Head drawing sketches

One is showing the planes of the head from a portrait painting by Frédéric Fiebig and the other from a sculpture, added a bit of landscape around it for fun:

Head drawing sketches

Portrait study

I have given up on it, it’s too frustrating, working in a new medium and the first time I am painting a portrait. On the plus side I have learnt a lot of things,like, starting from the darks first, colour in shadows, accurate values without glazing, judging color temperatures, noticing color transitions; and … painting a portrait (hee!)

Quick 3 minute Sketches


Quick studies
Quick studies


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:


Basic construction of the Head


                 First simplydraw a circle. If you run an axis from the top to its bottom and a line along its equator, you can already imagine it be a sphere instead of a circle, even without any tone or value. Divide the sphere into quarters to further aid in this imagination. The sphere tips in the direction that you tilt the axis. Now if you slice off the sections at the sides of the sphere, you will get the sides of the head. The equator line becomes the eye brow line (the position where you place the eyebrows, not the eyes) The front of the head is curved but not as rounded as the sphere, therefore flatten it out a bit and bring it down a bit to get the bottom of the chin. i.e., Mark a point about halfway between the eyebrow line and the point where the axis comes out of the sphere, that gives the hair line. Almost about the same distance below the eyebrow line, is the end of the nose, the same distance below that is the bottom of the chin. The top of the ear usually lies on line with the eyebrow line and the bottom of the ear on line with the end of the nose.   

Tilts 1

Tilts 2

Drawing Human Heads


                Its important to first determine the tilt of the head, don`t jump in and draw the features at the start. Choose a subject or photo that is taken at eye level, one that is taken from above or below will introduce perspective problems. Then check how the head is tilted- upwards, downwards, sideways? Sometimes a slight downward tilt with the eyes looking upward can fool you into thinking that the tilt is upward and so on. Front-on views without any tilt are the easiest to draw since both sides of the face are symmetrical – eyebrows, eyes, corners of the mouth and nostrils, ears all fall on the same level. But these can get a bit boring, 3/4th views are the most interesting. Draw a circle and imagine this to be a ball, draw the vertical line from the middle of the forehead through to the nose through to the centre of the mouth and to the bottom of the chin. This line will lie at the exact centre for a front-on view, otherwise it moves to the side. Draw a horizontal line for the eyebrow line. Again this line lies at the centre if the head is looking straight, towards the top for an upward tilt and towards the bottom for a downward tilt. Slice off a section at both sides of the ball to get the side of the head. The ear will lie on the bottom fourth quarter of this circle.  Draw the jaw line from the bottom of the chin to the ear. Now its safe to start defining the features..

               Learning (i.e. through drawing and practicing) a bit of the bone structure of the skull helps to place the features properly and learning the muscular structure underneath the skin helps us to make the faces express emotions.  Its fun to first capture simple emotions like happiness and joy through smiles, grins and laughs then master subtler and more complex emotions. Perservere doggedly through failures, there`s nothing like the sweet taste of accomplishment!