1. ## How to correctly establish ellipses using Loomis head construction?

Anyways, how can i make sure that my ellipses are drawn properly around the sphere? Been thinking about how the major and minor axis changes when the sphere tilts but it didn't really work out ._.

Anyone got a reliable solution for this?

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if you're that unsure about your guidelines, just practice them more. There is a lot more than one way to go about drawing the head. Look at skulls, and practice drawing them too. Guidelines can sometimes help out even more when you understand where stuff goes to begin with.

By the way, in order to get different faces for different characters/people, you can also edit the shape of the ellipse around the jawline, or around the eyes, or anywhere else you see fit.

5. Mhmm, i am trying out lots of different construction methods for heads. Bridgeman, Hogarth, Loomis... etc

Was mostly just looking for a way to correctly split a sphere into four equal parts which is required for the Loomis method.

Been reading a bit about how ellipses are built up and stuff but i just can't seem to get my head around how to correctly draw the ellipses other than going by what feels right.

I do know that everything is about mileage but having a way to see where things go wrong wouldn't be all that bad.

6. You could go about building the head up as box forms, and divide it up with the proper perspective that way. But frankly? If you want to construct an ellipse halfway up the head, just eyeball it. Make sure that the ellipse crosses the symmetry line of the face at a right angle, but other than that, just practice.

7. Sometime you have to learn with the mass instead of the line work. I like you had a lot of difficulties of doing various head angle constructions. Then I learned by sketching lights and shades only of the head, and 3D modeling had a great impact too. After a lot of practice, you build up a greater understanding of the head topography and making line constructions will be just mere placeholders.

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breaking the head down into planes is always a great way to learn in my opinion. It's one way my Drawing I and Drawing II teachers showed me how to do it. Among other ways.

9. Seriously but the elipses are important to understand the tilting of the head, its just important in general too. Loomis was a master in perspective, he knew it inside out. So its important to learn your perspective thoroughly!

Dont worry about the major axis, its the minor axis that is most important. The minor axis always follows your perspective lines.

Planes of the head are important too but if you dont understand the basics of perspective like elipses you wont understand those planes either.

I copied a tutorial by Scott Robertson about elipses. Can be used for any shape, so heads too.

Originally Posted by Scott Robertson
Drawing Ellipses

Scott Robertson

Anatomy of an ellipse:
When we view a circle at an angle we see an ellipse. We refer to this viewing angle as the degree of the ellipse. A perfect circle is viewed at 90 degrees and at angles less than that we see various degree ellipses on the way down to a zero degree ellipse (a straight line). Understanding the mechanics of drawing ellipses is not difficult, mastering the drawing of ellipses is. An ellipse has two axes we need to know about, the minor axis and the major axis. The minor axis divides the ellipse into two equal halves across its narrow dimension. The major axis divides the ellipse across its long dimension into two equal halves. The minor and major axes cross each other at a 90 degree angle. See drawing e-1.
Attachment 795287

How you can use these axes for drawing:

Attachment 795288

If we look at the drawing in e-2 we can see that I have drawn a square around our ellipse. After I draw the square I draw an “X” across it to find its center in perspective. When you observe the minor and major axes of the ellipse we see that the minor axis goes through the center of the square while the major axis does not. We also observe that the ellipse touches tangent exactly in the middle of each side of the square, exactly where we would expect it to. This is a bit of a mind bender. We have taken a symmetrical shape, the ellipse, and dropped it into perspective. This always works if you do your drawing within the allowable limits of distortion. Regardless of whether your ellipse is rolling on the ground or resting on it, as we see in drawing e-3, the construction result remains the same. Learning from this observation and now knowing where the minor and major axes of our ellipse should be is the single greatest help in drawing ellipses properly. Since the ellipse minor axis always goes through the center of our square this is something we can use to help us draw it. Conversely the major axis references nothing that can help us in locating it in our perspective square. This is why I do not recommend using the major axis when drawing ellipses.

Practice drawing ellipses without worrying about locating them in perspective. Here are a few examples of my rusty arm trying to draw some ellipses for this tutorial this morning. Draw various sizes and differing degrees. After you draw the ellipse identify its minor axis by drawing a line across its narrow dimension that divides each side equally.

Attachment 795289

I find it helpful if you imagine that you are going to fold your ellipse along this line. You want it to fold along this line and land exactly back on itself. If your minor axis is incorrect we can see what happens in drawing e-4.

