- Lesson Details
In this exciting in-depth drawing series, instructor Steve Huston shows you a step-by-step construction of the human head. He covers the basic forms and more detailed intermediate constructs of the head as well as the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. In this lesson, you will learn how to use basic shapes (boxes, cylinders, spheres) to form the basic structure of the head. This lesson is a fundamental step in learning how to create a solid foundation to place the features of the face on. He will also show you how to construct the basic head in different perspectives. Following Steve’s lecture, he will illustrate how the Old Masters constructed the human head. You will then be given a timed assignment from Steve to utilize what you have learned and practice your skills. Finally, Steve will share with you how he goes about the assignment through his own techniques.
- Sharpie Markers
- Digital Tablet
- Waterman Paris Fountain Pen
- Brown Fountain Pen Ink
- Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil – Indian Red
- Seth Cole Heavy Ledger Paper
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for the head. All the major planes, the major shapes, how the features set in terms of construction
lines. We’ll get that basic information down. We’ll do some assignments where you’ll
draw a little bit with those ideas. I’ll draw a little bit with those ideas. We’ll
look at the old masters and see how they did it. And then we’ll bring it all together
at the end and hopefully have a good, basic constructed understanding of the head by the
end of class. So I hope you join me.
We’re going to talk about the gesture and structure here. The head is the first gesture.
As we look at the art, as you look at me, you’re going to look here first and then
move down through. So if this is a book, chapter number one here. We have to get this right
and then everything follows from that. In fact, we can use the head as a yardstick to
measure the rest of the body to make sure it follows. So we want to get that head working,
and we’re going to make it out of the anatomy here. We have two major anatomical elements.
We’ve got the skull, the full round shape of the skull. And then we’ve got the mask
of the face that holds the features. Those two shapes have to work together, and then
we flow off that. All the detail we’ll talk about are going to work on these great structures,
so we’re going to start with these great structures.
So let me set this here, and we’ll get going.
Let’s talk about the proportions first.
If we look at the shape of the skull, it’s going to be an egg shape.
Now, as we go through different characters, and we’ll save that
for a different chapter, but as we go through characters we’ll find that egg shape can
change in proportion. It can be a little more spherical. It can be a little more elongated.
We’re just going to do a basic egg shape here. It could be this. It could be this.
Anywhere in there. That’s going to be the skull from a profile like so.
It’s going to be crucial to get that egg right. I’ll show you why in a moment, because it’s going
to give us a good connection to our next problem. We’re going to draw that egg. Now if we
saw it from the front view or the back view that egg, just like looking at a breakfast
egg end on would be a spherical shape, and it’ll be masked behind the features.
I’ll show you that in a moment. Or it will be the skull that we see, and we’ll see
that also momentarily.
Shape of the egg, that’s our first shape. The shape of the feature mask, mask of the
features. Now we can do all sorts of shapes. Let’s do a different shape here for a second.
I’m going to do an egg, and I’m going to do another egg. Now, the advantage of doing
another egg is it gives us kind of a roundness, and everything on the body has a certain softness,
roundness. Maybe you’re drawing a little child that’s very round shaped. So it can
be seductive to choose that egg shape. The problem is that if we draw shapes that are
too curvilinear, too rounded they start to get out of whack. We start to have trouble
getting their position.
So if we can feel—notice coming back up here now we did the nice, round egg because
that was characteristic of what we saw. We made the face shape, I made the face shape
a little square, a little more boxy. By making that second shape, the mask shape different
in character from the first it distinguishes them, and also notice we have a sense of where
one ends and the other begins. So we can get a sense of where the face shape comes off
the skull shape. That’s going to allow the position to be set more easily. We’ll get
a quicker read of how that position is. Now we know immediately that we’re looking down
slightly with that head. Whereas in here sometimes it can be a little bit out of whack.
What if we have a character with a really full nose and a receding chin?
We’re not sure whether that would be right or that would be right. It can throw us. But if we’re
as little square, little flatter curve here, rounded curve here, it gives us a good sense
of positioning, and that’s what we want. Notice we can shortcut this. I can also take
this and kind of stylize it and simplify it and group the two shapes, skull and face mask,
into one bigger shape, a sailboat shape.
The advantage of this is it is much quicker, much simpler. The disadvantage is then we
have some work to do to get it back to that true skull shape. But quite often we’ll
have a hair style, say a woman with a ponytail bun that’ll cover that. So we have choices
there. We can make it a little simpler. We can make it a little bit more sophisticated.
We can keep it a little more open. We can keep it much more completed. You can choose
whichever you prefer. What I want, though, is something that’s simple enough for me
that I can get it down quickly and effectively so that I can get it down, have it work to
build off of, add other shapes to it, or make it simple yet characteristic so it not only
gets down quickly and fairly easily—nothing is easy in art, especially with the head.
But it’s characteristic of what I see before me, the character I want to draw, the thing
I want to take simply and refine. If it’s still characteristic of what I see, the refinement,
in this case, shaving off a corner, adding on some bumps and bulges, that kind of stuff,
as we’ll learn to do in a minute. That’s easier.
So whatever I choose in my construction I want to make sure it’s simple, simple enough
that it’s—I can get it down easily, characteristic of what I see so it reads well right off the
bat as a head that’s looking down as a woman with a certain hairstyle and characteristic
so I can refine it and turn it into an advanced finished rendering if I so choose. In other
words, I’m going to think like a sculptor. I’m going to start out with something simple,
and then I’ll refine it. I’ll add to it, take away from it, build it, and finish it.
Now, that’s the structural idea.
If you have or plan to go to any of my basic drawing classes, you’ll find that I have
two ideas, the structure and the gesture. The gesture, there is actually two gestures
to the head. There is the gesture of the skull going back this way.
Let me switch colors so you can see that.
so you can see that. Gesture of the skull going back and the gesture of the face going down.
If we draw it again—you can see by drawing that simple sailboat shape. It’s
one of the reasons I like it for quick sketches. It’s characteristic, it’s simple. But
it still shows not just a characteristic shape that’s useful, but a characteristic of the
two gestures of the skull going back.
One of the big mistakes people make is they’ll have the mask of the face pretty well set
however they’ve chosen to do it, but then they’ll draw the skull this way.
They'll give it short shrift. It’ll be the wrong proportion. There is not enough there to fit
on a neck, for example. Look how skinny the neck gets when you get that skull wrongly set.
But also, we don’t get that drift back. We get a rolling curve up off the face.
We don’t feel that characteristic move back from face to skull. It starts to look a little
alien. Oftentimes, a hairstyle might fill out somehow and hide that drift backward,
but we still want to feel it.
The other thing that we want here, and notice I could make this much more boxy. Make much
more square choices rather than round choices so we have a continuum of choices there. Notice
what happens when I thrust that skull back with or without the hairstyle, and I’m really
conscious of that move back to the skull as opposed to that movement down for the face.
Then I’m going to respect the fact that the skull hits up high at the top of our construction.
That’s going to give me a much better fit, and we’ll go through this idea of connecting,
fitting to the next thing, the neck, in more detail. Notice that we come off the throat.
We come off the back of the neck. We put in a little bit of shoulder line so you can get
a sense of where we’d be going with that. Notice how high the skull and neck connect.
They connect very high. In fact, they connect—let’s do that so you can see what we’re after
and visualize more clearly. Notice that the head and neck—the skull and neck come together
about at the eye line. In other words, if I check—I’m always my own best model.
If I feel where the bone of the skull meets the meat the neck, look at where that is right
there. If I throw that skull off and make it incorrect, make it too much of a ball,
a little ball that looks alien, or a really big ball like this, notice what happens here.
The neck fits too low.
If you have a real heroic guy, a superman character you can kind of get away with that
with the bull neck because the meat fills up and takes us up to that higher or at least
close to that higher level there, and we can get away with that. Actually the books, the
very fine books by Andrew Loomis, he uses a stylization. But he’s doing these heroic
fashion models, kind of fashion model meets Superman character, so he can get away with
that because he’s doing this heroic type. But if you’re doing the average person it’s
quite a different connection.
Alright, so again from the profile we keep that egg shape up high. That gives us the
sense of the movement going back. We build the face down. Notice I can do this. I can
do this. I can do this. All those choices. Simple, yet characteristic. As long as it’s
that, pick whichever you want or myriad others. So gesture going back, gesture going down.
This is the one that really counts. If you goof this up we have the problems that I suggested.
The reason I say this one really counts is this is the gesture that’s going to then
flow into the rest of the body as we move down. So it’s the face to the neck. The
neck to the torso. The torso to the hips, legs, all that good stuff. So we want to make
sure we’re thinking of this movement down.
it’s the mask of the face without the features, without the nose sticking out, without the
eye sockets digging in. It’s the skull without the hairstyle. But if I were to take that
bare-bones construction you’ll notice that it creates a square that is just slightly
longer in the face and slightly shorter in the skull. Okay, so it’s not a perfect square.
Let’s say this would be a perfect square. It’s a little longer. If you’re going
to screw up a little longer yet, and what that does is just give a heroic chin. Even
if you’re doing a woman it feels attractive. If you get too long, which can happen, then
it’s a problem. Just a little extra going down. Then notice once you add hairstyle and
features, nose pushing out, hairdo pushing back, that can reverse, of course. But that
gives you a sense of the construction. Let’s just take this farther.
If we break this whole thing in half, so equal part here or there more or less. Again, if I’m going
to screw up, always a little extra chin is kind of the default ideal, at least in western
art, in heroic art. But if we get that halfway point, cut it in half, that is basically the
eye line. Let me put a little bit of the eyebrow in there just so you can see it. Notice the
eye line where the upper lid meets the lower lid. That’s a halfway point. Again, that’s
about where the neck is, neck meets skull somewhere in there. If you ended up down here
or up here, anywhere in that range, you’re still good. More than likely the hairstyle
is going to cover it anyway. Or if it’s a male with short hair, you know, the filling
in of that more massive neck relatively more massive neck is going to take care of it.
Without the hair skull to chin, cut it in half, you have the eye line. Eye line to chin,
cut it in half and you’ve got the nose. It can be a little shorter, a little longer,
but that’s more or less the nose. When you say the nose not the tip of the nose, but
where the root of the nose meets the mouth shape in there.
Cut it in half again--
the edge of the lower lip on average.
Again, if I have a little too much chin that’s better
than a little too much upper lip here, upper plain, and two little chins. I want to keep
this a little shorter if I’m going to goof up, the chin a little fuller and bigger if
I’m going to goof up. It’s always nice as an artist to know which
way to screw up, where to error. If we generally as we go down, if we make each thing a little
bigger than it should have been—nose slightly longer, chin slightly fuller, then the neck
a little longer than it should have been, the torso, the limbs, the legs all the way
down. Adding that length it just looks more statuesque or more heroic. That’s usually
in western art especially, and western art has kind of taken over the world aesthetically
at this point. With lot of exceptions, but just in general that’s going to be more
idealized. That’s why women wear the high heels, longer fingernails, low cut gown here,
putting the hair up. It creates that length that seems more beautiful, more idealized.
Let’s look at the front view then. Let me go back here. If we come across to the front
now I’m just going to do a sphere. Notice that the eye line here—let me switch here
one more time. Notice that the eye line which was our halfway point wasn’t the skull.
The skull could have been where the skull meets the neck could have been at that point.
It could have been lower. It could have been quite a bit lower. It could have been down
here. So it doesn’t necessarily have any correspondence. It could even be higher in
some cases. That skull is coming down and crossing that eye line point at whatever place
it crosses it. But the bottom of the egg is a little bit different. The bottom of the
egg will make that a little bit fuller down here. In general, if we cut the egg in half,
the ball in half, I should say. If we take that spherical end, cut the ball in half,
one half, two halves, add another half. If I’m going to screw up make it a little too
long, a little more of a half, half-plus rather than less. But we can use that as a construction of the head, making it a
little bit more heroic in the jaw or not. Either way.
Notice then what we have. We have a head without the ears, without the ears, without the hairstyle.
Put those on in a second. We have a head that is one, two halves wide. We put it down here.
And we have a head that is one, two, three halves long. So this is almost a perfect square.
