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If you look carefully, three of these faces have no ears, none show teeth, none have the iris showing in their eyes, none have the "highlite" in their eyes, none have carved eyebrows, none have carved eyes (simply V cuts), on at least two faces the eyes are uneven.  Not to mention they all have merely rough indications of hair.

So what makes us believe these are good faces?

I believe the only question more difficult to answer is;
"what makes a pretty face?"

Carved Faces

A face says so much; that it is important we learn to carve them.
I have never known a carver that didn't want to carve faces well.
Reading this article probably wont make you a great face carver;
but you may learn a thing or two about carving better faces.
The first thing to realize is that faces may be carved in many different levels of reality.  The face at right is fairly realistic.  The eyeballs are not quite round; in fact they are rather flat; otherwise a carved face to be proud of. This face is on an old european nutcracker.
At the other end of the spectrum is the fantasy face. While it appears that there is a total disregard for anatomic accuracy; many aspects of this face are correct.
The placement of the ear and the width of the mouth are two features meeting the guidelines for a realistic carving.
Of the two, it would be difficult to say which face is harder to carve well.
Quite often, professional carvers develop a few faces that they will use over and over again. Each carving may seem different than the last; and have its own expression, but the face remains very similar. Similar enough that the carver is easily identified.

Artist unknown
Artist unknown
by Gunnarson
Occasionally there is a complete lack of anatomical accuracy; this is common with new carvers. The results can be quite amusing, and at times amazing.
Artists unknown
There are some faces that require complete distortion to deliver the proper effect.
Most commonly Trolls and other "Monsters"; where the goal is to exaggerate features in a manner that would never be appropriate in a typical carved face.
Artist unknown
Artist unknown
Artist unknown
by Henning
While creating a good Troll may require some effort, it pales in comparison
to the  difficulty of capturing the beauty in a woman's face.
by Henning
by C.O. Trygg
Artist unknown
by T. Denton
Some carvers believe that caricature faces have little if any relation to realisim.
This couldn't be further from the truth; good caricature is the exaggeration of the realistic face; not the distortion of it.
by E. Janel
by C. Bolton
by H. Enlow
by R. Ferry
by C.J. Trygg
The best faces will say something even without a body showing posture or action.
Granted, these are not the prettiest faces; but they are all highly expressive.
Some expression is from the head tilt; some is in the mouth; but most is in the eyes.
To prove my point about the expressive eyes, cover the lower face with your hand.
See how the expression is still there?
Now try covering just the eyes with a finger; ...........told ya so.
This is not to discount the other carved features in making a good face.
I think most would agree these are very good and expressive caricature faces.
by C.J. Trygg
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