Attachment 795290

After you are feeling good about how your ellipses are looking and you are confident you can locate the minor axis of each properly you are ready to start trying to locate your ellipses within perspective constructions. Start with something simple like drawing a straight line that represents the minor axis of your ellipse and then try and draw ellipses of various sizes and degrees on that line. This is a little harder than drawing the ellipse first and then drawing the minor axis. After you nail that exercise try drawing two converging straight lines and drawing ellipses that touch tangent to each line. This is harder still. One of the most difficult exercises is to draw a page of cubes and then draw an ellipse on each face that touches tangent to the side of each square as we observed in drawings e-2 and e-3. Drawing concentric ellipses are also good practice.

Attachment 795291

You can use ellipse guides to straighten up your ellipses but do not try to sketch with them. I have yet to see this done efficiently. You are much better off to do all of your perspective layout work freehand and then break out the sweeps and ellipse guides to tighten things up if you need to. Once you have practiced enough you will find that you can do very competent drawings entirely freehand. There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes from achieving nice line quality and proper perspective in a freehand sketch.
How to check if your ellipse is correctly drawn.
It is important to understand the mechanics of ellipses so you can make adjustments to them after you have drawn them. Basically there are only two things that make an ellipse either properly drawn in perspective or not.
Minor axis and your vanishing points.
The first thing to check is whether your minor axis is correct. In the case of putting wheels on cars the minor axis is always common to the axle of the wheel. Most of the time this axle is also perpendicular to the centerline of your car. So it follows that the minor axes of your ellipses (wheels) are also perpendicular to this centerline. There are cases such as when the front wheels are turned or the wheels have been set up with extreme camber that they are no longer perpendicular to the centerline of your vehicle. Another easy example for us to visualize is that the minor axis of a propeller on an airplane is parallel to the centerline of the fuselage and therefore they go to the same vanishing point. Remember when perspective drawing that “all parallel lines go to the same vanishing point”.

Attachment 795292

Attachment 795293

Assuming the minor axis of your ellipse is correct and your ellipse still looks wrong it can be only one thing, the degree. Before trying to adjust the degree of an ellipse the minor axis must be correct. No amount of adjustment to the degree can make up for an incorrect minor axis. Checking the degree is a simple perspective construction.

Step 1:
Draw a box around and tangent on each side to your ellipse. Be sure to follow your perspective guidelines when doing this.
Step 2:
Observe where your drawn ellipse contacts the box you have drawn around it. If your ellipse does not touch in the middle of each side of the box then the degree is wrong. Adjust the degree of your ellipse by making it wider or narrower until you can draw a box around it that touches exactly in the middle of each side. When you have done this you will have a properly drawn ellipse at the correct degree.

Here are a few more sketches I quickly put perspective guidelines on top of to help you see the minor axes of the ellipses within the drawings.

Attachment 795294

Attachment 795295

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11. Daamn, thanks a ton

12. Ouch, seems like my searching skills could use some polishing :/

14. In case anyone has problems understanding Loomis' head construction method, or needs a thorough video to explain to you, go below:

It's the same vid broken into 4 parts (btw, I didn't make this LOL ).

At times, you'll find that the guy doing the explanation is like lost for words and you start to fall asleep during the vids (it's very very slow-paced, even for a noob like me), but overall, it gives a very good explanation and walkthrough of the steps, where to put the ears (trickiest part) etc.

Found this vid 2 days ago while looking for art vids.

15. Originally Posted by Xeon_OND
In case anyone has problems understanding Loomis' head construction method, or needs a thorough video to explain to you, go below:

It's the same vid broken into 4 parts (btw, I didn't make this LOL ).

At times, you'll find that the guy doing the explanation is like lost for words and you start to fall asleep during the vids (it's very very slow-paced, even for a noob like me), but overall, it gives a very good explanation and walkthrough of the steps, where to put the ears (trickiest part) etc.

Found this vid 2 days ago while looking for art vids.
I'm sorry but if somebody is having trouble understanding loomis he/she is defenitely not gonna understand this guy.
He clearly doesnt grasp drawing the head or explain how to do it, not a good resource imo...

16. Btw, umm, is it just me, or is Loomis's method just hard to grasp? I've this friend who works professionally as an illustrator and I showed him the book, and he has problems understanding it.

I assume Bridgeman's cube method is easier cos' you don't have to deal with the uncertainties of the sphere (especially in foreshortening, where calculating the distances is crazy).

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## Ellipses and spheres - Pre-requisite to Loomis head construction

Citrusfrukt,

I had the same question, and all of these replies were helpful to me. I wanted to share the method that I settled on, as a way to specifically address your original question.