It’s whatever by whatever. This is a 2 x 3 proportion, two across, three down. That’s
because the lose the drift of the skull going back. It’s now hiding behind the face. We’ll
see it in a little bit, the face hiding behind the skull. Let’s do this. So there is half
the skull. There is the rest of that round sphere for the skull. There is adding onto
it the rest of the mask of the face, which adds to the other half. There is our two by
one, two, three proportion. In that middle proportion, that middle half, the ears will
tend to sit in there. They can drop down quite a bit lower. Every once in a while they can
rise up a little bit higher, although that looks a little wolfish when you do that, a
little like an elf or something. But the ears tend to sit somewhere in that middle third.
They tend to be symmetrical although you’ll see a lot of people where one ear is actually
lower than the other ear. We’ll talk about how to draw ear shapes later in detail. But
for now you can just do a little C-shape, a little egg shape, a more chiseled boxy shape,
or any variation of that. Make it more rounded on the bottom, square on the top, any of those.
You can curve these. Anything like that is fine. We’ll find that the cheek, the side
of our skull egg is overlapping that ear and hiding some of it. So we want to have a sense
of that idea, the overlapping. It’s behind and below. The ear sits in there.
And then this same rule is true, of course, what’s going to be true from the profile
will be true from the front view. Let’s just switch back to this. So if I went back
to my full shape and cut it in half, let’s say here, this would be my eye line in there.
That’s where the upper lid and lower lids, if we just think of it as a real simple almond,
we’ll have to be more sophisticated than that. But the eye line where upper lid meets
lower lid if it was a little Egyptian it’d be where the makeup line is. That’s more
or less our halfway point. It’s better to make, again, our halfway a little more chin
for heroic reasons without the hairstyle. Then if we cut that in half that’s more
or less the nose. The root of the nose where it meets the mouth. Not the tip of the nose.
It might turn up or it might hook down in relationship to that. Then if we split that
in half right in here, then that would be where the lips sit on that construction line.
The halfway point is where the lower lip rests. The rest below that is chin in here.
Now, when you do this front view—again, it’s without the hairstyle. Oftentimes you’ll
lay this out and you’ll go, okay, I did everything I was told to do. It still feels
funny. Sometimes you’ll lay that out and you’ll realize that you’ve drawn the whole
face and you haven’t really drawn the skull. Sometimes you’ll need to come back then
and add a little bit more skull, and maybe even add a little bit more skull up this way.
Once again, if you added a little extra chin below then adding more skull above you’re
balancing out. It’s not going to look funny. It’s not going to look like an alien with
a little face down here squished or a little infant, fetus kind of thing. So having that
extra chin can help for that. It’s real easy from these front views to draw in effect
an egg. That’s a real quick version of this, but notice when I do that it has a certain
character. The width up here is equal to the width down here, whereas here even with a
strong jawed male we’re going to have the shapes diminish down towards the chin and
fill out towards the skull shape. And so it’s more of a true chicken egg kind of thing,
where it’s tapering down. It’s a truer egg rather than just an ellipse.
The other thing I’ll do sometimes is notice how adding that square mask of the face that
we talked about earlier. Square this out a little bit. When I do that notice how this line and this line are now
parallel to each other. In fact, they are parallel to the center line. We draw an imaginary
center line so that we can space the features. We have a little bit of nose on this side,
equal amount more or less on that side. We have a little gap here. Then the eye starts.
We have the same more or less little gap here, and then that eye starts. So we have that
symmetry. The eyebrows arch up, and they’re going to be symmetrical give or take an expression
or such off that natural center line. As soon as we draw then rather than the egg a pill
shape, a capsule shape, notice when we’re thinking that way then our center line tracks
in these more difficult positions. Then we have the tapering chin that is very square
into the, off the jaw, or we have the rounder chin that rounds smoothly off the jaw, whichever
the character suggests. Younger, feminine, child-like, be a little rounder. Square or
more heroic, more exaggerated superhero-ish, more male, a little squarer. Take your pick.
Once again, as we lay this stuff in, split it in half. There are the eyes. Eyebrow line
somewhere over there. We’ll look at that. Nose, lips. The rest is chin. And you might
say, whoops, I gave them too much chin or her too much chin, and you can trim it off
before you move on to the next idea. We’ll figure out how to add that stuff on momentarily.
And then you say, well, I have to get my ears. They’re somewhere between the eyebrow line
and the ear incidentally. Come back here up to that third again, and you can see the parts
of the eyebrows just on a broad average depending on the expressions, the character, the arch
of the eyebrows can be at that third line. Notice that I can design the proportions of
this head based on halves. Cut in half you have the eye line. Cut the lower half in half
again. You have the nose line. Cut that lower half in again you’ve got the lower edge
of the lower lip line. So having down gives you your information, or we can do it in thirds.
We can say from the top of the skull without the hair down one-third that’s the eyebrow
line. Down another third that’s close to the nose line.
Down another third you’re at the chin.
But in any case, we’ll go in between the eyebrow line and the nose line for those thirds,
one-third, two-thirds, three-thirds. Nose to chin is the three-thirds. Eyebrow to nose
is the middle two-thirds. The first third is the top there. And then we add our ear
somewhere in there symmetrically placed. Then we realize, whoops, we need a little more
skull maybe because we just drew a capsule that was perfectly symmetrical. It showed
the face shape, didn’t give us that fuller skull shape. And then we build off there to
build the hairline and all that good stuff in the shape of the styled hair and all that.
Okay, so that’s our basic idea. Coming back now to this. Once I’ve got a good chin,
good back of the skull, however I’ve done it; good chin, good back of the skull can
be rather sophisticated, very sophisticated, more so than we do here, more like we’ll
do later, or the simplest possible choice. In either case there is relatively simple,
yet characteristic. I can find now the neck right off this chin. Notice what happens here.
The chin goes back this way. That’s called the digastric plane. That’s the thickness
of the face. One of the dangers of drawing the mask of the face is it looks like just
a mask. If you get it at some weird angle it looks like a cut out cardboard Halloween
mask with your cutout features on there, and it’s not convincing.
So what we need to feel is that bottom plane to the face. It gives it thickness. That’s
called the digastric plane. It gives thickness here from different angles as we’ll see
later. We’ll find that more clearly, and it will give us great volume. It will keep
this from looking like it’s flat and cutout. Notice we’re working on a flat page, and
yet we’re trying to get the idea of volume. That’s always a hurdle for the artist to
jump. So we go along that digastric plane, and then we go right down the throat. If there
is a big Adam’s apple we ignore it and swing back. Unless you’re a ballet dancer or a
soldier at attention usually there is a little bit of sag. I’ll exaggerate it. Little bit
of sag. So that neck to chin, from the pit of the neck to the chin thrusts forward. That
gives us even in a fairly upright view there is a thrusting forward that has this beautiful
movement forward. We’ll find that that becomes a dance of forms
that plays all the way through the body.
So chin through the simplified neck to the pit of the neck. Anywhere in here is fine.
You made it a little too long. You made it a little too swinging back or a little too
not quite thrusting forward enough. Anywhere in there you’re probably going to be fine.
Notice that making it too long is a much better mistake than making it too short. Length for
the next form, form number one, form number two, construction number one to construction
number two. Each time making the next structure all the way through the body a little longer
is a better error, better mistake to make usually than the reverse.
But anywhere in there we’re good. So let’s pick one. Now I’m going to come off the
back of the skull, coming off the back of the skull. Anywhere in here is good. You’re
only real guide will be not to make this too skinny or too thick. Make sure the neck speaks
to the character or the model. Is it a big bull-necked guy or is it a long and wispy
neck? Make sure it rings true for that. And if you’re a little off or you should have
made it a little chubbier, should have made it a little skinnier, you can always add more
on later as you come to that realization. As long as you’re in the ballpark you’re good.
Notice this great change here. Notice how low the chin starts—I’m sorry, the
neck starts in the front. Notice how high. It may not be that high. It could be anywhere
in here. Again, you have room for error. Notice how high, let’s just pick this one in the
middle. Notice how much higher the neck connects to the head structure in the back. It connects
very high in the back. It connects very low in front. Getting that high-low is going to
be what gives it credibility. Notice when we put on our costumes here—let me button
this—notice how my shirt tracks that same high-low. Notice how the collar sits up high
in back and sits down low in front, following that same torquing dynamic of the neck. That’s
going to lead us in a very interesting way into the body. We’ll see that a little bit
later, again. Tease, tease, tease on that. If it should be a little bit fatter, it’s
out here. Anywhere in there is good as long as this is ballpark and as long as that sits
up high. So my two parameters are to make the neck in the ballpark of the correct thickness.
Don’t make it super skinny. Don’t make it super fat. If it’s way out here it’s
a problem. If it’s way in here it’s a problem. Somewhere in that mid-range of thickness.
And make sure the neck connects into the skull or underneath the hairstyle. Maybe the hairstyle
does this. Make sure like the neck feels like it connects to that skull up high in back.
Make sure that it feels like it connects to the face down low in front, and you’re good.
Now, if we go to a front view we will find on a younger model child, young adult, you’ll
oftentimes get a thinner neck. Not every time, but just on average. So if you make it thinner
it’s going to look younger and/or more feminine. If you make it thicker it’ll look more male,
a little older, mature, and more heroic. If you then get a very aged model it can thin
out again on you. But if you want to do a heroic male as Loomis did as I mentioned before,
you’ll make the neck almost as wide or as wide, just depending as the jaw line on the
male. If you wanted it to be more feminine or younger you’ll make the neck a little
more narrow than the fattest part of the jaw line somewhere around that nose line, basically.
Where the nose line is that’s the widest part of the jaw because it’s coming off
that big ball of the head, the skull, before it tapers to the skinny, narrow chin. So anywhere
in here is good. The only time you’re going to make it much
bigger is if you’ve got some lineman for the 49ers, you know, some football team, some
big massive athlete type, bodybuilder, you know, all that kind of stuff. Or you’re
drawing a superhero, a character that’s hyper heroic, you know, a comic book Captain
America, the Hulk, that kind of stuff. But the normal average person, average mature
athletic male, you’re not going to get any wider than that. Notice when we add—let’s
do it again down here. When we go down low in front high in back, pay special attention
to the thickness of the neck and correct accordingly. We’re doing an hourglass kind of shape.
Now the head can really articulate on the torso and twist that neck into all sorts of
stuff back and forth. It can pinch it like an accordion, stretch and pinch like an accordion.
But in general, most of the time you’re going to feel that hourglass idea. That kind
of thing going on. So when it’s more profile think of the hourglass. When it’s more front
or back view think of the tube, just a simple tube. It’s a tube that’s stiff and straight
if it’s a guard at attention. Or it’s a tube that’s curve if the head is in some
dynamic position in relationship to the body. So it can curve off like so.
happens if we get behind. Well, from the front the mask shape with all the features dominates
the skull. You don’t see much skull. In fact, drawing that capsule or the tube idea
shows you can do a pretty good head. Then you just fill in with a little bit of skull
you missed. On the back view it’s all skull. And the face is hidden. That creates a different
set of problems. So what we’re going to find, and again we are our own best models.
We’ll notice that the skull is now facing you guys, facing the camera. Facing the viewer
of our artwork. I notice it goes down into the neck, of course. Whatever hairstyle in
there is in there. But head, skull, and neck flow together.
The face is around the front, hidden.
So as I said, it’s going to create its own set of problems. The big simple shape is easier.
We don’t have all those pesky features to plot out carefully in proportions halves and
thirds and all of our choices and proportion. But, it’s going to be harder to place this
thing in space and be effective with it. It’s going to be real easy to make it look like
a lollipop, just a ball on a stick. It’s not going to be very satisfying. So what I’m
going to do is I’m going to take special attention to how the neck fits. Let’s go
back to the front view again and do a quick version of our face.
We’ve got room for error on this kind of stuff.
Just do that much so you get the sense of things. Then
we had that tube of the neck from a front view we said. We just kind of stopped it there.
It was curved or it was straight, but it was just a tube. The fact is, when I’m learning
any particular body part, the head, the hands, the rib cage, whatever it is, I want to pay
some attention; in fact, I want to pay special attention to how it connects to the other
or others, the other body parts. So I want to know how the rib cage connects into the
shoulder girdle and into the head and neck and definitely how it connects down into the
pelvis. I want to Like so. It sits inknow how the thigh connects to the hips and down
into the lower leg. In this case I want to know how the head and neck connect into the
shoulder line and then into the rib cage.
