ

Божия Матерь «Боголюбская», 50 х 70 см, частное собрание Божия Матерь «Отрада и Утешение», 54 х 84 см, частное собрание
The icon of the Mother of God of Bogolyubovo, 50 x 70 cm, the private collection The Mother of God «The Joy and Relief», 54 x 84 cm, the private collection

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Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ

Божия Матерь «Умиление», 57 х 98 см, частное собрание Божия Матерь «Достойно Есть», 40 х 60 см, частное собрание
The Mother of God «Tenderness», 57 x 98 cm, the private collection The Mother of God «It is Truly Meet», 40 x 60 cm, the private collection

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Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ

Божия Матерь «Ехренская», 45 х 60 см, частное собрание Явление Христа Эммануила Петру Александрийскому, 36 х 72 см, частное собрание
The icon of the Mother of God «Ehrenskaya», 45 x 60 cm, the private collection The Manifestation of Christ-Emmanuel to Peter of Alexandria, 36 х 72 cm, the private collection

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Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ

Семь святых мучеников Маккавеев, 40 х 50 см, частное собрание Св. Закхей, 44 х 53 см, частное собрание
Sts. Seven Martyrs of Maccabees, 40 x 50 cm, the private collection St. Zachaeus, 44 x 53 cm, the private collection

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Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ Яков ПРОКОФЬЕВ

Свв. Феодор и Феофан Начертанные, 39 х 80 см, частное собрание Св. Евстафий Плакида, 47 х 110 см, частное собрание
Sts. Theodore and Theophanes, 39 x 80 cm, the private collection St. Eustathius Placidas, 47 x 110 cm, the private collection

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FRONTAL FACE SCHEMATICS

Facial proportions of the face of Christ as well as generic faces of men and women

The face is first divided into three equal parts along the vertical axis. The upper part is the
forehead, the middle part is the nose, and the lower part is from the tip of the nose to the chin.
The width of the face at the cheekbones is equivalent to 21/3 lengths of the nose. The
narrower part of the face is equal to the length of the nose, and the wider part is equal to the
length of the nose + 1/3 of the length.

The general shape of the face is ovoid (egg-shaped), an oval wide at the top and tapering at the
bottom. The four corners of the eyes are positioned on a straight line. The larger eye's length
is that of the half of the length of the nose, and so is the line of the mouth, when there are no
mustache. Panselinos made the length of Christ's mouth equal to 1/3 of the nose; Rublev
made it 1/4 of the nose, and his teacher Theophanes the Greek made it 1/2 length of the nose.
On the mosaics of Choras Monastery, in the beautiful images of Christ, the length of the mouth
is 2/5 of the nose. Theophanes of Crete made the line between the lips equal to the half of the
nose, and his eyes smaller than the mouth (unlike Panselinos or Rublev); however, he didn't
use these measurements universally. In his famous Pantokrator, the eyes are bigger than the
mouth.

I would suggest, for the best harmony, to make the line of the mouth the same length as the
length of the smaller eye (Christ's right eye), which would be about 1/3 of the length of the
nose. Important role in the size of the mouth plays the amount of illumination of the lower
lip. To make a mouth "larger", all is needed to accent it more with light, which will make it
appear bigger, bringing optical zoom around the mouth. This is was a method used by
Theophanes of Crete.

The distance between the pupils of the eyes is the same as the length of the nose. The ears are
placed between the lines passing through the top of the nose and its tip, and they are the same
size as the nose. The length of the ear is twice its width; on the icon of Christ, locks of his hair
go over the top of the ears and partially cover them. Midway between the tip of the nose and
the lower point of the chin is the bottom of the lower lip. In young saints and angels, we
extend the imaginary line of the mouth (the line between the lips) to the right and to the left,
and at the point of meeting the edges of the face, we draw lines for the neck. The eyebrows
start from the upper corners of the nose's trapezoid structure. The lines of the eyebrows,
eyes, nose and mouth are parallel to each other and are perpendicular to the vertical line that
passes through face between the eyebrows and the center of the mouth. The area allotted for
hair is approximately equal to the size of the nose.
AB = BC = CD = DE
GF = CD = Fh1 and also = AB = BC = DE
FH = Fh1 + 1/3 of GF

The line AE divides the face into two slightly unequal parts. So the left side (that is, our
left; it is Christ's right side) is more narrow than the other side. The eye on the narrow
side is painted slightly smaller than the eye on the larger side. The narrower side might
be considered the light source for the rest of the face. Hence the shadows near the
nose and on the cheeks are wider on the larger side of the face.
In young saints and angels, we extend the imaginary line of the mouth (the line between
the lips) to the right and to the left, and at the point of meeting the edges of the face (A
and B), we draw the lines of the neck.
narrower side
wider side

To identify the point B, through which the life for the eyes will be drawn, we divide the
nose into 4 equal parts (this is usually the proportion for young adults, men and
women). For Christ, occasionally we might use 5 parts, and for elders up to seven.

The line, on which the eyes lie, passes through the point B.
The corners of the eyes (F, G, H, and I) lie on that straight line.

The length of the "larger" eye (the distance between H and I) is equal the half the length
of the nose (CE or AC or BD); the distance between F and G is slightly smaller than the HI
distance.

The eyebrows start from the corners of the trapezoid structure of the nose (the
triangular form between A and B)
The nostrils are placed slightly above the tip of the nose.
Midway between A and C, mark the point B, which will be the lowest point of the lower
lip.
The length of GF is equal to Fh1, with h1 being the point where shadow begins on the
wider side. (Just a reminder, Fh1 is equal to the length of the nose).

The length of (h1-H) is equal to 1/3 of the length of the nose. Therefore, the width of the
face at the cheekbones (from G to H) is equal two lengths of the nose plus 1/3 of the
length of the nose. The mathematical relationship is therefore as follows: GF = Fh1 = CD;
GH = Gh1+h1H

The illuminated area of the face is circular in form. The center of that circular spot rests
on the upper edge of the nose, and the radius of that circle is equal to the length of the
nose.
The head of Christ is written into a circle. The center of this circle is located near the left
eye and is equidistant from the outer boundary of the hair in four contra-posing points
C, D, E, and F (as shown).

Also, the point B - the tip of the chin - is also equidistant from the point A.
Proportions of Christ-child (and of generic children/infant faces)
Proportions of the children's faces differ significantly from the faces of adults.
The particular attributes of such faces are as follows:

1. A very large forehead


2. A small nose
3. An almost non-existent chin
4. Compound, curved lips.

The forehead is the double height of the nose's length. The forehead has a shadow near
the hairline; so does the nose on the wider side. The second (intermediate) light on the
forehead has the radius of the nose's length.

The width of the face at the cheekbones is three measures of the nose. The ears are
slightly bigger than the nose. The height of the hair is slightly larger than the length of
the nose, or one of the segments of the forehead.

• The distance between the pupils of the eyes is 11/3 of the nose.
• The size of the eye is 2/3 of the nose.
• The width of the bulb of the nose (the widest part) is 1/3 of the nose.
• The length of the mouth is smaller than the length of the nose but larger than
2/3ds of the nose.
• The length of the lower segment of the face is also modified: it is one length of
the nose plus about 1/4 from the tip of the nose to the tip of the chin; it is one
length of the nose from the tip of the nose to the end of the lighted area on the
chin.
The multiple axes of the child's face
Here is a set of mathematical proportions:

BD = 2DF
DF = FG
IJ = 3DF
ED = 2/3 of DF; EF = 1/3 of DF
The length of the eye is 2/3 of the nose
AB = BA1 = A1B2; conditionally, A1B2 is slightly bigger than AB

The width of the nose bulb is 1/3 of the nose.


FI = IG
FH = 1/3 of FG

The distance between the pupils of the eyes is 1+1/3 of the nose.
The proportions of the elements of the face of a young adult
The shape of the eye is that of an almond. Its width is twice its height. The iris almost touching
the upper eyelid.

The upper eyelid's curvature is more pronounced than that of the lower eyelid; however, it
ever so slightly flattens in the middle. The line of the upper eyelid widens in the middle and
tapers off at the ends.

The lower eyelid line starts wide at the outer corner but tapers off towards the nose .

The iris is slightly oval in shape.

The fold line between the upper eyelid and the eyebrow runs nearly parallel to the eyelid. The
distance between this line and the eyelid line is wider in the middle than at the corners of the
eye.

The placement of the iris and the pupil change the expression of the eyes significantly. For
instance, if the iris is does not touch the upper eyelid and is positioned too close to the lower
eyelid, the expression of such eyes is intense and wild. The same happens if the eyeball is
highlighted too much near the upper eyelid.

To give the eyes a serene expression, make sure the upper eyelid slightly covers the portion of
the iris, but the pupil just rests on the line and is not covered by the eyelid. Also, place the
light on the eyeball in the center, next to the iris, and only on one side.

The expression of the lines between the eyeball and the brow should be peaceful; failure to do
so will result in an angry look.

Eyebrows also play an important role in facial expression. A serene eyebrow begins at the root
of the nose, rises above the eyeball to the brow ridges, and then descends to the level of the
upper eyelid.

When the middle portion of the brow raises high, the expression of intensity is heightened.
The same happens if the outer ends of eyebrows points at the ears. Adding small vertical lines
between the eyebrows impart rigor in expression; this, however, has so much power that it
eliminates any hint of peacefulness we might try to create in the image. Generally speaking,
every single vertical line on the forehead - bright or dark - imparts a forceful expression. Also,
great care must be exercised when placing the final highlights on the brow ridges above the
eyebrows; when they run parallel to the eyebrows, they may come across as wrinkles. To
avoid this distortion, many old masters would light this area well with a wide arc, and then run
the highlight lines radiating from the brow ridges rather than run parallel to the eyebrows.
When looking at the photographs of the old masters' work, observe how they managed to
treat this sometimes problematic area.
Structure of the eye

The length of the eye (DL) is two heights of the eye (FO)
The line of the upper lid is thick in the middle (DFG) and ever so slightly flattened.
It tapers off at the ends (D, H)
The line of the lower eyelid is thick at the point L but tapers off as it goes toward P.
The round line of the iris (IJK) thickens at the bottom (J).
The skin fold above the upper eyelid runs nearly parallel to the eyelid, but the distance
at the ends is smaller than in the middle; that is to say, the distance BF is slightly
wider than AD and CH.
The size of the iris: the distance between I and K is greater than DI and KL.
The shape of the iris is oval, and the upper eyelid covers the part of it; the pupil only
touches the line, does not go under it. The distance JO is rather small.

Here is a geometric reduction of the physical shape of the eye:


Changes in expression

The serene expression


The effect is created by placing the eyebrows on a horizontal line. Each eyebrow
repeats the rhythm and the curvature of the upper eyelids. Two thirds of the iris are
occluded by the upper eyelid. The pupil rests on the upper eyelid.

Expression of surprise
The outer ends of the eyebrows are lifted, the iris in the center of the eyeball, and the
whole eye has greater height. The pupil is in the center of the eye.

Expression of horror
Eyebrows angle. The irises are inset into the lower eyelids. The pupils touch the lower
eyelid. Vertical wrinkles between the eyebrows create the expression of utmost tension.
The mouth

The schematics of the mouth.


AB = CD = DE
(the entire line of the mouth may vary from 1/3 the length of the nose, to 1/2)

Essentials of constructing the mouth:


The upper lip is somewhat thinner than the lower lip. The proportion is about 2:3.
AB = 2; BC = 3

The lower lip is slightly wider than the upper lip and all three lines almost aligned. In the
middle of the lower lip, the curvature is lessened.
The ears

Harmonious proportions of the ear


The curvature AB is parallel and concentric to the direction of the cheekbone.
The shape of the ear follows the arrow as shown.

Тhe length of the ear is 2 lengths of its width


(BG = 2ND)

The upper, outer curve (ABCDEF) and the


upper inner curve (IJKLM) run in parallel.

The lower part of the ear (HMFG) is the


earlobe. Note the protruding tragus (in the
NIMH segment)

The axis that runs through the length of the


ear is parallel to the line of the cheekbone,
and has the same curvature.
The Ears are drawn into the space between the lines AB and CD. In this drawing, we
made the ears a bit smaller, leaving some space between the ends of the ears and the
lines.
The neck lines begin at the height of the line EF, the line that is an extrapolation of the
line of the mouth.
The nose

The bulb of the nose and the nostrils take up one third of the length nose.
Caution should be exercised when modeling the face. In some places, transitions from
dark to light are gentle and gradual; in other places, rather abrupt. Learn from old
masters how to illuminate the areas under the eyes, because these areas have
expressive power.

In young people, the light enters on one side of this area and half-illuminates the
shadowed other side. Also, in young people, the shadow extends parallel to the life of
lower eyelid, while in older people these shadows become longer and darker and sag
into the cheekbones.

Female youthful faces should have a nice and spiritual expression, when the eyes are
well written and are large, with the dark tones emphasizing the upper and lower eyelids
only from the side which is closer to the ears, that is, from the outer corner of the eye to
the middle of the eyelid. The forehead of young females should be modeled as one
single area, without emphasizing the areas above the eyebrows that might stand out
like islands.

The same is for young men, only their chin (that is, if there is no beard), is modeled
more extensively down to the lower line of the jaw, and the brow ridges can be
emphasized but only with lighter colors, without the dark tone of proplasmos
underneath creating deep crevasses. This can be achieved by modeling the forehead
first as one entire area, then taking the color of the first light (very transparently) and
shadowing around these facial structures. Thus these "shadows" are much more gentle,
and the general effect is that of strength and youthfulness.

.
MODELING THE FACE
Vocabulary usage:
proplasmos (Greek) = roskrysh (Slavonic) = base tone
psymithies (Greek) = ozhyvki (Slavonik) = bright accents and parallel lines in the brightest areas
pyrodismos (Greek) = rumyantsy (Slavonik) = a reddish color, a vey transparent glaze of vermillion with added first light, a "blush"

When we mix dry pigments with egg emulsion, the transparency and opaqueness
depend of the paint on the ratios of these two components. The more emulsion is there,
the more transparent the paint is, and vice versa. On top of the dark base tone,
transparent paint will have very little color and little saturation. The more pigment we add
to the mix, the thicker and more opaque it becomes. Then such lighter - opaque - paint is
less affected by the underlying dark base tone, which we call "proplasmos."

In the proplasmos technique, we suggest the following. The first light has to, on the
one hand, to stand out brightly and opaquely over the dark base tone in the places of
illumination, but on the other hand its edges and boundaries have to blend seamlessly into
the proplasmos.

Here is a way to do it effectively: when you model a specific spot, color it with opaque
paint in the center, without blending the edges. However, do not cover the entire area but
leave around enough unpainted space. This unpainted area is where the two colors will
eventually blend into each other as a soft transition from light to shadow. Take now some
of the thick opaque paint of the first light and add a few drops of egg emulsion. It becomes
more transparent. With this diluted paint, paint over the bright spot and then extend it
into the unpainted area. Let's assume the bright spot is circular; keep extending this lighter
but transparent color away from the bright area in concentric manner. Note that the
transparent color is rather toneless and is not as vibrant as the central opaque spot. Add
even more egg emulsion to the mix, and extend this transparent overlay even further into
the proplasmos. This extended area is even more subdued in terms of color saturation. So
basically, by adding egg emulsion to the initial opaque paint, we achieve various degrees of
transparency. When we lay these in a row with overlap, we can create a scale from the
most saturated tone to the barely visible one.

