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I have been going through the Loomis Head book, which is wonderful BTW, but currently I have been having some problems understanding the structure of the planes of the head. I am referring to the following attached image in his book. I understand the division from head 1 to head 2, but from 2 to 3, can't quite see how the new division of the planes are made, especially around the mouth and jaw area. Maybe is the lack of quality that may happened for being scanned books... Anyways, after trying to understand it can't quite figure it out so I will appreciated any clarification about it, thanks
I think that it could be useful to see how 3d modelers break the head down into planes. I have found the methods of breaking down the human form into planes very similar to what Loomis writes. Here's a couple of examples I found off of cgtalk's topology thread. Not my images, so if that's against the rules, I apologize.
I interpret it as he's adding realistic forms while leaving head construction 2 visible underneath. He uses the block construction to pose the head, and then draws the more realistic curved forms by 'feeling', relating them to that planar understructure, like a musician he improvises over the simple structure. Leaving the planer understructure visible keeps the perspective obvious. The forehead is a good example, notice you can still count the 3 primary planes he used in 2, but he's added the brow, and an extra surface. For the eye he uses the pentagonal structures to find their placement, and then draws them right in, the curved surfaces are too subtle to be usefully mapped out with planes. On the cheek the improvisation is more clear. Where he starts out with a simple triangle in 2, in 3 he jazzes it up by curving around the mouth, look at the cleft in the chin he adds.
A plane is the general direction that a surface faces. We are mostly concerned with front,top, bottom, sides, back, 6 planes. If additional planes are neccessary, they must be related to one of those original spatially obvious planes, they're planes that kinda face to the side, kinda face the front, etc. The idea is to make it easy for the viewer to see the form, the simpler the form the more obvious it's perspective and solidity.
The human face mostly faces forward, all the stuff on it can be generalized as one plane. The side of the head, the ear, the jaw, that stuff mostly points to the side, that could be generalized as another plane. The curved dome mostly points up, another plane. Beneath the chin, that mostly points down, another plane. Of course the spatial directions depend on the head's orientation. Actual heads aren't very blocky, but must be made to look blocky(for this particular style to work) since pictures are flat, blockyness makes perspective obvious. A useful thing to remember is that distorted rectangles are easy to understand in perspective, look for places where they can be used like at the forehead, that'll clarify the perspective.
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While plane diagrams can look superficially like cg wireframes, there are differences. For instance, "artistic" planes are often slightly curved, while cg polygons are always flat. Planes are more important as a way to think than as a way to draw. Loomis wouldn't actually construct a head by literally going from diagram 1 to 2 to 3, but it's important to be able to recognize those underlying structures as you're drawing. There is no universal "right" way of conceptualizing planes, especially when you get to the smallest forms, but with experience you will start to recognize common things to look for. Also, how we approach planes differs depending on how you are working. When working from life (or photos), we use the light to draw the planes. When working from imagination, we use the planes to draw the light.
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Thanks Armando and Elwell for the explanation, that actually explains better things. Maybe I was getting too focused on the details that I was missing the big picture that Armando was explaining about the head. Indeed my aim for this question was to understand the planes better for when I draw from imagination. Thanks for the help guys, this actually makes all that clearer. Back to practice
To further what Elwell was saying about the differences with the CG planes is that their construction is a compromise between representing the structure nicely and making it easy to animate to many different shapes (the edge loops in that second diagram).
That being said, I did find doing a bit of 3D modeling of organic forms like heads and figures useful for understanding planes, but at the end of the day we're just not computers and can't think exactly like them so I don't think it translates literally.