So we’re going to talk about that a little bit. We’re going to depart from our subject
so that when we get a mastery control of our subject, get confidence in our subject then
we can integrate that into the whole figure that is probably our goal. Even if we’re
doing a portrait, a bust shot, you know, portrait commissions is our bread and butter. We still
need to show that connectivity. Very seldom are we doing to have a floating head without
anything to it. So always pay attention to the connections. When I’m drawing from life
or drawing from reference, I’ll spend several drawings, maybe every 5th drawing working
on the connections. Or if I have more time I lay in a good head then I’ll go ahead
and lay in some of the connective tissue, the connective shapes for the shoulder line,
so I can feel how it moves into that new hole. So if I was drawing these two together and
I had more time, I’d go to the connection at the elbow. Spend more time drawing and
analyzing that so I feel a more confident and a truer connection there for my audience
and a better understanding for me. So the connection, the joints are key, the transition
points where you go from one part to the next are key in our understanding
so we need a little bit of information.
So head and neck. Now, pit of the neck will be somewhere down here. Again, another third
of a head. So you can use the skull or hairline with the heroic pose and with a fuller skull.
Notice how the hairline is a good place to pick a third, one third, two thirds down to
the nose, three thirds down to the chin. Notice I didn’t do all that great of job in doing
my thirds. This is too much. This is too little. Maybe this is just right. And it’s still
forgiving isn’t it? It still feels good, good enough.
If it doesn’t feel like a likeness of our model because we’re drawing some big chinned
fellow, we can always a little bit more if we needed. So we’ve got room for error.
We don’t have to nail exactly. If we’re sculptors we can always add a little extra
clay later or take a little clay away as we need. This goes down. The neck will end at
the pit of the neck in front. As I said, it’s another third equal to these, more or less.
If I’m going to screw up better to make it too long and make it more of a half. Oftentimes
if you’re doing a statuesque woman you’ll give her a longer neck. It’s more attractive.
It seems to be more in terms of the Greco-Roman classical sense, that longer neck is more
attractive. The male, bull neck, little shorter is fine.
So anywhere from that third to half range gets us to the pit of the neck. Let’s stay
with the third which is usually more accurate on average. Now what I’m going to find is
I’m going to have a shoulder line, and the shoulder line can be, you can pick out any
of a number of anatomical points, and I won’t go through the minutia of that. But anywhere
in here is fine. Anywhere where you go from top to side, that shoulder line into the arm
transition. Here, here, here. We’ve got room for error. Doesn’t matter. Pick a spot.
You can pick it right at the collarbone—or I’m sorry, right at the pit of the neck.
It can be a little bit above, anywhere in there. Usually it’s a little bit above is
usually more accurate because we have that slightly hunching posture that I talked about
that drops to the pit of the neck. If you come up like this at attention then it gets
up closer to the shoulder line. But anywhere in there is great. Shoulder line. Then we’re
going to have the shrugging muscles, the trapezius. They’re going to be the transition you have
to take us from the tubular neck out to that shoulder line. It’s just a sagging triangle.
But it’s a triangle. It feels good to do that so sometimes I’ll take extra time just
to squeeze it, but basically what I’m looking for is that goes right behind my neck. Where
is it going? Behind the tube of the neck. Here is the tube. This is a top and back muscle.
It goes down all the way to the mid back, trapezius. It’s a shrugging muscle.
It does this basically.
So all I’m going to do is do a sagging triangle. The skinnier I make the neck the more I sag
it. The younger and the more feminine it will seem. The thicker I make the neck and the
fuller—in fact, it can bulge over this way even if you’re doing a heroic character.
The fuller I make that triangle it’s going to look more mature. Not old as in elderly
but more mature and more male and also more heroic goes with that, of course. So Superman
might be here. Star football player might be here. The average guy on the street might
be there. An old man or woman might be way down here. But anywhere in there is good so
as long as it’s similar to what we see, characteristic of what we see.
Typically it’s a sagging triangle, as I said.
Notice that we have—we’ll just default to one type now, the more heroic male. This
is the neck coming from behind the face, coming down, and it just fades away actually. In
subtle ways that we’ll deal with in another lecture group. Not in the head group.
This is the shrugging muscle going behind it. So you can imagine going way up and attaching
to the school and back. We’ll see that in a moment. Then we have the neck in front of
that sagging triangle. The tube is in front of the triangle. The neck is front of the
trapezius. And so if we were to draw this as just a really simple tube that we’re
slightly underneath we’d feel that. It’s behind.
So now when we come here I’m going to do the same thing. I don’t have the mask of
the face though. I’m going to draw the tube of the triangle, and I’ll make it nice and
fat and wide or nice and skinny, however seems appropriate. I’ll do that. Let’s color code it.
It’ll actually attach up here.
There is the neck of our heroic male, let’s say.
It attaches up here even though the egg sits much lower. It doesn’t come to a point.
If you felt back there you could feel that. It’s two cables basically that split around
the spine. They have thickness so it comes up like this, sags down this way, and sits
on the shoulder line. We’ll doing more male looking art because that’s a long, fairly
full, let’s make it a little fuller trapezius, and we have that nice wide neck.
That's what’s doing most of the work.
Notice now over here we have the neck tube in front of the triangle. Now we have the
triangle in front of the neck like so. Pretty sophisticated stuff there. Since we don’t
have all the features to mark out this looks pretty easy now to me. I just have to get
this stuff plotted out basically with construction lines and little dashes in effect for the
placement, the rough placement of the features. I can just do this little kind of robotic
schematic hairline, all that good stuff. That’s pretty easy compared to this. There is some
sophisticated thinking going on. Notice that we had the neck and then the mask of the face
was in front of the neck. So the face is in front of the neck. The neck is front of the
trapezius, the shrugging muscle. From the back view it reverses. The triangle, trapezius
shrugging muscle is closest to us. The neck is farther, and the face, unless we have a huge neck, we’ll
see a little bit of face, the face is the farthest yet. A little bit of face.
A little bit of face for that wider chin and skinnier neck relationship.
Then notice where here the ears were almost an afterthought. We stuck them on because
they’re visible and they deserve to be there. But they didn’t really add a lot of information,
any new information to the mix. It was just plotting out one more detail like picking
out eyeglasses. When I put on eyeglasses it’s not really giving me more information, just
a new shape in there. And so from a front view, this straight-on front view, the ears
don’t add much other than a more refined character of what we were seeing. But here,
the ears are going to be much more important because they are going to be the only feature
that we see. All the other features are hidden around that far side.
In fact, I made a little double line or a thick dark construction either way, and that
shows the thickness of the ear. As we get into the ear construction we’ll do segments,
chapters on each feature in detail. There’s a lot to be understood with each and every
feature. One of the things we’ll notice is that C-shape or whatever hybrid shape we
drew for it has a thickness. Otherwise, it’s going to be flat and not be believable. It’ll
have a thickness just like the mask had that digastric plane thickness idea. So we could
draw the ear from a front view like this to show that thickness. Think of it as a disc,
a slice of a tube like that. So when we put the cheek on it we’re seeing this much of
that disc or slice, and the rest is hidden. From a back view then we’ll see that whole
back of the ear thickness here. That’s what we’re drawing. So drawing a double line
in effect shows us that thickness. All this subtle stuff in here we don’t have to worry
about because it’s just a construction at this point. This is the simplest, most characteristic
thing we can do. Again, it’s in that middle third range. But it’s harder to see that
isn’t it because the chin gets lost down here. The hair is here but we can’t see
the eyebrow line. We can’t see a hairline, so we can’t inch our way down to that or
inch our way up to that position. So it’s a little trickier.
Then you’ll have the hairline, it’ll do whatever it does, maybe a little ducktail
shape in here, or it’s whatever, you know, long hair covers whatever is going on there.
But we’ll just do that. That sits in there. Each of these little details, you know, you
could have a little cowlick spiral here, or this could be a bun or ponytail. Hair, any
of those details will help. Notice that we can take again the head of the skull, I should
say the skull, the face, and neck, and we can turn this whole thing into a simpler idea,
just a tube, kind of this idea. So I’m going to do a tube and then here is my shoulder
line, let’s say. And then I need to go back through those machinations we just went through.
Let’s see, this is the center of the head. It’s right here. That’s that. There is
the neck. Here are the ears here. You can turn them this way if it’s the complete
back view you can turn them in the same direction if they start turning into some kind of three-quarters.
So if this head is starting to turn this way a little bit then we can turn the ear that
way. Then we can just place it in that mid range of the structure. Maybe we see a little
bit of the jaw going into the chin before it gets lost. Maybe we don’t. That’s that.
So that gives us a basis for connection. We’re not showing any of the articulation yet of
doing this kind of stuff. We’ll deal with that later. But that gives us the basics.
The last thing I want, I should have mentioned earlier and I didn’t—let’s do this.
The ear. When we place that ear we said if see it from a front or back view the ear sits
in the middle third of the head more or less. You can use the top of the skull or you can
use the hairline. I usually use the hairline. It feels a little more accurate. It ends up
making the features a little fuller, gives the chin a little bit more oomph. When we
use the top of the skull oftentimes the chin feels a little shorter, and the nose may be
a little too big. But anyway, anywhere in there is good. So the ear sits in the middle
section of the head. There is a section on top. There is a section on the bottom. The
middle section is where the ears float in more or less. They fill up the whole section.
They are smaller than that. They can be slightly below it or slightly above it. But they’re
in that mid range. When we get to a profile we can see the same thing happening. Let’s
put our box back in here and notice the way I drew that. Bad teacher. It should be a little
less here and a little more here. There is our box there.
There is our box there more or less without features
or hairstyle, a little longer in length, a little shorter in width going across.
Notice if we come in front of the ear that sideburn area, cut it in half, the ear is
very close to the halfway point of the head there. So the middle of the ear or the whole
ear sits in the middle of the head from top to bottom, however you want to do it. The
middle of the ear is at the middle, or the ear sits in the middle third. Take your pick,
doesn’t matter. Also, it’s in the middle this way. The front of the ear touches or
comes very close to that midrange. Give or take features and hairstyle. Like so. It sits in
that midrange. That’s incredibly useful because now look what happens. If I take that
same I’m going to use as simple as possible shape now. Take that same sailboat shape.
If I take this section here and cut it in half and put it in there, make sure it sits
more or less in the bottom third. But if you’re off some notice how this got much bigger.
This got much shorter. It doesn’t hurt anything, really, but you can adjust it down or trim
it back accordingly. But when I do that it feels like a nice profile like this.
Let’s do it again. I’m going to draw that same sailboat shape. Now instead of putting
it in the mid-area more or less, I’m going to push it really close or fairly close to
the front of the face. When you do that, now notice that the face, the jaw, the face, always
sits in front of the ear. It ends in front of the ear. It doesn’t go behind the ear.
It sits in front of the ear. Some people will draw that ear and then they’ll put the face
back here. It’s got to sit in front of the ear. Look how little face there is now. Let
me flesh this out a little bit. I’ll show you how to do this another time, but just
so you can see it. There is a little bit of the nose, a little bit of lips, eyebrow, eyelashes,
hairstyle. Let’s do this to make it easy on us. There’s the neck’s appropriate
thickness. We’ll deal with how to articulate this later. Let’s just leave it like that.
Notice if I push the ear towards the front of the face you’ve done this. You’ve gotten
behind the head. The farther we push that ear to the front of the face until it overlaps
it slightly off axis, overlaps it perfectly into a back view. That ear positions the head
this way in the rotation. Now, when we’ve got a front of the face it’s less important
because we have all the features. Once we get past the profile then those features—look
at how the features, the nose. And again, we’ll look at this more carefully later.
The nose and the lips and the eyelashes are overlapped by that cheek and jaw construction.
We’re starting to lose those. So placing that ear—let’s do it again.
Now I’m going to push the ear back here. I’ll keep it in the middle third more or
less. I’ll make it a little smaller, a little bigger, anywhere in there. I can always adjust
it slightly if I need to. Notice now when the ear pushes back getting very close to
or equal to the back edge more and less, more and less. Now we start to get a three-quarter view. Notice now if
we do the center line of the features it’d be over here, and we’re in a three-quarter
view. Iin there. So the placement of the ear, crowd the skull. You’re more of a front
three-quarter view. Crowd the face you’re more of a three-quarter back view. Get the
ears on the outside or very close to the outside, you’re in a full or more or less full back
view. Put them on the outside in front, ditto for the front view.