When we first cover the area with an opaque paint, there is a sharp distinct edge to
the brighter area. This sharp edge disappears once we cover it with a few glazes of
transparent color. If the edge is still stubbornly there, let it dry, and then pass this
transition area over again with a transparent color. Repeat this, until the transition of color
is gradual, and the bright color fades gently into the dark surface of proplasmos.

It is very important how we use the brush and how we apply the new color over the
base tone. First of all, the base color should be completely dry before application of a
brighter color on top of it. Make sure that you do not brush over the same spot repeatedly
because the underlying paint might get dissolved or softened by the moisture from egg
emulsion and will be lifted and dragged by the brush.

To prevent this, simply avoid applying brushstrokes in the same spot over and over
again. Put the brush aside, and let the area dry. If you do not want to lose time, work on
some other area that needs the same color and tone, and then when it is dry, test it by
touch, then work on it again.

When we take transparent paint and apply two coats of it, there is a small build up of
paint. As the result of this build up, the color becomes more saturated and less
transparent. And when we pass over the area the third time, it will become even more
saturated. We use this quality of egg tempera to create gradients between light and
shadows. This is only applicable when the base tone is dark and a brighter color is applied
on top of it.

HOW TO MAKE PROPLASMOS TONE AND THE FIRST LIGHT

The study of merging the two colors begins with making the correct tone for the
proplasmos. Do the following: combine 1/3 of yellow ocher, 1/5 of burnt sienna, 1/5 white,
and add some raw umber to it. This is the recipe of Panselinos for the proplasmos, typical
in the 14-th century, a somewhat dark grayish green. With this paint, cover a piece of
cardboard and let it dry.

After this, make another color - 1/3 ocher, 1/5 vermilion, and then add some white to
it. This will be the color of the first light, characteristic of the 14th century, and comparing
to the darker tone of the proplasmos, it is quite bright. With this second color, in an
opaque consistency, paint a large circle over the base tone. Dilute the second tone with
egg emulsion and extend the circle outward further into the proplasmos. Let it dry. Then
pull paint in parallel stokes - parallel to the round border of the opaque circle - outward.
Make sure that these parallel (or, should we say, concentric) brushstrokes are not
joined together as they are placed farther from the circle. The farther away from circle
they are, the lighter they get, and more widely spaced they are.

The purpose of this exercise to learn to merge the light and the dark tones. Now look
at the results and decide whether in some places the color is too weak where it should be
brighter. Should this be the case, add a few more brushstrokes to bring about the desired
results. Such corrections are often necessary if the merging of the two colors is not right,
and also the opaque paint may not be opaque enough, which could result in the dark
patches of proplasmos showing through. Passing transparent paint over the center of the
circle ensures that this does not happen. We work with the brush over the boundary
where those two colors meat until this sharp boundary disappears and is softly diffused.

This is a classical, smooth transition from light to dark. All brush strokes must be
executed in the direction parallel and concentric to the circumference of the lighter color
and never from the center of the circle, in a radial fashion.

Work on this exercise diligently, to get the smooth transition of the lighter color into
the proplasmos. We spend so much effort on detailed description because this is the
second major skill in iconography, second only to drawing and composition.

When you feel that you have finally mastered this exercise and learned how to make
seamless transition from light to dark, try to do the same on an actual face. The principles
are the same i.e., the only difficulty in this process is the smooth transition from the light
area to the proplasmos. We would like to reiterate here that all the brush strokes of the
color transition must be parallel to the edge of the opaque area, and never radiate from
the center, perpendicularly to the edge of the bright spot, unless there a specific reason for
that.

This way of transitioning from color to color is not the only technique known in
Eastern iconography.

Another way of merging the two colors is to fill some part of the transitional area with
transparent, ultra-thin, wispy lines of lighter color; this was a staple of the Cretan school.

In some other schools, the iconographers did not use the linear interpolation at all.
Instead, they applied very diluted and transparent colors with a flat brush, passing over the
area many times expertly, until the two colors merge perfectly. This was a method
developed by the Macedonian school in the 14th century and became a staple of the
Russian school of iconography.

Experiment with all these methods, practice these techniques diligently, and very soon
you will find that sky is the limit.

ON FACIAL HAIR

The lines of the beards are drawn in such a way that they approximately line up
towards and converge onto the center of the nose. To create an effect of hair growing from
the skin, thin out each line gradually until it disappears into the proplasmos. Do this
exercise first with a pencil, then with a fine brush using burnt umber.

When painting the mustache, make sure that the lines of the hair stay within the
darker area of the proplasmos and do not encroach upon the lighter areas. These hairs
should be longer and wider near the mouth. Make sure the ends of these lines are as thin
as possible; this gives the mustache their beauty and emphasize their volume. If these
ends are blunt and thick, the effect is as if the mustache is awkwardly glued to the face as if
it were stage make up.
TECHNIQUE OF SEAMLESS TRANSITIONS

At first, some theory.

Figure 1

Here we have two applications of the same lighter color over the darker background of
proplasmos. The brushstroke A is done with a thick mixture of pigment and egg emulsion,
with lots of pigment in it. Note that the color is very bright and light because it is opaque.

Now, examine the brushstroke B. Here, we have the same paint but we added a few
drops of egg emulsion to it. The paint becomes more transparent; it is not as bright as the
brushstroke A, and definitely less saturated. This is because its color is affected by the
color of proplasmos underneath, showing through.
Figure 2

Using a diluted mixture of brighter color, we make three horizontal and three vertical
passes with a flat brush. Observe the brightening of the tone at the point C - in fact, in all
nine points where these six brushstrokes intersect. The reason for this is obvious - in all
these points, there is a double layer of the paint. This helps us to understand how to build
a range of shades using the same pigment and the same degree of dilution, without adding
lighter pigment or making the paint more opaque. (More about this in Figure 4)
Figure 3

In this example, we painted the first (1) and the second (2) lights over the color of
proplasmos (3). The two arrows (at C), above and below, show the area where the two
lights join. In order to soften this abrupt transition, we need to fill the space between (b)
and (a) with the intermediate color, which we get by mixing the first light (1) and the
second light (2) together. The red dashed line shows where the intermediary color should
be placed in two coats. When the surface is dry, we make a third pass with the
intermediary color over the boundary line only. Make a note of this last important
brushstroke as it covers the boundary line and makes it invisible. By pushing on the brush
slightly to make the hairs spread, we cover more space on both sides of the color band. If
the boundary line is still visible, keep passing over it with intermediate color until it
disappears, Do this only when the surface is dry, otherwise pressure on the brush might
dislodge some of the paint, making unsightly holes which will be difficult to fix.

At the outer boundaries of the intermediate color (the lines A and B), the intermediate
color becomes more transparent and thin and blends with the first and the second lights.
This really helps to smooth the transition between the two lights.

Now, skip ahead and look at the vertical lines in Figure 9. These lines differ in
thickness, and as they become thinner, they are placed farther apart, in a manner similar to
broadloom.
The total of these brushstrokes, especially if observed from a distance, gives a smooth
transition from dark to light. The broadloom brushstrokes painted near the boundary line
end up being brighter, because they overlap each other two or three times.
Figure 4

Do the following exercise. Over a darker proplasmos, construct the following color
scale. First, paint with a flat brush a rectangle ABCD. For this, we use somewhat
transparent paint, with lots of egg emulsion in the mix. Make one pass with this color, from
side to side. After it dries, take the same paint, and draw another band on top of the first
one, but this time stopping before where it is marked 1. Let it dry again, and pass over the
section for the third time, this time leaving the sections 1 and 2 unpainted. Continue with
one more pass, stopping before the brush reaches section 3. The result is that in segment 1
you have one layer of paint, in segment 2 - two layers, in segment 3 - three layers, and in
segment 4 - four layers.

This exercise teaches us that the more layers of transparent paint are applied, the
brighter and more opaque it becomes because of the loss of transparency. The lighter
transparent color is affected by the color underneath, while opaque paint remains
unaffected. And this is one of the secrets of egg tempera which allows us to do so much
with very little.
Figure 5

Here is another way of understanding how to build gradual transitions from dark to
light. In this example, we have a range of lighter colors painted onto the base tone. The
segment A is a bright opaque paint. The segment B is the same opaque, undiluted paint
but with some color of the proplasmos added to it. In the segment C, more base tone is
added and so on, until in the last segment D we have a color very near the tone of the base
tone. The colors B and C we call "intermediary" because they contain in themselves both
colors, dark and light. Using intermediary colors, we smoothly connect light and dark
areas. Earlier, in the figure 4 we have shown how the lighter color ("first light"), when
diluted with egg emulsion, becomes transparent and looks darker because the dark
undertone shows through. We can use this quality of egg tempera to create smooth and
seamless transitions from dark to light. If you skip ahead and look at Figure 7, the
segments 7, 8, 9, and 10 are each joined with a smooth transition. Intermediate
transparent colors were used to create these seamless connections.
.

Figure 6
Modeling of the cheek
This is how the same principles of color transition work on a face
First, we paint the first light. Then we construct the intermediate color from the equal
amounts of the proplasmos paint and the first light, and add egg emulsion to it. With this
diluted intermediate color, we paint the smooth transition between the first light and the
proplasmos. Notice that the stokes are applied in a curved fashion, following the shape of
the first light area.
Under the eye, paint a large curve starting from the outside edge of the eye. Continue
this curve down the cheek and pass it onto to the chin applying the brushstrokes in the
same direction as the shape of the first light. Under the eye, in the area which we call
lacrimal sac, put a few horizontal brushstrokes of intermediary tone. The small illumination
in that place is made with a horizontal line of the first light.
This smooth transition of tone between the light and the proplasmos (representing
shadow on the face) is made with the technique described in explanations to Figure 7.
In the area under the eye, the second light is painted. The color of the second light is
made by taking some of the first light and adding white to it. Never should the second light
cover the area of the first light fully, but only a part of it. After the proper transition from
the second light to the first light is made, there always should be an area of the first light
left clearly visible and untouched by the second light. The same principle applies to the
relationship between the proplasmos and the first light: you can see in Figure 6 that there
is a substantial area of proplasmos by the jaw line left untouched by the transitional color.
This presents a significant difficulty to many a beginner. Oftentimes, a beginner
extend the transition area all the way to the jaw line, covering the entire proplasmos area,
with the first light even touching the ear. The same mistake is often repeated with the
second light, when it completely covers and obfuscates the first light. If the entire face is
uniformly covered with white light, it loses its lyrical beauty and its form and becomes flat
like a pancake. It is important to remember that the basic underlying shape of the face is a
sphere, and when the gradations of light and shadow are not there, the face looks like a
whitewashed wall.
This is how modeling is done, and not just of the face, but also of the hands and the
body. And this just the first light. The second light and the psymithies are only a small
addition to the first light. For that very reason an experienced icono-grapher will take
great care where to put the first light and how much of the proplasmos should be left
uncovered by the transitional tone. In fact, when we paint the first light and connect it
smoothly with the proplasmos, 85% of job on the face is practically done. If one makes the
first light too big and the shadow areas of proplasmos are all covered, this would be
difficult to correct; hence all care must be taken to do the first light correctly.
Figure 7

Here is a practical exercise in tone blending. In figure 7 we have the exact same colors
that we have in Figure 5. However, in Figure 5 the shades of color are not blended into
each other but have a distinct boundary between them. In Figure 7 these distinct
boundary lines are softened and blurred over with thin vertical brush-strokes of
intermediary colors. These patches of intermediate colors are skillfully and judicially
applied over the boundary lines to create the smooth transition from one tone to another.

Step 1
Replicate Fig. 5 with four bands of color. First, prepare the background with the
proplasmos color, then make the paint for the first light (area 7 in Figure 7, or A in Figure 5).
Mix this first light color in half with the paint for the proplasmos, and paint the area 8. Then add
more proplasmos color to it and paint the area 9. Area 10 remains the pure proplasmos color.
There will be distinct boundaries between all four colors. The next step is to eliminate these
sharp boundary lines with intermediate colors.
Step 2 - blending the four tones
Take some of the paint 7 and add a little egg emulsion to it, making it transparent. With
this transparent mix, extend the paint from area 7 into area 8, passing over the boundary once.
Since the area 7 was painted with opaque color, adding same transparent color on top of it will
not change it; but it will make all the difference when it is extended into the area 8. As you
work over the boundary line, it become less and less distinct, and after a number of repeated
brushstrokes the boundary line disappears altogether. In exactly the same manner, do it for
the other two colors, 8 and 9, that is, dilute the color 8 with egg emulsion and extend it into the
area 9 and so on.
Two common mistakes beginners make

1. When we work over the boundary line, the first coat of transparent paint should
not be pushed too far into the next darker area so that little of the darker area remains
visible.
2. The subsequent coats of transparent paint should not cover the first coat of the
intermediary color completely, but only in part. At its edges, this first coat of the
intermediary color should remain transparent, and if we keep adding coats to it, it will lose
its transparency and become brighter. In the very immediate area of transition, all we
need is a few faint brushstrokes which can barely register over the darker background.

  

Practice this technical exercise many times, and do it often. At first, this might seem to
be daunting, but with time and practice you will achieve the needed sense of how to
targeted specific areas, and how much paint to use.

When you finally are able to execute a smooth transition from the proplasmos to the
first light, the first and most important skill is under your belt. These seamless, smooth
transitions from dark to light are one of the most important skills, second only to drawing.

The correct shapes of the eyes, the nose, and the mouth infuse the face with
expression. The correct and skillful modeling infuses the face with beauty and light.

From day to day, spend your time practicing these two elements - drawing of faces
and light to dark transitions. Do not quit practicing until you master these elements.
Remember the experience that has been affirmed by many: work creates a master painter
and shapes an artist. Hours and hours of work, copying icon patterns correctly, the zeal,
and patience will bring about the revelation contained in the sacred art of iconography.
Figure 8

This exercise demonstrates the difference between intermediary color and


transparent color.

On a background of dark proplasmos, paint a segment with the opaque color of the
first light (A). Now, divide the paint into two containers, add some white to the second
container, and paint the segment B. This brighter segment is the second light.

Now, take equal amounts of both colors, and mix them together in a third container.
This is our intermediary color, segment C. All three paints are opaque at this point.

Now, add some egg emulsion to this intermediary color C, and paint the segment D, just
one coat of it. Then add even more egg emulsion to it and paint the segment E.

The point is that D, C, and E are the same color, but they don't look the same because of
difference in opacity/transparency. This difference is because of the varying degrees at
which the tone of the proplasmos is showing through.
Another way of making smooth transitions between the tones using a diluted
intermediate color

proplasmos first light transition second light


A diluted C B

Figure 9

In Figure 9, closer to the right side, we see how the second light smoothly transitions
into the first light.

Let us take another look at Figure 8. In the lower part, we can see two colors, A and B,
the first light and the second light. They are just butted against each other, and even
though the colors are related, transition between them is abrupt. In the upper part, you
see the color (C) which is a mixture of the two colors A and B. That is to say, (C) is the
intermediary color mixed from equal amounts of A and B.

By using this intermediate color C, we will create a smooth transition between the first
light and the second as seen in Figure 9.

Take the intermediary color C, make this paint transparent by adding some egg
emulsion to it (D or E in Figure 8). Lightly brush it over the junction area, covering also
some of the areas of A and B, on both sides of the divide. You may use the technique of
placing thin parallel strokes, thinning out and spaced wider apart as they extend into the
darker zone (see on the left side of Figure).

