Too many artists, perhaps fearful of their subjects, treat the head as if it were nothing ore than an inventory of features or an empty, hollyhock shape, void of life, sometimes sitting straight and rigidly on its neck, contradicting the underlying gesture of the body and looking like a lifeless lollipop, This eons-old challenge of how to put more elite and energy into drawings, paintings, and sculptures of the human head is easily answered once you get beyond the fear and the seeming complexity of the subject. I will outline many solutions throughout this article appropriate for both the beginner and advanced artist.Order now
Some of the cures will seem deceptively simple. Others will reach beyond the obvious, studying the head from all sides, including top and bottom. And just about all of them will somehow involve the overall figure, with the head serving as the crown of the magnificent machine that is the human body. By D an Ghent Frederica Karl, Prince of Prussia by doll mizzen, 1863, gouache over graphite, highlighted with white, x 9. Notice how, from behind, the nostalgia furrow obscures some of the nose and mouth and seems to unite optically with the cheekbone and rim of the eye. His connection helps to push the nose back and, along with several other overlapping shapes, reinforces the roundness of the underlying egg-shaped head structure. This content has been abridged from an original article written by Dan Ghent. This premium has been published by interweave press, 201 fourth Loveland, co 80537-5555; (970) 669-7672. Copyright 2012 by interweave press, a division of aspire media, all rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner. Venn. Artistically. Mom Attitude Perhaps the most powerful key to a stronger head is the most obvious one, which even advanced artists often miss in their obsession to get the features just right?that is, give your head attitude. Faces need to look somewhere; their eyes need intensity and aim. You have probably noticed how the eyes in some Old Master paintings and drawings often seem to follow you as you move around the room. This dynamic event occurs in the viewer’s mind, usually when the artist depicts the head in a three-quarter view with the eyes looking off to one side, as Leonardo most famously did in his Mona Lisa.
In drawings such as Leonard¶s Study for the Angel in La Verge auk Rockers, observe how the irises the circular, colorful portion of the eyeball) seem to peer out of the corner of these eyes, gazing past the canvas or drawing toward the viewer. Remember, you can’t move irises around wily-mainly. The upper eyelid bulges above the iris, so every time you change the direction of your model’s gaze, you must also change the shape of the upper lid. If you draw the model looking off extremely to one side, you will find that the lower eyelid pulls up with it.
The tilt of the head is equally crucial to achieving attitude in your figure drawings. It should somehow complement or contrast the gestures movement that flows above right study for he angel in through the body from the Madonna Of the Rocks toes to the neck and, finally, by Leonardo. Silvering, and hopefully, into the head. 71/8 x In Ingress’ masterpiece of the eyes in some old master a portrait, Louis-François paintings and drawings often seem to follow you as you Bertie (not pictured) some move around the room. His people seem to lean forward dynamic event occurs in the viewers mind, usually when imperiously, head locked the artist depicts the head in a into their shoulders as they three-quarter view with the eyes looking off to one side. Speak to you. Others lean back, their noses tilted up, right Drawing a man and their irises barely Perry Leonardo, pen-and-ink, II ins past their lower lid, x collection royal library, pay close attention to body Windsor castle, London, England. Shapes and gesture, even Describing his diagram, when drawing a vignettes, Leonardo explained, “the side of the head on which the (light) seemingly isolated head.