So where you push the ear this way or that gives you incredible information. It gives
your audience incredible information very, very quickly about how it’s placed in space.
Alright, so the ear is a wonderful thing. This is the simplest of our choices is my
favorite for these simple constructions. If I’m doing a real careful portrait, I’ll
break the shape of the skull down and the face carefully. But I almost always start
with this. Even if I’m doing a big painting with a big full realized head,
it's just easier to place.
we’re getting behind that face. We’ll notice that the brow, check, jaw, start to
overlap and cover our features. They hide away.
That’s true, of course. Same way if I crowd the skull. Now it’s turning toward us. And
we don’t need any more information than that to start to get the idea that we’re
now in a three-quarter front view. We’re certainly going to want to do more, but immediately
that gives us and our viewer, our audience, a clue into what the position is. But also
notice if I push the ear down lower—let me do this. I’m going to more fully realize
that skull. In fact, I’m going to make it boxy because when I get into difficult perspectives
the squarer I make things, the more clearly it is placed in space. It’s the corners
and the alignment of the sides that due to our vanishing points if we were to be that
ambitious and give us a sense of true position.
If I do roundness—and again, look to my basic drawing lessons for a full explanation
of this. But the rounder things are it can have a good sense of rendered volume, but
it doesn’t have great sense of position. Are you behind this ball or in front of this
ball. Until you get something else in relationship to it you don’t know. But here you know
immediately how it’s sitting, that it’s tilted facing, tipping in certain three-dimensional
position. So the squarer things go, the better in terms of working out difficult perspectives,
difficult proportions because we can break those corners down into measurable segments
and difficult dynamic objects. Notice by pushing that ear a little bit lower from a, just really
generically let’s do this and this one, two, three. Let’s say those are equal, and
we put the ear right in the middle that way and this way. That’s a perfect profile.
We’d add on all the stuff. I’ll a little bit of stuff just so you can feel the truth
of that idea. That’s a perfect profile give or take proportions, of course, of the character
you’re drawing. If I move it this way it turns. If I move this way it turns. If I push
it up this way or if I push it down that way, it’s now going to turn—well, not turn,
tilt in and out of the picture plane. So by pushing the ear down a little bit lower I’m
going to exaggerate it here. We’ll see this better when we get some reference and we do
more sophisticated versions of these things. But for now this is as far as we’re going
to take it. There is that kind of stuff. Again, I’ll help you work that out more carefully
later, but just so you can see in context.
Notice how we have the ear, less than an ear away from the chin, or even let’s say a
full ear away from the chin. Here we have an ear and a half or an ear and two-thirds
from the top of the head. That wasn’t true here. We were very close here. So as the ear
gets lower we start to get on top of it. You can see it right here. Here’s my ear somewhere
in the middle. Now as I do this the chin is receding so the ear is getting closer to the
bottom of the head structure, and the skull is coming and revealing more and so we’re
getting visually more mass on top. And then, of course, the reverse would be true. Push
the head down. We’re on top of the head just we’re on top of a tube. Push the head
up. I’m sorry, push the ear up. It’s going to make us feel like we are underneath the head.
Again, I’ll show you subtleties of this at a later time. I’m just putting them in
now so you can really clearly visualize what I’m saying. Notice when you lay in these
very simple shapes sometimes you have to modify them to make them ring true for that particular
dynamic position. In the simpler positions we can do simpler shapes in more dynamic positions.
It’s a difference between looking at a box or looking at a box. In the more dynamic positions
we have to articulate those shapes a little more carefully. You might find you need to
lift a little bit. You need to square out a little bit. Notice also we can conceive
of this as a boxy form. I’m going to make it very simple here. Again, I’ll describe
and explain that structural stuff later, but we can make it rather boxy. So the ear can
be on the side of the box. And the features could be on the front of the box. The ear
can be on the side of the box, and all the other features are on the front of the box.
Or we can have it as a tubular idea. We can conceive of this, we’re underneath not a
box but a tubular idea. And the ear is on the side of the tube and the rest of the features are on the front
of the tube like so. Front of the tube. Notice what I’m doing here. Just generically I’m
going to make the eyebrow line, specifically the arch of the eyebrow, the height of the
ear. That’s not going to be true for every model or even most models, but it’s roughly
true. Oftentimes the ear will be close to the eye line, but I love those arching eyebrows.
We’ll see this when we get into more sophisticated structure. If I use the eyebrow line to the
ear I have a natural construction line, whether I’m doing a tube or a boxy idea, a tube
or a boxy idea, notice that this is the eyebrow line and this is the movement of the ear.
It can be a rounder conception or a squarer conception. Here are the eyes. Here is the
nose. We’ll talk about how to do that. Here’s the mouth, the chin.
Notice that now I have to flesh out my skull or hairstyle to make it ring true. There is
a square conception. There’s the rounder conception. Chin is on the bottom of the tube,
or the chin is on the bottom of the box. Take your pick. Of course, we could do it egg like.
We could do eyebrow line to ear high line. Nose, mouth, chin. Adjust that jaw line. Again,
make sure that you’re getting enough skull there. Oftentimes you have to add a little
skull on these things. Add a little skull or refine the skull.
Okay. And then we add the—if it’s more front than side we add the tube. If it’s
ore back than side we add the tube. If it’s more side than front we can do the hourglass
idea. If it’s somewhere in between, three-quarter, you can take your pick; do either one. So
this would work okay doing that too, hourglass in those three quarters. Alright, so that’s
the basic head shape in basic articulating perspective. No deep perspective. We’re
conceiving it as simple forms, simple shapes. It can be a simple shape that’s square,
a simple shapes that’s more tubular, a simple shape that’s very round. It can be a hybrid
of all those things. The choice doesn’t matter as long as it’s simple, yet characteristic
with what we see. It doesn’t depart radically from what we see unless we’re doing a radical
piece of art. We’re going to play very close attention that whatever we do by the end of
it we feel that the skull drifts back as the face drifts down. Skull drips back, face drifts
down. Unless it’s very close to a full front or back view, we’re going to feel that skull
having a motion back that’s distinct. You can think of a parting of the hair. If you
have a hairstyle like this where the part is. The part is going to run along that axis
back into the skull.
Alright, there is one last point I want to make here before we move on. If we look at
our skull so we get this idea of our ear, the ear is about right here. Remember the
ear sits right behind the end of the jaw. The jaw sits right in front of the ear. So
this is a sideburn area of the hairline. The ear sits in here. So just watch this little
point or my finger here. As we turn this way you can see how the ear is going to crowd
the face and eventually overlap the face. That was the point we were making earlier.
Then as we come back this way the ear is going to—let’s do this for the ear, I guess.
The ear is going to crowd the back of the skull and then overlap the back of the skull.
So that ear gives us a great landmark for how this turns especially in this back three-quarter
range where we don’t have the features as landmarks. These features are fantastic landmarks
for plotting out the structure, the three-dimensional position of the head. When we get into this
three-quarter back view, back view to the other side, we lose that ammunition. So then
the ear becomes crucial. So there we have it there.
Likewise, if we tilt, say this is the top of the ear, as we tilt the head down notice
how the ear is now crowding the bottom of the face visually and moving well away from
the top of the face. So if you draw that ear lower in your skull shape, your sailboat shape
or whatever construction idea you’re using, it’s going to help immediately put that
head in that top orientation. Likewise, if it comes this way and the top of the ear starts
to crowd the top of the head, now we know that getting underneath it. Again, it becomes
a great landmark especially in these positions to show that.
So anyway, that little point. Now let’s move on to our master drawings and have some fun.
on the right. If we look at the Holbein you can see the egg. Notice we have a hat here
and so the skull is up in here. If I draw that basic egg shape we’d see the hat is
up here. Remember, when we do the egg shape, though, it’s going to be much more accurate
to what we’re after if we make that egg shape a little fatter at the top, more of
a true chicken egg rather than an ellipse. We can do that. Or, we could make it more
of a capsule shape, which means flat on the sides. Notice if we look towards the hairline.
I’m going to modify the hairline just slightly down into the lower jaw. You can feel that
kind of flattening there. The problem with that is, let’s go back again. Let me get
that color back. The problem with that is she’s got those wonderful cheekbones. So
what I’m looking for is a simple shape, egg or capsule, but the most characteristic.
And so I want the sense of those fine cheekbones popping out. Let’s do it this way. And so
maybe the bulging egg. You might even modify further.
Notice with this particular character we could modify. Maybe we use more of a diamond shape
to show off those cheekbones. Again, watch that the diamond doesn’t distort and lose
the mass of the skull, but maybe through the hairline we put a little diamond shape inside
the egg. Notice that it’s simply a characteristic, and there is a nice range of variations we
can do. We can modify that shape. It can be elliptical. It can be capsule-like. It can
be egg-shaped. It has a fatter end and a more narrow end. It can be more diamond shaped
and more and more and more. Lots of choices there. Round on the top, square on the bottom.
You have lots of ways to go. As long as it is simple, yet characteristic you choose.
And if you’re doing refined heads, portraiture or trying to bring in personality rather than
a generic sense of an A-head but a personality head, then you’d want to modify those shapes.
Simple, yet characteristic. You want to stay nimble with that.
If we look at the Raphael it’s chubbier features. So the egg is fuller and rounder
and more—a little bigger here—and more characteristically a classic egg. Whereas
on the Holbein we could argue for a rather square-ish bottom here because of that strong
jaw of this woman. But with the Raphael that’s the case. We’re going in, of course, for
the little baby here too. We’re going for that nice simple and much more true egg shape.
In any of these cases there is great subtle variations of the final contour. It wobbles,
bumps, sharpens up, smoothes out, does all those different things that a contour is going
to do, but that’s in the finished stage. So again, we’re making it simple, yet characteristic.
As I’ve done the Raphael, the mother and child, we can see then simple construction
lines show us the center line, the eyeline, the eyebrow line, the hairline, the line of
the nose and the chin. Darken that up for us a little bit. And so we can break that
basic idea down in proportion, just a general generic proportion about halfway.
In this case it’s not quite true. Let’s put it down there. It’s a little more than
halfway on top. The top is catching more and the bottom is a little less. And with the
hairstyle it’s even more exaggerated. But she is actually, the position of this head
is actually slightly underneath us. She’s tilting forward. So if we put a bucket on
her head, we’d be on top of the bucket that way. So that means if we were to draw our
construction line that would stay the same. This line, of course, then would turn this
way. And so the eyes are on a slight arc moving over. And as we find that tilt with the ears
and such then we’re losing at it moves down into the paper, we’re losing a little bit
of face at the lower end. It’s getting a little shorter. Head is coming up over the
top towards us. We’re getting a little bit greater lift of head. Notice that what I drew
here is a more exaggerated version than what our friend Raphael has done, and that adds
even more skull to the view. This one has more skull. This has less skull. This has
much less face and this a little more. Here is an exaggerated version of the slight tilt
here. This is a slight tilt compared to this one which is perfectly straight on and formal.
Notice that even the craftsmanship brings this up, but just in terms of design, when
we have a very formal pose like this, notice what it does to the feel of the piece. Notice
how this is more distant. Now, she has that character, but that’s one of the reasons
he chose this front view. She’s very formal and standoff-ish, whereas this is a mother
who has great empathy. So we feel that empathy and we’re drawn into it. So the slight tilt
of the head off axis and the slight tilt of the head into the picture plane adds to that
intimacy and that informal or compassionate view. Then this little baby is doing what
he is doing this way. Those baby proportions would have an effect that we’ll save for
another day. Once again, always a big danger when we’re drawing this egg-like, capsule-like
constructions of the head. Notice that on this mother figure here I drew the egg without
enough skull. So the skull would really be out here, a fuller egg this way. And so really
pay attention to that. It’s a real killer for your drawing if you don’t give that
fullness of that skull. It loses character. If you’re doing a cartoon or something that
could play into the style actually, but in realism you’ve got to feel that full skull.
Usually you’re saved even if you screw up your construction. Even if I had stuck with
that original construction, by the time we add the hair, the mass of the hair on there,
that’s going to cover that mistake. But still, we want to see it as a truism.
