- Lesson Details
In the fifth lesson of the series, Mark diverges from the curvilinear rhythmic approach and shows you how to conceptualize the head by using planes and connecting lines. Many art teachers harp on the need to focus on construction, without pointing directly to what they mean by construction. In this lesson, Mark takes direct aim at this concept so that you have an adequately solidified mental model of the head before moving onto more difficult angles in the final lesson.
In this series, Mark introduces you to the Reilly Method, a way of understanding the structure of the head through the use of rhythms, to help project accurate proportions of your subject from any angle.
As the protegé to the famous Fred Fixler, who worked directly under the legendary Frank Reilly, Mark’s unrivaled knowledge of the Reilly Method for drawing the head led to an illustrious career in Hollywood movie poster design. He later founded Associate’s in Art in Southern California, a top school for illustrators, from which many alumni became the “who’s who” in the fields of figurative art. He will be greatly missed, and his imprint on the industry, students across the world, and here at the NMA studio will last forever.
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understanding that we gain from Frank Reilly’s more curvilinear abstraction.
As the protégé to the famous Fred Fixler, who worked directly under the legendary Frank
Reilly, Mark Westermoe gained unrivaled knowledge of the Reilly method for drawing the head
upon which he founded an illustrious career in Hollywood Movie Poster Design.
He later founded Associates in Art in Southern California, a top school for illustrators
from which many alumni became the who’s who in the fields of figurative art.
We hope that this series helps serve as part of his legacy.
You’ll hear art teachers talking about you’ve got to do your construction.
You have to construct more, but explaining what they mean by construct
sometimes is left out.
And so that’s what we’re trying to do here.
I hope this goes toward an explanation of what to look for when constructing the head.
In this unit we’re going to cover the planes of the head.
Naturally, we’ve gone over them to some degree when we studied the anatomy and then
the rhythmical abstraction of the head.
But here we’re going to take a more planar approach, more angular.
I’ll first diagram the front profile and three-quarter views of the head using standard
proportions in, again, that angular plane or manner.
After that, I’ll do drawings of two male and one female model.
They are going to be a front view, profile and three-quarter also.
And then having drawn those, I’ll superimpose the planes of the head, which I will have
gone over by then and onto those drawings.
This is a really important set of understanding.
We use it when we draw any head, and by including it in the overall lesson plan with the rhythmical
abstraction that Frank Reilly designed of the head, we really have a pretty complete
approach to the design of the structure of the head.
It’s also going to be applied when I draw in the next unit the difficult angles of the head.
If you don’t understand the planes and the volumes of the head very well, it’s difficult
to get the gist and get going on a tricky angle, like an upshot or a downshot or something
with twists and tilt.
So, we’ll be covering that too.
That will be in the next unit.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but you’ll need the understanding from the
planes of the head in order to do that.
First I’ll do a line drawing seen through the front through three-quarters and profile.
As I do each one, you’ll notice that the width of the head from left to right is wider
as we go from the front view to the three-quarter and widest at the profile.
That’s cause the cranium is deeper than it is wide.
Other proportions remain the same.
That’ll be the case for the head abstraction which is more of a curvilinear approach, or,
for that matter, for any abstraction.
Let’s talk a little about those as I set up the drawing.
We’ll start with the front view.
For one thing, right off the top you want a head that’s about 3 units in height and
2 units width across the widest part, so it’s 3 x 2.
This would be 3 and this would be 2.
Your center line should parallel the border of the page.
It’s just a vertical.
Try to make sure that the two sides of that egg shape are mirror images of each other.
Next, I’m going to place a line that centers from left to right, and that’s going to
be about halfway from the apex of the head to the base of the chin.
Above that, though, I’m going to add the height of the browbone as it
overlaps the socket.
Early on, we want to establish the position and the angle of the temple.
After all, this is where the head turns from the front of the box
into the side of the box.
We’re going to divide now from the brow bone to the base of the chin, and that’s
what we’re going to find on the bottom of the nose at the septum,
halfway from here to here.
Some of these are just general positions of the features and the planes of the head.
They’re a good starting point for drawing any particular head.
This next halfway point from here to here is the bottom of the lower lip.
Not the middle of the lip, the bottom of.
The bottom of the eye socket can be as low as one-half from the distance to the brow
to the septum or base of the nose or it can be less.
It will be unusual to be more.
Okay, so now it’s important that we—we’ve got the temple here.
Let’s establish the side plane of the facial mass beneath it.
That leads us to the peak of the lip here.
I’m drawing lightly at this point for obvious reasons.
We want to find the keystone shape here, where the brow meets the nasal bone, and that’s
at the top of the nose.
Then we’re going to draw almost parallel the two sides of the nose where the bridge
meets the side plane of the nose before the face.
Here is the inside angle of the eye socket.
That also gives us the deepest point within the socket next to the nose.
From there, we’re going to draw paired lines that are just about parallel to one another,
and this is where the side plane of the nose meets the facial mass.
Remember, we have three masses of the head.
We have the cranium, the facial mass, and now I’ll place the jaw.
It’s the same on each side.
You can draw it here and here.
You can check it by drawing across.
It comes down and meets the chin mound at about the same angle as the temple.
Equidistant from the center axis, of course.
Okay, we actually have now the three structures.
The front planes and side planes of the cranium, the front plane, and the turning back here
of the zygoma that’s forming the facial mask, and then we have the jaw.
The narrow front plane and a broad side plane which we haven’t really constructed yet,
but we will.
Now let’s turn here, the cranium back as the zygoma has a front plane
and then it angles to the ear.
Okay, like that.
The mouth, well, if I take the wings of the mouth, the corners, that usually lines up
with the center of the eyeball which we haven’t drawn, but we’re setting this up for that.
Then you look for—let’s see I’m doing this a little bit wrong.
I want to raise that up, give myself room for the whole mouth.
We look to see here where the upper lip overlaps the lower lip.
Then we find the corner of the mouth.
Here we find the angle of the upper lip from the peak out to the corner.
Then beneath it we’ve got the bottom of the lower lip.
If you follow—let’s construct the nose now.
Here we have the base of the nose at the septum in the middle
and the alar cartilages on either side.
Now we’re going to draw the septum and the wings on each side.
Then from the septum through the peak of the lip like this, we’re going to draw
all the way to the chin.
This is the underplane of the tooth cylinder on which the mouth sits, and this is the turning
of the front plane of the jaw at the chin, under, to the underplane.
That’s just a secondary turning right there beyond the temple.
Here, echoing it is the top plane of the zygoma, should be parallel to this,
which is the side plane of the face.
Taken altogether this gives us the shape of the eye socket.
Notice I’ve kept the drawing light so I can make adjustments pretty easily.
Keep the axis straight.
Drop a vertical, well, not a vertical but almost.
It is a vertical but it’s not 90 degrees to the picture frame.
It comes inwards like this.
It turns here.
It turns direction angling to the chin like so just about here to the lower lip.
The ears line up with the browbone
and the base lines up with the septum.
Keep the shapes simple and pick up the overlapping helix or rim.
Okay, there is a front view plane of the head.
I’m just going to darken it a little bit so everyone can see it more clearly.
Just take a moment here.
Notice, I find that if I know I’m starting from here, then I find that this
is point A. I find point B on each side and then I connect so I know just what I’m doing.
This line again runs through the peak of the lid and to the side plane of the chin.
This plane just starts about halfway down from the center of the socket and runs to
the corner of the chin.
I don’t have these ears on quite symmetrical but I think we’ll live.
Alright, so there is our front view planes of the head.
We need to understand that in order to draw the head well from different angles, the most
basic being three-quarter and profile.
Let’s go ahead and set out to do those.
That looks about right.
Okay, for our three-quarter head we’re going to start off with the same egg shape,
but then we’re going to build on that both front and back
to create a proper depth of the three-quarter head.
The access here on a three-quarter head still has to be straight from the brow down.
Don’t curve it as though it were an egg.
Alright, let’s imagine now that this semi-egg shape had a front access, a center line just
like the first example I drew, but it’s not a front view.
In fact, looking at a three-quarter angle such as maybe this,
my axis has shifted, you see, from here to here.
It’s shifted that much.
So now we’re going to take that distance here.
We’re going to add that to the back of the head like this.
Now you see that’s it’s still more vertical than horizontal, the head is
now deeper than it was.