Let the area dry, then repeat the same procedure with the diluted intermediary color C
over the boundary line, and making occasional brushstrokes to the right and to the left of
the divide.
Again, let it completely dry, and repeat it for the third time, but only if needed. Do not
overwork the area. Then take the brush, load it with diluted color C, and press it into a
piece of scrap paper so it spreads like a rake. Pass with thusly shaped brush over the
boundary with a wide stroke. Shaping the brush in this way is called "training the brush".

Sometimes we may miscalculate and dilute the intermediate color too much. As the
result, the boundary line might stubbornly show through after many repeated applications
of the intermediate color. Should this be the case, keep layering coats until it is all joined
smoothly together. However, with the right amount of practice and exercise, you will learn
very quickly how much egg emulsion is needed to create this intermediary diluted color.

  
THE MOUTH

Figure 21

Using burnt sienna, we add a little cinnabar (vermillion) and a little proplasmos color,
and make an outline of the mouth. Here are two pencil renditions of a classical mouth
shape:

Study the shape of the mouth from frescoes and icons of great masters. Copy and
draw this form in pencil so many times that you memorize it and eventually draw or paint it
from memory.
Observe that the darkest shadows are at the corners of the mouth on the line where
the lips touch each other. These shadows are done with the same paint we used to draw
the mouth shape but with more burnt sienna added (or even burnt umber).

The line between the lips is wavy . In the middle of the mouth, we make this line
lighter and redder, and we make it darker closer to the corners of the mouth. Do make
sure there is no dark line showing in the center between the lips. The whole beauty of the
mouth is at this point: the mouth is illuminated in the middle and gets darker towards the
corners.

Another element to watch for beginners are these dark corners of the lips. We do not
just draw a dark wavy line across the mouth line. The effect of the shadows on the upper
lip is created by line being the darkest at the line between the lips, and then becoming
gradually lighter towards the upper lip's line. That is, use the darkest color at the base and
then transition it upward with an intermediary transparent color. There should be a
noticeable difference between the dark line in the corners and the light line in the center of
the line between the lips, where they touch.

With the first light, fill the entire lower lip. On the upper lip, with the same paint,
illuminate the upper half of the lip, so that the upper part of that lip is illuminated, and the
lower remains the color of proplasmos. The upper lip receives light only in the upper
central portion of the lip; use intermediary or transparent color to extend it from that
bright spot to the rest of the lip, making sure that the first light does not cover the entire
lip, from edge to edge, but leaves some proplasmos tone exposed. However, in the center,
where the lips meet, this tone is extended all the way to the lower lip.

Make the color of the second light by adding some white to the color of your first light.
With the second light, illuminate only the upper half of the lower lip in the middle. Also,
model the area above the upper lip, and if the mouth is big enough, add the second thin
line at some distance from the first, as shown in Fig. 21.

With the second line, accent the line between the lips, and only in the area of the
lower lip, without getting it to the corners, where the dark line is.

The last step is to glaze the lips with a reddish color called pyrodismos. It is made of a
bit of vermillion plus a small drop of the first light. Use a generous amount of egg
emulsion; the best way to do a glaze is to make a very dilute solution first. Making the lips
too red is not a good idea, and lots of egg emulsion in the mix will ensure that. However, if
you see that the resulting color is not red enough, add just a little cinnabar.
With pyrodismos, pass over the lower lip with a single wide brushstroke. Many small
brushstrokes will not give you a uniform coverage, so take a soft wide brush, and with one
pass cover the lower lip from one side to the other.

Do the same for the upper lip, covering the shadows too.

Take a very small portion of the pyrodismos paint and add to it just a little of cinnabar
and an equal amount of sienna. With this redder pyrodismos, using a brush with a fine
point, draw a thin line between the lips in the center of the mouth. This red line does not
go over the entire mouth line, but only in the center, gradually terminating where the dark
shadows begin, on the right and on the left.

Look at the mouth again and determine whether the lips are red enough. If they are
still too pale, glaze it over one more time with the original diluted pyrodismos.

  

A few words on the dimensions of the eyes and the mouth in classical iconography.
We often see in ancient frescoes that the eyes are larger than in realistic paintings, and the
mouth is smaller. There is an expressive reason for that.

A small mouth is suggestive of avoidance of idle talk and unnecessary laughter; it is


evocative of reserved speech and fasting. Large eyes express vision; these eyes behold the
Eternally Living God. In ancient images, we always find that faces - and bodies in general -
display individual and specific virtues, but the whole image always expresses the most
important virtue of all: holiness.
actual size enlarged schematics

Figure 21a

When we work on a small icon, the mouth will also be very small. In this case, we
cannot do all the above described steps and procedures. In rendering a small mouth, we
should say much with very little.

With the first light, we illuminate the lower lip and add the same paint to the upper
portion of the upper lip (see Fig. 21a). Then prepare the second, brighter light and draw a
few thin lines right at the line where the lips touch, as seen on the enlarged schematics.
When the paint is dry, go over the mouth with a transparent glaze of pyrodismos. And that
would be enough for small mouths.
Figure 22
The first stage in painting the mouth of Christ

The mouth and moustache of Christ begins with painting the first drawing onto
proplasmos. Observe in this illustration the use of the "first line" and "second line" tones.
Figure 23

We cover the lower lip with a reddish paint, a mixture of the first light and a bit of
vermillion.
Take now the some of that mixture, add to it more vermillion, and color the entire
upper lip with it.
Make the color of the first light, paint the face. Take some of it, and add egg emulsion
to it (very little), and paint the lower lip, from the top edge almost to the bottom of the lip,
on top of the reddish under-painting.
Then work in the second light, as was described above. The darker lines of the mouth
and moustache should be of the same color as the lines of the dark hair and beard of
Christ.
Make a note of the two white areas/lines to the right and to the left from the lower
lip. These illuminations are always placed on the faces of the saints if there is a desire to
emphasize intensity of facial expression.
In this example, we used a reddish under-painting on the lips. However, we can also
follow the classic method (described as pyrodismos in Fig. 20), without the use of this
under-painting.
Figure 24
The final highlights on the mouth of Christ

We make the third light by adding some white to the color of the second light, that we
already have. With this third light, we place two accents on the philtrum (the concave area
above the upper lip) as shown, two light accents on the both sides of the mouth, and a
small horizontal brushstroke on the lower lip. With the same color, we paint all the
psymithies on the face. Make a note how the area around the nostril is modeled.
Figure 25
The head of the Archangel Gabriel. Proplasmos and first lines of the face and hair.
Explanations to Figure 25

THE EYES
The curve of the upper eyelid flattens and becomes thick in the middle; it tapers off at the
corners. The pupil of the eye just barely touches the lower edge of the upper lid's line. This
element should always be present in all icons. The shape of the pupil is oval, not round.
The shape of the iris is oval, too - think of this as an enlarged shape of the iris.

These three elements - the upper eye lid, the iris, and the pupil - are done with burnt
umber. The lines of the lower eyelid and the "serenity line" (the skin fold between the
brow and the upper eyelid) are done with a lighter color such as natural umber, or
whatever is used for the proplasmos of the hair. Notice how the three lines - the serenity
line, the upper eyelid, and the lower eyelid - flatten and are nearly horizontal in the middle.
In your work, think of them as three parallel lines. This element gives the face a peaceful
and royal expression.

THE EYEBROWS
are thicker and darker near the nose, and as they go towards the temples, from about the
middle they get lighter and thinner.

The nose is generally painted with lines of a lighter color, and the bulb of the nose is even
lighter, redder color. The hole in the nostril is flat and dark. The line of the nose gets
gradually darker towards the eyebrow.

THE MOUTH
Observe the precise shape of the lines of the mouth. The upper and the lower lip lines are
of lighter color and somewhat reddish. The line former by the touching lips has three
undulations or "waves". The middle "wave" is lighter than the upper and lower lip and
more reddish. The two outer "waves" are dark (as if in shadows).

THE OCULAR RECESS


Near the left eye (i.e., the angel's left, our right), where the line of the forehead transitions
into the line of the cheek, several other lines converge. Observe how these line come
together at that point: the forehead, the cheek, the upper and lower eyelids, the serenity
line, and the eyebrow.

THE HAIR
Never forget a cardinal rule of painting the hair: in the shaded area, the lines must be
opaque and prominent. These lines are thicker in the middle, and they thin out towards
the ends, as they approach "weaker" shadows. In the illuminated portions of the locks,
these lines are either drawn very thinly or are not drawn at all. Observe the spherical
shapes of the curls above the forehead. The lower part of the "sphere" is done with thick
lines because there is shadow, but they too thin out at the ends. When modeled, this area
will blend better.

The whole shape of the head has to convey a form of a sphere, not of a circle. The face is
illuminated in a way to bring this about (see Fig 26 ad 27). The hair, too, should participate
in this shaping of the head. In the back of the head, the lines are written thick and dark
because this area should be most heavily shaded. The thickest and darkest lines are in the
area behind the ear; that is where the shadows are the darkest.

  
Figure 26. The first light on the face and on the hair
LIGHT ON THE FACE
Observe the brushstrokes in the area where the first light transitions into shadow of
proplasmos. These brushstrokes encircle the illumined area of the cheek and the chin.

Do not rush to pull strokes with enlightenment. First you'll notice fairly the illuminated part
being copied. You'll see that the enlightenment separated sharply from proplasmos and the
union of light and shadow is extinguished with intermediate color.

Do not rush to blend this first light right away. First, build the bright areas of opaque color
where you need it, and then smooth over the sharp transition with an intermediate color.

The sclera of the eye is accented with a separate gray light - mixed from while, black, and
very little proplasmos. This light can be slightly bluish.

Very important: this eye light should never touch the upper eyelid. Between the eyelid
and the light, there should be some distance.

MODELING THE HAIR

THE FRONTAL ROW OF CURLS


Look at the row of curls over the forehead. These have spherical shapes. The dark lines
represent shadow side of a sphere; where the shadow is darker, the lines become broader.
The areas filled with lighter brushstrokes are on the opposite side of the shape.

The proplasmos color of the hair is a mix of burned sienna with the proplasmos color for
the face.

The first light on the hair is done with a combination of


1. color of the hair's proplasmos
2. the first light used on the face
3. little vermillion

The illumination is painted with the following consideration: in those spots, where the light
should be the most intense, the brushstrokes are the widest. The spherical curls above the
forehead fall like a cascade; and these circles take the most intense light. Each brushstroke
begins as a round spot and then spirals around and falls downward. Each brushstroke
continuously tapers off throughout the length and ends with a fine point. The reason for
that is because it approaches the shaded part.
THE HAIR ON THE CRANIUM
The hair on the cranium area is wavy. Each wave row is thicker closer to the face, and the
brushstrokes become thinner as they go towards the back. These brushstrokes should not
fill the entire cranium, but fade out and leave enough area untouched by the first light,
with proplasmos only. The bright brushstrokes are followed by dark lines of the shadow.
The farther into the shadow these dark lines go, the wider they become. The outer rim of
the head is done by the widest line; this is because the contour line is darker than any other
line of the hair.
Figure 27. Finishing the face of Archangel Gabriel
On top of the first light, at the places which should be illuminated the most, paint the
second light. The second light should cover a small area and leave much of the first light's
area visible. Abide the holy law of the second light: "Thou shalt not cover the entire area of
the first light with the second light!" Always leave some area of the first light untouched by
the second light - be it large or small, depending on where on the face it is. The area of the
second light has to be smaller than you think, because you need some space to smooth out
the transition of it into the first light. This transition is done with an intermediate color.
Take equal amounts of paint from the first and the second lights, mix them together, and
add some egg emulsion to make it more transparent. With light and elegant brushstrokes
execute the transition.

PSYMITHIES
On top of the second light, paint the psymithies ("ozhyvki"), which is essentially the third
light. This third light requires precise calibration of color. The relationship between the
color of psymithies and the color of the second light should be analogous to the
relationship between the second and the first light. It is a big mistake to make the
psymithies too bright. These lines will look foreign on the face as if something was painted
on top of skin like a tribal face painting.

What was described earlier for the hair, applies to psymithies. The same principles: in the
those spots which emit the most light, the psymithies are painted larger and wider.

Observe the psymithies near the outer corner of the Archangel's right eye (our left). There
are three lines, and the nearest line to the eye is the brightest, the longest, and three times
as wide as the third one. There is a diminuendo of intensity.

For the final step, we take some white and mix into it the third light (the paint we used for
psymithies). With this nearly white paint, we accent the psymithies themselves, and only in
the brightest spots of the face. In both corners of the larger eye, paint an accent on top of
the largest white line, but only half the length, and on top of the next line to it - barely a
touch. The psymithies that are a row of long lines with wider middle and thinning ends
such as on the neck, accent only the largest one, only in the middle where it is wide, (never
cover the entire line), and also place a very tiny accent on the line next to it, just barely
visible.

Using the same principles, illuminate the nose, the forehead, the area of the mouth, and
the ear.
For the hair, the second light is made by adding some white to the first light used for the
hair. [Nota bene: do not confuse the first light for the face with the first light for the hair.
Remember, the proplasmos for the hair was darker than the proplasmos for the face; all
subsequent lights - first, second - are tonal extensions of proplasmos).

In the hair, just like on the face, we use the color of the second light to cover only small
part of the first light. Again and again we must reiterate: never, ever the second light goes
outside of the first light's area. This error spells disaster. The same rules applies to the
modeling of the garments.

Take some of the pyrodismos color (a transparent mixture of vermillion and the first light),
and give go over the following areas:

• blush on the cheeks;


• the serenity lines (the skin fold between the upper lid and the brow);
• the shadow on the neck;
• the ears;
• the shaded side of the nose along the bridge, the nose bulb, and the nostril;
• the mouth (a transparent glaze)

THE EYES
The second light of the eyes (the sclera) is made by adding white to the color of the first
light of the sclera. [Again, remember that the first lights of the face, the hair, and the sclera
are all different paints. Do not confuse them]
Colors of the face - the reference chart

(A) PROPLASMOS
raw umber + yellow ocher + green + burnt sienna + white

LIGHTS (B, C, D)

(B) - First light: Yellow ocher + cinnabar + white


(C) - Second light: first light (B) + white
(D) - Third light: second light (C) + white

LINES (E, F)

(E) - First lines on the face and the hair: burnt sienna
(F) - Second lines: burnt umber

Note: for the first lines and hair (E) instead of pure burnt sienna, we can use also a
combination of burnt sienna + yellow ocher
Modeling the face - step by step

Even though the face is the most important part of the icon, the rest of the image should
not be neglected and underworked. Still, the face is to be central to the icon.

FLESH PROPLASMOS

We make proplasmos for the flesh using the following proportions:

1 measure of raw umber


1/3 measures of yellow ocher
1/4 measure of burnt sienna
1/4 measure of white

If we use a very small measuring spoon, here is another way to make this proportion:

4 spoons of raw umber


1 1/2 - 2 spoons of yellow ocher
1 spoon of burnt sienna
1 spoon of white

This is the recipe for flesh proplasmos which Panselinos used. With this color, cover all
areas of the flesh that are not covered by garments - face, neck, hands, and feet.

When proplasmos is dry, re-apply your paper drawing onto the surface, and reiterate the
lines. Watch this step carefully as pressing too hard may damage the paint layer; this has
to be done with a very light touch, hard enough only to transfer the powdered pigment
from the back of the drawing onto the surface of proplasmos.