You rays fall most directly will be don’t want to draw a husky, the most highly lighted, and those parts on which the rays muscular man with a beneficial most aslant will be less thin neck or a young child eighties the light falls as blow might, since a blow which falls with a fullback’s shoulders. Perpendicularly falls with the Look at the model intensely. Greatest force, and when it falls obliquely, it is less forcible than Notice how the neck leads the former in proportion to the from the shoulder into the width of the angle. ” www. Artistically. Com above left Drawing off Woman With Loop earring by Dan Ghent, 2006, graphite with white chalk on toned paper, 10 x 8. Collection the artist, above right to the head are numerous, and they can be quite evocative of an individual’s character, psychology, and emotion. Y Father Posing for Facial Folds by Dan Ghent, 2006, graphite, 12 x g. Collection the artist. Facial folds occur at right angles to the direction of the muscles underneath, very similar to a theater curtain being pulled across the Stage by a horizontal cord. He axiomatic muscle runs from the cheekbone to the corner of the mouth and, when contracted, creates dependable creases in the face, the most important being the juggle furrow (left of a) and the accessory juggle furrow (b). Note how the shape of the large chewing muscle, called the master becomes more defined when the chin is pulled in. Getting a Likeness It may seem like a waste of time worrying about whether you’ve captured a likeness or not. Its unlikely the viewer will notice that something is missing. True, it will not matter in the end to the viewer. But I feel its imperative to always give it a sincere try.
The pursuit of likeness keeps my concentration focused, it keeps the entire drawing process compelling, and, in the end, the struggle leads to a more active-looking and vigorous drawing. There is no doubt that the individual features and the distance between the treasures are essential in getting a likeness and a psychologically animated head and figure. Explained several feature- measuring techniques in my first article for American Artist [“Painting Portraits’ in the February 1993 issue. Head. It doesn’t matter if you are only drawing a small snippet of the neck in fact, the shorter the line, the more crucial the correct angle becomes.
If the line fragment angles outward or inward a little too much, the error will become magnified once you imagine the line extending outside of the image, inferring an implausible body type for the head. Body postures and their relationships It’s useful to draw numerous studies Of the features?like Super De Ribbed did in Study of Eyes?cataloguing and committing their basic construction to memory. At the same time, try to be sensitive to the bilateral symmetry that underlies the face and its features. Use guidelines to line up one side of the face with the other.
But remember this very important caveat: As much as you may want them to, features do not conform to a simplistic rule of absolute symmetry. Look closely at any Old Master portrait. You will usually find that one eye is almost always a little bigger or a little farther from the nose than the other, one nostril a little taller, en side of the mouth a bit lower than the other. These artists’ use of subtle asymmetry gives their subjects’ heads and figures life and a sense of action, as if the features are in motion.
This asymmetry is vitally important from the likeness standpoint as well. It’s been proven in clinical and psychological studies that when a photo is sliced whom. Artistically. Com in half, with one side reversed and pasted next to the other, the viewer finds it difficult to recognize the subject within the new-found Symmetry. No matter how enticing your subjects features, the hard truth is that the ratio of the head shape ND size to the body is much more crucial to capturing a likeness or creating a dynamic impression.
When looking at your model, ask yourself what sort of geometric shape typifies his or her head. Does your model have a triangular head tapering toward the bottom, with lots of hair and full cheekbones at the top sliding into a narrow jaw and smallish chin below? Or perhaps your subject has a wide, rectangular face with a broad jaw, full cheeks, and a flat, closely cropped hairdo?or a tall, rectangular head, narrow but angular from jaw to top of head. Maybe your model’s forms are built on soft, circular shapes.
Whatever your subject’s essential structure, you can always distill it into a simple, quickly identifiable shape in your mind that will guide you through the complicated process of laying in the drawing, purge Your preconceptions After determining the global shape of the head, assessing the facial angle is the next most important factor in getting a likeness and keeping your head drawing lively. Forensic specialists frequently use this technique to identity’ decomposed remains, and Eight-century phrenologists used it in a foolish attempt to catalogue racial intelligence.
You can discover the facial angle of your subject by drawing a nine from the ear hole, or external auditory meat’s, at the base of the skull to the bottom of the nasal aperture (Fig. B) and then compare that line to one that runs from the base of the brow ridge, or clubbable, to the upper dental arch. Called the “muzzle,” this protrusion doesn’t project as far forward in humans as it does in animals, but it usually juts farther outward than most beginner? and some advanced?artists are willing to accept.