The problem comes up in Andrew Loomis' Drawing the Head and Hands, pages 21 and 22. I have improved a lot since I learned his method, but it essentially begins with "Draw this perfect sphere, quartered and halved." Ellipses and circles are only going to get easier to free-hand draw with practice, but this sequence of steps helped me determine when the error I was making was a conceptual error rather than my technique.

It was interesting to me that to fully define the head position on a "blank" sphere/circle, you only needed to place a dot for the brow point, and draw a line across the brow.

Basically, you need to be able to draw an ellipse through a few points, and reflect it about a minor axis.

I find it easiest to orient the paper with the minor axis horizontal to me, and draw one quarter of the ellipse. Then mirror it about one axis and then the other.

The concept that helped it 'click' for me was the idea that the normal to a circle that is placed in 3 dimensions is always the same as the minor axis of the flattened 2 dimensional image on the paper or screen. By normal, I mean, a line passing through the center of the 3D circle that is perpendicular to the plane that the circle is on.

I really encourage you to look around and find a tack, or poke your pencil at a quarter. Look at the circular part of the tack at any angle, and see that the point of the tack is dividing the ellipse shape in half, the skinny way: it is the minor axis.

The sphere that we want to draw has three circles running around it, the middle line, the brow line, and what I will call the "ear line." Each of these circles has a normal.

Notice that the MINOR axes of the ellipses line up with these normals, but each MAJOR axis just lands somewhere that happens to be perpendicular to the associated minor axis. The major axes don't line up with anything in 3D, and we just use them as a construction aid to draw a single ellipse. It is worth noting, that the major axis always lands on the outline of the sphere. That is, the length of the ellipse along the major axis is always equal to the diameter of the sphere as it is drawn. The image below has tick-marks for the major axes, perpendicular to each minor axis. They are all over the place.

With these tools, you can start. It is a little painful to write it all out, but refer to the notes below for an explanation.

2. Which way is the character looking? Up and to his right? Slightly down and to her left? Add the "brow point".
3. Draw a line from the center of the circle to the brow point. The center of the circle is also the center of the sphere, and this new line describes the front normal. It is shooting out of the character's forehead.
4. Which way is the head tilting? Away from you? Toward? Upside down? With the brow point and this brow-cross line, the whole head is fixed in place.
5. The side normal is parallel to the brow line that you just drew. The side normal is the minor axis of the middle line. The middle line divides the face in half along the nose, and the side normal shoots out of the character's ear.
6. Add tick marks for the major axis, perpendicular to the side normal. Draw an ellipse that passes through the major axis tick mark, through the brow point, and down to the minor axis (side normal). Mirror this across the dashed minor axis and there you have the middle line.
7. The brow line and ear line are done in a similar way. I will call the straight line that makes a cross with the brow line the face-cross line. This line starts at the brow point and is tangent to the ellipse that you just drew, the middle line.
8. Transfer the face line to the center of the sphere. This becomes the top normal, which shoots out of the top/bottom of the head. Loomis draws it as a nail stuck in the sphere.
9. Draw the major axis tick marks and create one half of an ellipse as you did for step 6. This brow line ellipse also goes through the brow point. It should end up being tangent to the brow-cross line.
10. The ear line ellipse has a minor axis already - the line drawn in step 3. But how wide should the ellipse be? Extend the side normal to where it intersects the brow line, and place a dot. Extend the top normal to where it intersects the middle line.
11. Draw the major axis tick marks and create an ellipse that goes through those two points. This part is where you should trust your eye more than the accumulation of construction geometry that got you this far.
12. Done.

Thanks,
John
Last edited by johnb; August 29th, 2010 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Editted for typos and clarity.

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19. Andrew Loomis died in 1959 without explaining the construction of the head in an easier-to-understand manner. The ear line, particularly, has befuddled me so much that I gave up on his method and had been searching for an alternative way to construct the head.

But fortunately, The Lord felt my agony and pulled Loomis's soul back from the land of the dead. He put Loomis' soul into the body of John B, to enable him to complete his task of explaining his head construction method, this time, in a step-by-step, easy to understand way (it's still a bit confusing, but repeated practice can take care of all that).

I thank the Lord, but I also want to thank John B for curing my anguish! It's been 1+ year!

Thanks John!!!!!!

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## Loomis v. Bridgman

Thanks Xeon_OND. I guess first post = success.

Your comment about Bridgman's cube head method made me curious enough to look it up. I am a little disappointed in it, but it looks like there is a better thread to give my opinion.

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