Mix some burnt umber with burnt sienna and some yellow ocher. We shall call this color
"the first lines." With this mixture, paint the lines of the drawing, including hair and beard.
The facial features - the nose, the eyes, the eyebrows, and the mouth - should be done with
a very fine brush and diluted paint. The contour of the face (as well as the neck and other
parts) should not be painted linearly but blend into proplasmos, and not all around the face
but only on one side, where the shadows are. The same applies to the neck, arms, and
legs.
Then, with the same color, reinforce the lines of the eyebrows, the eyes, and lower part of
the nose (the nostrils), the line between the lips, and the hands and feet where necessary
(in shaded areas only).

FIRST LIGHT

Then build a new color, a mixture of

• 1 part white
• 1/2 part yellow ocher
• 1/5 part cinnabar

Take some of this color and mix into it some of the proplasmos color to create the
intermediate color.

If we use a very small measuring spoon, here is another way to make this proportion:

• 5 spoons of white
• 21/2 spoons of yellow ocher
• 1 spoon of cinnabar

These first constructed light (white + ocher + cinnabar) is "the first light." Take some of it
and dilute with egg emulsion, making it a bit more transparent. Apply this to the part to be
illuminated as seen on the prototype - the bridge of the noew, the cheeks, the forehead,
the chin, the area around the nostrils, the area above the upper lip and so on. Apply the
same color to the lower lip, thickly. Apply it also to the ears, and also to the neck, hands,
and feet, where it should be illuminated. Application of this color should be done in such a
way that the light fades gradually into proplasmos rather than transition abruptly. To
make this transition, we requires a special technique: with the brush, gently pull the liquid
edges of the paint away from spot; however, this should be done by moving the brush in
concentric motion around the edges of the spot, not in radial lines.

Also, with the intermediate color, diluted with egg emulsion, in a soft and feathery way fill
the junction between the light and the proplasmos. Again, the movements of the brush
must be parallel to the edge of the lighter spot, not perpendicular to it. To create seamless
transitions, we always work with these two devices - transparent colors and intermediate
colors. The latter is traditionally called glikasmos or "sugaring".

Then, using the undiluted portion of our first light, we pass over the areas that require
more prominent light, making sure we do not encroach upon the transitional area. We can
do this a few times to build up the opaqueness. If correction is needed, take some of the
proplasmos and work over the shaded areas. This is the most important part of the face
modeling.

Now we take a small portion of the opaque first light, and add some white to it, and dilute
it with egg emulsion by adding a few drops. This is the second light. With this color, cover
only a small part of the first light, which should be brighter. These are as follows:

• Bridge of the nose


• Lower part of the nose bulb
• the brow ridges on the forehead above the brows
• the cheeks near the eyes,
• the lower lip
• the area around the nostrils
• the chin (not too much), if there is no beard (male youth, female)
• earlobes
• some area on the neck
• hands and feet

Make sure you connect the second light with the first light in exactly the same way as you
connected the first light with the proplasmos using the techniques of transparent color and
intermediate color. Apply a couple of passes of the second light to the brighter areas of the
flesh to reinforce the form. It is important to remember that the head is a sphere and not a
circle; it must not look like a cartoon. The same principle is extended throughout the body
- the forms on the face, hands, torso, and legs.

Now, take some of the color for the first lines and add to it some burnt umber. With this
darker color, paint over the lines of the eyelids and the lower part of the nose (not the
bridge of the nose!) With the same darker color, make the outline of the iris, and the iris.
Take some of the first line paint, make it transparent, and lightly cover the entire iris. With
thin lines, reinforce the shadow on the cheek (narrow side of the face). With the second
line, paint three or four lines of hairs over the eyebrows. Do the same for the moustache
and the beard, painting lightly and elegantly on top of the first line color.
We reinforce the shadows at the edges of the neck, hands, and feet. Under the jaw, we
paint with transparent first light and then reinforce it a bit with opaque paint of the same
color.

With the second lines color, paint the curved lines of the hair. In the areas closer to the
background, at the edges of hair, place the lines more widely. This will emphasize more the
spherical shape of the head.
After this, we take burnt umber and reinforce the darkest lines on the face as follows:

• the upper eyelid


• the pupil
• the contour line of the iris
• a few hairs of the eyebrows, of the moustache, and of the beard
• holes in the nostrils
• contour of the hair near where it meets the background

Then repeat the same, but only selectively, with black: the upper eyelid (in the middle
only), the pupil, a dash on the iris' lower part, the holes in the nose, two hairs on the
moustache, and a few distant ones in the beard.

Some iconographers never go to the black lines but stop at burnt umber stage; and some
don't even do that, leaving all the lines in burnt sienna. It is entirely an iconographer's
artistic choice.

PSYMITHIES ("Ozhyvki")

We are now nearly finished with the face; all is left to place the psymithies. These are done
with thin parallel lines at the brightest places of illumination. The color for psymithies is
made by adding white to the second light. Draw these lines with a very fine brush. In order
to do psymithies skillfully, one has to study their form and placement on historic
prototypes. The places for psymithies are as follows:

• around the eyes


• the bridge of the nose and the bulb of the nose
• the ridges above the brows
• above the upper lip
• the lower lip
• the neck
• the earlobes
• the hands and the feet

The brightest spot receives the bigger and thicker lines, and as the light falls off, the lines
become smaller and thinner until they vanish into the second light.

Psymithies must not be too bright and intense; this destroys a perfectly painted face. It is
better not to have them at all than to have them painted badly. Beginners usually have
most difficulty with them; but there is nothing a dedicated study will not remedy.
The shape of psymithies is similar to many other lines on the icon, that is thin ends and
wider middle.

Figure 1 is an example of psymithies placed on top of a spherical shape. These lines have
thin ends on both sides, the thicker middle, and are arranged in a parallel fashion yet
slightly bending around the "sphere".

Figure 2 shows the psymithies near the eye. The brightest and thickest lines are closer to
the eye, and then there is a gradual fall off of light as the lines get smaller and thinner.

In the Figure 3, the top part of the psymithies is covered by another object.

In the Figure 4, we have an alternating rhythms of psymithies, with two interpolated rows
of lines, big, thick and bright, and paler, thinner and smaller between them. This style
becomes popular after the fall of Constantinople.
With the color of proplasmos, paint the lights on the hair; the brushstrokes should be wider
in the front, but thinner as they radiate towards the edge of the head. Add more of the
first light into this color and illuminate the hair further; place two or three psymithies on
the hair.

BLUSH

Make a very diluted paint of cinnabar and lightly brush over the shaded part of the bridge
of the nose and the holes in the nostrils. Very lightly, add blush to the cheeks, under the
chin, in the shadow of the neck, hands, and feet. Also, add blush to the nostrils. Cover the
lower lip with cinnabar a bit more prominently but still very transparently; do the same to
the upper lip, using red oxide instead of cinnabar. Draw the line between the lips in burnt
sienna; glaze it over with cinnabar.

OCULAR LIGHTS

Mix white, black, and proplasmos tone. Using this color, place illumination onto the eye
balls, only on one side. This illumination touches the iris but never the upper eyelid. A
smaller second light can be nested inside the first light.

After many studies, one can experiment with glazing the shaded areas with green. This
green coloration is more common in frescoes.

if the face looks too bright, take some of the first light, dilute it with egg emulsion, and
using a flat brush, gently brush over the brightest spots only. All accents will harmonize
better, and the illumination will be more mellow.

If the face has yellow overcast, glaze it over with a very diluted cinnabar. If it is too red,
glaze it with transparent solution of yellow ocher.

THE LINES OF THE MUSTACHE AND THE BEARD

First, the areas have the color of the proplasmos for the face. Now, we cover these areas
with the same color as we use for the hair. On this, place fine dark lines of facial hair with
burnt umber. These lines are thin at both ends but thicker in the middle. The lines of the
moustache are nearly parallel. Usually, there are about four of these lines. The line closest
to the mouth is the thickest, and those above it gradually diminish and taper off.

The lines of the beard's hairs are visually oriented unto the center of the nose. The upper
ends of the hairs thin out to the point they disappear into the proplasmos. To master this,
draw the lines first with a pencil, and then with a very fine brush (burnt umber). It is also
important not to stretch the hairs into the first light of the face but keep them confined
within the area of open proplasmos. Again, as we said, near the mouth the hairs are longer
and wider. Make sure the ends of the hair lines are the thinnest possible; this gives the
beards and the moustache their beauty and volume.

The hair lines of the beard are thinnest near the mouth, then get wider towards the neck,
but again thin out in the neck area. The beard does not start right under the mouth but a
bit lower and thickens there closer to the neck. Painting a beard on young adult's face is
particularly challenging as the connection from beard to the skin has to be very smooth and
seamless. This is facilitated by drawing these lines are finely drawn orienting toward the
mouth and have proper "radial" direction.
Modeling the garments
After transferring the sketch onto the gessoed panel, fill all the areas of the
garments with the proplasmos colors. Gold background should be done first; if
you attempt to lay gold after you have painted the proplasmos, it will stick to the
paint and you will have to re-do the paint layer again.

This first initial blocking is called "proplasmos colors." Let this all dry. If the
proplasmos is too opaque and you have lost the lines, re-apply the sketch, and
restate the lines again. These lines should be very light and barely
distinguishable. For this, the back of your sketch should not be dusty with
pigment; just shake it off or blow on it. Also, make sure you do not press hard on
your pencil (an empty ball-point pen is the best choice for this task), and also do
not touch the paper with your hands because this will smudge the dry pigment all
over the icon.

Make sure you mix enough proplasmos colors, because you will need them for
minor fixes even after you will have finished the work. Also, every time you take a
break, add a few drops of water to the jars with paint, so that it does not dry out.
However, do not add too much water, because if you paint with under-tempered
paint (more pigment than egg yolk in the mix), colors will come out as light, in fact
much lighter than they actually are, and when you varnish them, they go dark.
This may just throw the icon out of balance. Here is how to check if the pigment
is under-tempered: touch the surface of the dry proplasmos with a lightly wet
finger. If the spot goes dark, then it will go this much dark under varnish. If the
wet spot is not different from the surrounding area, no darkening under the
varnish will occur.

You can keep the egg emulsion up to three weeks in a refrigerator. You will need
to keep some amounts of the same proplasmos till the end of the project

THE LINES
After the entire image is transferred unto the proplasmos colors, we make a color
a little darker than the proplasmos and paint the "shaded" lines of clothes - the
folds and the contour. Of course, for each proplasmos, we would have a different
color of this shadow tone. This process of applying the dark lines is called
"opening of the icon" (ανοίγματα). These first lines are not too dark in tone and
are done with wide brush strokes. In places where darker tones are required,
darker SECOND LINES are painted with thinner brushstrokes, on top of the
previous wide lines, and covering only parts of them. Follow the rule "better
twice measured than once wrong" - mistakes with lines are difficult to fix. Thus,
the proplasmos and the lines transition into each other smoothly.

PAINTING THE GARMENTS


Once the “shadows” are done, begin modeling the garments with subsequent
"lights."

The modeling of the garments can be done, generally speaking, in two ways. It is
either simply done by adding more white to the tone of proplasmos, or in dual
tones, with colors different from the color of proplasmos.

The first light differs little from the proplasmos in tone. Same can be said about
the relationship between any of the lights – be it the first, the second, or the third
light. The difference from one tone to the other should not be too sharp. Each
preceding light is wider than the subsequent one, and each subsequent light
covers only the part of the preceding darker light, and it never covers it entirely.
Sometimes there is a seamless transition between the lights (in exactly the way it
is done on the faces), and sometimes there is no transition as the lights are placed
on top of each other with clear demarcation boundary lines. Some garments are
modeled with only one light; this is typically done on the figures of the monastics.
Others are done in two, three, or four lights. Some garments stay dark, and
others are brought up to the brightest pure white as the last light.

When you finish with the lines/shadows and modeling with light, place the icon
farther away and look at it in a detached manner; see if some places it should be
darkened or the brighter colors are needed.

COLOR SCHEMES
All the colors are divided into two categories – cold and warm. The primary
colors are three – yellow, red, and blue. By mixing these three colors, we can
obtain countless other colors and shades. White and black are not really colors;
they are completely neutral and are neither cold nor warm. If we mix all three
primary colors – yellow, red, and blue – we get black.
If we mix only two colors out of three, we get the so called "complementary"
colors:

Yellow + red = orange


Yellow + blue = green
red + blue = purple

Orange is complementary of blue, purple is complementary of yellow, and green


is complementary of red.

When the complementary colors are placed side by side or on top of each other,
the effect is that of great luminosity. These “luminous” pairs are:

orange + blue
purple + yellow
green + red

The ancient Byzantine iconographers knew of this effect and often used it in their
work, for instance modeling the red proplasmos with green lights. They also
colored the two pieces of garment - the inner tunic and the outer cloak - in two
complementary colors such as an orange tunic and blue outer garb.

The colors can be either warm or cold. The warm colors are yellow, orange, and
red. Combinations of these three colors are also warm. Cold colors are purple,
blue, and green. Combinations of these colors are also cold. Some hues are very
“hot” and others are cooler; and we also can cool down a color if we add a cold
color to it, and vise versa, warm up a cold color by adding a warm color to it.

Addition of black and white make a color darker or lighter, but doing so does not
make the colors warmer or colder.

Here is the primary rule of modeling the garments in tradition Byzantine


iconography: each subsequent light should be either lighter or colder than the
proplasmos, never the other way around. That is, we can model the garments by
adding white to each subsequent light, or we can use the complementary color
but only if the proplasmos is warm, and the lights are cold. One should never put
warm lights over the cold proplasmos.

Based on these governing laws, we can present the tables of harmonious color
combinations which are known to us from the classical era of Byzantine
iconography.
WHITE GARMENTS:
1) Proplasmos: ocher +white
Lights: proplasmos + little green + white.
2) Proplasmos: white + little black (gray)
Lights: add more and more white.
3) Proplasmos: burnt umber + white
Lights: add white and a little or proplasmos, or little blue + white
4) Proplasmos: white + burnt sienna
Lights: add white
5) Proplasmos: blue + burnt sienna + white
Lights: add white
6) Proplasmos: raw umber + white
Lights: add white or white with a little black.

GREEN GARMENTS:
Proplasmos: green + black
Lights: add white, or white + green + blue

REDDISH BROWN GARMENTS (BURNT SIENNA):


1) Proplasmos: burnt sienna
First light: burnt sienna + red oxide (χοντροκόκκινο) such as venetian red
or red ocher
Second light: red ocher/venetian red + cinnabar
2) Proplasmos: burnt sienna
First light: burnt sienna + cinnabar
Second light: cinnabar only
3) Proplasmos: burnt sienna
First light: burnt sienna + green + little white
Second light: first light + green + white
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: white
4) Proplasmos: burnt sienna, or sienna + black
First light: burnt sienna + burnt umber + white
Second light: first light + burnt umber + white
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: white
5) Proplasmos: sienna + black
First light: proplasmos + cinnabar
Second light: first light + cinnabar
Third light: cinnabar
6) Proplasmos: burnt sienna + blue
First light: add white to proplasmos
Second light: first light + white

BROWNISH RED GARMENTS (RED OXIDE)


(χονδροκόκκινο = Red oxide, red ocher, Venetian red, English Red)

1) Proplasmos: red oxide


First light: red oxide + white
Second light: first light + white
2) Proplasmos: red oxide
First light: red oxide + burnt umber + white
Second light: first light + burnt umber + white
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: white
3) Proplasmos: red oxide (NB: Instead of black here, we can use blue or green)
First light: red oxide + black+ white
Second light: first light + burnt umber + white
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: white
4) Proplasmos: red oxide + black + white
First light: proplasmos+ white
Second light: first light + white
Third light: second light + white and so on.