The real human head is quite unlike a Greek Statue; it’s very rare that all Of your subject’s features Will line up in a straight, stagnant, and vertical formation from forehead to chin. Unless you’re trying to render some sort Of classical ideal, look for this basic facial angle, and then compare it to the usually receding angle that leads from the tip of the nose to the base of the chin, or the angles that radiate off the forehead, across the top of the head, and back down to the nape of the neck (Fig. A). Even if you get all of the big shapes of the head correct, you’re not out of the woods yet.
You need to compare the facial size to the overall head size. Two studies of the Head and shoulder of Little Girl (detail) by Jean-Antoine wattage, ca. 1717, red, black, ND white chalk on buff paper, x 738, collection Pierson Morgan library, new York, new York. Always look closely at the periphery tooth face. Study how Wattage drew the far eye and eyebrow in this drawing. Approach your own head drawings like him, finding the subtle overlaps and the delicate forms that often lurk behind the horizon of a spherical face, BMW. Artistically. Mom study Of eyes by Super De ribbed, 1622, etching, 57?x 810. Collection Albertan museum, Vienna, Austria. It’s always a good idea to study the suborns Of the face. Whenever you have a free moment, draw isolated views of the eyes, nose, pips, and ears from every direction. Soon you will build up a subconscious understanding of each feature. Are only human. Governed by our species psychological focus on the importance of the features, we seem eagerly predisposed to expect a large facial size. Larger Than Elite Many large-scale drawings have a built dynamism.
Unfortunately, it’s often hard to tee’ good about a tact that’s drawn larger than elite, especially when drawing a delicate person, Even if all of the features and underlying angles are impeccably placed, the face will almost always seem “off,” or at least surreal, cause it is larger than we have experienced in real life. Perhaps you want to embrace that surrealism or want to capture some of the heroic power we see in such sculptures as Head of Constantine (not pictured do that a lot myself, as do many artists I admire.
Perhaps you are doing a mural or altarpiece that will be seen at an Quite often, even the most experienced artist will make the facial area?the space between the mouth and eyebrows?too big or too small for the rest of the head. Then they wonder Why the head looks too big or small, even though they’ve measured the overall head size against the body a thousand times, and t adds up correctly every try. That’s because we often judge the size Of the head with our gut; and if the features are drawn too large or small, the head will seem likewise.
Most Often, artists tend to make the facial mass too big, especially on a foreshortened head or bearded model. Artists extreme distance. Just be sure you are doing it on purpose, not because you got carried away. Usually, this problem creeps up on you. As one works on the features?or any detail of the body, such as the hands or feet?one can become captivated, and if an artist doesn’t step back often to gauge the relative size f the subject’s face to the rest of the figure, those features will tend to grow.
Artists then compensate by enlarging all the other features, then the entire head, until finally the rest of the figure must be redrawn at a larger size. Then, to add insult to injury, the feet may be falling off the page or the hand could be cut off awkwardly by the edge of the paper at the knuckles, forcing the artist to scrap the whole figure, including the head. No artist is free from this malady. Know myself too well, and to counteract this tendency, draw lines at the top, bottom, and middle of my figures when sense my proportions going awry.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced artist who is continually dealing with this problem, draw these lines near the outset of the drawing process. Then, if you find your face or figures expanding even a little beyond these lines, resolutely and bravely enforce a hard- love discipline on yourself. With head drawing, this usually means first revisiting the size of the nose, since all the other features radiate off this central point, Indeed, when initially laying in the proportions of the face, it’s a good strategy to put more work into the nose once you start delving into the details.
Of course, o don’t want to spend all your time on the below nose. To maintain your objectivity and a gestures quality in your drawing, always move around the face and figure when working on specifics, But once the size of the nose is set, compare all of the other features to it. Say, for instance, you accidentally make the nose too big. If you’re vigilant, you will likely catch it before its stealthy effect cascades throughout the features and body with increasing magnitude. Purposeful Exaggeration You might find yourself justifying an overly large head size by arguing, ‘Well, some people just have large heads! ” Think?and look?again.
