1. Portrait drawing

I HAVE RECEIVED LOTS OF GREAT ADVICES HERE, AND I'M VERRY GREATFUL. I PUT HERE SOME OF WHAT I THINK CAN BE USUFUL FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO WANT TO LEARN

Combine what you know with what you see, but anytime what you know conflicts with what you see, draw what you see. ... And if you want to understand what you see you have to look beyond what is clearly defined for you, see how everything relates, recognize paterns, then try and figure why these things are the way they are.- stabby2486

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When working on toned paper you want to focus in on the shapes (shadow and light) and work abstractly. I wouldn't worry too much about capturing likeness, that will come as a result of getting accurate shapes.- F!END

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The planes-of-head-sheet ... that's good! now do it over and over and over until you can do it from memory. ...

That sheet is an abstraction - it is designed to give you a basic set of tools to build a head that can be rhythmical and where the shapes relate well to each other (when they can). ...

Detail is NOT your friend - not unitl late late late in a drawing. Getting the shadow-shapes right, the light shapes right and key portions of the contour - all of that, I believe will serve you well.

After you have built a better foundation in drawing - beginning to understand how values serve the shapes you are drawing, and how light decays as it falls over a form will then help your 3-Dimensional efforts.- kevinwueste

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And if you really want to understand the planes of the head draw them out as straight lines ... Try to get a feel for which direction the planes are facing in 3D space, and make sense of how they connect. Also literally feeling the planes on your face really helps as well, because your hands physically feel 3D space, your eyes can only approximate it.- stabby2486

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Curves can be seen as a series of straight lines, and can be simplified into one. If you're just drawing curves, things such as the angle and direction of the curve's movements, where the curves peaks out, its length, and where it really starts and stops are going to slip your eye. Planes are much easier to understand when seen as flat, geometric, straight edged shapes, because they are. Even if you aren't looking for the planes, defining everything with straight lines will still make them obvious.

It's also a good idea to identify all the planes in those copies you're doing. Again, it really helps to feel your own face. Basically all I'm saying here is to look beyond what's clearly defined. Define the planes, extend lines, drop horizontals and verticals, look for parallels, link vertices together, identify patterns, and see how things relate and coincide.- stabby2486

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One thing I would like to see more of is a drawings of the skull itself ... Once you do some skull drawings from all different angles, then work on the muscles of the face and neck.- kev ferrara

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Don't start laying down the rendering until your line work distinctly describes the forms of your subject. Building up a drawing too soon on top of inaccurate line work can make it difficult to find the likeness. You'll find yourself wanting to change stuff during the rendering process but you'll constantly have to shift and destroy passages of graphite in order to correct proportions, when you could have spent longer on the simple lines and found the shapes in the first place. - That fat kid

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Do many many loomis head mannequins !! many! - kevinwueste

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Hi,

Few months ago I decided to begin working on figure drawing, so I started reading books and watching videos, performing sketches, etc... I remarked then that I wasn't progressing so If decided going step after step, beginning with the most important and difficult part of the human figure : the head.

From about 15 days I finished the book from William L. Maughan "The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head", I found it a nice method for drawing portrait. I can resume it like that :

1- Draw the general contour : OK with this but generally I feel it is more easy to draw the contour when i have at least drawn the eyes.

2-Drawing the general shade shapes : It is the heart of the method, I always feel like I put too much details, especially when the reference has few and weak shades.

3- checking proportions and likeliness : OK with that.

4- defining the contours of the shades to distinguish the 2 forms of shades (don't know how we call them in English)

My biggest concern with this method is that I feel like the features are like islands in the face, each one is good but the general aspect is not really like it should be. Here are some sketches from references :

(stoped here because the eyes are f***d)

and this is from life :

You see what I mean ?
Then I visited Raileyh thread, and Wow, this is exactly what I wont to do, but how ? I copied the the planes of the head :

and tried to use them to draw a portrait, but I find it very fastidious and I end up with bad result :

Finaly I returned to initial method (William Maughan) to perform the same portrait :

Now I am a little lost, is there a weakness in the William Maughan method, should i combine it with Raileyh method ? How ? I really wont to understand what I draw, I don't wont just to copy face like i copy dead objects.

I ask this because I begin university next week so I don't have time to lose, I really need to fix a method of work and practice it over and over.

Please excuse me for my bad English and tell me what you think.
Last edited by TheGeek; April 11th, 2011 at 04:18 PM.

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3. For what you were saying with the last one; combine what you know with what you see, but anytime what you know conflicts with what you see, draw what you see. Focus on seeing first, because you still have some proportional problems like cropping off foreheads way too short. And if you want to understand what you see you have to look beyond what is clearly defined for you, see how everything relates, recognize paterns, then try and figure why these things are the way they are.

4. When working on toned paper you want to focus in on the shapes (shadow and light) and work abstractly. I wouldn't worry too much about capturing likeness, that will come as a result of getting accurate shapes. That Maughan book is also really helpful in explaining the common generic shapes of the features, like the eye. Try to memorize those common shapes and then apply them to your model and adjust them accordingly.

Hope's blog is also really helpful- here's a step by step example

Hope that helps, Good Luck! Keep posting
Last edited by F!END; February 18th, 2011 at 02:20 AM.

5. @stabby2486 Thanks for your advice, for the cropping off foreheads, most of the references (actually pictures of people in the bus) look above the camera, which make a little change in the proportions, maybe I exaggerated some of the changes. "Draw what you see", so easy to understand, but so difficult to apply !