CINNABAR GARMENTS
1) Proplasmos: cinnabar
First light: cinnabar + white
2) Proplasmos: cinnabar
First light: cinnabar + yellow ocher + white
3) Proplasmos: cinnabar + ocher + white
First light: proplasmos + white
4) Proplasmos: cinnabar + red oxide
First light: proplasmos + white OR proplasmos + ocher + white
5) Proplasmos: cinnabar
First light: cinnabar + raw umber + white
Second light: first light + little green + white
BLUE GARMENTS (ULTRAMARINE, INDIGO, AND COBALT BLUE)

1) Proplasmos: blue + black


INDIGO is a warm blue,
First light: proplasmos + white
Second light: first light + white leaning towards purple

YELLOW GARMENTS
1) Proplasmos: yellow ocher + red oxide
First light: proplasmos + white
Second light: first light + white
2) Proplasmos: yellow ocher + burnt sienna
First light: proplasmos + green + white
Second light: First light + white
3) Proplasmos: yellow ocher + burnt umber
First light: proplasmos + white

These are a few basic combinations that are very common in iconography. With
these combinations, we may model not only garments but also rocks, buildings
etc.
FIRST AND SECOND LINES/SHADOWS
The ancient iconographers used the following combinations of colors for lines and
shadows:

1) Proplasmos: burnt sienna


first, wider line: sienna darkened with umber
second, narrower line: burnt umber
2) Proplasmos: red oxide
first line: red oxide + burnt sienna
second line: burnt umber
3) Proplasmos: green
First line: proplasmos + black (or burnt sienna or burnt umber)
4) Proplasmos: ocher
First line: burnt sienna or burnt umber or/and red oxide
5) Proplasmos: cinnabar
Lines: transparent red oxide
6) Proplasmos: blue
Lines: mixing black and yellow ocher
THE SHADOWS/LINES ON WHITE GARMENTS

It is important to remember that the proplasmos for white garments is never


white but some darkened or tinted white. This tint has to be warm in hue, as the
subsequent lights must progress to cold hues. Even if you intend a proplasmos to
be blue, always add some warming pigment such as burnt sienna. (See "White
Garments" above.)

These are done as follows:

First wide lines are done with yellow ocher, second lines with burnt sienna, and
then (if necessary) with burnt umber.

Or with greenish ocher first, then black-green on top. Or mixing in burnt sienna
or burnt umber instead.
First lines transparent burnt umber, then with more burnt umber on top of it.

Also, with gray (black + white), and then darker gray on top.

The lines of white garments should open in tone and not to be dark.

This should the rule: the lines/shadows are to be warmer than proplasmos, and
the lights should be colder than proplasmos.
It is

SIMPLICITY VS. COMPLEXITY IN GARMENT MODELING

When we use the dichromatic treatment for the garments - that is, two tones:
warm proplasmos and cold lights - these figures come across as having internal
source of light. This expresses their transcendental nature. Obversely, when the
garments are modeled by adding white to the subsequent lights, such figure
express simplicity and modesty. The dichromatic modeling has power of its own
and requires a certain level of mastery and knowledge how to coordinate it with
other objects within the composition.
FROM COLOR TO WHITE
How to make an evenly scaled progression of tones

Take three empty containers. In the first container put 2 parts color pigment and
1 part white. Add egg emulsion and mix it thoroughly. In the third container, put
2 parts white and 1 part color pigment, and mix with the same amount of egg
emulsion as in the first container. Take now the second container and pour the
equal amounts of paint from the first and the third containers (use a measuring
spoon). Thus you have three hues of the same color but in a precise optical
progression, which is usually difficult to calibrate by eye.

You can also construct the "departure color" and the "arrival color" in the same
way, and construct the middle color. You can also increase the gradations by
mixing an intermediate color from #1 and #2, #2 and #3, making 5 hue gradations
of the same color. Make sure you have got plenty of pigment prepared to be
parceled out in this manner.

Tinting the whites


When modeling the garments by adding white, tint the subsequent lights with the
dominant color of the garment. Just adding white makes modeling somewhat
chalky and monotonous, especially if there are several figures and garments done
in the same manner, but tinting the white is a good way of keeping the lights
within the orbit of the dominant color. For instance, if the proplasmos color is
greenish blue (i.e, it is more blue than green), and if you have chosen to create
each subsequent light by adding white to the previous one, add also some small
amounts of blue to the subsequent lights to keep it all unified.

A general observation: if we require a thick opaque color, we need to add some


white into the mix. White has excellent blocking properties, and when added in
small amounts, it might not be enough to change the color of the paint but it is
enough to make it opaque. However, if we want the white gesso to show through
transparent colors, then we need to remember that adding white pigment will
cancel out this effect.
Negative first light
In some cases, a great effect is achieved by making the first light slightly darker
than the color of proplasmos. However, this can be done only in a very limited
number of color combinations. This technique has to be handled skillfully and
expertly, and only attempted on icons after much practice.

Modeling the garments by adding white into the subsequent lights does not
essentially transforms the color; it just makes it lighter and lighter with each step.
Modeling them with complementary colors, however, does. We see on many
ancient prototypes as the dark red of the garment's proplasmos is gradually
transformed into its luminous opposite, the complementary color green.

However, there is one step even beyond that, taking the viewer into a much more
heightened zone of transfigured light. This is done with what we term as the
negative first light. This effect is never seen in nature, and it entirely belongs in
the world of metaphysics - as well as historic icons. This can only be done with a
warm proplasmos, and it should be fairly light in tone, to allow the first light to be
slightly darker than proplasmos. Historically, only three colors were used for
proplasmos to accept the negative first light: cinnabar, pink, and yellow - and
also the gradients and mixtures of these three. The first and the subsequent
lights must be on the opposite side of the spectrum, which means all the
subsequent lights are cold.

Here are the variations of color combinations suitable for this technique:

CINNABAR PROPLASMOS

GREEN over CINNABAR (fig. 1) GRAY over CINNABAR


Proplasmos: cinnabar (cinnabar) Proplasmos: cinnabar (cinnabar)
First light: green + umber First light: black and white (dark grey)
Second light: add white and green Second light: first light + white, and so on.
Third light: add white
Third light
(more white)

Second light
(added white
and green)

First light
Proplasmos (green + umber)
(cinnabar)
Figure 1

PINK PROPLASMOS

GREEN over PINK GRAY over PINK


Proplasmos: pink (cinnabar + white) Proplasmos: pink (cinnabar + white)
First light: green + raw umber First light: black and white (dark grey)
Second light: add white and green Second light: first light + white, and so on.
Third light: add white
YELLOW PROPLASMOS

GREEN over YELLOW GRAY over YELLOW


Proplasmos: yellow ocher Proplasmos: yellow ocher
First light: green + raw umber First light: raw umber + white
Second light: add white and green Second light: first light + white, and so on.
Third light: add white

  

To summarize, there are only three colors of proplasmos that can take the darker
first light: cinnabar, pink, and yellow. The subsequent lights are either gray or
green. For the green first light, mix green with some raw umber, and in
subsequent lights add green and white, and then just white. For the gray first
light, mix white and black and add white to the subsequent lights.

The method of application, however, differs from the usual garment modeling
technique. Here is how it is done:

The proplasmos should not be opaque; the tones of proplasmos are already light
and bright, but the paint should not be opaque but let some patches of white
gesso to show through. So, add a generous amount of egg emulsion to create this
effect. Once the proplasmos is dry, apply the dark lines with transparent umber
or burnt sienna. Then proceed to the first light. The first light should be very
transparent; do not be afraid of it being darker than proplasmos - this is its
marvelous secret. As it dries, make another pass of the same color, but this time
begin to build up opaqueness with additional thicker layers. With every pass,
cover smaller and smaller area, so that in the end there is a smooth, seamless
transition from bright colored, light proplasmos to a darker diffuse first light.
The second light - which will be lighter than the first light because it contains
white - is laid upon the first light in the usual fashion, and we continue with the
rest as usual.

GLAZES
Transparent glazes can be used to create a more pronounced form. For glazes,
we may utilize watercolor paint out of tubes; just mix them with egg emulsion
into a very transparent solution. Shading and glazing the red maforion of the
Theotokos with carmine (deep dark red with a purplish hue) gives good results.
Often, we use a glaze to cover only a shaded portion of the garment, to give it
more pronounced form, but it is important not to forget the principle of form
building "from warm to cold." Shade or glaze the darker regions of the garment
with a warm color, leaving the colder, illuminated regions untouched.
Examples of garment modeling
NOTE ON GARMENTS IN ICONOGRAPHY

The tradition of garments in Byzantine iconography follows the ancient Greco-


Roman dress code: two pieces of garment, the inner and the outer. The inner
piece was called chiton (χιτών), a tunic. It was sewn of a finer fabric, and was
usually more expensive, occasionally featuring some golden decorations.

The chiton was worn in combination with the heavier himation (ἱμάτιον) over it,
which played the role of a cloak and was made of heavier, less expensive fabric.

The order of pigments in our lists (for instance, green + blue + white) is arranged
to indicate their mutual proportion; that is to say, green + blue + white means
"predominantly green" + "some blue" + "little white", and not the equal quantity
thereof.

Χιτών (tunic, the inner garment) Iμάτιον (cloak, the outer garment)

Proplasmos: umber + carmin Proplasmos: umber + green


First light: proplasmos + white First light: Proplasmos + green + blue + white
Second light: first light + white Second light: First light + green + blue + white
Χιτών (tunic, the inner garment) Iμάτιον (cloak, the outer garment)

Proplasmos: red oxide + white Proplasmos: umber + blue + green + black


First light: propalsmos + white First light: proplasmos + blue + green + white
Second light: first light + white Second light: First light + blue + green + white
Third light: white only

Lines: proplasmos + red oxide


Χιτών (tunic, the inner garment) Iμάτιον (cloak, the outer garment)

Proplasmos: Proplasmos: black + green + some umber


carmine + black + brown + white (very little) First light: proplasmos + blue + green + white
First light: propalsmos + white Second light: First light + blue + green + white
Second light: first light + white
Lines: black
For lines, use a transparent glaze made of
carmine + black

Carmine is dark red, cold hue


Χιτών (tunic, the inner garment) Iμάτιον (cloak, the outer garment)

Proplasmos: burnt sienna + blue + red oxide Proplasmos: black + blue + green
First light: propalsmos + white + proplasmos First light: proplasmos + white + blue + green
from the cloak Second light: First light + white + blue + green
Second light: first light + white Third light: Second light + blue + white
Third light: second light + white + blue
Χιτών (tunic, the inner garment) Iμάτιον (cloak, the outer garment)

Proplasmos: red oxide + white Proplasmos: umber + green + blue


First light: propalsmos + umber + white First light: proplasmos + green + blue + white
Second light: first light + black + white Second light:
Third light: second light + white + little black First light + green + blue + white
Third light:
Second light + green + blue + white
Χιτών (tunic, the inner garment) Iμάτιον (cloak, the outer garment)

Proplasmos: burnt sienna + blue + white Proplasmos: burnt sienna + blue


First light: propalsmos + blue + white First light: proplasmos + blue + white
Second light: first light + white Second light: First light + blue + white
Third light: second light + white
Lines: black
Lines:
proplasmos from the cloak (transparent)
Χιτών (tunic, the inner garment) Iμάτιον (cloak, the outer garment)

Proplasmos: cinnabar + carmine + red oxide Proplasmos: raw umber + green + blue
First light: propalsmos + yellow ocher + white First light: proplasmos + yellow ocher + white
Second light: first light + white Second light: First light + yellow ocher + white
Third light: second light + white
THE WHITE TUNIC OF CHRIST-CHILD

First, we cover the entire surface of the garments with a mixture of ocher and
white, same as the background (A). This vivid yellow will add a warm undertone
to the proplasmos which will go on top of it.

Proplasmos (B): white + raw umber + yellow ocher + green


Lines: proplasmos + black + green
First light: proplasmos + white + yellow ocher
Second light: first light + white + yellow ocher

(on this picture, the C is proplasmos for the clavus and sash; the D is proplasmos
for the flesh tone)
OMOPHORIA

For better balance between the face and this garment, we recommend using the
same proplasmos as for the face or flesh. For the darker part of the garment (on
the right), add added some blue and white. The subsequent lighter segments are
done with the face proplasmos with progressively added white
Proplasmos: ocher + cinnabar + raw umber + white
First light: proplasmos + white + black
Second light: first light + white + black
Third light: white
"Brown" denotes Madder Lake, a
Proplasmos: brown + umber + dark red pigment that has a wide range of
First light: proplasmos + blue + green color depending on the
Second light: first light + blue + white manufacturer, from crimson to
brown. It is a cold color.
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: white
Proplasmos: brown + raw umber
First light: proplasmos + green + white
Second light: first light + green + white
Third light: white
Proplasmos: brown + blue
First light: blue + very little white
Second light: blue + green + white
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: third light + white
Proplasmos: yellow ocher + red oxide (red ocher) + cinnabar
First light: yellow ocher
Second light: ocher + white
Third light: white
Proplasmos: cinnabar + carmine + some brown
First light: cinnabar
Second light: first light + yellow ocher
Third light: second light + ocher + white

Lines: umber + brown (transparent)


Proplasmos: Red oxide + cinnabar + white
First light: proplasmos + yellow ocher + white
Second light: first light + ocher + white
Third light: third light + white

Lines: red oxide


Proplasmos: Burnt sienna + brown + blue + white
First light: proplasmos + raw umber + green + white
Second light: first light + green + white
Third light: second light + green + white
Proplasmos: raw umber + dark red + brown + white
First light: Proplasmos + raw umber + white
Second light: first light + white
Third light: second light + white

First lines: raw umber + dark red (transparently)


Second lines: burnt umber
Proplasmos: raw umber + green + white
First light: proplasmos + black + white
Second light: first light + blue + white
Third light: second light + white
Proplasmos: Yellow ocher + red + raw umber + white
First light: proplasmos + blue + dark red + white
Second light: first light + white
Third light: second light + white

First lines: raw umber (transparent)


Second lines: burnt umber
Proplasmos: raw umber + burnt umber + ocher + black + green
First light: Proplasmos + white + green + raw umber
Second light: first light + white + green
Proplasmos: Burnt sienna + brown + blue + white
First light: proplasmos + blue + white
Second light: first light + white + blue
Third light: second light + white
Proplasmos: yellow ocher + raw umber + green + white
First light: proplasmos + blue + white
Second light: yellow ocher + white
Third light: white

Lines: proplasmos + raw umber


Proplasmos: raw umber + white
First light: proplasmos + black + white
Second light: black + white
Third light: white

First lines: proplasmos + raw umber


Second lines: raw umber (transparent)
Proplasmos: yellow ocher + black + red oxide
First light: proplasmos + yellow ocher + white
Second light: first light + yellow ocher + white
Third light: second light + yellow ocher + white
Mauve is a pale purple
Proplasmos:
color, more grey and more
burnt sienna + yellow ocher + white + mauve
First light: mauve blue than magenta.
Second light: mauve + white
To obtain this color, mix
Third light: second light + white + very little yellow ocher
blue, burnt sienna, and
Fourth light: white + very little yellow ocher
white.
Proplasmos: red oxide + cinnabar
First light: proplasmos + green + white + raw umber
Second light: first light + green + white
Third light: second light + green + white
Proplasmos: blue + burnt sienna + burnt umber
First light: proplasmos + blue + white
Second light: first light + blue + white
Third light: second light + blue + white
Modeling the garment
with negative first light
Note that the dark lines are not there; when modeling with negative light, they are
often omitted.