Proportional relationships tend to reoccur throughout the body. There are no absolute rules, but when someone has a seemingly large head, many Of their Other suborn proportions tend to be stocky as well. Among adults, our bodies can range nap. ‘here between six to eight heads tall. If you wander beyond that limit, you surely need to take a second look at your subject to be sure you are Ethel Smyth by John singer sergeant, 1901, black chalk, 231/2 x 18 collection national portrait gallery, London, England. From a low, three-quarter view, the lower face looks quite large as the spherical shape of the head curves toward you. The other hand, the forehead looks rather small and the nose jumps up in front of the far eye as the head rounds out away from you. Don’t inadvertently lengthen the top of the head and shorten the lower area to conform to your subconscious preconceptions. Not fooling yourself. Like Sergeant, you may purposely choose to elongate your figure by giving your drawing a small head?many of his figures are nine or I C heads tall and quite plausible. Like him, just be sure to equally lengthen all the other body suborns, Nothing looks sillier or more stilted than a tiny pinhead on a hulking body or inconsistently exaggerated body parts.
On the other hand, don’t fall prey to the opposite problem?making a head too large?to try to compensate for a heave. Y or muscular body type. Even if you want to embellish the muscularity Or heaviness of the body forms, you must pay particular attention to the way the full neck tucks dramatically into the front of the diminutive head on 3 large, heavy model and the way the thick shoulders Off muscular model taper gradually into the back of the normal-size skull. Elements of Head Structure Light Source: The more you work in a representational manner, the more you need to consider the underlet
Head of a young Woman by Jean-Baptists grudge, 1765, black and white pastel, charcoal, and red chalk, 131/2 x 101/4. grudge treated the shadow running through the young woman’s face simply and graphically. He knew that light illuminates detail, while the absence to light obscures visual intimation and leaves the shadow in a relatively passive state, he reserved most of his subtle details for the light side, he rendered the forehead in a dramatically bright highlight that then tapers into progressively darker values, as the face gradually curves *like away from the light and recedes into the halftones of the chin. M. Artistically. Com Measuring facial features In my ‘Portrait Painting” article in the February 1993 issue Of American Artist, I explained several feature-measuring techniques. Here is a brief recap of these important concepts: First, partition the features into three equal divisions (Fig.
A): The top partition runs from the hairline to the eyebrows, the second one from the eyebrow to the base of the nose, and the third one from the bottom of the nose to the bony point of the chin, This classically derived system of measurement has been used by artists to get their bearings since the Greek olden age, and its nothing more than an averaging of our collective facial proportions. As artists, we need to look at the model and determine where their particular proportions diverge from this standard, Ask yourself, Which of these three divisions is the largest, which is the next largest, and which is the smallest?
If you don’t catch these divisions correctly in the beginning, it doesn’t matter how elegantly you render the specific features. Many people have a hard time locating the position of the ear when drawing a side view; they usually underestimate the verbal width of the head compared to its height. Try comparing the horizontal distance between the outside of the eye and the front of the ear with the article distance between the outside of the eye and the outside corner of the mouth; these measurements are usually very similar.
Notice, as Leonardo demonstrated in his diagrams, that the overall width of the eye is roughly equal to the nose and that, consequently, the Wing Of the nose usually lines up With the inside Of the eye. Meanwhile, the top of the ear lines up with the eyebrow, and the bottom coincides With the base Of the nose. Once you begin to render the individual features, you must be equally diligent about their peculiar likeness. Ask yourself some basic questions, using a horizontal line as a reference point: Do the features rise above the line, sit flatly across it, or drop below the line? Does one side or the other rise or drop past the reference line? Geiger a, above left Drawing of Paul by Dan Ghent, 2006, graphite with white chalk on toned paper, 12 x 10. Collection the artist. When judging a likeness, compare the distances that make up the forehead (1-2), the nose (2-3), and the space between the bottom of the nose (3) ND the chin if you don’t transcribe these proportions accurately, you’ll never find a likeness no matter how well you draw the individual features. Sometimes you might find it difficult to assess the top of the forehead if your subject has a high hairline. In that case, use the point where the forehead begins its transition into the top of the skull (1). Geiger b, above right Diagram of the Facial angle by Charlotte perturb-Ferrier, ink. To determine your model’s facial angle, compare an angle that runs from the brow ridge to the upper dental arch (1) with one that runs from the base of the nose to the ear hole (2). Nag structure of the head and figure to keep your drawing robust and exciting. Your choice of lighting is a crucial factor, particularly when working tonally with value masses. Other artists may make different, equally valid choices, but deliberately place my light source off to one side and above the model for the maximum dramatic and form-making effect.
