I think I finally ‘got’ it! After weeks and months of trying to understand and going through book after book after book and struggling and kicking myself, I now feel I can ‘do heads’. Yesterday evening, I was watching some of Glenn Vilppu videos on utube, and he was saying something about feeling the volume… (by the way, he teaches beautifully) that suddenly struck a chord within me and I thought let me just do it, how hard can it be…to put two eyes, a nose, a mouth and the back of a skull together to form a head (!), so I plunked myself onto the sofa in front of the TV and Voila! they just flowed out beautifully and spontaneously, everything I have learned all these days coming together finally. So now I can proudly say that I too belong to that class of people on this earth who can do heads!
I think its good to learn from a few, or maybe a lot of (good) books, rather than just stop at one or two because, it always happens that when you can´t just get it looking at the thing from one point of view, you suddenly understand, when you look at it from another person´s point of view. (or even the same persons´at a different point of time).
Its most important to understand the structure of the head first, the way it is constructed and the way the different bones fit into one other, its planes and the way the underlying muscles move the flesh, when learning to draw it. Its not so important to get the likeness of a person at first, but rather to feel the whole head along with its volume while drawing it, so as to make a well-constructed head; …..one in which the eyes sit in their sockets firmly; the nose is on the right plane perpendicular to the face; the ears go round the face on line with the brows and tip of the nose; the features move along with the tilt of the head; then the planes – the forehead comes out, the plane of the eyes goes inward, the plane of the cheeks comes outward, the mouth on almost a straight plane (though rounded from side to side), a small area beneath the mouth recedes inward and the chin protrudes outward. Its more important to get these foundations right rather than to get the features or get the likeness of the person, because there really is not that much variation in those heads. Once you understand the planes, its becomes really easy, not to mention fun, to do the ‘shading’ or toning or even painting. If you understand well which areas recede and which protrude, then you start toning down the areas which do not receive the light (for e.g, the plane of the eyes, (when the light comes from the top) for which reason the white of the eye is never really white, it has to nearly always be toned down).
Here are some more which I did a while back: