Original Post: 3/14/2010
In portraiture, the ear creates a sense a balance and overall continuity to the entire head. The placement and correct position of the ears seems to be more a challenge than rendering the actual details. The base of the nostrils should align with the base of the ear and the length of the nose should coincide with the length of the ear. When viewing the head on the side (profile) view, the ear is angled back and is about halfway between the back of the head the front of the facial plane.
The ears are very different from the rest of the facial features, not only are their shape different but the skin and texture are totally different as well. The ears are made of cartlidge and the structure is designed to channel sounds into the inner ear. The interlocking folds of the ear help to channel these waves. While these folds vary on each individual, learning the general parts of the ear will make identifying them much easier.
I like to think of parts of the ears as folds of satin or silk cloth. As you draw these folds, identify and apply the seven components of light and shade. Highlights, shadows, cast and contact shadows, core shadows, key highlights and reflected light.
I've attached an anatomical map of the ear along with a sketch and blended rendering of the ear.