Question on Loomis's head construction method

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1. ## Question on Loomis's head construction method

UPDATED ON 29 Mar 2011:

Pls scroll to bottom of this thread for the latest update. Ignore the rest of this post.

My picture below is self-explanatory:

Last edited by Xeon_OND; March 28th, 2011 at 11:16 PM.

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3. Loomis imagines the x, y and z planes converging at the center point of the sphere and then draws the lines where the three planes intersect with the surface of the sphere.

In the illustration you attached, the sphere is tilted so that the x, y and z planes are all diagonal, but the premise is the same. Three diameters are drawn on the sphere so that they intersect each other at right angles. On an upright head, the middle line of the face as well as the ear line will be vertical and the brow line will be horizontal.

you can see the rest of the drawings from that set here if you haven't already seen them: http://www.scribd.com/doc/501782/And...Head-and-Hands They show the placement of the facial features.

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5. Originally Posted by PsiBug
Loomis imagines the x, y and z planes converging at the center point of the sphere and then draws the lines where the three planes intersect with the surface of the sphere.

In the illustration you attached, the sphere is tilted so that the x, y and z planes are all diagonal, but the premise is the same. Three diameters are drawn on the sphere so that they intersect each other at right angles. On an upright head, the middle line of the face as well as the ear line will be vertical and the brow line will be horizontal.

you can see the rest of the drawings from that set here if you haven't already seen them: http://www.scribd.com/doc/501782/And...Head-and-Hands They show the placement of the facial features.

Thanks Psi!

Ok, I assume

x = brow line
y = middle line
z = ear line

Btw, below are some of my sketches:

Did I draw the earline correctly? My problem is I dunno where to draw it.

I mean, after I've drawn the middle and brow line and have determined where the facial plane is facing, I dunno where to draw the earline (e.g: how far is it from the middle line).

That's my question.

Thanks!
Xeon

*PS* : I've all 3 copies of Loomis books, btw. In PDF format.

6. Here are three tips I've thought of to help explain the method to students over the years:

1. In drawing all three lines, it helps to remember that all are equators, and each is half of an ellipse situated symmetrically within the circle (see attachment).

2. It's a good idea to start with the vertical axis (shown by Loomis as a nail) and decide carefully whether it is the north or the south pole that you see emerging from the sphere, and exactly where that occurs. You then know to drive the middle line and the ear line through that point. You also know to draw the brow line to look like the equator to that pole, so make sure that the axis of its ellipse is at right angles to the vertical axis.

3. When you have the middle line and the brow line, think of the middle line as an equator and look for the point on the brow line that looks like its pole. The ear line has to go through that point too.

Last edited by briggsy@ashtons; September 8th, 2009 at 06:07 AM.

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Before you start on the head, focus on just drawing a ball. In this case something like a basketball, or a round ball that you can draw these lines on as guides. Maybe a styrofoam ball that you can push a rod or dowel through as the center axis. A toy action figure head might also be helpful. Study the real thing before you try and abstractly visualize it on paper.

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10. Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons
2. It's a good idea to start with the vertical axis (shown by Loomis as a nail) and decide carefully whether it is the north or the south pole that you see emerging from the sphere, and exactly where that occurs. You then know to drive the middle line and the ear line through that point. You also know to draw the brow line to look like the equator to that pole, so make sure that the axis of its ellipse is at right angles to the vertical axis.
Thanks Briggsy! Now that's clearer a bit, but I still have 1 question:

The very first thing we do when drawing heads....do we start drawing the "nail" at any direction or location, since it's main purpose is only to establish the middle and ear line? Yes / No

Thanks!

11. Originally Posted by dbclemons
Before you start on the head, focus on just drawing a ball. In this case something like a basketball, or a round ball that you can draw these lines on as guides. Maybe a styrofoam ball that you can push a rod or dowel through as the center axis. A toy action figure head might also be helpful. Study the real thing before you try and abstractly visualize it on paper.
Oh yeah, I'm gonna get a ping-pong ball and then use marker pen to draw on it. (ping pong ball = those small blank balls used for table tennis)

12. Originally Posted by Xeon_OND
The very first thing we do when drawing heads....do we start drawing the "nail" at any direction or location, since it's main purpose is only to establish the middle and ear line? Yes / No
No. You put it in carefully to register your exact decision on whether the head you are drawing is tilting towards/away from you, and to one side or the other.