Proplasmos: red oxide + white


First light: proplasmos + black
Second light: first light + little black + lots of white
Third light: white
Proplasmos: place one coat of yellow ocher over the entire surface of the garment.
The consistency of the paint must be fairly transparent so that some gesso would
be showing through. Then, the part that should be illuminated (the thigh, in this
example) is done in the following manner: add some red oxide to the ocher and
with very transparent brushstrokes cover the portion of the garment to be
illuminated. This the part becomes slightly darker than the rest of the garment, and
redder too. After that, follow the usual sequence of modeling:

First light: yellow ocher + raw umber + white


Second light: first light + white + green
Third light: white
Proplasmos: yellow ocher + red oxide
First light: proplasmos + raw umber
Second light: first light + green + white
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: white
Proplasmos: yellow ocher + much white
First light: proplasmos + black
Second light: first light + blue + white
Third light: second light + blue + white
Fourth light: white
Proplasmos: yellow ocher + much white
First light: proplasmos + raw umber
Second light: first light + white + green
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: third light + white + blue
Proplasmos: yellow ocher + raw umber + white
First light: proplasmos + raw umber + blue (and maybe a little white)
Second light: first light + white
Third light: second light + white
Fourth light: white
Proplasmos: ocher + black + green
First light: proplasmos + black
Second light: first light + blue + white
Third light: second light + blue + white
Fourth light: white
Proplasmos: burnt umber + dark red (carmine)
First light: proplasmos + umber
Second light: first light + blue + white
Third light: second light + lots of white
Proplasmos: carmine or cinnabar
First light: green + umber
Second light: green + white
Third light: white
Modeling with one light only

Proplasmos: burnt sienna + dark red + blue


First light: burnt sienna + dark red + cinnabar + very little white
The traditional colors of the Theotokos' maforion

Proplasmos: burnt umber + some cinnabar


First light: proplasmos + cinnabar
Second light: first light + cinnabar + little white
STRUCTURE OF THE EYEBROWS
Very often, iconographers find it difficult to paint eyebrows. The reason is that the shape
is not simple, but like in any other part of the face, it has a compound structure. This
structure is hiding in plain sight and many do not even suspect of its existence. Careful
study and comparison reveals this it.

There are three elements in an eyebrow:


1. The base near the nose - AB;
2. The middle section - BC;
3. The curved finishing section - CD .

The base of the brow (AB) touches the corners of the nasal triangle at the points a and a1.
From that place both eyebrows ascend obliquely. Their angular beginning (Aa and A1a1)
imparts to the face an expression of vigor; if an iconographer wants that expression, that
area should be accentuated in this way. The underside of this segment (ab, a1b1) is not
not parallel to AB and A1B1 but ever so slightly convex, it has a slight downward curve.
However, the upper line (AB, A1B1) is straight, not curved. This part of the brow is a little
thicker than the other two parts.
The middlesection is very important, because it imparts a subtle expression of stability,
serenity, and peace. Both upper and lower edges are straight lines, but the lines are not
parallel to each other because in this section the eyebrows begin to taper off.
It is very important to point out that the middle section on the smaller side is significantly
smaller than its counterpart on the larger side, and in some icons is not ever present.
The last, final segment (CD) rapidly thins out until it turns into a single point on the ocular
axis. It also gradually becomes lighter and lighter and finally blends into the flesh.

The next step is to round off all the angles, as if with sandpaper:

Practice copying various eyebrow shapes


from different saints, eras and schools.
There is a lot of variation, and one can
learn to see the internal structure of the
eyebrows and replicate them with ease.
THE EYES
The ocular axis passes through the outer corners of the eyes. The inside corners are below
this ocular axis, no matter what the degree of the head turn is; it is the same for the frontal
face and the 3/4 turn.

The pupils of the eyes always rest on this axis.

The line of the upper eyelid does not go all the way to the inner corner of the eye but stops
where it meets the ocular axis. Because of this property, the size of an eye is calculated
from this point to the outer corner of the eye. The actual inner corner of the eye is located
below the ocular axis but the line of the upper eyelid stops higher.

Based on this observation, we say that all four corners of the eyes are placed on a straight
line. However, since the head is a sphere, this straight line is in reality a circle (Fig. 1)

Figure 1
The line that goes through the inner and outer corners of the eyes is a circle with the center at the point A.

In Figure 2, we have eight naturalistic images of the eyes of various expressions. Note this
important factor: no matter what the expression is, the horizontal line drawn from one
outer corner of the eye to the other passes through the iris, and the both pupils rest on
that line.

No. 7, however, is an exception, for the ocular axis passes through the pupil, but there is an
expressive element as well: the pupils are very large and dark, the upper eyelid is raised,
and the entire iris is nearly exposed, which is never used in iconography.
Figure 2

Figure 3

A detailed analysis of Panselinos' iconography reveals that he was well aware of this
phenomenon, and that he operated within this framework. If he sought a certain
expression, he would paint the pupils above the ocular axis, as seen on Figure 3.

Another observable feature is that near the nose, the eyebrows are very near to the
serenity lines (the arched skin folds between the eye brow and the upper eyelash);
however, the eyebrows then taper off and are placed progressively farther from the
serenity lines, as seen in Figure 3 and 4.
Figure 4

The arches of the upper lids begin and end on the ocular axis B-A (Fig. 4); this is common
for naturalistic photographs as well as images painted by Panselinos.

The distance between the eyes - that is, the distance between the two inner corners of the
eyes - is equal to the length of an eye. Sometimes it is a little larger, but never smaller.
Panselinos follows this principle as well.

While the lines of the upper eyelids begin and end on the ocular axis, the inner corner's
tear ducts are located below the ocular axis. The pupils do not touch the ocular axis, and
are painted slightly above it. This feature is found in many frescoes of Panselinos.
CHANGING SHAPES IN THE PHYSICAL DISPLAY

When we look at the face from below, we may observe that the shape of the eyes changes
considerably. The lower eyelid loses its curved shape and becomes more flat whereas the
upper eyelid's curvature becomes more pronounced.

Figure 5

In Figure 5, we can actually observe that if the face is viewed from below, the lower eyelids
have not only lost their curvature but have even begun to curve upward. The ocular axis
now goes through the lower eyelids; the shape of the serenity lines have changed, and the
eyebrows have also shifted. As the face changes its position and turn, all these axes and
dimensional relationships change too. Any slight head turn changes the nature of these
relationships.

This, however, is the area of naturalistic, realistic portraiture. In traditional iconography, a


different approach was established, for the reasons that are deeply theological and
catechetical. This approach made most of the features such as axes and dimensional
relationships permanent and immutable.
SCHEMATICS AND MEASUREMENTS OF THE LARGER EYE

Figure 6

AB = 2AC
The upper and the lower eyelids are written into the rectangle ABCD, whose length is twice
that of its height, that is, AB = 2AC. It is important to remember that the line AB
determines the lower boundary of the upper eyelash, as the upper boundary of the
eyelashes is placed above the AB line and is not within the rectangle.

GM = MN
• G is where the upper part of the pupil touches the lower edge of the upper eyelash;
• M is the point on the serenity line;
• N is the upper edge of the eyebrow

ON = VM = GI = 1/2 GK (also, ON = IK)


• ON is he thickness of the eyebrow in the middle;
• VM is the distance between the upper edge of the upper eyelash to the serenity line;
• GI is the height of the iris;
• GK is the height of the pupil
It is important to remember that GI = IK; that is to say, the lower edge of the pupil halves
the vertical space of the iris and does not go below that point.

UW = 1/2 of GI
Closer to the nose, the distance between the lower edge of the eyebrow to the serenity
line is half of the height of the pupil.

SR = 1/2 of QS
The outer end of the eyebrow (R) ends on the ocular axis Q-J-S; the distance from the outer
corner of the eye (S) to that point (R) is half of the eye's length.

ET = FJ = JE
The distance between the lower edge of the lower eyelash (E) to the line of
the lacrimal sac (T) is equal half the eye's height.

GI = IK = KL
The height of the pupil is equal to the distance between the lower edge of the pupil to the
boundary line of the iris and is equal to the distance from the boundary line of the iris to
the upper edge of the lower eyelid.

The outer end of the serenity line ends on the ocular axis (point P), placed somewhere in
the relative middle between S and R

  
Figure 7

Oftentimes in frescos (Fig. 7), the iris and pupil are stretched diagonally (1, 3, 4) and not so
often horizontally (2). The diagonal stretch gives the facial expression great intensity,
whereas the horizontal stretch is a milder, calmer form. Look at how Panselinos took the
pupil out of the enclosure of the iris! (1)
COLORING OF THE EYE

It is important to keep the upper eyelid dark and strong, and the lower eyelid lighter and
less prominent. The upper eyelid's entire length is done with burnt umber, and in the
thickest part is reinforced with black. The lower eyelid should be significantly less dark and
have only half the thickness of the upper eyelid. The color is made by mixing proplasmos
with burnt sienna.

The first light on the eye's sclera is done with white + black + proplasmos. The second light
is pure white. The pupil is black. The inner corner can be glazed with cinnabar. The
serenity line is done with mixture of proplasmos and umber.

KANTHOFOS
The most delicate element of the eye is the thin tapering line called kanthofos, the light line
that extends from the inner corner of the eye over the lower eye lid and disappears into it.
It is painted in parallel to the lower eyelid and just above it. This line requires precision and
mastery. It is thick at the inner corner; then, following the line of the lower eyelid, it thins
out continuously, and ends hair-width at the outer corner of the eye, where the two eyelids
meet. This line is one of the brightest on the face and is usually done with pure white.

The first light of the sclera should not touch neither the kanthofos and more so the lower
eyelid; there should be some proplasmos space in between. Neither this first light of the
sclera extends to the corners of the eye.

Under the lower eye lid lies the area called "ocular orbit". It is painted as a shadow left by
the unilluminated proplasmos. This "strip" is parallel to the lower eyelid. The height of this
shade is equal or slightly smaller than the height of the iris.

How to illuminate the area under the lower eyelid: in the larger eye, the brightest area is
near the inner corner, and it fades out towards the outer corner. The illumination is done
horizontally; psymithies are applied to that area in the end. This area is of great
importance and usually is given a lots of attention and detail. The same area under the
smaller eye is often underdeveloped.
THEOLOGICAL COMMENTARY

This approach teaches to all Orthodox churches throughout the world, that the "Christ is
the same, yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). This unchanged nature
parallels that of the singing church hymns in ochtoechos (the eight tones of church singing),
the common church architecture, one Church led by the Holy Spirit.

Had the Church not establish these parameters, the iconography would have been left to
individual expression of painters; every iconographer would be free to give his or her
interpretation of theology, teachings of the Church. The art based on individualism would
have flooded the Orthodox churches with sensual images, often surrealistic paintings, and
abstract art. Naturalistic, sensual paintings shift the delicate balance of "Theanthropos" to
its human side, pushing the divine into the foreground; the formalistic, abstract expressions
of the divine obliterate the human side. All of these have permeated the Christian West;
and the Orthodox Church has not been immune to its Western captivity.

Let's then not forget the hymn:

One personhood of the Lord Jesus Christ having two natures, divine and human,
taught us the dogmatic hymns composed praise in psalmodies,
established the forms of iconography, and, giving us such understanding,
revealed the precious faceted jewel.
  
Figure 8

Each element of the eye has its tonal intensity, as seen in this drawing (Fig. 8).

The darkest are these three elements, which are painted with burnt umber:

1. The line of the upper eyelid;


2. The pupil;
3. The outline of the iris

The eyebrow is usually done with the proplasmos tone used for the hair. Another way of
painting the eyebrow is to use burnt umber for its entire length, and then use a transparent
glaze of proplasmos color used for the face to lessen the intensity of this dark feature, and
make it blend better with the skin tone. The outer edges of the eyebrows (i.e., the
eyebrow ends closer to the ears) must fade out into the proplasmos tone.

The two lightest elements are the lower eyelid and the "serenity line". These are painted
with a mixture of the proplasmos for the hair and proplasmos for the face (or with
proplasmos for the face with a little raw umber added to it).
Figure 9

To teach yourself the correct form of the eye, photocopy the outline drawing (Fig. 9), then
fill in all the forms in their correct intensity, using Fig. 8 as a model.

Use the 4B pencil; it is versatile enough to make the lightest grey and the darkest black.
After practicing, learn to draw the outline shape freehand, and practice some more.

Figure 10
PROPORTIONS OF THE SMALLER EYE

Figure 11

The rectangle ABCD shows the outer boundary of the smaller eye. The proportions of this
rectangle differ from the same of the larger eye. In the larger eye, the height was half the
length; however, in the smaller eye the height (FE) can be slightly larger than the half of the
eye's length (DE or EC). The reason is that while the length of the smaller eye is somewhat
less than the length of the larger eye, their height should remain the same. This shortening
of the length is caused by the slight turn of the frontal face; the length changes but the
height may not. Likewise, the proportions of the pupil, the iris, and the eyeball also may
not change (GI = IK = KL).

In classical iconography this is not strictly adhered. Alternatively, an iconographer may


choose to make the heights of both eyes correlate to their length and be 1/2 of the length
respectively. This aspect of the eyes' height is in the realm of artistic choice.
The serenity line's apex is on the line that passes through the upper line of the nose. The
rise of the eyebrow equals about the height of the eye - that is to say, MV = FE.
We have already mentioned that the eyebrow is a tri-fold structure. This is not so
noticeable in the large eye; it is in the smaller eye that this tri-fold shape becomes
prominent. The point O is located right above the middle of the pupil, and the point P is
located above the space between the outer corner S and the edge of the iris Z.

The height of the ocular orbit (UT) (ocular orbit is the shaded area under the eye), together
with the height of the lower eyelid line, is equal the half of the eye's height (UT = SD).
Here is where we have a difference from the proportions of the larger eye: the large eye's
ocular orbit is half the height of the larger eye but without the thickness of the lower
eyelid. In the smaller eye, we observe the proportion WU = UT. This makes the ocular
orbit's height of the smaller eye slightly less than the same of the larger eye.

The thickness of the two eyebrows is the same.

Figure 12
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO EYES

Figure 13

The smaller eye: The larger eye:

a. The upper eyelid is more curved; a. The upper eyelid is flat in the middle;
b. The pupil is at the apex of b. The pupil is slightly off center
the upper eyelid; of the upper eyelid;
c. The serenity line is equidistant from c. The serenity line is closer to the upper
the upper eyelid at all its points; eyelid at the corner of the eye but is
farther away from the apex of the eyelid;
d. The lower eyelid is straight d. The lower eyelid is curved;
Figure 14
The position of the pupil of the eye in relation to the ocular axis and
the perpendicular bisectors of each eye's height.

Nota bene:
Due to the head's slight turn, the pupils are not drawn in the center of the eyes, but slightly
off center. This shift is different in each eye. In we draw a vertical line right in the center of
each eye, which would be the largest distance between the upper and lower eyelids of each
eye. The pupils are not placed on these lines, however. In the smaller eye, the pupil is
slightly off to the side; and in the larger eye, it is quite noticeably off to the side. Note how
the smaller eye's pupil intersects the vertical line by its edge, but the larger eye's pupil does
not touch it at all and is at some distance from it.
RELATIONSHIPS AND DISTANCES

Figure 15
1. The shape of the nose is drawn in such a way that the nasal axis (PO) passes not through
the middle of the nose, and not through the edge, but somewhere between the middle line
of the nose and the edge. This is where the shaded area of the bridge of the nose begins;
nasal axis passes through that terminator line.

