Thursday, January 17, 2008

The 5 Steps to Successfully Drawing the Human Head.

Why so many new artists get it wrong.
Drawing a human head is intimidating to most people. It's even more intimidating to try to portray a likeness. The folks who watch the guy or gal at the fair who does caricatures marvel at the speed and execution of the artist. They think, “I could never do that!”

When I started in comics illustration over 30 years ago, my friends had no idea how illustrations were done. They thought the printing company created the work with machines. Now of course machines do have a lot to do with the work that animators and illustrators do (with the artists help).What if I told you that the process is simple once you know what to do and practice a for a few years?
O.K., you can get by reasonably well if you practice for a month.

The secret is not in the hands, it's in the eyes!
The trick to drawing is the same as any other discipline. You first have to break down what you want to accomplish into simple steps. Then practice those steps over and over improving steadily along the way.

Drawing the human head requires primarily observation. The head, hands and feet are traditionally the hardest subjects to draw because of their multiple planes and complex parts. Careful observation will show you that the varied planes of the face can be broken down into a 5 step process. You will need to first start with a fundamental shape.

The difference between a ball and a cube.
Some artists use the egg shape to use as the basis for creating a head, others use a ball. T he egg is popular but a bit misleading to the novice. The ball is also ineffective for the novice as well. In order to get a handle on the head we need to start with the cube. The cube allows for the novice to work properly with the front, sides and back of the head properly. With a cube you can gain a thorough appreciation of the perspective of the head and build the neck in properly as well.

Understanding the relationship of the parts of the head.
Observation will show you that the cube can be divided into quarters. You can then divide the segmented cube into smaller components; the brow, eye sockets, nose, jawline and ear sections.
If you want to get more complex you can then ad the sphere to the cube to develop a more precise foundation for your head. I recommend keeping it simple at the start. You should be able to draw the head from any angle and properly represent the various components.

Constructing the basic head Part1.
Stage 1. Learn to draw the cube in various positions. Once you master the cube in perspective you will have little trouble drawing the head's components from various angles. The cube will then be subdivided. The eyebrows divide at the top half of your cube. The base of the nose is half way down the second half of the cube. Draw a line half way between the nose and the chin. Be sure to create your lines in perspective with the cube.

Constructing the basic head Part2
Now as if you were carving a block of stone, begin to shape the areas around the eyes. Carve out the eye sockets and section around the bridge of the nose. Be sure to keep it loose and simple at this point. Move down to the mouth area and create the top and bottom lines for the lips.
Delineate the area for the chin and jawline. You will be able to see the form of the face by now.

Constructing the basic head Part 3.
Begin to create detail in the areas you've worked; i.e., eyes, nose, mouth and chin. Be aware of the light source that's illuminating your face. We will begin to think of the connections between the facial planes. The eyeballs fit into the eye sockets, the teeth fit into the mouth, under the lips and so on.

Constructing the basic head Part 4.
You will be learning to think in solid form while using lines That will require you to constantly observe how light shapes the world. Let's finish up with the hairline, jawline and eyebrows. If you want to add hair, keep the shape simple and clean. We want to frame the face not bury it.

Constructing the basic head Part 5.
You should have all of your sketch lines cleaned up and the lines that remain should look sharp, confident and strong. This is it, you've got through the hardest part of drawing. Now practice.

Creating characters
Study movies, pictures and go to the Internet. When you see a good head sample, keep it and use it for reference. You will be amazed at how quickly you'll be able to lay out faces and create memorable characters.

Going for likenesses.
Tips and tricks to help you create better and better likenesses.
Remember that features are a combination of the shapes of the individual facial components, the shape of the skull and the level of fat under the skin. The trick is to reduce all those components into a series of lines. The best way to see the lines is to squint when observing the subject. This will bring out the shadows and highlights enough for your drawing.

Good luck.


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