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14. One thing that I think will help you a lot is learning to draw ellipses in perspective. The lines you are drawing across the surface of the sphere are just the visible segments of the ellipses produced by intersecting a plane and a sphere. In Biggs' example he filled in where the internal "circle" would be, but because they are in perspective if that ball is tilted or the view is something other than straight on, they are squashed. There's a lot of technical stuff around getting a circle properly in perspective, but one of the most helpful tips I ever read regarding the matter was this: A circle in perspective, will be distorted symmetrically, perpendicular to it's "direction". That sounds complicated but basically think of it this way. Imagine the ellipse is the end of a cylinder. You should be able to draw a line through that ellipse in the direction of the cylinder, and that the shapes on either side of that line (the two halves of the ellipse) should be symmetrical. Basically you should be able to "fold" the ellipse along the line of that imaginary cylinder over on itself and it should match. Another thing that will help make the lines on your sphere more accurate is "drawing through." As in draw the entire ellipse in perspective, even the parts hidden behind the sphere, as thought the sphere were transparent, or translucent. This will help you see when your lines are off, as the ellipse will be off.

Hope I didn't just make things more confusing

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16. Thanks Biggs and Cthogua!

Ok, that helps to clear things up slightly further. I'll practice drawing these and try to figure them out, and also get my ping pong ball today.

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It's me again...sorry for being gone so long...I myself don't understand the "ball/plane method" myself.

Why is the first important line the brow line instead of the eye line, for one thing?

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19. Originally Posted by Rock Martin
It's me again...sorry for being gone so long...I myself don't understand the "ball/plane method" myself.

Why is the first important line the brow line instead of the eye line, for one thing?
Because the brow line is where the horizontal center of a head is (that is, if you look at another person's head face to face).

20. Hi guys,

Didn't want to start a new thread, so I've revived this old thread.

I've now started on Loomis head construction again and although I now have a better grasp of the concept compared to the time when this original thread was made, I'm still facing some issues.

I've been trying to find solutions like a mad man, holed up in my room for weeks until I'm going nuts, and I've no choice but to seek help here. I need help real bad.

My biggest problem now is with regards to when the head is titled up.

1) When the head is titled up, how do you connect the bottom of the chin / jaw area correctly to the neck?

2) When the head is looking up all the way such that the brow line is hidden from view, how do you estimate the distances for the placement of the bottom of the nose, the mouth and the chin? I've tried to draw through the sphere so that I can "see-through" how far the distances go on the other side of the sphere, but it's all totally based on random lottery guesswork. It's not even estimation.

3) How do you even know how much of the bottom of the jaw ("the canopy of jaw" area) to show?

Below is a construction of a normal head pose slightly titled one side:

I can still manage this sort of angle and other angles, everything except "looking-up" poses.

When the head is looking up, like this: and this, that's when I start to really screw things up badly.

Look at these 3 head drawings I did of the head looking up, based on references. You can see that the jaw area is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!! Without references, my bottom of jaw area will look worse.

I've also read and re-read all the Loomis-related threads in CA. I've looked at almost every head construction approach out there to look for clues in solving these 2 questions, from E.M. Gist to Loomis to Ron Lemen to Mentler to Bridgeman to Michael Hampton to KChen to Vilppu / Sheldon and to even Steve Huston, but none of them really show the procedures of how to connect the chin to the neck when the head is looking up.

Vilppu and Sheldon seems to draw the head using ovals, but they don't really show how to figure out the ear line like Loomis or how to draw the head in extreme tilts using ovals, so I gave up on their approach. Hampton didn't really go into detail in his book, while Steve Huston's method doesn't allow you to construct heads from imagination like Loomis. I believe same goes for Reilly.