So basically we’re going to draw the egg of the head or whatever simple shape, the
egg of the head. Then we’re going to draw a T, center line, center line, eyeline. That’s
going to split it halves. Two haves here, two halves here. More or less, give or take
the dynamic position of the head. Give or take the portraiture, the personality, the
quirky proportions to the head, but a halfway point. Then we’re going to build off that.
Notice that the band of the hat here acts pretty much as our hairline. And so if we
break it down into hairline and eyebrow line, eyebrow line to nose line, nose line to mouth
to chin. Those end up being about thirds. Now if you’ve got a more dynamic, dramatic,
heroic figure you can actually go up to the top of the head, which would be the top of
the skull minus the hairstyle and do thirds down, fuller nose, and that’s actually truer
in this case. Then the chin, despite its strength, chin and jaw is a little less so because it’s
a woman, more heroic character especially if it’s a male, mature male, it’d be down
here and you can break the thirds. But, typically, on a realistic figure if you’re not trying
to stylize heroism into the mix you go from hairline to eyebrow line to nose line to chin,
and that’s your thirds. Eyeline is below there, and that’s your halfway point. Top
of the head to eyeline, eyeline to chin. Alright, here we have Piazetta in a more or
less perfect profile, somewhere around that. Let’s look at this from a couple of different
ways. Notice the strong line here. We want to be careful of that. What I really want
is the line of the face. I’m cutting off the features. Specifically, we’ll see this
more clearly when we get into the placement of the features and all their various structures,
I want to go where the forehead, more or less, where the forehead bumps into the nose right
there and where the lips bump into the chin right there. So these two points ending up
somewhere near the hairline. Of course, that can change radically depending on the recession.
It can be anything close to that. It doesn’t have to be right on the money but in there.
That’s the gesture of the face going down that I’m going to build my structure, my
mask on. The gesture of the skull going back, I don’t want to go down this way and make
that more or less a right angle. What I wanted to do is rise up and back. It actually does,
just the drawing fools us for a moment. So it goes up this way. Notice how that opens
up there. That angle opens up a little bit from a right angle. If we were to do that
sailboat shape it’d be here or here. Anywhere in there is fine.
If it were to be the egg shapes—let’s just bring this right back. You could actually,
if you wanted to, start with the egg of the skull I here, down in here. Anywhere in this
range is good. Then you come right off that egg, again down to your construction or your
gesture line for the face. So this is an egg that has an axis going back, but notice the
way I drew it, it’s actually going back and up a little bit. Again, it implies that
opening up of that angle. Let’s make a clearer point of that. Look what happens if I go the
other way like that. It destroys the structure of the skull. That’s bad news there. Or
if we had the face coming down and the skull shape doing this. We’ll see a Raphael towards
the end of our little series here, and it suggests this. We have to be, we have to look
past a glance to see what he’s doing there. But if we do that, where this is drifting
down, it destroys the skull. You don’t have enough brains in there to be a functioning
human being when you do that. So we don’t want to do that. We want it to open up. Then
we can come off that back of the skull this way and do a modified triangle, or as we said
before we can use a simplified hairline in front of the ear and over to the chin down
here and feel the mask of the face, that mask here. Notice how the ear sits right in the
center. Now he’s just barely turning away from us,
and so that ear is crowding just a little bit in this case. It varies from person to
person and also canon to canon. Each artist and art movement will idealize or distort
the figure in a certain way, and so that will play sometimes quite loosely with the facts.
In this case we have the ear or the center of the ear, as I said, right in the middle
of the head even without the little bit of hair lifting up. But anyway, it’s following
our idea truly enough, close enough to work with. Notice how the top of the ear lines
up with the eyebrow line. That’s one thing we want to pick up consistently wherever the
eyebrow line is. Usually where the arch of the eyebrow is we want the ear to be at that
or close to that. That’s going to give us a lot of good material to work with when we
get into more dynamic poses as we will in a bit.
Notice how the bottom of the ear sits about at the bottom of the nose there. And so the
ear is sitting in that middle third. And by keeping it well away from the top of the skull
and well away from the bottom of the skull, bottom of the chin/face, it gives us that
sense that we’re looking more or less straight on to this figure, maybe slightly on top.
So anyway, the placement of the ear in the middle from left to right, in the middle region
from top to bottom, gives us a sense that that’s a solid basic profile.
taken any farther. We’ve got mom here with a simple egg shape, but since she’s off
axis, she’s in a three-quarter view, then we’re getting a little bit of the skull
back here. So let’s go back, look at that again and see exactly what our friend is doing
here. There is the center line of those features. Here’s the eyebrow line or eyeline, the
T idea. Notice how when we start getting into these perspectives, we’re starting to get
off axis from a perfect front or a perfect profile then our T starts to get into dynamic
positions. The head is tilting down so the T tilts. We’re underneath and in a three-quarter
view to the eyebrow line and eyeline. The eyebrow and eyeline tilt up, and so that T
throws off into a dynamic position.
So let’s look at that one more time. There are several ways we can do this. We can draw
our sailboat shape, and we can take in the whole head. Notice how we’re going back
here. There it is there. Or, we could have started with this center line going back and
then add on a little bit more, or start outside and put the center line. Either way is fine.
Then the eyebrow line or eyeline. I usually do the eyebrow line because you get those
arching eyebrows. There is a clear, drawn-in shape of the eyebrow rather than the little
vaguer sense of where the eye is. So I use that to place it and then work off your proportions
from there. The other way we could have done this, of course, is the egg shape. I do not
want to do an egg shape for the whole thing. That’s too crude. That’s simple but not
characteristic. There are two shapes going on here. As soon as we move from a front view
towards a profile or even to a back view, we’re going to see the face shape and the
skull shape, so we need a construction strategy that shows both. So I want the face shape
as a mask. It can be rounder or squarer. His is much rounder. Other artists would make
it squarer. Center line is right through there. Eyebrow line is right there. Eyeline if you
wanted that too is right there. Then we’re going to add on a little bit of the egg of the skull.
Notice as soon as we do that we’re getting that gesture down for the face, gesture back
for the skull that we have to have. Let’s look at our little baby character here. Here
we’ve got the face tilting this way, eyebrow line, center line. Sometimes it helps to do
the construction lines first. Sometimes it’s better. Probably usually it’s better to
do the big constructed face, gesture, structure. There it is there. Then we add the center
line on. We end up with that sailboat shape. It’s very pointy. It’s got those corners.
So maybe because this is a baby we’re going to start with the egg of the skull first cause
that kind of dominates. We’re in a three-quarter view, and the head is tilted down. So we have
that strong egg shape. Then we add on a rounder mask here, picking up our construction lines
on that like so. The eyes sit in here like that, and you can mark off.
Let’s do it one more time. There is the skull shape. Here is the face shape. Here
we can complete it through or leave it open-ended, whichever way is appropriate. Since we don’t
have a hairline, it’s a little easier to imagine it as open-ended maybe. Here is the
center line, eyebrow line in there. You can see a little bit of the ear here.
Right there is a little bit of the ear.
Now notice, as you have already have, I’m sure, the simple conception of this. He’s
just breaking down ideas. This is a sketch for a painting, some mural painting that was
going to be up on some high wall or ceiling. Notice that he’s conceiving of this. This
is going to be this beautifully finished realized little baby Jesus, beautifully lit, beautifully
rendered, and he’s just starting this out as an egg. Notice that the whole conception
of that skull if we remove it from the face construction and from the idea that it is
a head, it’s just an egg. If I were to draw just an egg and then light that egg with a
light source that’s equivalent to what we have here it would be very close to that.
It would do that or it would do that or it would do this. It would do some version, give
or take a variation of what we see there. And so drawing the basic shadow shape of the
forehead throwing the features into shadow in this case in any way that’s anywhere
close to a simple egg on a table is going to be what we’ll start with. And that’s
the secret of making things up out of your head. That’s a secret of animating things,
conceiving things as so simple of an idea that we can render quite detail on it. We
can move it in space. We can redesign it, re-imagine it into more dynamic, into alien
eggs and monstrous eggs and heroic eggs and all that kind of stuff for design.
Let’s go back to our figure one more time of the female. We can see how again the simple
conception of mommy here, the eye sockets marked out give us a clear sense of where
their eyes would be, but not very accurately. It’s just roughly true. This eye over here
maybe drifts out a little too far to the left. The nose gets a little darker here. The nose
is probably a little too short for it. Maybe even the face is a little long, but probably
not when you get the bottom of the chin here and the rest of this is the bottom plane,
the digastric plane in here.
But anyway, there are or could be quite a few errors there. We finish that off and maybe
we find should have had a little more skull especially with the cloaked head or the hairstyle.
All those little things. It should have been here but it ended up here. It should’ve
been here but it ended up over here. Those little variations aren’t a big deal, and
they’ll be easily corrected as we move on through the drawing. As long as we get a fairly
close approximation it doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to stress out about
that. Simple but characteristic. And as we simplify it and give it basic characteristics,
the variations then don’t matter. Those subtle inaccuracies don’t matter. They can
be corrected or left as a stylization or as a charming variation.
from the Renaissance. We can see again the simple conception. In fact, if you look at
just the hair you can see the hair itself is rather egg-like isn’t it? You know, we
can feel kind of eggs in here and little eggs in here, the Renaissance curls. A lot of roundness
there. Eggs were huge in the Renaissance because eggs suggested the Christian idea of rebirth.
And egg was a potential life coming into the world, and so it was used as a symbol for
the religious painting that these often were. This was a saint in this case,
and so it fits in with that.
Let’s go ahead and look for our shapes now. So we have a little bit of a dynamic position.
It’s a three-quarter view. That means we’re going to see a lot of face and some skull,
and we’re on top of the view. That means the skull is going to dominate the face so
we’re going to see even more skull and slightly less face. Now, when you get a very difficult
challenging position, and this isn’t extreme. We’ll get into that another chapter, but
it’s extreme enough when we’re starting out to give us trouble, or subtle enough that
if we throw off things a little bit we miss the point of the position,
and it goes out of whack for us.
So if we have a difficult position or a difficult shape, something that’s challenging, oftentimes
I’ll go to the construction lines first. Let me just mark this over here so I have
that to sample later. Here is that center line going down here. There is that construction
line, eyebrow line going here, with or without the eyeline. Take your pick. So sometimes
it’s best to start way. Then you can build on that sailboat shape. Notice how far off,
let’s say this is the actual chin without the beard. Notice how far off your constructed
tips mind end up. This should end up pretty nicely within—let’s put it here. Pretty
nicely within the structure. These two tips can stick way out, and we can chop them off
later. Let’s do that again here. This can come out here. We can chop it off later like
so, just nip off those ends if we feel the need like that. So a sailboat shape or—we
always have several choices as long as it’s simple yet characteristic. Let’s say I’m
okay with not putting in the center line. I’m going to draw the mask of the face first.
I’m going to draw the simplified far side of the face. I’m going to draw the simplified
cheer into the jaw line in front of the ear. I’m going to draw a simplified hairline.
So just like it was a cut-out Halloween mask I’m going to conceive it of that. This is
going to get totally lost in this case in those bangs. But that’s okay, I need a shape
to work with. I could come way down here, but it’s nice if I can canonize my proportions
especially in the beginning. If I always draw the—probably a little lower here actually—if
I always draw the hairline then I’m seeing a shape of the same proportion give or take
the character of the model and not something that’s radically changing because of an
accident of costuming. Then I can add my center line right on down through. I’m looking
to where the forehead meets the nose and where the lips meet the chin, anywhere in there.
If I’m off a little bit that’s okay; I can adjust it later or build around it later.
Then it won’t be a problem.
So there is my simplified idea. That’s a mask of the face. That’s not enough. We
need to get the shape of the skull. I’m going to look for the shape of the skull without
the fullness of the hair. Notice I have a lot of room for error. I can be down in here,
feel okay. It could be all the way out to the hair, do just fine because the hair will
cover it. I’d like to get fairly accurate, though. Not because the skull matters in this
instance because it will be covered by the hair, but because it will matter oftentimes
in how well I fit that neck in construction. So there is that hourglass idea of the neck.
Let’s get rid of this little pinch. We’ll save that for a later structural talk. There
is that hourglass shape. Then I put in the ear at this point because it’s going to
help hide that binding transition between mask of face and hair. It’s going to show
us how they fit together, and in this case—now if we come back and add our construction lines.