Let’s take this vertical axis.
This is the apex of the head here, and let’s drop the plumb line like I showed you, and
let’s divide it in half.
That’s the center line of the eyeballs.
We’re going to add a distance, maybe this for the brow where it overlaps the socket.
About halfway from here to the back of the head, if you can imagine, that’s where we’re
going to get the temple turning to the side plane of the cranium at the temporal bone.
The temple on this side actually occurs at the silhouette itself here.
When we draw up the front axis and the three-quarter in profile does curve,
but the vertical axis does not.
Okay, if we take halfway from the brow to the base of the head of the chin.
Actually, that’s at the base of the head of the chin.
So let’s do this.
From here to here halfway, just like the front view, we find the septum of the nose, the
base of the nose.
If we take half the distance from the base of the nose to the chin, we get the bottom
of the lower lip.
If we take an approximate distance halfway from the brow to the base of the nose we get
the zygomatic process beneath the socket.
It’s not really quite as deep as going halfway, but it can be as deep, so I will look at this
head in the following way.
Most heads do not have a socket quite as far as halfway to the base of the nose, so I’m
going to abbreviate that just like I did here.
It conforms to a more common distance, but we can start with the halfway and measure up.
The base of the nose lines up just about with the bottom of the ocipital bone at the
back of the cranium.
We’ll rough that in.
See, I’m keeping everything light.
Okay, here where the vertical axis meets the main horizontal axis at the brow, we’re
going to start breaking down the forms.
That’s the keystone shape at the top of the nose where the brow meets the nose.
Here, same thing.
The angle of the nose—first of all, remember that the base of the nose from tip to wing
is just about halfway between the two, where the nose contacts the face.
The tip, you have to angle up for this, you see.
Then from the brow out to the tip could look like this.
Give a shallow ark to the underplane here.
That will help us form the tip right here.
Draw a line parallel...
to the front axis of the head
and then come down here from the
keystone shape in the nasal bone
to the tip of the nose.
That gives us the front and side plane of the nose.
We need to project the tooth cylinder slightly when we construct the mouth.
That’s because the teeth have volume, so if you didn’t do that and you drew a straight
axis here, it would appear as though the model had no teeth.
Let’s just reinforce the top plane of the brow or the top plane of the socket,
underplane of the brow.
I’m just going to strengthen here the drawing of the temporal bone.
Since I’m using wax pencil and smooth newsprint, it would be the same if I were using bond
or bristle plate.
I’m just using this to clean up, using the white plastic eraser to clean up some of my
early construction lines.
The kneaded eraser might not really have enough pressure to allow you to clean up such as
the plastic eraser does.
This thinking in planes when drawing the head really is especially helpful when you’re
drawing people who have angular heads, chiseled features almost like a Mount Rushmore type.
It can also be helpful in drawing gaunt people or women, some of whom have lean heads.
It’ll work nicely for that.
But it underlies any head, regardless of the character or the structure or the age.
Let’s pick up the outside angle here of the eye socket.
Actually, we’re going to continue that even beyond the zygomatic arch which marks the
base of it.
Do the same on both sides.
Here is the eye socket overlapping the zygomatic process.
The front axis curves above the nasal bone because the cranium is curved backwards.
You want to measure the distance from the tip of the nose to the silhouette of the face.
Here within the socket, first we’re going to draw the inside angle like that and that,
and then we’re going to overlap the eyeball
with the browbone and the orbicularis oris muscle beneath it.
Drop a plumb line from the tip of the nose, and then here just about where the septum
meets the facial plane we’re going to draw another line from the base of the chin mound.
And here we will do the same thing.
This lies up just to the right of the base of the nose.
Triangulating and measuring using plumb lines and horizontals as important as ever when
designing the planes of the head.
A little more than halfway down the extent of the nose we get the
underplane of the zygoma.
That leads just about here
and then here turns to the side plane of the chin.
That gives us the muzzle and the turning to the side of the facial mask.
As in the example here, finish off the base of the chin
and that’s the angle of the jaw.
Here is the inside of the nasal bone.
If I were to draw the eye I would follow this angle of the bridge of the nose, and I would
do the same from the wing of the nose.
There, I would have the tear duct.
As for the mouth, we know that it fits in right here.
That’s the bottom of the lower lip, and the top of the upper lip is this far distant
from the nose, and the wings are here and here.
This one lines up right there, and the other one lines up
just about under the tip of the nose.
Maybe a little less.
So now let’s construct the lips.
Always drawing from point A to point B. That allows you to draw efficiently without scratching
your way along trying to find it.
You can just get it right.
Here is the underplane of the orbicularis oris muscle overlapping the chin.
Find the distance from the wing of the lip to the silhouette,
and connect point A to point B like this and this.
Then carry it down the side of the chin.
This lines up with the angle of the jaw.
And from the apex we get a line here separating the top of the cranium
from the front of cranium.
will form the back of the cranium at the occipital bone here.
Yeah, make whatever adjustments you need to make.
After I’ve designed these three angles of the planes of the head, we’re going to
design them over actual heads of individuals.
See if we can’t identify and locate them in each case.
I’ll use a three-quarter and a front and profile.
We’re just about there with this. Let's do a little cleanup.
Give that a little bit of a diagonal so that the jaw doesn’t look too mechanical, but
it’s got a little more lifelike dimension and shape.
Okay, let’s just restate this, make it a little more clear for you.
Okay, so that gives us our three-quarter view planes of the head.
the profile head is a ratio of 3:3.
It fits into a square.
Let’s set up the parameters here.
Let’s try this for the front of the head and this for the back.
So we have a nice square.
Now, your axis, your front axis is going to fall right along the silhouette, and at the
brow line here it’s going to curve backwards.
The peak of the head is going to be just slightly back of the halfway point right there.
The center line, whether we think of it here or here, doesn’t matter, is going to be
the ball of the eye.
It’s going to be halfway from top to bottom.
Then above that we have the brow bone as it overlaps the socket, and then from the base
of the nose, well, let’s just start from the brow.
If we take the distance halfway from the brow to the base of the chin, rather, you’re
going to find the bottom of the nose.
From there to the base of the chin you’re going to find the bottom of the lower lip.
Now, your front axis is going to be vertical from the brow to the chin.
Yes, the nose will extend forward from it.
The underplane of the teeth will extend backwards of it, etc.
But the whole axis itself is a vertical from the brow down.
From that point, however, where the brow intersects with the nasal bone, your axis curves.
It curves up to the apex of the head.
Then, from there we descend in the direction of the ocipital bone
and the back of the cranium.
Leave that for now.
Okay, we need to indicate the turning back to the side from the front plane of the cranium
to the side plane at the temple.
I’m going to set the nasal bone in from the silhouette slightly, and then we’re
going to draw the angle of the bridge of the nose.
Parallel to that angle is the turning of the side of the nose from the bridge here.
There is the far eye socket
and here is the width of the keystone shape to carry this up like so.
Then from there we draw back like this.
Then we extend the socket like so to the temple, and we draw a line here
roughly parallel to this line.
If that’s the base of the nose, we’re going to pick up the tip of the nose.
This distance to the axis is the same as this distance to the wing from the axis.
This line for the side plane of the nose is almost parallel to the front silhouette of
the nose, which is a diagonal.
Here we find the eye socket, meaning the zygoma.
Forming the orbit.
This area is just about where the temporalis muscle here
overlaps the angle of the zygomatic arch.
This forms the front plane of the face.
The top of the arc lines up with the brow so we know this.
Here is the projecting forward of the upper teeth, and then beneath that,
lining up just about with the tear duct we find
the whole movement backwards of the tooth cylinder.
You can clean up some of your lines at this point because they risk confusing you a little
bit with the lines that you’re trying to design accurately.
Some of these rough but light lines can come out right about now.
About halfway here from wing to septum we’re going to find the front plane of the chin mound.
Drop the jaw.
Find its angle here.
Here if you follow the temple you can pick up the muzzle shape, the side plane of the
jaw at the chin, and this line helps establish the masseter muscle here.
The chin, approximately at the base of the ear, we’ll find the lobe.
This is the region where the rim of the ear dominates, and then here it’s more of the
shell and the lobe.
Now we’re going to finish off the side plane of the temple.
So there we go.
The base of the occipital bone lines up with the bottom of the nose and the ear lobe.