I limit my illumination to a single source, and I position it so that the shadows break decisively along the edge where the major front planes and side planes meet. The Egg Effect: Shapes, proportions?everything seems to measure correctly, and you know for a fact hat your drawing is not larger than life. You even take a second look at the relationship of the front plane to the side planes, but your head and figure still appear dull, flat, disjointed, and not quite a likeness. So, what’s wrong? Chances are you missed the “egg spherical form that underlies the more angular planes of the face.
Close attention must be paid to the subtle play of graduating light as it crosses over the width and length of the gillie head. The head doesn’t just corner from the front to the side planes, it also curves Within the big planes from top to bottom and side to side. It’s sometimes hard to criers, but the light tapers subtly darker as the underlying sphere turns away from its source. If you have a hard time seeing this for yourself when working from a live model, try cutting a couple of holes in a piece of paper, Hold the paper in front of the model’s by Dan Ghent, 2006, graphite, 4 x 5. Election the artist. Face, and keep moving it back purge your mind of and forth until one hole isolates preconceptions when drawing the light of the forehead and the The head from an odd angle? the face is barely visible when other hole isolates the light on the head is seen from above, the chin. When working from photos, you can usually discover this cascading light effect by turning both the photograph and your drawing upside down. Necks: If heads are fundamentally gillie, necks are basically cylindrical.
Try not to disturb their underlying shape by overplaying the sterna-cleric-mastoid, those strapless muscles that straddle the throat and support the head. Like the suborns of the features, these muscles sit on the curving cylinder of the neck and should participate in its graduating value changes. Remember also that these two muscles are antagonists, an anatomical term that indicates they work as a am. Immobility occurs if they both contract at the same time. This means you can’t render both muscles in equal definition, at least if you’re trying to show the head in motion.
When one often contracts and bulges out, pulling the side Of the head toward you, draw the Other muscle more relaxed and less defined. One more warning: When working from life, expect some movement in the pose if the model’s neck is divested to an extreme degree. Always anticipate some unconscious movement of the head and neck toward a more centralized position. While paying heed to its cylindrical character, notice that the neck isn’t telephone pole, shooting perpendicularly into the head. Observe how the neck projects diagonally from the shoulder into the base of the head, pushing the head forward.
This dynamic, diagonal relationship is most clearly identifiable on a side view, but as you likely know trot experience, it’s much more difficult to grasp on a three-quarter view, You’ll know only too well when you’ve missed the neck slant. The head will often seem mashed into the neck, and both the head and the neck will seem off-center, placed too far over to one side on the shoulder. To correct this problem, try concentrating on the throat?or trachea? instead of the outside edges of the neck. The underlying projecting angle of the throat is much more apparent in this view.
Draw upward from the pit of the neck, along the forward edge of the throat, until you reach the under plane or canopy of the chin, and add the outside lines of the neck later. Whatever you do, avoid the static, lollipop look I warned you about at the beginning of the article, With both the front and back of the neck reaching into the head at the same parallel allele_ The back Of the neck intersects the skull much higher up than the front Of he neck, often aligning with the base of the nose when the face is on an even keel. Skull From above Age and Folds: Age and weight play an important role in the dynamics of the face?its structure and its emotional expression. The older we get, the more our skin drapes, with creases occurring at right angles to the shape and action of the muscles underneath. The axiomatic muscles, running from the cheekbone to the corner of the mouth, have the greatest influence on the face, so when they contract, they also produce one of the strongest folds, called the nostalgia arrow, running from the nose and partially encircling the mouth.