Maybe we didn’t do the center line. Let’s do the center line. Now let’s do the eyebrow
line. Notice that the center line of the face and the eyebrow line of the features are all
on the front of our shape. So if we continued that around with a bucket idea. Oops, let
me adjust that a little bit. We put a bucket on the head. Notice that the eyebrow line
follows the front, in this case the right side of the bucket. And the ear, if they’re
lined up pretty well, as they are, follows a left contour, left side of that bucket.
Notice in that tilting. Also notice it’s almost always better to screw up the tilt
of that bucket by making it tilt too much. Cause what’s our real problem here. The
real problem is to fight off this flat paper or flat canvas we’re on and give the idea,
the illusion of three-dimensional form of tilt and tips and facing dimensions.
So if we know we have to fight that flatness to get the illusion, to the get the idea,
I’d rather overdo the idea a little bit to make it more exciting. If I’m doing a
comedy as a film, as a story, I’d rather it be too funny rather than not funny enough.
You can always back off later. But if it’s not funny that’s tough. Tough to fix it
later. So if you’ve got a real flat drawing it’s tough to push into a three-dimensional
form. But if your form is a little too three-dimensional, tilting a little too much, it’s easier to
Notice what’s going to happen. When I pick up my—bring this all the way across here.
We can take the hairline and let that be roughly the top of the tube. Then notice that tubular
idea starts to break down when we add that skull going back. We don’t get a good sense
of the gesture going back. We don’t get a good sense of how the back of the skull
finishes against the back of the face there. But if we continue that down notice the consistency,
and this is one of the powers of using simple constructed forms. Once you have that construction
conception, the tilt of the bucket, then that is going to carry through on all the features
and affect all the features. Notice how all the features track that same tilted construction
line on the front of our tube. Not the tip of the nose, but from nostril to nostril,
from corner of the mouth to corner of the mouth, or the very front of the lip or front
of the tip of the nose. The eyeline, eyebrow from arch to arch. Bottom of the chin and
even in this case the beard is tracking that.
So we have all, and even the bangs, the hairstyle tracks it with whatever little variations
there are. They’re all tracking that same tilt, and that’s what gives that dramatic,
dynamic illusion of that head in that lovely position. The ear is all alone isn’t it?
That’s one of the struggles we’ll have. We have all this feature stuff on the front
of the face to build nice three-dimensional positioning, but we only have the ear on the
side to do it, at least apparently so. We’re going to have to work at that to get that
sense. But eyebrow to ear does a lovely job of beginning the idea of that tilt. Then they’ll
be other things like the jaw line. As it drifts up it’s still giving a sense, an exaggerated
sense, but especially that corner. We get into that a little bit later. But that
gives us a sense of that.
Notice that we could have drawn this any number of simple ways. We could have drawn and egg
and played all this stuff along the curvature of the egg. Jaw line comes up. Swing all the
way around from the eyebrow line over to the ear. Notice that that egg, though, is exceptionally
unsatisfying for the skull. We’ve cut off all the back of the skull. We’ve left it
out. So we’d want to add another egg going back so we get that drift back and get the
fullness of the back of the skull. Then it accepts our lovely hairstyle there and also
makes for a much more satisfying connection for the neck and body below it.
And then we could also make it boxier. We could make it a boxy idea this way. And then all the features here,
which sat on the front of the box and even the bangs. The ear would be on the side of
the box. And the hair and the skull would sit on the top of the box. Some way we’ll
have to figure out and show the back of the box. We’ve got choices, choices, choices.
It’s just a matter of which way you want to go. It’s a great exercise to do as I’m
doing here. Draw those old master drawings, either draw over them digitally or trace over
them with tracing paper and a book or sketch them as you look at them as I’m doing here.
Make those determinations. See which way Raphael leaned. Did he tend to use one idea or another?
Did he use all three—tube, box, and ball?
can see now here again is that triangle idea here, or since it’s a round baby and the
egg is so important to the Renaissance, we can do as he did. Let the egg dominant. Since
the skull we’re in almost a full profile, and we’re on top of that head. There is
a slight three-quarter move to that profile. And we’re quite strongly on top of the head.
You can see how an accident in positioning—this happens oftentimes on an adult or child. When
you get on top of the skull quite a bit the bottom of your constructed skull here gets
very close to your eyebrow line. It gets very close to both cause that skull cap, the mass
of skull is dominating the face in this case. So we feel it there. You’re still going
to want to be very careful on its positioning. You’ll see that quite a bit.
And then here is the mask of the face in here like so, and then the ear separates or makes
the transition between those two constructed ideas. Now when you have something very round
like this, especially if it’s in a dynamic position, it can throw things off. Let me
show you what I mean like that. So if I construct this, let’s say I constructed the skull
like this, and I look at that model on the model stand or that photograph on my drawing
board and I see that the eyebrow line really works nicely as the bottom of the skull, and
so I’ve sketched in. But look what happened here. I ended up putting my eye and eyebrow
line here. And it distorts things off. Let’s do this to make it worse. See how distorted
that is? That’s way out of whack. So rather than that, I’ll go ahead and construct it
the same way. I’ll use my eggs because that’s in character. It’s fairly easy to get big,
simple shapes in space. In this case we have that domination of the skull on top of the
face shape like this so it’s almost this kind of idea, you know, overlapping balls
in recession. So all that’s great to show the on-top-of-ness of our problem here.
So I go ahead and do that but then I come back and I construct more carefully the end
as a tubular idea or as the egg tilting in the correct position. I look to the nose and
features. Again, the danger of these features are they’re going around the other side
here. Going around the other side and we can’t see the other nostril. We can’t see the
other corner of the lip. And so we see this thing and this thing, and then eyebrow line
and this thing. Notice when I just draw what I see they’re all going in different angles
and it’s going to ruin the cohesion. Remember what we said before. You know, if we think
of it as a tube the hairline, the eyebrow line, the eyeline, the nose line, the mouth,
the chin; all of those track together. They have their own quirkiness. The eyebrows arch.
The eyelids maybe droop. The nose sticks out. The mouth changes expression and on and on
and on. But, they’re going to track nicely symmetrically from one side to the other.
So, again, let’s look at our Raphael and how to deceptive this can be. We look at these
features. None of them track. And so we think, well, he’s Raphael. He doesn’t make mistakes.
I’m going to go ahead and draw what I see. I’m going to draw this and this and this.
And your drawing is not going to look very good. So what Raphael did, and Raphael does
mistakes but he didn’t make it here. Everybody makes mistakes. In fact, the old masters that
make mistakes (and they did consistently)we call that their style. They’ve stylized
the world into a direction that is not exactly real, not true, no photographically true but
beautifully aesthetically true. Most importantly, whatever they’ve done it’s consistent.
It’s the inconsistencies that screw you up.
So a Picasso might well make them all go off in different directions because Picasso is
after a different kind of truth, but this character here noticed that the eyebrows do
track. Here’s the center line. Even though he drew the tip of the nose out and we can’t
see that other nostril, it would be on this same construction line. It would be over here.
Same with the corner of the mouth. It would be on that same construction line. It would
be over here and the chin and such too. Go back one more time. Here is that center line
going down where the forehead meets the nose, where the lips meet the chin. Notice the eyebrow
lines. He works very hard to tilt that far eyebrow up. In fact, he repeats it with a
skull cap. Here is the casing of the skull intruding. That little baby skull dominates
the face in younger critters. Notice how those all track beautifully our construction line.
Let’s bring it over here and just make it a bucket. Notice how the skull tracks back
up here, here. High line tracks back up or eyebrow line, whichever. Nose goes its own
way. Lips go its own way. The chin tracks back up. Then we add the big egg of the skull
there. So back down here, chin tracks back up to that beautifully.
Now, let’s look at the other features that failed us. We can’t get the other nostril,
but the tip of the nose tracks back up. The lower lid of the eye tracks back up. The lip,
the kewpie doll curve of the lip even starts to track back up here, and the lower lip tracks
back up beautifully. Even when the accident of information throws us off at the wrong
angles he works very hard to find places where we come back to the right angles here and
here and here. And here and here and here. Even the hairline is tracking that way more
or less. So it does track beautifully but in a tricky way, in a not quite apparent way
to begin with. You could even see the tone over here tracking with a cheek contour over
here. That also tracks back up beautifully.
Alright, so here we have Normal Rockwell. But, of course, there is still going to be
these drawn truths that we’ve been talking about in the painting, or in a sculpture for
that matter. We can find them wherever. Norman Rockwell was famous for his characters. Each
personality, the male or the female, the young or the old, had a clear character to them.
They were middle America and they were personalities and even slightly caricatures he’d play
up. So when we look at this young boy, for example, we’re going to give a shape to
him that is specific and different than the shape of the adult who is giving him the lecture.
Notice what our friend Normal here has done. He has centered on a capsule shape. Notice
it could be a tipped over tube, that bucket idea this way. It’s tilted enough that the
back of the tube, the tip of the tube there—let’s do it over here—is not exactly right but
close to the final shape of the skull. He is still giving a little bit more back here
to give that movement down and back for our skull to face, the gesture of the skull going
back this way in perspective and the face going down slightly this way in a different
perspective. But in the linear idea they are almost in the same position.
Anyway, he is picking up a capsule shape, let’s call it. Down here probably. And so
the very shape, the simplified shape that he chose for the whole head started him out
simply like any of these choices would have, but more characteristic to his final thoughts,
to his final goal. And so by picking a shape that is specific, it’s less work. Think
of it as a sculpture. If we get a capsule shape of clay, that’s going to be a lot
less work to finish it out than if we got a big perfect spherical shape of clay. So
we want something that’s close to the finish line. That’s going to give us less work
to render it out. Things are going to fit better because we’ll be able to see clearer
truths in proportion, and it’s going to connect better to the next form, the neck,
the shoulders, the hands in this case. All that kind of stuff.
Notice how we’re going to want to draw through the interruption of the hand and through the
distortion that the hand create to feel where that chin would be. Then it’s going to get
mucked up by the pressure of the hands against it. So then our construction lines are pulling
down this way, and he’s slightly mucked with those construction lines, hasn’t he?
The eyebrow here is a little higher, and the eyebrow over here is a little bit lower. That
throws our construction line off-tilt a little bit. It tilts it rather than being over here.
It’s falling down a little bit. He continues that with the nose. The nose is tilting off
axis a little bit. Then the lips come back pretty well, but the lower lip and chin get
tilted off. That’s because of that pressure of the hand. This hand is doing more work
because he’s trying to get away from this way. He doesn’t want to hear what’s being
told to him. And so the simple construction of the capsule now has been slightly distorted.
He has created a physical error in a sense to tell a story. So this whole thing is starting
to twist off. So it’s like the tube actually tilted away a little bit. I’m exaggerating
it. But he’s trying to get away from the lecture. We’ve all felt that at different
times in our life. So he’s bringing that emotional truth into the constructed idea,
and that’s good picture making. That’s smart stuff.
So anyway, that gives us that sense. Let’s go back one more time now. I’ll just take
this out and pick this up. There it is there. We’ll just play this this way and this way
and this way and go back to the generic truth. When we draw the final eyebrow line, all that
kind of stuff, we’ll give those distortions maybe if we were to take it that far. So there
we go there. Here’s a center line, of course, doing this. As I said, drifting off a little
bit. We can put that or save it for later again. Get a more refined truth, the distortion
idea later in the process. Stick with a more generic truth to begin with. Then let’s
look at our fellow over here. There is that construction. Notice how the ear is pushing
in a little closer to the front of the face, a little farther from the back of the skull.
That gives us the sense that he is turning away from us. He is facing into the canvas
to give his two cents to this young man who doesn’t want to hear it, wants to do anything
but hear it. So we’ve turned him in a little bit.
Notice what happens when that happens. There is a construction line there, and notice how
if we were to pick up the brow and the cheekbone and the cheek and the chin, notice how the
nose and lips are behind. Let’s play this up a little bit stronger. He’s done a lovely
thing. He’s even put the chin slightly behind that jowl area. Notice what that does for us.
We’ll see in later construction lessons how to do this exactly. Notice how the construction line,
this line can become the side plane, the corner between where the side of the head
sits and the front of the head sits. Let’s do a more dramatic construction. See how that
construction line there that just looked like it was the front the face, as soon as we start
to get in this dynamic that becomes the corner of the face. And now all the features except
the ear are around that corner hiding from us partially. Then the ear is the only fellow,
the only feature that is on that side plane. So it’s doing this. Let’s change that
color. It’s doing this going around the corner. Really important interesting stuff.