And as you might remember from any anatomy study you’ve done, first we want to show
the underplane of the head.
Right about behind the end of the socket we’re going to pick up the angle of the neck, and
here parallel to it, the back of the neck.
Here at this angle we can put down a line that’s almost vertical and then find the
Adam’s apple here.
Alright, so this is pretty much what we want to design for our profile planes of the head.
Let me scrub some of this stuff out.
I don’t have one for this demonstration, but a good idea for your home work area is
to get a desk brush.
It’s usually a wooden handle and soft fibers.
Instead of using your hand, fingers and hands have a little oil anyway, it’s inefficient,
you can just take that desk brush and sweep it over your erasings and make things a lot
easier and even better.
They’re not expensive.
I have one.
I should have brought it.
But you can get the idea.
Alright, now I’m just going to go back and darken and make these shapes a little more
graphic so they’re better visible and more legible.
Just try to make your shapes nice and simple, not too broken up.
You’ve done all the measuring, so like a carpenter who measures twice and cuts once,
well, it should be easy now to do the cut.
When I draw, it didn’t work out too well here, I look at the tip of the pencil and
also at the same time where I’m going with that pencil so I can get a cleaner line.
Here I’m looking where I’m going, and there I’ve arrived.
One of the areas where I use the planes of the head almost always is when I’m doing
quick sketch where I’ve only got maybe 60 seconds if I’m lucky to indicate the head,
and we always know that the three volumes of the head are the cranium which takes up
2/3 of the head—see this—the facial mask here, and the jaw.
If you can get those in your quick sketch head indications, I know those of you who
do life drawing certainly do quick poses as well, anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes,
if you can just get those three volumes across in your heads, that’s all you need.
From there you can move on confidently throughout the figure knowing that the proportions of
your head have been established, and you haven’t gotten into little details like eyelashes.
You’re working on the big structure of the head.
I really haven’t been a professional character designer, although I’ve actually wound up
in several times having to do that—I shouldn’t put it that way.
It’s a lot of fun, but I use this as an underpinning, a foundation to go ahead and
design different character types.
This in conjunction with Frank Reilly abstraction of the head really allows me to pick up just
about anything in any age group or weight, character actors, idealized or romantic characters.
It’s just an important set of understands that I think you have to have.
There are other abstractions and designs of planes of the head.
Artists have used these over the centuries.
This one I find to be really good and simple to understand planes of the head.
So, there we are.
We have the front view.
We have the side view—I’m sorry the three-quarter view—and we have the profile.
Now I’m going to demonstrate how to use the planes of the head literally with an individual
rather than a generic or a so-called standard head.
the head in terms of primarily straight lines and angles, and we did a front view and we
did a three-quarter view and a profile.
Today I’m going to draw, starting with a front view, three different individuals.
One will be a front, one will be a three-quarter view, and one will be a profile,
all at eye level.
So here we want to remember a few proportions before we begin.
If you look at the base of the head at the chin, then you’ve got three units from there
to the very top of the head underneath his hair.
Across the widest point, just above the brow at the temple,
we have about two units in width.
The whole front view head can be thought of as three units in height
and two units in width.
We’re going to start off just by drawing such an oval, a 3 x 2 unit.
Today I’ll use Verithin pencil, which is a very hard wax pencil, and that’s just
to lay in the big shape for starters.
I’m bearing in mind, very, very closely the proportions that I illustrated last time
when I just drew the planes of the head.
That’s what we’ve got.
If you go from top to bottom—I know this is very light.
I’ll strengthen it in a few minutes.
Then centering down the middle, we bisect the head evenly.
This side is the same as this.
Then we draw here out to the temple.
Let me just darken this up for you so you can see it better.
I’m literally going to freehand the head, and on it I’m going to draw those lines
that I introduced to you last time.
If we go from top to bottom along the vertical axis, and we divide that in half.
That’s the line that we find running directly though the eyeballs.
On top of that I’m going to add a second line which represents a point where the brow
ridge overlaps the eye socket.
From that point now, I’ll draw the line to the chin, same as the vertical axis.
Along that line, halfway from here to here we’re going to find the base of the nose
at the septum.
These are just standard proportions.
It doesn’t mean he conforms to them or you or me.
They’re just standard generic proportions.
Next we drop a line from the septum to the base of the chin and divide that in half.
That gives us the bottom of the lower lip right there.
Not the center, but the bottom of the lower lip.
It’s also well to look at the distance from his brow to the base of the nose, and we’ll
see that the form underneath that eye socket, which rests right on the zygomatic process,
that too is about halfway from the brow to the base of the nose.
So these aren’t hard to memorize because they’re always halfway or one-quarter way,
nothing like 7/16 or silly like 9/32.
It’s very easy.
Okay, then we want to indicate the turning back of the cranium at the temple.
Here and here.
This has to be outside the eye sockets.
You’ll notice that the point where that temple line contacts the silhouette should
be parallel here to the brow.
In fact, all of these are parallel to each other.
I’m going to do a little freehand drawing which is involving the planes, but I might
be a little looser than that, a little more naturalistic.
Then I’m going to add to it the specific planes that I introduced last lesson.
Here is the keystone shape above the nose, and that is where the cranium contacts at
the nasal bone.
We have thirds for the nose.
Nasal bone, bridge, and septal cartilage.
The wings of the nose we indicate at the side like this symmetrically.
Here we want to lightly place the side plane of the nose as it comes off the bridge and
joins the face.
If we take a plumb line from the wing here and the wing here vertically up toward the
brow we will typically find the tear duct.
I’m just going to make a very light sign post, and that’s going to be useful in placing
The mouth directly beneath the nose we find the philtrum.
That’s the groove above the lip.
Just make a light indication of that.
Next to it we find the turning back of the orbicularis oris muscle, which forms the mouth
over the teeth beneath it.
Then here, very clean in this photograph in this individual, just where the tooth cylinder
rests on the front plane of the head.
So don’t um…
Here for the planes of the head I’m thinking not just of those, but also of the rhythmical
and more elliptical analysis of the head that
we find in Frank Reilly’s abstraction of the head.
I really think of it in both planes and then rhythmical relationships.
The upper lip rests below the philtrum, and these are called the pillars of the mouth
or lip, and then this is where the peak of the lip overlaps the lower lip, and we want
to find here how the corners of the mouth line up relative to the
center at the peak of the lip.
Then we draw an S-curve here from point A to point B.
A C-curve within the wings of the lip and the peak of the lip at the center.
Now he’s got a pretty full lower lip so we’re going to drop that line down a very
I’m pretty much keeping this a line depiction of his head.
The underplane here of the lip is formed by the orbicularis oris muscle, the sphincter
muscle that wraps around entirely the mouth and actually forms the lips themselves.
Then we have a short distance where we reach the top plane of the mentalis muscle that
forms the center of the chin.
The shape of it looks something like that.
Make sure to cover the other side as well.
Here it turns back from a front plane to a side plane, and it does the same thing on
the opposite side.
The front plane separates from the top plane of the chin just where we see that crest of
light on the photograph.
Remember, a crest of light is a reflection of the source of light, and it occurs where
two planes come together and reflect that source light.
It’s very important and it’s descriptive of the form.
Here is the base of the chin above the neck.
Okay, so we’ve worked our way along the vertical axis of the head.
Let’s just clarify the position of the wings here and here.
Now we go back, and we’ve already located the tear duct.
Let’s place the brow right on or slightly beneath the frontal prominence of the cranium.
Then it rises up onto the front plane of the cranium like so.
And then tails off toward the temple.
It has basically three thirds that form it.
It’s good to draw both sockets one after the other instead of skipping around to another
facial feature or to the neck or the hair.
It’s just you get a better understanding of the rhythm between the two.
Here we get the cranium turning back at the temple, and the same on this side.
Okay, beneath we find here and here the eyelid.
And we’re gauging carefully the distance from the eyebrow to the upper lid.
Here to here.
Then we get the lid overlapping the ball.
The highest point of the eyeball being inside the center axis of the ball.
On the nose side, not the ear side.
Alright, place the iris.
Here is the front plane of his lower lid.
We’ll do that here too.
Okay, the temple turns back behind the brow ridge,
and the zygomatic process turns back
here in the direction of the ear.
This is a clear indication of the muzzle, and this is the opposite side of the head.