2. The ocular axis (GEFH) is placed 1/5 length of the nose below the upper line of the noses'
triangle.

3. The pupil of the eye touches the upper eyelid. The line of the iris is drawn around the
pupil in such a way that the space between the line and the pupil at the lowest position is
equal to the height of the pupil.

4. The lines of serenity are placed above the upper eyelid at the distance slightly larger than
the height of the pupil.

5. Due to the head's slight turn, the pupils are not drawn in the center of the eyes, but
slightly off center. This shift is different in each eye. In we draw a vertical line right in the
center of each eye, this would be the largest distance between the upper and lower eyelids
of each eye. The pupils, however, are not placed on these lines. In the smaller eye, the
pupil is slightly off to the side; and in the larger eye, it is quite noticeably off to the side.
(See Figure 14)

6. The length of the larger eye is half the length of the nose. The height of the larger eye is
half the length of the eye. (See Figure 6) The length of the smaller eye (GE) is equal the
distance between the edges of the nostrils (QR). This change of the length is due to the
slight turn of the head. This turn, however, does not alter the height of the smaller eye
significantly. There is a slight reduction in height but it is so insignificant that in smaller
icons it can be disregarded. In larger images this difference of height might be
incorporated: the smaller eye's height is 1/16 less than the larger eye's.

7. The ocular axis divides the vertical space of each eye into two equal parts (See Figures 6
and Figure 11). Observe, however, how eyelids fit into that box.

8. If we draw a horizontal line (ST) through the upper line of the nose's triangle (K), it will
pass through the apex of the serenity line of the smaller eye. On the other side of the face,
it will pass through the middle of the space between the serenity line and the upper eyelid
of the larger eye.

9. The middle portion of the upper and lower eyelids should flatten. Panselinos
occasionally draws the smaller eye's upper eyelid as an even curve without flattening its
middle section. The lower eyelid of the smaller eye, however, flattens considerably - more
than the lower lid of the larger eye.

10. It is important to give the upper eyelids their proper and substantial thickness.
However, they are never as thick as the height of the pupil.

11. The shape of the serenity lines and their placement in regards to the upper eyelids are
important. In the larger eye, the serenity line begins very close to the inner corner of the
eye, but then as the line moves towards the outer corner, the distance increases and stays
that way to the end. In the smaller eye, the serenity line is at an equal distance from the
eyelid throughout its length. Again, it is important to remember that the distance from the
upper eye lid to the serenity line should be greater than the vertical diameter of the pupil.

12. How to find the lower part of the nasal triangle: draw an imaginary line through the
centers of the pupils. At the points where this line intersects the sides of the nose is the
lower part of the triangle.
THE EYEBROWS

Near the nose, the eyebrows and the serenity lines are at the closest proximity - at that
point, the distant between them is less than the height of the eye's pupil. Moving out,
away from the nose, these lines part. The shape of the eyebrows are lie the wings of an
eagle flying, slightly raised. This "lift" is the highest as the eyebrow line moves past the
outer edges of each iris.

The outer end of the eyebrow lines stops at the ocular axis, and the distance between that
point and the end of the serenity line is less than the width of the iris. As the outer end of
the larger eyebrow tapers off at the point of intersection the ocular axis, this imaginary
curved line is continued in the rounded line of the cheek's lighted area.
The eyebrows retain their thickness throughout the length, but tapers off after the highest
point and becomes less dark.

POSITIONS OF THE PUPILS

In some historical iconography, we might see that mutual proportions of the eyes were not
followed and the two eyes were painted the same size. Doing so decreases the distance
between the two eyes. However, if the pupils are placed correctly and the distance
between them equals the length of the nose, the mistake is not felt and does not come
across as a noticeable problem.

There is also a correlation between the inner corners of the eyes and the placement of the
nostrils. Observe the points E and Q, F and R are located on the respective parallel lines AB
and CD. The width of the lowest part of the nose (QR) is the same the distance between
the inner corners of the eyes (EF).

The line that passes through the upper part of the nose (ST) intersects the nasal axis (PO) at
the point K. The upper line of this nasal triangle is not straight but curves downward,
precisely at the point K. It is interesting as Panselinos made an indentation in plaster at this
point as he was placing markers of his design. Clearly, it was an important point for him to
mark.
This upper line of the nasal triangle is not always parallel to the ocular axis. If the head shift
is greater, the "slope" of this line increases (Fig. 16). Some frescos exhibit an extreme
degree of this modification (Fig. 17):

Figure 16 Figure 17

When the head turn is slight, this "slope" is not so noticeable. Yet, we can observe it
indirectly. If we draw an imaginary line through it, the line will touch the smaller eye's
serenity line at its apex, but in the larger eye it will nearly touch the upper eyelid. (Fig. 18)

Figure 18
6:5 = THE PROPORTIONS OF THE LARGER AND SMALLER EYES

At some point, this question arises: what is the actual difference in length between the
small and the large eye? Answer: the optimal proportion is 6:5 (Figure 19). To figure out
the length of the smaller eye, divide the length of the larger eye by 1.2 (It is important to
remember that the length of the larger eye is equal 1/2 of the nose).

However, in practical iconography most thing should be done freehand, without overly
relying on props. One way to teach yourself this relationship is to practice drawing these
scales - large size, smaller, then even smaller, always retaining the correct proportion. At
some point, you will be able to do this without even thinking about it.

Larger eye

Smaller eye

Lrg
Sm

Lrg
Sm

Figure 19
Three-quarter face schematics

The other most common position of the face is "three quarters", which means there is a
3/4 displacement of the central axis of the face. This type of depiction of a person
changes some of the proportions and modifies the shapes of the face. First of all, the
central vertical axis, being a straight line in full face, becomes a curved line, due to the
spherical shape of the head. This curved axis divides the face into two unequal parts.

All the parts of the face (the brow, the eye) that are on the farther side of the face are
drawn at the same height as the parts on the closest side of the face, but their width is
reduced. All the shading (and lighting) follows the same principle.

This is a geometric representation of the head and the axis of symmetry. On the left,
the head is represented by a sphere and the vertical axis is the ABCD line. This axis
divides the sphere into two symmetrical, equal halves. On the right, the same axis is
now curved, as the sphere is turned 3/4. It optically divides the sphere into two unequal
parts.
The both eye's placement does not change from what it is in the full face, nor does the
height of left eye (the distance from the upper eyelid to the lower) differ much from
that of the left eye. The left eye, however, is wider than the left eye (from corner to
corner). A new element is introduced - the ocular indentation A; its placement should
be on the imaginary line that passes through both lower eyelids.
The axes of the face in three-quarters view

The axis EFGI that goes through the center of the face is a curved line. It runs parallel to
the outer curved line BC and both lines have the same curvature. The distance from the
central line EFGI to the AD (ear line) is two and a half times greater than the distance
between the EFGI and the outer line BC.

The mathematical relations are as follows:


EF = FG = GI
AE = 2EB + 1/2EB
GH = 1/3 of GI
Notice that the point E is not on the same line as the central curved axis ABCD. The line
of the nose BE does not coincide with the direction of the vertical axis at three quarters
view. (For more information on this feature, see "Position of the nose in relation to the
nasal axis in 3/4 turn").
In the three-quarters view, the central axis divides the mouth into two unequal parts;
AB is greater than BC.

SUGGESTED EXERCISES ON PAPER


using a soft pencil (4B), an eraser, and white Conté crayons on gray or brown paper

This is the best way to practice iconographic drawing. The materials needed are not at
all that expensive (for instance, you can even use cheep brown paper bags), but they
give excellent results because it is easy to imitate both shades and light in the same way
we do in iconography with egg tempera. The paper must not be white but medium-dark
gray or light brown. One can purchase multiple sheets or rolls of such paper cheaply
from warehouses and in large quantities. Cut these sheets into squares of about 50 x 50
cm and rectangles 50 x 25 cm (20 x 20 inches and 20 x 10 inches respectively). The
copies of the prototypes should be of the same size as the intended drawing, or twice as
large. Later in study we will work on smaller or larger copies.

It is essential to have a hard cardboard 50x70 cm to attach the paper to with two clips or
painter's tape at the corners. The pencil used should be of medium hardness (4B), which
neither too hard nor too soft so that the tip does not break off easily.
Begin with sketching the general design with gestural lines. Lightly mark the auxiliary
points and the axes to determine the position of the facial features. Then draw these
features more decisively. Then do more precise linework with darker lines - this is done
by pressing the pencil harder.

The reason why we use dark paper and not white paper is because the tint of the paper
imitates the proplasmos, that is, the "shadow" tone of the face. So when we proceed
with modeling, we will do so with white chalk (Conté crayon sticks or white chalk
pencils). First, we cover all the needed areas with chalk, and then rub the surface with
our fingers. The lines of chalk will turn into a uniform smooth surface, and will become
much less light and bright. At the edges, the light color will fade into the darker color of
the background, thus achieving smooth transitions. This first step is equal to the first
light of egg tempera. Going with chalk over the same surface will give us the second
and the third lights.

The same goes for shadows. Just as rubbing the light areas with your finger gives a
diffuse and smooth transition of light tone into the darker tone of the paper, we can do
the same with dark 4B pencil. When we want to put a shadow, pass the area with pencil
strokes, then smudge it with your finger, achieving a uniform dark surface. For darker
places and darker lines, just press the pencil harder into the surface.

It is much easier to achieve nice results with chalk and pencil than with other materials.
If we do exercises on white paper, we should only use pencil, no chalk. Mostly, this is
useful to practice the proportions of the face and body.

Such sketches are prone to smudging. If you like the results and want to keep it, spray it
with a special varnish or fixative, sold for that purpose at art stores.

You can also use an eraser to delete unnecessary strokes and leftover chalk, and
generally fix mistakes. We sometimes use eraser to create the lightening effects instead
of white chalk when we work on the surface already covered with graphite. Just cut
your eraser diagonally, so that the wider part is for wide sweeps, and the sharp side is
for the thin lines. If you want to imitate the color of the prototype, use pastel or colored
chalk.
This 3/4 turn is not random; there is a deep reason why we find it so often in
iconography. When an angel is shown to worship Christ and venerate Him with a bow,
his face is not painted in profile as it probably should have been, but instead the head
turn is 3/4. In this manner, an angel's face is slightly directed at the viewer, initiating
contact. Some faces are indeed painted sideways, in profile - usually the faces of people
with whom the viewer is unlikely to develop a relationship - Judas, the Pharisee etc.
Very occasionally in iconography, we find faces that turn more than 3/4. In all these
cases, the spatial positions and the shapes of the nose, the mouth, and other parts of
the face change significantly.

For your own study, acquire a selection of the best faces of saints in the 3/4 head turn.
Study each of them separately; they will reveal the secrets of hidden harmony and
expression. Then make some basic design of the initial axes and boundary lines. Even
though studying the design of a face of various saints by making copies of icons is a good
method of learning, the knowledge and understanding of harmonic proportion will
allow you to paint these faces "from inside" rather than from "outside", tracing
prototypes. This way of studying iconography is most enjoyable as we approach icons in
the way of a builder - with an architectural design, scaffolding, measurements,
proportions etc.

The sphere on the left has many meridians


but only one equatorial line (a horizontal
diametrical section from C to D). Let's
think of this sphere as a schematic
representation of a head. If we look at a
full frontal face, the straight vertical line AB
is the axis of the nose ("the nasal axis")
However, if the head is turned slightly to
the left, the nasal axis is the curved line
AEB. When the face looks straight, the line
on which the eyes are positioned ("the
ocular axis") is the straight horizontal line
CD. If the face looks slightly downward,
the ocular axis becomes the curved line of
CFD. If the head is tilted slightly upward,
then the ocular axis is CGD.
Panselinos (self-portrait)
1. Designing the head with 3/4 turn, using intersecting axes
1. First, we draw the nasal axis AB. Its slight, open curve determines the tilt of the
head. The points A and B determine the size of the head, along with the hair.
2. Divide the AB curve into four equal parts, marking the points ACDEB. The AC
segment is for hair, CD is the forehead, DE is the nose, and EB is from the tip of the
nose down to the edge of the chin. The DE segment (the length of the nose) is your
basic unit of measurements for the rest of the face.
3. On the AB axis, mark the point F just below the point D, at about 1/5th length of
the nose. Through this point, draw the line GH, perpendicular to the nasal axis AB;
this is the ocular axis.
4. The segment DE is the nose and therefore is our unit of measure. On the GH line,
on each side of the point F, create two points I and J, at 1/2 length of the nose. The
point J is the pupil of the larger eye, and the point I is the outer corner of the
smaller eye.
5. Put two more points on the ocular axis, K and L, both at the distance of the nose
from J. These mark the boundaries for the hair. We should now have the
proportion: IJ = JK = KL.
6. Above the point F, located on the intersection of the ocular and nasal axes, place
the point M on the nasal axis, at the distance of 1/2 nose above the point F. This is
the upper edge of the superciliary arches (the protrusions above the eyebrow).
Draw the line MN perpendicular to the nasal axis and parallel to the ocular axis.
7. Build the three-segment structure of the forehead, CONI. The indentation just
below the point I should be on the level of the lower eyelid.
8. Mark another indentation, the point P at the level of the tip of the nose. This is a
hollow of the cheek, a very slight indentation.
9. As it was mentioned above, the points K and L are the boundaries of the hair.
Draw the arches AL and CK. The point J is the pupil of the larger eye, and it will also
serve as the center for the halo as well as the overall round shape of the head.
10. Extend the CK curve a bit slightly below the ocular axis, to about 1/3 of the nose-
length, and mark it point Q. It is the middle of the ear.
11. From the point B, extend a short line, perpendicular to the nasal axis,
approximately at the same distance as FJ. Mark the point R. Connect the points Q
and R with a diagonal line. This diagonal line is the boundary for the jaw line.

This is just one method. Here is another method of designing a 3/4 turn, with the use of
circles.
2. Designing the head with 3/4 turn, using circles

Fig. 1
1. Draw a large circle which would define the size of the head; find its center (J).

2. Draw a vertical line X-X1 through the center of the circle. This line is not straight
but is slightly convex, and its tilt defines the desired tilt of the head. Next, draw
another line Y-Y1, perpendicular to X-X1.

3. Mark the intersection of these two lines as point J; this will be the pupil of the
greater eye. Find the middle of the JY1 segment, and mark it K. Using J as a
center, draw another, smaller circle with the radius JK, concentric with the larger
circle. The outer circle is to define the boundary of the hair, and the inner circle is
to define the face.

4. Mark the intersection of the Y-Y1 line with the inner circle as point I. Divide the IJ
segment in the middle, and mark it F. Through the F point, draw the vertical line
AB, parallel to the X-X1 line and having the same curvature. This is to be the nasal
axis of the face.

5. Mark the points C and E on the intersections of the nasal axis AB and the smaller
circle. Since the AB axis is now off center, the point F is not the middle point
between A and E but divides this segment into two unequal parts. To rectify this,
measure the distance between C and E, and divide it evenly the middle. Mark it
D.

6. We now have established the correct length of the nose, the DE segment.
Remember, the length of the nose is the basic measurement unit for the face. The
distance CD defines the area of the forehead, the AC defines the height of the
hair; the EB defines the boundary of the chin. All four segments should now be of
equal length i.e., AC = CD = DE = EB.