It was done—let’s do it one more time. It was done at a really simple stage, real
simple conception. Let’s do this. Here is just cut off those features. They’re going
to go around the corner eventually. But for now I’m just cutting them off because they’re
complicated and I’m getting the simple, yet characteristic truth, not the complicated
truth at this point. There it is there. There is my gesture line to the face down that’s
so important. Then I draw this shape on that. Maybe that’s more comfortable for me. Then
I build this all the way through from the back. Or if I do that maybe that goofs me
up and I think that’s the jaw line. Put the ear in the wrong place. So instead I draw
the mask of the face in front of the ear, that sideburn area. Front of the ear down
the jaw and chin and then the simplified hairline in here. Then I draw the ear to show the dynamic
transition between the two. Then I’m going to come right back to the chin and I’m going
to draw the simplified neck. Let’s make it really long so we can see that. That neck
is going away. I usually don’t bother doing the tube construction because the neck doesn’t
last long. It’ll fall onto the shoulders in ways that we’ll see.
So there it is there. What was simple can become much more complicated. I can refine
that hairline as it zig-zags down in front of the ear. Refine the back of the hair. Add
the hairstyle on top of that skull construction and build from there.
of led the way from the more traditional looks of Delacroix and Ange and even Sargent and
that bunch to the impressionism, post-impressionism, all the wild things like Picasso that came
after. He was kind of that transition point. Very important character oftentimes not looked
at much by realists, people who like realistic things. They like Sargent more or Bouguereau
or those kinds of things. But he’s great because he simplifies things down. Yet, that
constructed truth is still there. We can see the egg. You can see how relatively flat the
rendering is. If we analyze we’d find that all the structures, the key structures are
still there. But he’s simplified and flattened it. We’ll just leave it at that for now.
It’s flat, simplified truth. Highly edited truth, but the key information is still right
there to be found. So we can see—let’s do this, I guess. We can see that lovely egg
idea. That doesn’t work so well, does it? Let’s do that. That lovely egg idea is right
there right in there. Keep in mind again that when you draw the egg oftentimes you short shrift
the skull, so rather than drawing more of an elliptical egg. I harp on that because
I make that mistake and I see a lot of other people making that mistake. A lot of students
in class make that mistake. So there it is. Notice here we could end the constructed egg
at the chin or include that fold under the chin, that’d be the digastric plane, that
bottom plane. You can do either one, or as I’ve done here you can do both. Pick up
both of those. Here is slightly tilted, slightly tilted and slightly facing away. Not a perfect profile.
When I’m trying to get the positioning of any form that I’m constructing I’ll compare
it to a grid, to a perfect vertical and a perfect horizontal. If I don’t think of
that perfect vertical and horizontal I’ll tend to draw all my figures unless they’re
wildly dramatic in perfect vertical and horizontal. So if didn’t look to it I probably would
have drawn that like the Holbein, where it was straight on formal looking at me like
this, a T that’s perfectly standing up. This T wants to tilt over a little bit and
wants to face away a little bit. So we’re going to have the center line crowd this,
and we’re going to have the construction lines rise up slightly on the right. Since
we don’t have this dramatic position like we did on that little baby Raphael, we can
clearly see the construction lines. I’m just looking from the corner of the mouth
to the corner of the mouth. Some point on the nostril or the wings of the nose across.
Maybe the outside corners of the eye and the arch of the eyebrow. The hairline does whatever
it does, but you could see how we could come back for a moment here. Find it here or maybe
you don’t see it here, but maybe we find it here or a bump in the hairline we can track across.
If we could see both ears those would track across and so on. And then we’d build the
shape of the hair. When I do the hair shape I want to make it simple, yet characteristic,
so I give these kind of rounded, bun-like forms building on top of each other to make
it characteristic. Maybe even a little bit of there. Then the ear has been place in there
already. Notice because it’s a female—now the collar is hiding it a little bit, but
because it’s a female young woman we notice, despite the costuming, that the neck is slightly
thinner than the jaw and certainly the face shape. Notice even through costuming, even
through interruptions notice where we see our construction lines. So you just find some
convenient point for a shoulder line, and you can do that sagging triangle on there
and get that connectivity of head and neck into shoulder girdle, shoulder construction
that will take us beautifully down into the torso and beyond.
Raphael again. He’s great. I like his drawings because he keeps things simple. He edits out
all the dimple lines and frown lines. Keeps it simple, idealized, and we can see those
shapes more clearly. And because he’s Renaissance he picks up these round shapes. You can see
the egg shapes and the arm here, all these little egg shapes and all the way through
the forms are eggs shapes. Alright, this one has a real danger to it, and it’s a danger
of getting, of just sticking with eggs in a way. We’ll see that more clearly explained
when we get into stronger construction. We’re going to find that the more constructed something
is, the more architecture we want to put into it, the more dramatic positioning of forms,
one form overlapping another or the forms themselves being in dramatic perspectives
were way underneath or his three-quarter back view. Then boxing things out is going to be
very useful to us. The problem with the eggs is that they get so rounded that their position
kind of throws us sometimes. And so notice that the wrap here, the head wrap fits like this.
When we look to that and then we do that face. We get that dropping skull idea
again that goofs us up. It doesn’t look right.
Notice the ear is nice and low. Dropping skull idea again that goofs us up. It doesn’t
look right. Notice the ear is nice and low, getting close to the bottom of the face, farther
away from the top. That tells us we’re slightly on top of this head, maybe about this much.
But I need to feel that skull, make sure I can get a skull, let’s put it all the way
in there correctly. Remember, we need to have it more than just a right angle. It should
open up a little bit. Now when we get way on top of this let’s turn it into a box.
Slightly more dramatic position box. Notice that this does tighten up this curve. The
right angle construction starts to distort into a pinching angle. Now the back of the
skull rises up a little bit, and that fights that. But that position does kind of reinforce
that tightening up of that angle, but we don’t want to do it too much.
Here’s what I mean. Here’s the construction line of the face. Here is—you can see that
with this little sketching here, the bump down in here. There is the skull right there.
Let me do it again in a dark line. That’s what we’re seeing there. Notice the difference
now. Let me do it one more time. Construction line of the face. There is the skull in its
correct position. He didn’t screw up. How about that? Then the ear sits here, that transition
between the two. Notice that this bumps in here a little bit. This digastric plane actually
even feels like it goes behind the ear and it does, but the jaw itself is always in front
of the ear, so make sure you’re aware of that. You don’t want to attach the talking
jaw back here somehow. Again, that ear does wonderful work for us, doesn’t it? It shows
by getting close to the front of the face it shows that we’re turning away here, turning
away. The face is turning away. And by dropping down from the top of the head it shows that
we’re slightly on top that position. Then the head wrap helps. Even though it’s going
its own direction it’s still wrapping around the perspective of that tubular idea, that
on-top-of-ness idea. We’ll learn more about that again as we get into more sophisticated
positions. Here’s that neck going back beautifully. We have a little bit of that bottom plane
going back. Here would be the other side of the neck if we could see through our construction.
Or shoulder line is in here going into deep space this way. Then we build on top of that.
So we only get a bare sense of that sagging triangle idea in deep perspective.
Alright, so here we have Tiepolo and we have a back view and slightly underneath. Of course,
in our back view the skull dominates. You can see this growth pattern gives us a sense
of the back of the skull. If we were to track this down the center line of the back of the
skull, the center line of the neck we follow the spine. That takes us all the way down.
That spine becomes a wonderful center line for gauging that facing dimension, which way
is it turning. You could also see the ears. This ear is outside the contour of the constructed
head. This ear is going to be inside the constructed head with the face that we haven’t done.
So let’s pull that back for a second and do it again. We can see now we’ve got the
gesture of the face going down this way. The problem we have is all those features are
missing. It just feels like you just got floated away from your doc and you’ve got nothing
to hold on to when you don’t have those features. So we’ve got to work more carefully
here. What I’m going to do is feel the neck, and the neck—you can feel your own neck,
and you’ll find that the neck comes from right behind the ear. The actual muscle is
called the sternocleidomastoid muscle. That’s what creates that tubular shape of the neck
from a front and back or three-quarter view. You get into the side view, and then that
sternocleidomastoid is inside the contour. We’ll use it from there in different ways
that we’ll see. But it doesn’t create the contour.
And so here is our nice bent tube of a neck coming from off the ears. The face is outside
that. We just see it on this side. We don’t see it on this side. Then we have the construction
line. The shoulder line here tilts this way. When I see hunching shoulders like this, and
they’re hunching partly because it’s a figure well up above us which is typical of
Tiepolo because he did a lot of murals on the ceiling. He wanted to give the illusion
that those figures were above us. So oftentimes we get that underneath curvature like a tube.
And so I would go ahead and draw a hunching line for the shoulders. Let me take that off
to be clear, a hunching line for the shoulders. Then there is the shrugging muscle on that
shrugging muscle. Notice that the shrugging muscle comes inside the constructed neck,
and the neck is inside meaning on top of. The shrugging muscle is on top of the constructed
neck. The constructed neck is on top of the face, and we can’t see it over here. But
we get this stairstep. Let’s do it over here. Shrugging muscle is here. Neck is behind
that. And face is behind that. So we have this stacking of forms going away. Very important
from the back view. Then the ears. This ear is inside the constructed contour. This ear
is outside the constructed contour. That does most of the work. We have that hair pattern
that he has added in, but that is a secondary detail. The ears really are doing most of
the work to show that we’re in a, not perfect back view, but a slightly turn to the left
back view. The other thing that does the work is the asymmetry of seeing face over here
and no face on this side.
So tricky stuff, isn’t it? We have to slow down and work that out. Eventually it becomes
intuitive and you can go after it. But in the beginning it’s tricky. Doing tracing,
constructions as I’m doing here is a great way of working out those truths, to figure
out the nuances, the little things that you wouldn’t think of if you didn’t have to
draw it, but are crucial for our audience or lay people, our viewers to understand it
when they see it.
Let’s stop there with our old masters. Then we’re going to come back with some drawing
session exercises for you and for me to join in on. So I’ll see you momentarily.
I want you to go ahead and draw the head from the reference that we’re providing.
It’ll be timed, but if you go a little over or you finish a little quicker, that’s fine.
What I want to do is see that basic head construction done.
Go ahead and give it a shot and see how it goes for yourself.
basic construction based on the reference, and we’ll see how it goes.
Alright, so hopefully you’ve drawn your own set of drawings. Now I’m going to go
ahead and draw. You can watch me. You can draw along with me, and I’ll give you my
own tips and pointers as we go along.
I should tell you my materials now. I’m using just a fountain pen. This happens to
be a Waterman Paris, a kind of a midrange or low-range fountain pen and just a sepia
brown ink. I’m also using Faber-Castell, and these are just a sanguine tone. Any kind
of brown range. These happen to be 9201-192, and it’s a nice soft brown, kind of orange-brown.
Alright, so now it’s my turn. So I’m going to draw the biggest, simplest, most characteristic
shape that I can. I’m working about an inch and a half to two inches in real size, whatever
it is on your screen. That’s what it is to me. It can be down to about an inch. It
can be up three inches. If you get too big it just takes a lot of time to lay it out.
You get too small. It’s too much minutia. Every little move becomes a big deal on a
big head, so the eyes can get out of whack quickly. Sometimes you want to kind of plot
out exactly where the features or roughly where the features are to get a sense of whether
it’s working for you. Notice I’m drawing several marks for every one mark. I’m making
sure the head connects into the neck. You can even take it into the shoulder line. And
don’t feel like you have to finish. Just pick out as much as you need to in the time you have.
Okay, here we have a three-quarter view. Just for the heck of it, I’m going to start with
the center line of the features and the eyebrow line. And then build around it. I’m going
to draw the mask of the face since it dominates the positioning of this head. But any order
that works for you is the correct order. In this case I noticed the ear is a little bit
lower, more towards the eyeline. Now I’m going to come in and refine the hairline to
make sure it rings true for the mask of the face. Of course, as you’re drawing you can
stop it. Go back and do it several times to work it out. But don’t get any more detail
than this, just roughly the shapes that you need. And I’m going to say, you know, I’m
liking what I’m doing. I just want to clean that jawline up. I’m going to cheat and
steal five, ten, 20 more seconds. Nobody is every going to know. You won’t be downgraded.
