Vision scientists from the University of Wellington wondered about the relationship between Face-recognition skills and the ability to draw a convincing likeness.
Another related question: If you're not so great at recognizing faces, can you ever be any good as a portrait artist, even if you practice a lot?
A diverse group of participants were asked to draw a likeness based on a photo. The participants were also evaluated separately with various standard face recognition tasks.
The participants included those with some expertise (black frames) and novices at drawing (gray frames).
The drawings were ranked according to a numerical score that was given by judges who didn't know anything about the people who did the drawings. The drawings with the highest likeness scores are shown at the top of the chart. Not surprisingly, artists with practice at drawing got more recognizable results.
But the scientists wondered: what about the subjects who were novices at drawing? Presumably they would not have derived any advantage from training. Would those novices with better native face recognition abilities be more successful at drawing a likeness?
The answer is yes: there is a strong correlation: The ability to successfully recognize faces predicts how well a non-expert can capture a likeness in a drawn portrait.
|Art by Chuck Close|
Scientific paper: "Face processing skills predict faithfulness of portraits drawn by novices."
Side note: National Gallery has cancelled a planned exhibition of Chuck Close due to concerns over allegations of sexual harassment
Video: Oliver Sachs talks about face blindness