We once again look for the zygomatic process, which turns from the front plane of the head
to the side plane.
Here we see an echo of the frontal prominence of the head, and then from this point up the
cranium turns with a vertical thrust as opposed to a diagonal thrust for the facial mask.
This is the sideburn.
The jaw is placed diagonally and turns from its more vertical aspect to here, its diagonal
to the chin.
Now, we’ll line up the nose with the ear lobe.
We’ll add volume here where the sideburn overlaps the ear.
Just pick up the C-curve that represents the outside of the ear.
They should line up one to the other.
Pretty much symmetrical.
The neck, the silhouette of the neck is diagonal, tapering wider at the base.
Underplane of the head seems slightly here.
Here the forms at the center of the neck fall first into half-tone and then into shadow.
Swelling up behind the mastoid muscle, we find the
Now, the outside silhouette of the head including the hair is pretty close to the skull itself,
and here we want to get a sense of the entire sweep of the hair mass as it circles the forehead.
Forget about the widow’s peak and the center of the scalp.
Just draw this big arc and then above the top of the head we find the top of his hair.
Now we can add the hair coming off the scalp and then swinging across like this.
I’m going to go back now and strengthen it with a darker Prismacolor pencil.
And making adjustments, hopefully small ones, but nonetheless, you’ll find areas which
could be placed a little more carefully or correctly.
Now you do those as well.
The artist that I most recommend if you want to study the planes of the head and learn
them so they become second nature is Charles Dana Gibson,
a New England American illustrator at the turn of the 20th century.
You can clearly see the head described in planes.
Here, we again run up against the pillars above the mouth.
In his case, they are quite pronounced and deep.
Sometimes if I draw a double or a triple line it just means that I’m softening an edge.
Don’t draw your half-tones too dark.
That’s called over-mottling, and it’s one of the big traps for art students.
The human eye can see very fine gradations between one value and another
so you don’t have to overkill.
Actually, very close to just doing a pen and ink drawing.
It’s important to keep your pencil sharp.
These planes angle diagonally in the direction of the mouth.
You can use a modified chisel point so that one edge could be softer and the other much
more crispy and hard,
which is something you really can’t do with a ballpoint pen.
Where the overlap occurs, upper lip on top of lower lip, I use probably only one stroke
because that will suggest a hard edge or an overlap.
Notice I leave that crest of light so that it helps me convey the sense of form where
the top plane of the lip overlaps the front plane.
Here is the top plane of the chin and then it angles back thusly leaving a crest of light
to show it’s separating from the front plane.
After which we pick up the turning to the front plane above the jaw.
You know, if a complexion is a little darker as the nose frequently is, that’s all well
and good, but it’s not form, per se, by itself.
It’s just a change in color and value.
Allow your stroke to have a little thickness when you’re drawing the upper lid.
I’m going to turn that lid back with a half-tone right here.
We’ve got a deep side plane at the inside angle of the nasal bone.
Don’t make the edge of the semi-circle too hard,
and don’t make the edge of that highlight too soft.
It’s a pinpoint reflection of the light source.
Alright, let’s turn this eyelid as though you could imagine it were a ball.
It didn’t have lids on top of it or lashes, just a sphere.
The white of the eye is not always white.
It depends on the lighting, primarily.
The muzzle as it goes across the head is really sort of a bit of a ribbon shape.
Let’s see if I can demonstrate that for you.
Now where the head turns into shadow there is a decisive change in plane.
Remember, rounded forms like this part of the cranium typically feature soft edges where
planes meet and change direction.
Angular forms such as here, they’ll get firm edges, not so much hard edges.
Make sure you give a little bit of a distance or width for the upper lid since it casts
a shadow across the iris and the white of the eye.
Alright, so in that case, there is a few ways of handling this.
This is one.
The cranium gradually turns from its front plane to its side plane.
Here I can draw across the form.
Here I drew with the form.
Sometimes you have that choice.
Other times it becomes highly obvious and recommended that it be treated like this,
as drawing along the form, where the form turns.
So now we’re just designing the shape of the jaw.
This is the helix, the rim of the ear, and it overlaps the shell right here,
and the shell in turn overlaps the helix here and falls into shadow at that point.
At the base of it, it ends in a hard cartilage here, and that’s known as the anti-helix.
Let’s give the ear a little bit more complexion because I don’t want the ear to come jumping
out on the side of his head, and that’s otherwise what it might look like.
Just push down a little harder.
It doesn’t take much pressure.
And you’re just basically painting with the pencil.
I have a chisel point here that you can see, and I’m using the heel of the chisel point,
the flattest area, and just painting in a nice, even tone that’ll cover the area
that I’ve designed.
Alright, so we have a pretty reasonable rendition of the head with its planes.
Our next step will be to go ahead and put the line planes in our abstraction of the
planes of the head over the top of this drawing, which was treated it a very
planar way but still naturalistic.
I tried to draw this head using planes
that are quite clear, but let's take the
wire frame abstraction of the planes of the head and
superimpose it on top of our model. To
start with I like to start off with
a center line.
Okay. Let's darken it
so it's there for all to see clearly.
Now let's put in a line here
across the top of the brow
a point at
the peak of the lip. Now I'm gonna look to see
how, from here to here,
we get that keystone shape
And then here to the outside of the septal cartilages
we drop a diagonal
like that. Almost
a vertical but not quite.
Now, let's pick up here.
The turning back of the cranium at
Here, we're gonna draw from the septum
to the wing of the nose, as simply as that.
And then, turn the nose under.
Find the tear ducts
and draw the inside angle of the eye socket.
From temple to
the point right here where the helix starts on the ear
we're gonna change the direction of the plane.
And from that point
we're going to draw a line to the peak of the lip
I'm just using a red or a Tuscan red
wax pencil. So
get a little contrast here, I hope makes it a little clearer.
we're dealing in all straight
Now you can do this by
tracing the planes of the head
on top of
a photograph. You can also
do a tracing, nicely
designed though, never really just tracing or copying
and you can do a drawing of a head
without having to do it freehand. You can just trace it
first and then on top of that
you can come back and put your planes of the head. And if you don't want to draw
directly on your original, you can do so on a tracing paper.
But this is all good material for your homework.
Here and here, at the peak of the lip, we're
gonna follow down from the septum
and turn the head -
turn the chin rather - here.
Next, we'll pick up here,
the angle from the peak
of the lip, out to the wings.
Try to stress the
symmetry of the
front angle head
at eye level.
You can do this exercise on heads that are turned up or back
difficult angles, but for now
I want you to do - just do something just a little less
complicated. Just do
a front view and a three quarter view
and a profile.
The lower lip
now we can see where it turns from its front plane
to its side plane
at the corner of the mouth.
And where does the underplane
turn back, above the chin
The outside angle of the eye socket
is here. And then the
base of the eye socket rests on the
zygoma, here. So that's the
zygomatic process or arch.
From a point here, at the bottom corner of
the eye socket, we're gonna drop another diagonal
to the side of the chin.
And that represents the turning of the front plane of the face
to its side plane, above the jaw.
here we'll drop a diagonal
from the front of the ear, down.
And from there
to this point - oops I did
not draw the base of the chin. There we are. And so
from this point, we draw to the corner of the
And then we draw here, the arc
closely follows his hair
of the cranium. Here the hair grows up and over it.
So it no longer follows it quite so closely.
so I hope you can see the plainer
manner in which I try to describe his head. And then by
overlapping it, it becomes even more clear, structurally.
Not just how the features are arranged but the cranium,
the face, and the jaw. That's
the side plane of the cranium and here's the side plane of the
face and jaw.
Okay he's got a pretty strong
neck, so that's the character type so draw it that
way. Okay, good. Now we're gonna move on
to a three quarter view head. And we use a
female model for this one, just to
emphasize that the same forms are found in both cases
and sometimes they're a little softer in the woman but we're gonna get behind that
in the next drawing.
with - that was a front view head. Now we're
gonna do a three quarter head. And we have
a female model. The planes of course pertain
both to male and female models. So let me try to get her about
the same size as the first head we drew.
Remember now the front
axis, running from the keystone shape
above the nose, between the eyebrows, all the way to the chin, that
should be a straight line.
I'm just using a
Verithin Prismacolor black pencil, so my first strokes
are very, very light. I'll darken them in a moment. But
because I don't intend really to erase any of the Prismacolor -
it's a wax based pencil anyway - I
like to kinda draw lightly and then draw over that.
