I just began studying Loomis' Drawing Heads and Hands, but I'm having some trouble with constructing the head. More specifically, establishing the side plain. How do you determine how much to "slice off" on each side , and also how do you divide that space properly. From a 3/4 view my jawbone always looks way too long. I bet I'm making it more complicated than it really is, but I'm a beginner so this is all new to me.
The only way I know of to measure off the proportions of the head is to start with a cube. The face should be 2/3 of a square wide. Then you've got to divide that rectangle into 5ths(5 eyes wide), then find it's center, which is all a pain in the rear.
It's also a good idea to buy yourself some circle templates, these things http://www.dickblick.com/zz554/76b/, and use those to start your heads, alternate back and forth between those and freehand.
Print out the front view and profile heads, get tracing paper and trace them a few times, then build some using the circle templates, then some constructing freehand, then some with no construction. It's important that you've got a good grasp of heads in those two basic positions before turning them. You've literally got to draw them hundreds of times correctly, before you'll be able to do it with some ease.
Before you'll be able to bust out the subtleties of a realistic head you'll have to build up your skill of manipulating circular forms in space, copy through his "Fun With A Pencil", also a good idea to copy through "Vilppu's Drawing Manual", those will really up your skill of handling simple proportions.
These things are useful for doing head studies too: http://www.dickblick.com/zz216/00/
Last edited by armando; April 27th, 2008 at 12:02 AM.
You take off way too much, it's a rather thin slice Loomis takes off (compare it's width to the width of the whole head). Also compare the size of the circle left after slicing the side off, with the size of the whole 'ball'.
What helps me a lot to see how long the face should be, is to see where the ball touches the face (usually around the bottom of the nose), although this changes with the angle of the head (tipped forward of backward), so it's not a hard rule, just a little help while studying.
I also often get the jaw wrong, for me it helps to see where it is in relation to the face-features (ex: on the level of the lips). Again, this only helps when you've got a model, but at least if you get it right while copying, you'll start to understand how things work too.
I think you should practice your copying skills, just keep working on 1 image until it looks just right (or at least better than your current skill, pushing past your limits = learning), during that process you'll be learning a ton about copying and where you're going wrong (analyze, don't mindlessly copy) !
I think the main problem you're having is focusing on details a little too much. Remember that all of this stuff, Loomis's books, Bridgman etc., is conceptual and they are guidelines. If you're sooo focused on the details you are merely copying. Focus on the main bulk of the head - make it the sphere or cube or whatever you concieve it to be. The reality is that it is neither so whatever makes sense to you and then lock in on the 1/3 guidelines (brow, nose, bottom of chin etc.) - forget the slicing off part - you will only overdue it. To avoid making the chin too big always keep in mind that the cranium is much larger than the facial plane.
I've thrown in a little diagram to illustrate a couple of other guidelines that maybe helpful. They deal with the chin "break" and the cheek bone. Again, they are approximatons and should be played with to see what feels right. I'd focus now more on doodling lots and lots of simplified heads first too get the main guidelines intuitive. Later, you can work on slicing off millimeters here and there. Good luck !