Ever heard of the 'golden ratio' (the 1:1.618 thing)? If you think you having trouble with human proportions (or even if you think you're NOT) these sites are helpful, nonetheless!
You can also see what makes your characters YOUR characters. What makes your style look like a manga style, if that's what you were going for (besides the big eyes, small nose clichéd stuff)? Ahhh, I love this info... mleh, so much I can say about it, but I'll let you discover it on your own. ^__^ Have funnnn!
I've attempted to explain all of the steps on how to create a Golden Mask of your own, for your own characters (when I were still posting on deviantArt), but it seemed that no one really understood it... ^_^; (I guess I have a habit of complicating things, lol) So, now, I am going to try to explain it a little more comprehensively. After all, the main reason I'm doing this is for you to learn and grow! If you're still having problems understanding it, don't hesitate to e-mail me about it!
1. Get a copy of the original Golden Mask from MBA California, to get a feel for how the faces are supposed to be. I reccommend starting with the 'Repose Frontal' view (because it's the easiest). For this, go the the submenus: 'The Perfect Face'--> 'Facial Masks.'
2. Draw one of your characters who you consider to be an 'archetype for beauty', according to your own style (I drew my character, Rukii, for my archetype =P). Don't try to be perfect, be as fluid and intuitive as possible for this step. It is also important that you choose a character that has the most 'general-looking' face, as in, one that you can draw with no problems, refrences, or 'special/exxagerated' features, whatsoever. Also, pick one that isn't TOO girly, or manly-looking.
3. Once you have chosen and drawn out your character (face only, of course), trace over the character (directly on the paper) with the lines that are like the ones in the original mask until you've connected everything together. Make sure you get everything right! Connect the nose lines to the mouth lines right, connect the mouth lines to the chin lines right, and so on. Don't distress on how 'different' your version looks from the original; that's the point of all this, in fact! It's *supposed* to look different. As long as you have as many lines that are in the original, you're okay.
4. Place a piece of translucent paper over your image and trace over the LINES ONLY (this can just be normal computer printing paper... as long as you can see-through it). Try to get this part as perfect as possible. It will be important later on.
5. Scan in the 'lines only' picture on your computer.
6. After you've scanned in your picture, use Photoshop or another image-editing program to open your picture. Make sure the program you chose has the (straight) 'line' tool. In Photoshop 7.0, I know it's in the 9th column down, and the 2nd row across. (Drag the menu down if you have to.)
7. This part is really important! Use the line tool to 'trace' over the lines you've made in the 'lines only' picture that you scanned in. MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE AS STRAIGHT AS POSSIBLE. Pay attention to the original mask at MBA California to see which lines are supposed to be bone straight (horizontally or vertically) and which are supposed to be diagonal. I also advise you to USE LAYERS (as many as you have to) that are a DIFFERENT, BOLD COLOR from the pen (or pencil) lines you drew on top of your character's face!!!
8. Once you are done, copy/paste only HALF of the new, computerized mask onto a different canvas. Phew... now you can relax. The hardest part is now complete! =)
9. After you have your computerized lines-only picture all finished, erase the original one you scanned in. (Erase the layer with the original marks on the computer only! You might need the original paper that you scanned in for later.)
10. Okay! Now, it gets a lot easier. ^_^ With your half-a-golden-mask, use the 'rectangular marquee tool' (or whatever your highlighter is called in your program) to capture the mask *exactly*... meaning, don't leave any space in your rectangle, or leave any part of the lines out of the rectangle. Zoom in as much as you have to to get it perfect.
11. Copy\paste the half-a-golden-mask, so that you have two on the canvas at the same time. (Make sure your space is big enough to hold the two halves without going off the page! If not, select 'canvas size', and increase the width.)
12. Yay! Now, it's looking decently complete! ;-) Get a piece of transclucent paper (the kind to print on) and use your printer to get a copy of the new golden mask you've just created. The paper I used is the kind that teachers use for overhead projectors. MAKE SURE that you print your picture on the ROUGH side, NOT the smooth side; if you print it on the smooth side, your image can smear off, no matter *how* long it dries. You are basically done at this point...
13. (Optional) Cut *very* carefully, along the chin, and the top of the head's lines, to take off the excess transclucent paper you don't need (so you can save the remaining for later on). Then, cut the outside borders of the mask, so that all you have remaining is the mask itself, & not any space.
14. Now, you can draw your characters as symmetrically as possible, using the mask as a guide. ^_^ Don't try to make your characters fit the mask exactly... the point again, is so you can see what makes your characters unique from each other. It's the subtle differences that make the face. Don't cheat and trace over the mask to fit the characters. This is only a tool for those who draw really intuitively and can't tell (consciously) what sets their characters apart from each other. This also helps consistency when drawing your characters in the future.
Like I said on DA... the mask only the wand; you create the magic.
And, you are all done!! Thanks for reading (or at least, tried to ^^;)! If you create a golden mask of your own, please share it with me! I would love to see it! <3
Here is my completed mask, showing how they fit on some of my male and female characters.