So here is a line that represents the brow
itself. Where the brow overlaps
the eye. And here is the base of the
head at the chin.
Half way between these points, we find the base of the nose at
the septum. And she may vary from this. We'll find out
as we proceed, but starting off with these standard
proportions. And halfway between the base of the nose and the chin, we find
the bottom of the lower lip, not the middle.
And back now from the brow to the septum
gives us the bottom of the eye socket. Be
careful, we're not married to these proportions. Let's see here,
I should have slid it over, but I'll do that now.
So here's our front axis.
And from that keystone shape to the apex of
the head, the axis does curve.
Not in the front view head, but it does in three quarter
and profile angles.
Next I want to make sure I've got a good handle
on the temple. The temple of course
is where the head turns from its front plane to its side plane, so it's very
important to indicate that.
That's approximately the top of the head, maybe a tad lower.
Don't draw too much more. When it comes to the
cranium. Instead, let's work, starting where the
the vertical front axis
joins the horizontal axis.
And at that point, here,
we're gonna develop the shape of the eyebrow.
I'm not putting too much pressure at all
on the pencil.
Just putting a light tone
into the shadows and the eye brow.
Notice how the eye brow starts under the brow
and then ascends up onto the forehead and then the tail runs off.
Three parts. It's not just one shape.
Okay now let's pick up the angle of the nose.
This is my
my best approximation so far, so let's construct it
along that angle. Here we have a nasal bone
and beyond that we have the septal cartilages that form
the turning under to the base. And that
we find here.
So let's go ahead and put in the angle
of the septal cartilages.
here of the nose
and the shadow over the nostril.
Try not to make that
either too big or too small. It has a very important
effect on the whole head.
Now from the septum to the bottom of the
mouth, we get a little bit of convexity
because of the volume of the teeth. So I changed
from a straight to a very shallow C curve.
And here's the philtrum, and beneath that
the peak of the upper lip.
So I'm kinda mapping out the dark pattern involving the
shadow next to the philtrum, here. Okay
the corner of the mouth is, if I line it up on a
plumb line, the corner of the mouth is to the right
of the wing of the nose.
How far, well that's a guesstimate.
I do measure using a plumb line again, but
comes with experience in spacing and placing these forms.
And that's about all we're gonna do. We're not gonna do a finished head
but we are gonna get the spacing and placing as best we can.
And then add minimal value
for the lights and darks.
There's a shadow over the lower lip
and then we find the base
of the lower lip.
It's about there. And then
a C curve, just
inside of the corner of the mouth.
This is the underplane of the mouth, it's part of the Orbicularis oris
muscle, which surrounds the entire mouth and forms the lips.
And then we get an angle such as this, where the
underplane then comes up against the front plane of the chin
which turns from light to shadow, right about here. And I measure
that by looking at the philtrum, which I already placed.
In fact, I think it's a little farther over.
So I'll make an adjustment there. We'll see.
Now diagonally, the chin turns
under to the spine
of the mandible,
which angles off maybe about like that.
Okay so we've worked our way
down the vertical axis. Now we're going to work our way along the horizontal
axis. First, if I follow
the diagonal of her three quarter view nose
from the wing, up
paralleling - see like that -
then that's where I generally find the tear duct.
And that can be helpful, obviously.
Next I have the brow,
or at least the eye brow, but I want to show
how the bone and the muscle, the orbicularis
oculi, how they overlap the eyeball.
In other words, down to
the beginning of the upper lid. So if this is my
angle on one side, if I cross over to the other
I can get a close
approximation of the distance on both sides.
Let's do one more thing. From this point
simplifying the entire eye socket
we get a shape about like that
and within that big abstraction
of the shape, we're gonna build the eyes.
So let's do the same on both sides.
Like that. Okay,
at the inside of the socket, right
up against the nasal bone, we get
an overlap such as that. And here
we get an overlap like
that. Then, beyond, and below
we find the overlapping lid
and the base of it can be quite thick
because of its width and because of the makeup.
So that'll vary from person to person, especially when
somebody is wearing a lot of
mascara or sometimes false
Now, we get a shadow
cast into the socket by the overlapping
bone and also by the eye itself.
So let's try to describe that shadow.
Let's not get too complicated, keep it simple.
And we get a nice shape
here toward the bottom of the socket and that represents
the shadow cast by her lashes.
The lighting in this photograph is good. I like it because
it does describe some interesting features
of her head.
Including all of the
lashes and the makeup, the underplane of her upper
lid is quite thick.
And you want to include the shape
of the iris, don't leave it blank. This
shape is gonna help us place the remaining
important forms of the eye and its
lids. So use it.
Sometimes like this I might put down a light tone, just
so that it's clearer to me as I draw.
So that's what I'm doing here
inside of her socket, next to the nasal bone.
And then to complete the
eye, we leave a space at the
top of the lower lid so the light can collect right there.
is the outside of the eyeball and
the eye lid turns into its front
beyond that, we do pick up
just a handful of little shapes, which represent shadows
or in some cases, the lashes
This involves making some choices about where exactly to put and how
to design your shapes. But don't be
wishy washy. Be clear and legible about what you do.
And then here we pick up a little
form at the front of the eye socket
which almost, but not quite, overlaps the nose.
And then here - you notice you have these
shapes and they're parallel almost to each other.
So that'll help a little bit. Very lightly indicate the nasal
labial band. It's not that important and you don't want to
overdue it. Alright, on the other side
we're gonna pick up the width, or the depth I should say,
of the upper lid and its shadow.
And then within that, we find the iris.
And the lower lid
here underneath the bone of the brow we want to extend
the eyelashes. They actually extend
outside the silhouette of the head.
There's the shape of the brow, silhouetted above
and below the cranium.
Here we should
clarify where the mouth ends, the wing of the mouth
here. And then also, the distance to the silhouette. Like that.
She has a very
strong bony structure.
And you wanna finish
off the head at the
This half of a head, starting
here at the soft edged, rounded form of the
cranium, this half of the head is entirely
in shadow. But I don't
want to lose some of what I've constructed, so I'll put down just a very light
overall tone for the right side of her head.
The left as you face it.
Just overlap your strokes as you go.
Alright. The hair
echoes the tail of her eyebrow.
Let's put in a half tone for
part of the zygomatic process leading to the ear.
And she's actually accentuated that with makeup.
So it's very clear as we
The angle of the jaw, where it changes from its vertical thrust to its
diagonal, lines up
let's see, lines up with probably the lower lip
in our case, right about here.
And use a nice, shallow C curve to express that.
The hair has a very simple
axis as it moves across the forehead.
Don't draw little hairs or
scalp or anything. Just draw that axis at this point.
Okay here the hair
sweeps up against the ear.
And we place the ear by comparing the lobes position
to the nose, like this, using a
parallel. I would say that the ear lobe
is just slightly below
the level of the base of her nose. And it sits
at a diagonal angle, which we
The ear is a little
smaller I think with her than we
would expect in the standard head. And we need to
show enough construction here to get the ear. That's the helix
or the rim that wraps around and then it ticks
behind here. This is the tragus
and that's the cartilage at the front of the ear.
And then beneath that we pick up
the antitragus in half tone right here.
And then the turning under
of the shell of the ear, which
is overlapped here by
the rim, or
helix and the shadow is actually
cast into that
overlapping rim, like so.
And now we want to pick up
of the inside of the rim or the inside of the
shell or body of the ear.
And just put that
again into just a simple, light shadow shape.
There's the front of her neck. Here is a
cast shadow over the neck
is the angle, overlapped by some hair,
and then it tapers down
so. Nice and slender.
There is a cast shadow -
well actually it's just the underplane of her head
on top of the front of the neck.
And we're just gonna keep that very simple.
Where the neck turns from light to shadow, being a cylinder.
Now, let's go
back and complete the big shape of her head.
almost a vertical for the back of her cranium.
The hair follows closely the
contours of the cranium.
The highest point
being above the outside of this socket, like so.
It is difficult to keep these heads exactly
proportionate to each other. She's slightly larger than this guy, but I
don't think that's gonna confuse anyone.
Yeah we do get a
pony tail coming off the head. And that
looks about like so. I don't even know if I'll
fill it in. Maybe I'll suggest it a little bit.