7. Finally, draw three short parallel lines OC, NM (the middle of the forehead), and
BR.

This information is quite enough to build a face of any saint or an angel, because
these proportions and identifiable points are essential for the face's correct
structure.

All the circles, curved and straight lines, axes, and distances from one point to
another must be done without the aid of a compass and a ruler. Using these
props will only hamper the development of your skills, and it will also dull your
ability to observe and judge distances and shapes. This is how we develop the
synergy between the eye, the mind, and the hand. If working freehand proves to
be a frustrating experience, try it first on graph paper, but then move to plain
paper after acquiring some confidence.
The head of an Angel drawn with the circular method

Even though the ocular axis is curved, the corners of the eyes are placed on it (outer as
well as inner corners). The pupils touch the ocular axis and are placed above it.
Position of the nose in relation to the nasal axis in 3/4 turn

The nasal axis AB crosses the stem of the


nose— the middle part—diagonally. The axis
first touches the point C at the base of the
nose's triangle, and then intersects with the
other side of the nose, approximately in the
middle, at the point D.

The bulb of the nose stays entirely on the left


side of the axis.

The nasal axis also cuts the mouth right in the


middle.

Look at the sketch and discern the size and the


position of the mouth. The lower lip's size and
position are determined by the axes E and F.

The axis E is an extension of the line that


comes through the left side of the ridge.

The axis F is parallel to E and it is extended


from the inner part of the nostril.
This is not the only scheme for a head design. Many notable icons were designed
accordingly completely different key frame of axes and points. The method we have
offered is one of many. However, using these guiding principles, the student of
iconography will undoubtedly discover other notable basic designs. The method
suggested here will help the student of iconography to develop a sound foundation for
further study and exploration.

The objective and the subjective


The given diagrams, schemes, proportions, and formulas provide nothing more than a
general sense of "how things should be." To an icon, these circles, lines, and axes are no
more that scaffolding for a building. This all belongs in the area of the objective. That is
to say, all humans have heads, and all heads have two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two
ears etc. The "scaffolding" for St. John the Baptist and an Angel will be exactly the same,
but will these two persons look the same in the end? Of course, not. The final result is
in the area of the subjective, and every iconographer, after marking out the proportions
and axes, will paint a person he or she intends to paint.

In your own study, take well-known and respected prototypes, and using photocopies,
do your own investigation of the axes, distances, proportions, and relationships. Then,
complete a copy of that icon in pencil. This is how iconography was taught in ancient
times, and this is how it should be taught today.

The darkest lines on the drawing


(see Fig. 2)
This is the checklist of the darkest areas on the face. This drawing indicates what should
be darkened in the face and to which degree.

The darkest lines should be:


1. The two ends of the lips
2. The two holes of the nostrils
3. The pupil of the eyes
4. The upper eyelids and the round lines of the irises (thicker at the bottom)

The less lines which should be medium dark:


1. The line between the upper lid and the eyebrow
2. The lower eyelid

The eyebrows are darkest near the nose; they become less intense and more pale
towards the temples.
Fig. 2
Drawing a frontal face, step by step

1. Draw a vertical line which would serve as the nasal axis for the face.
Mark the height of the head, and divide the line into four equal parts.
Mark the third segment from the top as "the nose". (Fig. 1)

After the length of the nose is established, draw the tentative outline of
the nose around the segment.

Figure 1

2. Draw a tentative shape of the


nose within this segment around the
nasal axis in such a way so that the
nasal axis passes not in the middle of
the nose but to the side.

The width of the nose at the nostrils


(AC) is 5/12 of the length of the
nose. This is an important
measurement as this will be the
length of the smaller eye and the
distance between the inner corners
of the eyes. It is easy to place the
wings of the nostrils around the
nasal axis as these lines are located
equidistantly from the nasal axis
(AB = BC).
Figure 2
However, because the nasal axis
passes through the nose a bit to the
side and not in the center, one of the nostrils will be larger than the other one.

3. Find the placement of the ocular axis; it is located 1/5 length of the nose below the
nose's upper boundary line. Here is how to find 1/5 of the nose. On the constructed scale
in Fig. 2, 1/5 of the nose is between the second and third marker from the top of the scale.
4. To find the correct placement of
the eyes, first find the positions of the
inner corners of the eyes in relation to
the nose. The proportion between
the larger and the smaller eye is 6:5.
That is to say, if the larger eye is 1/2
of the length of the nose, the smaller
eye is 5/12 of the nose. The distance
between the inner corners of the eyes
is equal to the length of the smaller
eye as well as the distance between
the two wings of the nose. Figure 3
AB = CD = DF. The placement of the
inner corners of the eyes is crucial. Because of the 60/40 turn of the head, the distance
from the smaller eye's inner corner to the bridge of the nose should be smaller than the
corresponding distance on the other side of the face. Hence the formula: the proportion
between DE and EF is 3:2. The total length of DF is 5/12, and the points D and F are easy
to find using the constructed scale; DE = 3/12, and EF = 2/12. (Make an note that the point
E is located on the edge of the nose, and not on the nasal axis)

From points A and B of the nostrils, extrapolate two vertical lines to ascertain the position
of the inner corners of the eyes. Should there be a significant deviation, correct the lines
of the nostrils. If the two nostrils are of the same size, it would contradict the 60/40 turn
of the head.

5. Determining the height of the eyes


The height of an eye is its length divided in two. Since we have a difference in length
between the two eyes, we have two options regarding their heights:

a. To make both eyes of the same height. In this method, it is more practical to work
from the larger eye's dimensions, establish its height, and then transfer this
measurement to the smaller eye. In this case, the height of the smaller eye will be
more than the half of its length.
b. To make the height of the larger eye equal to the half of its length. In this case, the
larger eye will not be only longer than the smaller eye, but its vertical dimensions
will differ.

If the second option is chosen, there should be certain modifications of the iris and the
pupil to accommodate this enlargement.
Besides the 60/40 turn, many classical images have a slight lift of the head. This gives the
face an expression that is "not of this world." It is an option for an iconographer to
introduce such an upward shift; it has to be very small to be organic. It is first and
foremost manifested in the placement of the eyes in relation to each other. Here is how it
is done.

We start with designing the rectangular enclosures for the eyes. It's best to work from on
the smaller eye first. The lower side of the smaller eye's enclosure will determine the
placement of the lower eyelid.

Figure 4

Draw a line (EF) parallel to the ocular axis at 1/3 of the nose's length counting from the
upper line of the nose (CD = 1/3 of the nose). The lower edge of the lower eyelid of the
smaller eye will rest on this line.

Build the rectangular enclosure of the smaller eye. The height of the rectangle will be 1/2
of its length. (And its length is 5/12 of the nose and is also equal to BA).
Draw another line (GH), just a fraction above the first EF line. The distance between these
two lines is the thickness of the lower eyelid of the smaller eye.

On the larger side, build a rectangular enclosure for the larger eye, resting on the GH line.
As the length of the eye is 1/2 of the length of the nose, the eye's height is 1/2 of its
length, or 1/4 of the length of the nose.

Thus the large eye is not only larger but is also elevated ever so slightly, by the thickness of
the lower eyelid. The larger eye's height (the rectangle's vertical sides) is not much larger
than the corresponding sides of the smaller rectangle. In Figure 5, make a note how the
red dotted line KL passes through the eyelids of the both eyes - under the eyelid of the
larger eye, over the eyelid of the smaller eye.

L
K

Figure 5
When drawing the eyelids into the rectangular enclosures, it is important to remember the
following guidelines:

1. The lower lids of both eyes rest on the lower side of their rectangular enclosures.
2. The upper eyelids rise above the upper side of their rectangular enclosures, but still
touch the line with their lower boundary.

Note that the outer corner of the larger eye may be placed a little higher above the ocular
axis because of the upward shift of the larger eye. If no modification to the larger eye is
made, all four corners of the eyes will be on the same line.

Other parts of the eye change their relative positions in relation to the horizontal axes:

1. Note the relative positions of the upper boundaries of the upper eyelids in relation
to the KL line (Figure 5);
2. Note the positions of the serenity lines in relation to the horizontal line passing
through the top of the nose ("the upper nasal line", Fig. 5)
3. Note the positions of the iris and the pupil in relation to the ocular axis.

PLACEMENT OF THE PUPILS


Draw short vertical lines in the center of each eye, where the distance between the eyelids
is the widest. Observe how pupils are placed in relation to these vertical lines (Fig. 6). If
the drawing is executed correctly, the distance between the pupils should be 1 length of
the nose. The irises are drawn around the pupils, and the distance between the edge of
the pupil to the round line of the iris at the lowest part should be equal to the height of
the pupil (Fig. 7)

Figure 6 Figure 7
THE EYEBROWS (Figure 8)

1. Draw a line (AB) at the distance of 1/3 of the length of the nose above the ocular axis
and parallel to it. This line will help us to build the correct shapes of the eyebrows.
2. On the ocular axis, mark the points G and H; the eyebrows end at those points. The
point G is located at 1/2 of the length of the smaller eye; the point H is located 1/2 length
of the larger eye.
3. Draw two vertical lines from the points C and E; the point C is located on the outer rim
of the iris (smaller eye), and the point E is located on the outer rim of the pupil (larger
eye). The points of intersection with the AB line will give us the points D and F. These will
serve as guides to draw the correct curve of the eyebrows.
4. Begin with the smaller eye and draw the curved shape of the upper boundary of the
eyebrow. It rises from the nasal triangle to the point D (its highest point) and falls to the
point G. Pencil the lower boundary line of the eyebrow. The thickness of the eyebrow
equals the height of the pupil.
5. Proceed to the larger eyebrow. Draw the curved shape of the lower boundary of the
eyebrow. Its apex is at the point F; its outer end is at the point H. The DG and FE curves
mirror each other. Pencil the upper boundary of the eyebrow; the thickness of the
eyebrow equals the height of the pupil.

Figure 8
MOUTH
Because of the 60/40 turn of the head, the mouth is
also slightly shifted. To find the placement of the
lower lip, draw two lines - one from the nose bulb of
the smaller side, and the other from the larger eye's
inner corner, passing through the line of the nostril
(Figure 9)

Figure 9

Adjust the nasal triangle


Up to this point, the shape of the nasal triangle was approximate. To give it its final
definition, connect the centers of the pupils with a line. The points, at which this line
intersects the nose will define the termination points of the nasal triangle (Figure 10).
Adjust the triangle. Note that because of the larger eye is lifted slightly above the ocular
line, these points will be also at a slight angle.

Figure 10
The illumination of the cheeks begins at the outer corners of the eyes on the ocular axis.
This is where cheekbones begin. On the smaller side, the illumination of the cheekbone
begins near the outer corner of the eye; on the larger side, it begins at some minor
distance below the outer corner of the eye, on the ocular axis.

In Figure 10, all these geometrical elements are brought together.

Once the drawing is complete, look at it and adjust what you think should be adjusted.
Expression is more important than geometry or mathematics. The old masters knew these
rules very well, but they were not slaves to them.

Figure 11
Figure 12
THE EYEBROWS
When the eyebrows are slightly lifted towards the outer ends, they are reminiscent of an
eagle's wings in flight. This lift, if present, is very important for the facial expression.

Eyebrows begin at the upper nasal line, at the very corners of the nasal triangle, ascend to
their apexes, descend in a circular curve, and, tapering off towards the ocular axis, stop
there.

We should keep in mind a few important points about the eyebrows.

1. At the nose, the eyebrows and the serenity lines should be very close. The distance
between them grows as the eyebrows move towards the temples. This point is
particularly crucial in iconography of the Savior. The lifted eyebrows signify
discernment and a penetrating gaze. Disruption of this element brings about a
significant alteration of expression.
2. At their outer ends, the eyebrows must descend to the level of the ocular axis;
finishing them half-way is a mistake. When the eyebrows extend to the ocular axis,
the expression become rigorous.
3. Attention must be given to the thickness of eyebrows. The thickness stays nearly
the same all through the length of the eyebrow, to about the outer corner of the
each eye, and begins to taper off quickly once past that point.

The color used for the proplasmos of the eyebrows is the same as the proplasmos for the
hair. In case of the Savior, it is quite dark. At the base of the nose, where the eyebrows
begin, there are four short upward strokes of black color (see Figure 12). This technique
seems to be present in most icons of men, and occasionally women. What is important
that there is should not be much tonal difference in color between proplasmos of the
eyebrows and these vertical strokes. The proplasmos is quite dark, so the vertical strokes
seem to be a harmonious and natural continuation of the same tone. However, Panselinos
himself would not follow this rule and make these vertical strokes quite in contrast with
the color of the eyebrow (see Figure 13)

Here is the technique Panselinos used for his image of the Savior:

1. He applied the proplasmos of the hair to the entire length of the eyebrows.
2. His second step was applying a series of transparent washes of burnt umber to
darken the eyebrows near the nose, so that there is a seamless transition from dark
to light towards the outer ends of the eyebrows.
3. He then applied a series of vertical thin brushstrokes of with black paint to the inner
ends of the eyebrows near the nose. However, they blend with the darker tone of
the proplasmos so well that they barely register unless viewed up close. Panselinos
used the same technique with his image of the Theotokos Enthroned, so this
technique was not reserved for male faces only.

It is also important to remember that there is a hierarchy of the dark lines in the face.
That is to say, not all the dark lines are the same, and they have their own particular scale
and order.

Here is the list, from the darkest to the lightest:

1. The darkest are the pupil and the upper eyelid; these are painted with pure black.
2. The eyebrow is a bit lighter, with only the upward strokes of black lines at the base
of the nose.
3. The round line of the iris and the serenity line are even lighter
4. Finally, the lower eyelid's line is only slightly darker than the proplasmos for the skin.

There is an interesting device


occasionally found in Panselinos'
work. If we look up close, we will
find a series of dots placed on one
or both sides of the nose. A series
of red dots on the light side of the
nose (Fig. 13), and often a
corresponding series of dark dots
on the shadow side of the nose.

Figure 13
Structure of the eyebrows
Very often, iconographers find it difficult to paint eyebrows. The reason is that the shape
is not simple, but like in any other part of the face, it has a compound structure. This
structure is hiding in plain sight and many do not even suspect of its existence. Careful
study and comparison reveals this it.

There are three elements in an eyebrow:


1. The base near the nose - AB;
2. The middle section - BC;
3. The curved finishing section - CD .

The base of the brow (AB) touches the corners of the nasal triangle at the points a and a1.
From that place both eyebrows ascend obliquely. Their angular beginning (Aa and A1a1)
imparts to the face an expression of vigor; if an iconographer wants that expression, that
area should be accentuated in this way. The underside of this segment (ab, a1b1) is not
not parallel to AB and A1B1 but ever so slightly convex, it has a slight downward curve.
However, the upper line (AB, A1B1) is straight, not curved. This part of the brow is a little
thicker than the other two parts.

The middle section (BC) is very important, because it imparts a subtle expression of
stability, serenity, and peace. Both upper and lower edges are straight lines, but the lines
are not parallel to each other because in this section the eyebrows begin to taper off.
It is very important to point out that the middle section on the smaller side is significantly
smaller than its counterpart on the larger side, and in some icons is not ever present.

The final segment (CD) rapidly thins out until it turns into a single point on the ocular axis.
It also gradually becomes lighter and lighter and finally blends into the flesh.

The next step is to round off all the angles, as if with sandpaper:

Practice copying various eyebrow shapes


from different saints, eras and schools.
There is a lot of variation, and one can
learn to see the internal structure of the
eyebrows and replicate them with ease.