The New Masters’ police won’t show up at your door. Just go ahead and do that. But
don’t spend 20 minutes on it.
Here we have that sailboat shape. I’m going to take it back almost as far as I go down
or as far, anywhere in there because her hair style will make the correction. It’s not
quite a perfect profile. I’m going to lay in a little bit of that center line. I did
quite a bit of work with the features there to get a sense of how far down I want to go
with that mask of the face and how far back I want to go. Sometimes I’ll even kind of
feel eye socket, cheekbone, sideburn area so that I can be more clear on where that
ear sits. Feeling that nice digastric plane that is crucial when giving volume to that
mask of the face.
Okay, here we go. This is more of a perfect profile, but we’ve gone slightly around
the other side this time, so we’re going to have a slight recession of those front
features, all the front plane of the face. That means the ears can get a little closer.
If I’m going to screw up it’s better to get a little closer yet. I can feel where
the eyebrow and eyes sit in here, nose, mouth, just marking off the information, not defining
it, not analyzing it. Just positioning a few of the little things so I have a better confidence
in the big things. Sometimes I’ll even lay in a couple of loose lines like that, and
I’ll let the audience choose. Is it here? Is it here? Is it here? Is it here? And you’ll
decide which the best answer is and bail me out. Sometimes that’s a, you can lay in
a couple. You don’t want to do that everywhere or you’re just committing and you’re not
learning. But every once in a while you can lay in a couple of those little marks and
let the audience help you.
Now we’re getting on top of the head. That means the skull will dominate the face so
maybe I’ll go ahead and draw the skull shape. If there is a part down the center of her
hairline it would run in here. The face is going to be shorter than it normally would
be. It’s foreshortening, so literally getting shorter visually, just not actually. You’re
not going to be sure where it’s at. So you make your best guess. You build some of the
secondary detail, the hairline again. Here is the ear. The ear gets a little foreshortened
too. Eyebrow line, eyeline, nose, mouth, chin, neck.
So we’re not trying to make these pretty drawings. I’m going to start with a different
procedure this time. We’re just trying to get the basic big stuff, the big information,
the big construction stuff. We’re framing in the house. We’re not decorating it. And
sometimes you’ll come up with some really lovely little moments in the drawing even
at this stage. That’s great, but that’s not the point. The point is to learn to see,
to learn to analyze, to mark down the key important things, making the choices on prioritizing.
What has to be there as opposed to what would be fun to have there? What would be cool or
neat or beautiful? Neat shows my age, I guess. I shouldn’t say neat. Rad. How’s that?
Or it should be phat. Alright. Sometimes you might finish a little early. That’s fine
too. You don’t have to keep going. But there are always things you could do, getting secondary
forms after you get the primary forms. Going back and double checking those primary forms
a second time. Maybe pushing it a little bit farther than it is in the reference to make
an aesthetic point or to play up a lovely feature, all that kind of stuff.
Here is the profile again. It comes down. We’ll play out this whole big shape. I’ll
draw it like it’s a flat profile, and then I’ll come back over it and feel the constructed
idea. Notice how I’m doing the eyebrow line this way. The chin line this way. I’m exaggerating
them to get that on top of the box idea. And doing something like this in a difficult position
early on you might spend all the first minute just getting half of this as far as I am here.
Don’t feel like you have to finish. Draw decisive. I’ll draw fast so that I’m making
clean, crisp motions. I’ll draw fast so it encourages me to get the big ideas and
ignore the little ideas. I won’t draw fast because I’m out of control and desperate
to finish. Make sure you’re drawing the speed that works for you, not the speed that
somebody else is doing and that you wish you could do.
Alright, now we’re on top so the skull dominates, and we’re getting behind the head. And so
the skull dominates even more so we’re going to have less face showing, and we’re going
to have the face receding into foreshortened position here, more like this so that ear
gets very, very close to the front of the face. Better to be a little too close. And
the ear gets lower. Better to be too low. The eye socket—I’ll do a little bump there
because we can’t see the eyes too well. There and the nose all sit very high. And
if you could see a part down the center of the hair, and you can kind of, where the hair
is being gathered and pulled back and tends to fall down there.
Go ahead and pick that up.
Let me make a real quick point about this for a moment. Notice what would happen if
I did the same thing and then did nose and the eyelashes, and maybe you could see some
lips in there. It’s going to have the silhouette maybe that’s very accurate to the, like
a shadow on the wall, but it’s going to look flat because it’s going to take the
nose and the lips and whatever else, part of the eye or eyebrow you see, and it’s
going to take it from the front plan e way over here and bring it around to the side
plane. It’s going to kill that corner and just flatten it out. So we want to make sure
that in our constructed beginning here, notice how I’m going to make it dark here. Notice
how the cheekbone and the forehead and eye socket bumps, but creates one continuous line.
Sometimes it’ll break a little bit around the chin, that line, like this. That’s fine
to show or not show. But then we want the nose and all the other features. There is
no lip showing in this case. But if they were, the lips as a line behind and I actually break
them, bottom of the nose, bottom of the lip, let’s say. Here’s the chin and here is
the ear in here. I actually break them away from the line so they are kind of ghosted
back. I usually draw the bottom plane where a light source would show. If we shaded this
egg like that the light would hit the top and it would get shadow on the bottom. I’m
showing the shadow side, the darker side that would be the most visible because it’s catching
dark shadow on this white paper. So I do all I can to kind of visually push that back,
break it up, separate it away and keep it just continuous throughout.
I always draw the front of the ear first so I know just how close it is, the ear is getting.
When you get well behind that ear I’m doing a little double line. You can take it into
whatever you see of the rest of the ear, or you can just keep it as a double line. That
shows the thickness. Again, a corner from the back of the head to the side of the head
that ear is showing. So pick up that. The cheekbone is way up here. This pulls down
here, and the skull, if there is not hair or short hair, let’s do that so it looks
like it’s just a skull with a face. It would look something like that.
In this last one I drew I drew really partly, I began with a skull shape and then I quickly
went to the hair shape. In this one I did the skull shape mainly because it’s good
practice and I wanted to show you, but what I would have done in my own drawing is I would
have just drawn the whole hair, making sure I allowed for a full mass of skull in there
and then picked up the bun. So I’m actually drawing the hairstyle. And that hairstyle
oftentimes I’ll look for, let’s do that, where the top becomes the back right there.
You can see here how this speeds up, comes down here. That’s suggesting that top and
back. Anytime we can do that it’s going to give a little bit more volume. It’ll
make sure I don’t cut off that skull a little bit. I kind of punch it out just a bit. So
you have your choice there. But do some practice where you’re drawing the full skull through
the interruption or the hat or the hairstyle and then build that fashion, that costuming
top of that.
Okay, now we’re underneath so now this underneath or capsule shape is going to get shorter.
And we’ll go over this carefully. We’ll do a whole section where we deal with difficult
perspectives. But as this goes up and away, we’re underneath it. All these distances,
eyebrow, the forehead and such are going to get shorter on us. And so you have to be a
little more careful in your positioning of things to make sure you’re respecting that
new visual, most especially how short the nose gets underneath. We’ll figure out exactly
why that’s the case at another time. Notice because of the awkward and difficult. And
this is kind of an awkward view when you’re underneath because that awkward view and the
difficult view I’m drawing. This whole section is the underside of the nose. I’m drawing
the whole circle of the lips to feel the full volume of the lips. Later I’ll rough out
more detail as I need to. But I’m getting those full volumes so I can break this space
up and be more clear on where things end. Then I’ll find the bottom of the chin and
the rest of this that I lay in more or less. I’ll give it some shadow here. That’s
that digastric plane again. That makes sure that it doesn’t look like a Halloween mask.
So it’s really important whenever you see underneath the head that you show some of
that mass of the face going back to the neck, that bottom plane of the face. Then there
is that. I didn’t get any chance to do the rest of it. That would have been fine. In
this case I’m going to do it just to point out when you get underneath look how low the
ears get way down here. Notice especially in the underside view of the face like this
almost always you end up drawing just the mask of the face and not the full skull with
whatever hairstyle is going on. So make sure that you add that back in.
Okay, three-quarter profile, and we’re way underneath it again. If you think of it as
a box or as a tube notice how this front side to her, which is our left side, rises way
up and then moves off along. This comes around slower. This comes around quickly but then
changes direction. That first movement where all the features are except for the ear is
going way up. You can’t underestimate that, really. So better to make it much deeper than
it really is than to make it less than it is. Here is the root of the nose in here,
the mouth in here, the chin in here. Notice again it’s a difficult view so I take more
time to work out the details. Always take that little extra to get some of the neck
connection there. Okay, in this case I’m going to draw the whole mask of the face as
an egg. It just feels egg-like to me so I’m going to do that. Then I’m going to lay
on my center line to show it’s facing. My eyebrow line to show how it’s tilting in
and out of the page, and then the ear is way back here some place. Nose, mouth, chin. Notice
even the chin goes in this same direction. Digastric plane tucks under. You can even
give it a little bit of tone there to mark it off if you want, although we haven’t
talked about how to do that. You can kind of code it.
Okay, so that’s my time on that, but notice what I did with the last few seconds. I went
back and kind of touched each of these areas or as many areas as I had time to do to make
sure they all related together. Because otherwise you tend to kind of draw this, and then you
draw this, and then you draw this and you draw this. You kind of scan across but you’ve
never taken a look at the whole until you stand up and walk away from your piece. So
I want to keep a process of where I’m juggling all the balls at once. I lay in my construction
lines here, and then I go over here to some other constructed shape, but then I compare
that shape back to those construction lines. This to this, but this to this. These to this
and this to that. This over here to this down here. There are relationships throughout.
You can find angles playing off that you can pick up. There are all sorts of ways to feel
your relationships back and forth. So as you do your art constantly juggle. Keep juggling.
Come back, find a little mark, maybe add a little more detail, but just to bring you
back to that place so you can compare that to something else over here and this to something
over here, and you’re constantly rhythmically relating. I always think of an orchestra conductor
who is drawing in the brass section against percussions and the woodwinds and each instrument
in each section is playing with and against and through the others. So there is this mighty
composition. This dance of ideas, forms, sounds.
That eyebrow line to ear is just invaluable when you’re trying to plot things out in dynamic position.
Finding the chin to jaw line back in front of the ear, that sideburn area is
going to help us feel that underneathness. We’ll get a better handle on that when we
get into our second section on intermediate construction.
Okay, so here we’re way underneath and behind so the ear is going to crowd the front of
the face and crowd the top of the head. Much better to overdo it. In other words, push
it too high up, too far forward. You can use that hairline. It’s always a great way to
kind of measure a sideburn over to the eyebrow, eye socket area. A great way to measure to
make sure this distance is about right. There is that full jaw of hers. Here is the skull
shape in here. And here is the hairstyle building out from that and adding to that. Okay.
Okay, that’s our lesson for the basic head structure. I hope it gave you some good pointers
to work with, some new information. I hope some of the assignments helped kind of codify
that information, make sure it’s going to work in practice and not just in theory. As
all of these lessons go, watching them more than once is a great idea. Go back to them
over and over again. This is tough information. There is a lot of fine points there that you
may not pick up the first time. You can always use more practice, as we all can, of course.
So go ahead and look at that a few times, but when you’re ready go on then to our
next lesson. Our next lesson will be intermediate head construction. I’ll see you there.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview46sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Basic Shapes of the Face and Skull12m 40s
3. Sections of the Head14m 49s
4. Thickness of the Neck10m 5s
5. Drawing the Head in Different Perspectives12m 52s
6. Perspective of the Ear11m 16s
7. Height of the Ear12m 36s
8. Old Masters' Analysis; Holbein, Raphael, Piazetta16m 14s
9. Old Masters' Analysis; Tiepolo8m 41s
10. Old Masters' Analysis; Raphael12m 16s
11. Old Masters' Analysis; Raphael, Rockwell18m 43s
12. Old Masters' Analysis; Manet, Raphael, Tiepolo15m 23s
13. Assignment16m 48s
14. Steve's Approach to the Assignment13m 15s
15. Steve's Approach Cont11m 33s