Kevin Chen's head drawing notes are good, in that he uses a cylinder to explain the foreshortening etc., but from the diagrams on his notes alone, I can't figure out how he construct the head in extreme tilts and join the jaw correctly to the neck. From his diagram, I think he seems to have some solid solution to accurately drawing the head and the placement of the features from any angle, but too bad I can't attend his classes.

I've also looked at some neck anatomy but it seems irrelevant to this case at hand and it's like I'm sinking deeper and getting more overwhelmed the more info I try to look up.

I've also tried using a cylinder to construct the head instead of using Loomis' spheres, but I can't find working examples of this anywhere, and using cylinders for head construction will give lots of problems during the later stages (sculpting of planes and melding the spherical cranial mass to a cylinder), so I've decided to stick to Loomis.

Pls save me from the darkness. Any help or advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated!
Xeon

21. Look in a mirror, tilt your head back. Take a picture.

Or, buy a cheap skull and tilt it upwards.

Remember to draw through your object to obtain 3d effect.

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23. You're gonna have to eyeball it and see it as it is. And draw through the form, and use straight lines to see things in terms of plane. I think you're just going to need to drop all these construction systems for now and figure one out for yourself, so you can actually understand the planes and form. You're just drawing symbols as I see it. Keep perspective in mind, like in that upturned, front view, the hinge of the jaw is about horizontally level with the lips in 3D space, so by looking beneath them, they shouldn't be horizontally level in 2D with the effects of perspective. Also since you're looking beneath it, the plane of the jaw is going to be going to be level with you, so it's going to be closer to a straight line. And in the upturned, 3/4 view, the perspective is skewed because if you extended lines through the hinges of the jaw and the brow in your drawing, they won't converge. Again, I think you're just being way too formulaic, without actually understanding the form and how these systems convey them, really, it's all just knowing the form itself and understanding perspective.

Last edited by stabby2486; March 29th, 2011 at 12:30 AM.

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25. Hey Xeon - you've tried everything it seems - except drawing someone with their head tilted up! It isn't a typical angle so most construction methods and references don't address it - we see it all the time though in life drawing. You can sit right up close under the model and look up - if they are lying down you can move around to get this view, etc.

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27. Thanks a lot for the advice, guys! I guess I've to go back to the drawing board again to figure out these crap for myself. I hope someone can write a book addressing these issues, though.......because there's actually a market for it! Like "Drawing heads the Loomis way : A complete guide to what Loomis left out" or "The artist's guide to drawing heads from any angle".

Good day!
Xeon

28. Hey Xeon, if you really want to do this with the Loomis head, why not make a model out of clay? Then you can turn it however you like and see how it looks. After that, you can compare that to a real human head and note how the model compares. Then you can write a book on it

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Which book are you trying to understand? You may find that 'Fun with a pencil' is a little more helpful than 'Figure Drawing etc.' when it comes to head constructions...

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32. Originally Posted by J@n!t
Hey Xeon, if you really want to do this with the Loomis head, why not make a model out of clay? Then you can turn it however you like and see how it looks. After that, you can compare that to a real human head and note how the model compares. Then you can write a book on it
LOL, I've thought about it but sculpting is not for me.
My sculpting is worse than my drawing and I don't wanna spend 15 years learning to sculpt decently and then applying that to Loomis' heads.
I think I'll look around and see if there's a cheap skull available. Last year when I went to an art store to ask about the price, it's like US\$200.
Platinum skull, huh?

Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl
Which book are you trying to understand? You may find that 'Fun with a pencil' is a little more helpful than 'Figure Drawing etc.' when it comes to head constructions...
I'm currently reading "Drawing the head and hands". Fun with a pencil is good for understanding the ball and the 3 lines on it, but it doesn't talk much about the underside of the jaw and how it connects to the neck.

I've planned to spend the next 4 - 9+ months just to figure this shit out.

I believe if I hack at this issue everyday like a mad scientist, I can crack it one day! Seriously, this is worse than any math problem I've ever faced.

Good day!
Xeon

33. I will second drawing it from life and/or making a small model, but I can also recommend starting with a box and then seeing how this Loomis model (or any model) fits within the box. This will give you some basis for where to start with the construction from any angle.

Your problem here is not so much with the Loomis construction per se, but rather with perspective.