But it's not
structural to the head, it follows its own shape.
Or its own form.
over it with a standard black Prismacolor
to make it a little more graphic and easy to see for you.
First, let's make sure that that
rounded Prismacolor pencil is very sharp.
And there we have it. Okay.
As I go, I'm gonna also be critical and
look for errors in
placement or scale.
Sometimes even edge.
So we see the three parts of the nose: the
nasal bone, and then the cartilages that form the bridge.
And finally the septal cartilages that form the base.
It's pretty much
just as well if you want to start off using the Prisma
and then just use the verithin pencil
for the subtle areas. That's fine too, it just depends
on how careful you want to be I guess.
There the septal cartilage hooks up under the base of the nose
forming the base of the nose.
And falling into shadow
at the tip.
philtrum - usually if I use multiple lines like this it indicates
that the edge is other than hard edged, whereas here
you get an overlap, the shadow ends, coming from right to left,
I'll leave one edge. One shape because
a hard edge turning, whereas here is modified
and I used several strokes.
Now this is
a little bit like what we call calligraphy.
And each artist almost surely
has their own calligraphy. I can
tell just by looking at a drawing by Charles Dana Gibson
and comparing it to another drawing, using the same medium,
by Franklin Booth or James Montgomery Flagg.
And just by the strokes and what I call the calligraphy
I can see who's who.
All three of them being great artists with
pen and ink and graphite and other
mediums where tonality is expressed in the line like this.
There's where the peak of the lip overlaps
the lower lip.
And this kinda softly
into a plane opposite the mouth here.
This I'm gonna really keep this careful
and very light.
And I may, if I were to go farther, I may even go
back to the verithin
pencil. Because of its subtlety.
Yeah, this nasal
labial band is a very subtle thing. And you have to be careful, it
can divide the flow of the head. So I keep it very light. I might even,
if I wanted to go further, go back to the verithin pencil. Which I
started the drawing with. It's capable of more subtlety
and more nuance.
I might add a little complexion,
in fact of course I would, because the lips have
complexion, darker than the rest of the skin.
In most cases.
And then the upper lip, as you'll see with my
simplified shadow pattern, is gonna be dark and part
of that shadow pattern.
I'm just about the point where my pencil
has formed a chiseled point, which I'll
display for you in just a moment.
You can see -
maybe it's hard to see but there is - it's not a perfect point. There's a slight
chisel at the end. So I can use that - it's almost
a little bit like painting with a pencil.
That turns with a firm edge
at the chin. Sometimes a soft edge, but
rarely a hard edge.
Let's move up again to the upper part of this head.
Yeah so the edges are really important. I
pretty much do them as
I go, rather than putting everything in a linear form and then
super imposing the edges on it later. I just try to be
more direct or alla prima at the first stroke.
In one of our lessons I demonstrated a painting
using burnt umber and oil
and I -
in that case that is not what we call alla prima,
it's the beginning for what we call a prepared painting.
We lay the groundwork for it here.
Except for the early construction with the verithin
pencil, this is not
a prepared painting type of style. This is pretty much
alla prima, which means at the first, or in French premier
que. Now there are
a number of painters who have confined themselves just to that.
Not in all their work but in some of their significant
work, such as Anders Zorn
or Franz Hals. And I
think it's nice and keeps things kinda fresh and not overworked.
The reason this cast shadow's a little darker than the shadow on the chin
is because it's not getting as much
Otherwise all the shadows would be
since she has a single complexion, they would all be
one value. For the most part I'm
treating them as though they are just one value. But in order to
separate the head from the neck, I might indicate a little reflected light under the jaw.
This is a cast
shadow. Usually cast shadows have hard edges. I might
soften just a little bit so it doesn't look too mechanical.
Here the hair overlaps the ear and
the shape of the helix. Remember the helix is the rim
of the ear.
When I'm done with this I'm going to superimpose on it -
as I did in the example to my left -
I'm gonna superimpose on it the planes of the head.
Which I explained not long ago in a previous lesson.
It's also possible, I won't do it here
but I've done it for you. It's possible to superimpose
more curvilinear abstraction of the head
that Frank Reilly developed.
Both are really structurally useful to you.
let's go back to the eye sockets.
at this point the upper lid turns away from the
light. Here this wraps over the
nasal bone, it's a cast shadow
and here we just pick up
some of the feeling and shapes of the
cast shadow caused by her eyelashes.
Before I go further down in that
region, let's get the
underplane of her upper lid, here.
Design the shape
of the iris carefully.
Don't make the highlight too large.
And don't make it soft edges - with soft edges. Keep it
nice and crisp.
At least in this head under these
The white of the eye is not white.
It's in half tone. So before I call this eye
complete I'll make sure that that is the case.
Try to vary the separation
and sometimes width of these lashes.
Otherwise they look routinized and
monotonous. And that's not at all what we want.
let's make sure we've designed the underplane of the brow.
And done so with a softest edge because
it's turning gradually, it's a rounded -
almost a rounded form. So we have anywhere between a soft
edge and a firm edge. So that means
multiple strokes of the pencil. In this case the
wax pencil but it would be true if you were using graphite or charcoal,
And give it a half tone. Because it's facing
the light in a oblique way.
And now put a half tone over here.
The white of the eye. Which is actually not really a half tone, it just shows that the
eye in shadow cannot have a white
sclera or white of the eye. It just won't
get that light. Alright, now we're gonna move on to
her right eye.
Doing the same with it.
Here, the eye actually comes forward of and over
laps the bone behind it.
And here, here's where
the lashes and the underplane of her upper lid
This area gets
a little less reflected light so it goes darker. And here
we find the iris.
And it's got a little catch light.
Small with hard edge.
And then I'll apply a darker tone
even though everything around it is in shadow, this is
darker than the rest of the shadow.
Learning to draw
free hand from photographs, or even if you're projecting
the photograph, learning to draw it well, is a very
critical skill. It doesn't substitute for
life drawing. There are things you see in
three dimensional, live form that just
aren't really there in your photo. But life drawing
as a means to interpreting photos is great study.
You can't do a very good job drawing from a photo
if you have not done your life drawing. So you gotta stick
with that. Not everyone
has access to life drawing workshops or classes, but
there are some images that you can - they're all photos though -
that you can pull up some video and some photograph online.
And that's the second best thing you can do.
And in reality, working as a professional,
you're not gonna have the luxury who will sit or stand or run for you
for the time that you're actually gonna spend
drawing that particular person.
So it becomes obviously the case that you're gonna need to
do some drawing from photos until you can
do so convincingly.
Again, the best way to do it is to do life drawing
from the live model. Now, let's go ahead
and finish off our silhouette. I don't necessarily
want to use the same linear depiction of her silhouette
from the eye to the chin. I vary it a little bit
involving multiple parallel strokes. Don't
overdo the brow here. She's got a soft turning
of that form and not as angular as
the brow as a man might have.
Something to look for in drawing females.
Before I do it, let's just complete this.
I'm not gonna draw this really, really dark. For one thing I want to be able
for you to see - I want you to be able to see
the linear abstraction that I'm gonna put over this
when we're done. So I'll keep it
light than I might do if I were painting this.
Something along these lines.
Make sure it's a nice, even tone or you won't be able to do the exercise.
You won't have a legible foundation to put your
You can also use photographs and on tissue paper
you can trace and design the form
of the planes of the head. That's a faster way
to get at it. You can learn a lot from it
but nothing beats drawing freehand. The exercise
trains your eye.
Multiple strokes so that we have a rounded turning
of the form from light into shadow.
Remember the neck is a cylinder so it's gonna have soft edges.
With this hair pulled back, it does
follow the actual form of the head itself,
of the cranium. But
you don't have to do too much, I just wanna express the hair.
Again, I'm not gonna finish this drawing I'm just gonna
Again, I'm not gonna finish this drawing I'm just gonna
now I've gone ahead and completed her head. Next step is
going to be putting down, as I did in example number one,
just the linear planes of the head. So
let me grab a colored pencil so you can see it better.
So we're gonna start with our axis here.
And that runs through the base of the nose at the septum and the
center of the lips.
Okay so we're gonna work off of that axis. Next
let's place the
And now we'll establish the
Let's do this. Draw here the keystone shape at
the inside angle of the brow. And I hope you all have copies
of the linear planes
of the head diagram, which I lectured on
and demonstrated before this part of the program.
Because you should keep that at your side.
Now we're starting to explore the front plane of the face. Here's
the front plane of the cranium.
Let's pick up the
silhouette of the cranium itself.
This is the angle of the bridge of the nose.
Here to here.
here to here.
That's done. And then the side plane
of the nose runs from the wing
up to just inside here of the tear duct.
And you can't see it very much on
this side. So I'll leave it out. The septum is
here. And from there we draw up to that wing
and we draw out to the tip
using straight line. And then here
build the underplane of the nose.
And then we
follow, essentially, the pillars of the
of the lips beneath the
septum. And we draw a line directly
to the front plane of the chin.
Then do the same on the opposite
we're gonna show the shape of the lips.
And then on the opposite side we do the same, into the
shadow. Here and here.
And here we show
the lip overlapping the lower lip and again here at the peak
we draw the shape of the lower lip.
This can vary from person to person, especially - well
both in height and in width. And it
along this shape and then the
underplane we find here.
Parallel to it. Okay.
Now let's go back to the eye socket. Here
we have the overlap of the eye.
You'll see this clearly on your diagram.
Then we pick up the inside
angle of the socket
like so. And the opposite side
we barely get it right about there.
Okay we have the temple. I'm gonna draw -
okay we've done this - draw this out.
And we're gonna find now
the side plane of the face.
Let me stop for a moment. Before I do that
I'll find how the eye rests on the cheek
and just continue that line here
and here. Okay.
And then how does the eye rest on the cheek from left to right?
and symmetrically here.
Silhouette we find the cheekbone here
angling down, changing direction
here along the muzzle and tooth
cylinder to the base of the head.
We draw a line up from the jaw
that can include
the jaw. We place the
right about at the top of the wing we can see that
we get a shape that runs to just the bottom
of the helix on the ear
and it lines up just outside the
socket and then we pick up the side plane of the face
which includes the muzzle shape.
The angle of the jaw we've already located, as we
drew the freehand head and
there we've got it. The base of the
chin, just squared off parallel to these points.
And this is just about where
we find the
masseter muscle, which flanks the muzzle.
Okay, now I'm just gonna darken
what I have constructed.
It's kinda funny,
you'll hear art teachers talking
about you've got to do your construction. You have to construct
more. But explaining what they mean
by construct sometimes
is left out. And so that is what we're trying
to do here is to
So I hope this goes towards an explanation
of what to look for when constructing the head.
The planes of the head, which is my subject today,
work in concert
with Frank Reilly's abstraction of the head.
So they both
lend understanding and construction to what you're doing.
of the head, which is the demonstration for today. They work
hand in hand with the understanding that we gain
from Frank Reilly's more curvilinear abstraction.
And that will give us, nicely, the rhythms
within the head.
All I'm doing now is literally just darkening these strokes so it's more legible
And again, here's that
overlapping brow bone with your obicularis oculi
muscle attached to it, orbiting the eye.
Good, so this gives us the planes of the
head from a three quarter angle. Now I'll draw
a profile and, again, with the planes of the head in mind
and then outlined.
front plane or front axis of the head to the back of the head, the head is just as wide
as it is tall from the base of the jaw to the top of the cranium.
So instead of the 2 x 3 format, it now forms a 3 x 3 or a 1 x 1 or a 2 x 2.
It’s a square.
And that’s because the cranium has more volume than the rest of the head.
In fact, in profile it shows its full volume, which is 2/3 of the entire head.
In this case, we’re going to start off—let’s try to get this on the same scale as our other
I’ll place the top of the head right about here, and then I’ll place the base of the
head about there.
A few points to look at before we start.
Notice how the eye overlaps the inside of the socket.
Remember, you have to get a sense of dimensionality, three dimensions.
And you have to do it on a two-dimensional surface.
That’s your challenge.
Overlaps inherently show that one thing is front of or behind another so they’re your
best friend when you’re trying to convey three dimensions
on a two-dimensional surface.
You’ll notice that the wing of the nose overlaps the tooth cylinder.
You’ll notice that the corner of the mouth overlaps the lower lip.
The mustache only enhances that, and it’s pretty closely cropped so I’ll probably
indicate that with he contours of his mustache as well.
Let’s start of, let’s approximate the back of the head here and the front plane
of the head here.
That gives us this distance compared to this so we’re just about right.
The highest point on the head is just above or slightly behind the ear, and that’s good.
The lowest part of the cranium lines up with the bottom of the ear but
we haven’t drawn that yet.
Let’s start off with a very light vertical axis.
This time I’m just going to go straight with Prismacolor.
I could do the Verithin just as easily but I just assume do this.
Then I’m going to divide from the top of the head—well, first I find the brow line.
Let’s kind of make it consistent with the other two examples we’ve done here.
That’s where the socket overlaps the eye, or the brow overlaps the socket.
Then to the base of the chin we divide in half, and that gives us our septum.
Half again gives us the base of the lower lip.
And from the brow to the wing of the nose, it’s about halfway before the eye socket
overlaps the zygoma or the cheek.
Alright, we also know that from the brow up the head angles back in an arc to the apex.
Let’s reposition that a little bit.
Okay, we know also that once we’ve established the angle of the nose coming off of that
line from the wing parallel to this will give us the tear duct.
But, the eyeball is overlapping the socket, as I pointed out, so we can’t see
the tear duct. It is overlapped.
Next, a line here gives us the bottom of the lower lip.
Not the center of the mouth.
Here is the bottom of the chin.
Maybe it’ll be a tiny bit longer than normal because of the hair, but very little.
Now, let’s place the temple.
The ear lines up with the nose and the base of the occipital bone.
That also lines up with the nose and the ear.
This is approximate because it’s easier to measure short distances than broad distances.
I’m not married to that shape, but it looks like it’s going to be about right.
It may move out a little bit.
Just dry lightly.
Okay, so there is our temple.
Almost halfway from the work axis to the back of the head, that’s going to be our jaw.
Let’s wait on that a little bit so we’re a little more certain about that shape.
Now let’s start constructing here at the eye socket.
There is the inside of the socket and here is the eyebrow.
Within that here is the shape of the front of the eye overlapping the socket.
The eyebrow goes from below and then up and over the brow ridge
and tails off at an angle like this.
Now here let’s draw the overlap of the eyebrow.
Here and then here.
Let’s kind of get an idea of the whole abstract shape of the eye socket into which we’ll
build his feature.
Next we look for the distance from the eyebrow to the lid.
Then he’s got a rather lengthy upper lid so we’re going to draw it over the ball.
Then at that point we’re going to—yes, of course, it has a thickness to it like so.
Then here we’re going to see how that eyelid overlaps the ball of his eye.
This angles diagonally.
Now the iris in this angle is an ellipse.
Here up against it is the lower lid.
There is our overlap right there.
Little half-tones on the side will give it some form.
The lashes extend forward of the lid like this.
The cheekbone overlaps here, the muzzle, at that position.
Okay, now let’s construct the nose.
We clearly see the nasal bone and a slight change in direction from there to the bridge
and beyond it to the septal cartilages.
This is not a ball.
Don’t call it the ball of the nose.
It’s a misnomer.
It’s actually a series of angular cartilages.
In some people, as they age particularly, you might get a curvilinear shape to those,
but that’s unusual.
Usually the nose contacts the face beneath it halfway between the wing and the tip.
Not always, but on average that’s what happens.
We get a harder edge here because they overlap above the tooth cylinder.
Then we get a harder edge here because of the cast shadow beneath the septal cartilages.
Let’s move beyond.
We see here that the tooth cylinder advances quite considerably forward of this axis.
Well, how so?
Let’s design the mustache too.
We can do it later.
I mean it’s better to do it as you draw.
Notice it has a nice arc and ends up to the right—our right of the wing of his nose.
Look at this negative shape.
It’ll help you design it.
Then it runs down.
If I use a plumb line to a point above the beard that’s just beneath his iris.
So, talking about this.
It overlaps the mouth here just the way eyeball overlaps the inside of the socket above.
Try to gauge this width here and this angle.
And beneath it we pick up just a bit of the upper lip,
and then we get this overlap happening here.
Falling away from it and beneath it is the lower lip.
Now on back of the vertical axis I’ll plumb line with the inside of the eye socket, we
get the underplane of the tooth cylinder.