Edited to say- Who cares if you're good at sculpting or not? Just use it to figure stuff out and help your drawing. No one ever has to see it, and it's much, much cheaper than buying something. Besides, the actual act of sculpting will probably help you more than drawing from the finished product. You'll realize you actually have to understand what things are shaped like in 3D, and how little you actually do understand that.

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35. Originally Posted by dose
Your problem here is not so much with the Loomis construction per se, but rather with perspective.
Hey Dose! Care to elaborate? I thought I already know something about perspective, or am I applying it wrongly?

Thanks,
Xeon

36. The forms in your Loomis constructions are changing shape quite a bit as you rotate them in space. In other words, they are not accurately placed in perspective. I believe you are not accurately understanding what's happening on the far side of the form (the part we can't see).

Try this- instead of drawing the sphere of the skull and then adding the jaw form, try starting with a transparent box. At first, use a box in a non-crazy but revealing perspective, i.e. three-quarters from slightly above (you can even use an isometric grid if you like and ignore perspective). Using the axes of the box as a guide, construct the sphere of the skull inside of this box, noting how much of the box it takes up and where it touches the sides of the box- particularly on the far sides of the box that you won't be able to see. Make sure you are actually drawing the other side for each form, so it looks "transparent". Then construct the jaw form in the same way- within the box, using the axes of the box as a guide. You may find you need to adjust the proportions of the box slightly to fit both forms inside of it, but keep its axes the same if you do so.

When you have a good understanding of how to construct the skull and jaw from a non-crazy angle, try starting with a new box from a more difficult perspective. Take time getting the proportions of this box close to the ones you found the first time. Once you have this, repeat the construction of each form, but using the axes of the new box as your guide.

In this sense, you are drawing the head by "dividing" a box, rather than adding the sphere and jaw forms together.

A few hints:

• Start with a box, and use it to guide everything else. If you get confused, go back to the box and its axes for guidance. You can extrapolate everything you need to know from the axes of the box- they tell you how to plot points within the box.
• It can help to use a different color to draw the box and each form- at least until you understand how things fit together. You'll end up with a lot of lines and it gets confusing what's what. It can also help to use different layers- either in Photoshop, with tracing paper, or with a lightbox.
• Divide the box as necessary with lines along its planes to create guides for the curves.
• If you don't understand how to properly place an ellipse in perspective you'll likely get very frustrated.
• The bottom line of the jaw connecting to the chin will likely be the tricky part. Take your time and figure out where both bottom/back corner points of the mandible are in perspective- even the one you can't see-, and just connect these to the chin.

I understand this is probably confusing to read, but it will start to make sense if you sit down and do what I'm talking about (start with a box!) I can't just show it to you- you have to do it to understand. If you post something I will comment on it and clarify.

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38. fyi, There's a reason you can view through out illustration history (visually wise) and rarely see the position you're trying to learn.

Even the best among us, find better positions to place our subjects in other than the most flattering as this one would be.

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40. Originally Posted by dose
The forms in your Loomis constructions are changing shape quite a bit as you rotate them in space. In other words, they are not accurately placed in perspective. I believe you are not accurately understanding what's happening on the far side of the form (the part we can't see).
Thanks for the mini tutorial, Dose!

Yeah, I think my problem is related to perspective. Seriously, after reading your thread about the box, I realize how much I dunno. Constructing a box the size of a human head and have the thing in proper perspective / division units seems even more challenging, but I'll try.

I remember Bridgeman saying something about the head is 8 units tall or something, so I guess I've to construct a box with those units that Bridgeman mentioned, and then use what Loomis wrote in Successful Drawing (about dividing a box into equal units), and then draw the box from there.
There does not seem to be any other easy way to get the correct measurements otherwise.

Sounds very overwhelming and frightening indeed (I crap my pants when I think about it), but I'll tackle it bit by bit.

Originally Posted by OmenSpirits
fyi, There's a reason you can view through out illustration history (visually wise) and rarely see the position you're trying to learn.
Even the best among us, find better positions to place our subjects in other than the most flattering as this one would be.
Thanks Omen, but I thought it might be good to know as much as one can, otherwise if one is required to draw a head in a particular angle and one dunno, then shit!