Turn that form into a half-tone as it goes back
and record the negative shape from here to here
between the beard and the front of the beard.
Then the beard and the jaw beneath it straighten up like so.
From here we pick up the angle of his beard along the underplane of the face.
Once again, if filling in some of your dark pattern helps you
get a grip on the shapes, do it.
You don’t have to wait until after you’ve designed everything in line.
Notice I’m keeping it very simple, one value for my shadows and my darks such as the beard
or the hair like that.
Alright, let’s go back up to the top portion of the head.
Here you’ll notice if you take this and swing it up, that gives you the line of the
hair on his forehead, simple.
This is almost a vertical axis for the beard in front of his ear.
We’re not quite but we’re basically expressing the jaw when we draw the beard here.
And the angle of the jaw, as we expected, turns beneath, sometimes in the middle of,
but in this case slightly beneath the lips.
Mine up at the ear.
His head is tilted just a little bit back, and so the ear is not going to line up with
the lobe, I’m sorry, with the wing of the nose.
It’s going to line up below.
Notice, like in our last example, the ear is set diagonally on the head.
The hair rises up above the cranium at that point.
Let’s just flesh out the ear a little bit.
Here is the shell surrounding the—I’m sorry, this is the rim surrounding the shell.
Here is the shell overlapped by the rim.
There is the antitragus.
Let’s have a look here.
Let’s take this line with a sight C-curve, very shallow, up here to a point near the
apex of the head.
The underplane of the head here joins the neck at a position lining up between the eye
and the sideburn.
That curves over the neck, the shadow.
There is a cast shadow over the neck, and here a cast shadow
against the back of the neck.
Here the angle of the back of his neck.
Now I’ll go back in and strengthen the parts of this construction that need to be done
because they’re darker than others, for instance.
Or maybe I have to correct a few because they’re out of place, but that’s what I’m doing now.
I’m doing the spacing and placing, and here is what we call refining and designing.
It gives us an opportunity to make corrections, and also at the same time, if you like it
and it doesn’t need correction, it could be better designed, perhaps.
That’s what we do in this second phase of the drawing.
He has a fairly prominent brow ridge, as opposed to our female model.
As with hair in general, it’s not what happens within the hair mass, unless it’s a lot
of very intricate waves on a woman’s head, in some cases.
But, for the most part, you just find the form or the texture of an object at the silhouette.
It’s not within the mustache, but where we reach the ends of the mustache here.
So concentrate on that.
For the most part, keep your lines that form the shape and the tone of the beard.
Keep them parallel except in certain places like here
where there may be separation between them.
We can pick up some texture in this area because the hair is by nature thinner.
So, within it we see the skin at times, etc.
By the time we reach this point, the beard changes direction.
I’m still thinking in terms of the planes of the head when I designed the
masseter muscle here, for instance.
This is a cast shadow, and it picks up a couple of the shapes of the beard where it becomes
kind of curvy and knotted so we put that in.
Soften a few edges.
Overlap your strokes, that’s all.
Nice, clean even tone.
You can use a stick if you want.
Prismacolor does make Prismacolor sticks.
It might speed up the process for you.
It’s an option.
The rest of the hair is just going to fall off into one dark even value.
That’s all I’m doing right now.
After that we’re going to really focus on the planes of this head in profile, and we’ll
mark them like we did with the previous two examples.
We’ve got the gist of it here.
Now I’m going to go ahead and put down the linear planes of the head.
So, I’ll sharpen up my red pencil and design those for you.
Starting here at the root of the nose, get that, and we take it down to the turning here
of the septal cartilages, and in the process we design a very simplified straight line
for the bridge of the nose, like so.
Then we want to establish the overlapping brow here.
Then the angle here of the cranium as it takes us to the apex here.
Yeah, that’s about right.
Notice I measured first.
I placed a point and then I drew
as I’m doing here.
The back of the cranium at the occipital bone.
Let’s establish the side plane of the nose.
Then the tip of the nose, and then the underplane
of the nose and the septum,
and then here.
The upper or superior maxilla like that angling down from that point to the chin,
thusly, like that.
Okay, let’s place the temple a little more carefully than earlier like this.
The back of the eye socket.
Here the socket overlapping the nose here.
Here the socket overlapping the cheekbone.
Let’s draw here in the direction of the ear from the peak of the lip,
a straight line to that point.
Now we’ll draw the turning back of the zygomatic process.
The cheekbone overlapping the eye socket here.
The jaw overlapping the ear and then angling up to the apex of the cranium here.
Here is where the temple overlaps the zygomatic process like that.
This is the angle of the jaw, and where are we going with it?
To the spine of the mandible, along the spine of the mandible, in fact.
and this is the front plane,
it lines up with about the front of the eye socket
here and here, and this is the front plane of the chin.
Now we can draw here and this will represent the muzzle.
To line that up under the back of the eye socket and it curves like that.
This line starts at the zygoma and extends to the masseter muscle here.
Now I’m merely going to go back and darken these so you can make them out more easily.
The underplane of the head and here.
The Adam’s apple at the front of the neck and here the angle at the back of the neck,
and here let’s try to get the ear nice and clear.
Here is the vault of the cranium coming up in a curvilinear manner and then down and
a little bit more angular manner above the neck.
Along the way, sticking to nice, regular geometric shape along the occipital bone.
Here is the temple, very important turning of the front plane of the head to the side plane.
Let’s just show that like so.
Again, here is the front plane of the masseter.
Here is the muzzle turning from the front to the side.
Here is the chin mound.
Here is the peak of the lip running down the lower maxilla or tooth cylinder.
The angle of the nose and its bridge,
and then here along the silhouette of the nose too.
Then you turn the underplane of the nose, attach the septum,
turning back of the zygoma,
the temple overlapping the zygoma.
Here is the socket overlapping the inside angle of the nose,
overlapping the cheek and face.
There is the angle of the brow.
Good, I think we've done it.
Alright, starting here we have the same forms.
Look for the three big masses, the cranial mass, the facial mass, and the jaw.
Cranial mass, facial mass, and the jaw.
Cranial mass, facial mass, and the jaw.
The jaw has the narrowest front plane and the broadest side plane.
Notice that the cranium is almost a vertical whereas
this is a strong diagonal for the facial mass.
Naturally, as we turn the head, this vertical becomes a curve
and even more so in the profile.
Alright, good, so we have a front-view male, three-quarter female, and a profile male.
The lesson after this coming up, we’re going to go over difficult angles:
Upshots, downshots, real extreme ones.
Remember the head can turn forward or back.
It can tilt to the side, and it can rotate on the neck.
So those three movements, none of which we see in these examples, are pretty common.
They work in conjunction with each other.
You can have an upshot of the head with the head tilted to one side.
You can have a head that’s turned on the shoulder outline and rotated that is, and
at the same time tilting forward or tilting from side to side.
Those combinations we’re going to explore in the next part of our study.
It’s important in every one of our units that you try to do homework.
Make time for homework.
You can’t do too much.
But even if you can only do some, do what you can.
Don’t feel like you’re not doing enough.
As I go over the planes of the head then do the same for your homework until you’ve
got them pretty well memorized, the structures I will have described for you.
So, let me outline a couple of homework assignments for the unit: One would be, obviously, practice
the line drawing of the abstraction, the linear abstraction, the planes of the head.
It can help you a lot if you trace that over photographs that you might find in magazines
Try to find photographs that have no distortion.
In other words, they’re not shot with too short of a lens, so that’s something to
Another way of practicing is to draw heads on top of the planes of the head diagram,
so you would be using tracing paper in both cases.
I really want you to understand and become familiar with those planes, just as I hope
you become very familiar with the abstraction of the head.
Reference Files (1)
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 15sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Front View Planes of the Head Demo20m 6s
3. 3/4 View Planes of the Head Demo26m 47s
4. Profile View Planes of the Head Demo17m 58s
5. Portrait of Keith (Front View) Part 121m 10s
6. Portrait of Keith (Front View) Part 226m 55s
7. Overlaying the Planes of the Head on Keith14m 48s
8. Portrait of Carlotta (3/4 View)28m 12s
9. Overlaying the Planes of the Head on Carlotta35m 36s
10. Portrait of Yoni (Profile View)19m 39s
11. Overlaying the Planes of the Head on Yoni28m 0s