Good day!
Xeon

41. Originally Posted by Xeon_OND
Thanks Omen, but I thought it might be good to know as much as one can, otherwise if one is required to draw a head in a particular angle and one dunno, then shit!
So after getting a handle on drawing the ideal head from any angle, in any light, under any color conditions what are you going to work on next? Start hands, or torso, feet maybe? Then horses, different types of trees then WWII fighters? Just wondering how you're going to get all that into one lifetime, without just learning to work from life. Sure seems hard to me.

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43. This will answer any question you'll ever have.

Any and all techniques you learn are an ends to a means.

If you get hung up on the how, you'll never get to the results, & spend forever trying to figure out how.

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45. Loomis method is an excellent method, and his book covers everything thats needed to draw the head from any angle.

I think you are having problem with foreshortening while rotating the head, also you are not thinking in terms of masses. Do check Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Figure drawing there are two pages of head rotation diagrams that can help you, also there are many places in the Hogarths book you can find head tilted up with neck in action etc, Loomis book also has a page on head and neck action which is clear and understandable.

I think you dont need to buy sculpture or other expensive things, you can use the heads of simple toys as a reference.

Also try drawing an ellipse inside the sphere from many different angles (as if slicing a lemon in different angles and trying to see the circle in perspective, or something like tossing a coin and understanding the rotation it makes just so that you understand the ellipse so that you can draw the brow line which is an ellipse as it goes around the sphere).

I hope whatever I wrote makes sense, below are few of my sketches on head from different angles (all of these from imagination) hope this helps.

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47. Originally Posted by JeffX99
So after getting a handle on drawing the ideal head from any angle, in any light, under any color conditions what are you going to work on next? Start hands, or torso, feet maybe? Then horses, different types of trees then WWII fighters? Just wondering how you're going to get all that into one lifetime, without just learning to work from life. Sure seems hard to me.
LOL, of course not, Jeff. All I wanna learn now is the construction of the head, and then I'll be able to use that approach with drawing from life. In fact, I've been drawing heads from life the past 2 sessions from the model, but when it comes to those tilting-up poses where you can see the muscles of the jaw attaching to that hyoid area, that's when I totally lose all kmy horses.

I'm seriously thinking of buying those cheap skulls and anatomical models from DickBlick to practice, but even then, they cost S\$34 exclusive shipping (which would cost even more to ship to my country). If anyone knows of any really cheap accurate alternative, let me know. Some of the models are cheap but they look very inaccurate to me (femur's length = tibia's length!!!!!)

Originally Posted by Asura777
Loomis method is an excellent method, and his book covers everything thats needed to draw the head from any angle.

I think you are having problem with foreshortening while rotating the head, also you are not thinking in terms of masses. Do check Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Figure drawing there are two pages of head rotation diagrams that can help you, also there are many places in the Hogarths book you can find head tilted up with neck in action etc, Loomis book also has a page on head and neck action which is clear and understandable.

I think you dont need to buy sculpture or other expensive things, you can use the heads of simple toys as a reference.

Also try drawing an ellipse inside the sphere from many different angles (as if slicing a lemon in different angles and trying to see the circle in perspective, or something like tossing a coin and understanding the rotation it makes just so that you understand the ellipse so that you can draw the brow line which is an ellipse as it goes around the sphere).

I hope whatever I wrote makes sense, below are few of my sketches on head from different angles (all of these from imagination) hope this helps.
Those kind of samples were exactly what I need, Asura! The base of the jaw area.....that triangular plane! I'm printing out your sketches and will do studies from it.

Hopefully it will shed some more light on it.

Thanks a lot, really! I heart CA.
Xeon

48. Dude, seriously, if all this Loomis/Kchen/E.M Gist stuff isn't working just draw it as you see it. Construction and perspective aren't fool proof, especially with something as complex as a human head, you're gonna have to eyeball it. It's good to use construction and perspective as a guide, but you're using it as crutch and not really looking at your model, although at the same you shouldn't do it the other way around either using the 2D shapes you see as crutch instead.

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