@F!END Thanks to you. Actually I try to focus on shapes, but for me capturing the likeness and reproducing the shapes using shadows and light is the same.
The blog that you posted, i have already read it and printed most of the visual contents Your sketchbook is also great, big inspiration for me.

While trying to make a good sketch from my last reference, I found some more question :
1- when you work on a portrait from life, how many times do you take to finish the first (and most important/difficult) stage of the drawing : The main shape of the head with the correct position/inclination, the position and size of the features on the head ?
2- Do you draw/measure according to the real measures of the model ? I never do that so I have to draw one thing then the rest is compared to it.

again thanks allot for your responses.

6. Here's a new one.

I stoped when I accidently droped some water one it

7. The planes-of-head-sheet you have done one copy of above - that's good! now do it over and over and over until you can do it from memory. ( that may take several days/weeks of practicing it to get it. While you're at that, apply it via tracing-type paper over photos you see, apply the planes and compare.

That sheet is an abstraction - it is designed to give you a basic set of tools to build a head that can be rhythmical and where the shapes relate well to each other (when they can). Bill Maughan's book is great - but the difficult thing about a book is the teacher who wrote it is not right there over your shoulder to tell you all the 100 other things that make it work!

Detail is NOT your friend - not unitl late late late in a drawing. Getting the shadow-shapes right, the light shapes right and key portions of the contour - all of that, I believe will serve you well.

After you have built a better foundation in drawing - beginning to understand how values serve the shapes you are drawing, and how light decays as it falls over a form will then help your 3-Dimensional efforts.

In my opinion. Kevin

My concern is after reading Maughan book I'm afraid of drawing a line ! I'll return to graphite and charcoal pencil.

agan thank you for your advice and if you have time don't forget the rest of my question :
1- when you work on a portrait from life, how many times do you take to finish the first (and most important/difficult) stage of the drawing : The main shape of the head with the correct position/inclination, the position and size of the features on the head ?
2- Do you draw/measure according to the real measures of the model ? I never do that so I have to draw one thing then the rest is compared to it.

9. 1- when you work on a portrait from life, how many times do you take to finish the first (and most important/difficult) stage of the drawing : The main shape of the head with the correct position/inclination, the position and size of the features on the head ?
2- Do you draw/measure according to the real measures of the model ? I never do that so I have to draw one thing then the rest is compared to it.

1. I think you are asking "how much time" does it take ? It depends on how much time I have with the model for that pose. If I only have 3 minutes to do everything, I work hard to get basic shapes and indicate key things - no time for detail. For a 20 minute study, I have time to develop basic shapes - shadow shapes, negative shapes, etc., - the more I understand how a generic head works, the easier it is for me to develop a particular head ( measures of head height and width, where they eye falls, bottom of nose, chin etc.,). For a pose that is an hour or longer, I will be much more careful about what I am drawing and develop the key shapes quite carefully, measuring as I go as needed ( and if needed!).
2. for a very short time study -2-5 or so minutes I don't measure anything - I don't have time and use shapes as my "measure" For anything longer, I do, ( see above answer) and, if you never measure, unless you have perfect proportions automatically, you will never have great drawings - in my opinion.

Kevin

11. And if you really want to understand the planes of the head draw them out as straight lines, your planal drawing doesn't really make any sense. Try to get a feel for which direction the planes are facing in 3D space, and make sense of how they connect. Also literally feeling the planes on your face really helps as well, because your hands physically feel 3D space, your eyes can only approximate it.

12. Thanks ! but I'm not sure to understand about straight lines, as shapes of the head are not straight, can you give me an example ?
The shapes-of-the-head I copied is from here http://drawthefigure.blogspot.com/20...ting-head.html , I'm sure not all the plane are visible on most faces, but I think it is good to have those planes in the head.

here's a sketch I made in my bed 20 minutes before sleeping, I tried to draw the shapes as I see them, without searching likeness with the ref.

13. Curves can be seen as a series of straight lines, and can be simplified into one. If you're just drawing curves, things such as the angle and direction of the curve's movements, where the curves peaks out, its length, and where it really starts and stops are going to slip your eye. Planes are much easier to understand when seen as flat, geometric, straight edged shapes, because they are. Even if you aren't looking for the planes, defining everything with straight lines will still make them obvious. Even in that link the guy is still drawing with straight lines. Draw it out like this:

http://www.naturalpigments.com/detai..._ID=635-GES138

It's also a good idea to identify all the planes in those copies you're doing. Again, it really helps to feel your own face. Basically all I'm saying here is to look beyond what's clearly defined. Define the planes, extend lines, drop horizontals and verticals, look for parallels, link vertices together, identify patterns, and see how things relate and coincide.

EDIT: Btw, you're still cropping off the forehead. I think it's because you misinterpreted the rules of thirds on the face. The top third of the face ends at the hairline, the actual top of the head is beyond that. Put your finger at your hairline then run it over your cranium, you'll feel it. Don't follow any system too closely, you're gonna need to look more closely at what you're drawing. And when you're hatching or crosshatching when shading, get the lines to describe the planal movements and forms.
Last edited by stabby2486; February 21st, 2011 at 02:49 PM.

14. Thanks ! now I understand you, I'll try to apply all those new in formations all of you gave me and post what I do (but now I don't have as much time as I begun university). And your right for the cropping off the forehead, I know it but I still make it wrong

Below are tow planes-of the-head, the second from the mind (without ref), and some applications on pictures (not very precise, I not used to use a tablet).
Last edited by TheGeek; February 21st, 2011 at 03:49 PM.

15. I cannot sleep so I cook chicken and I draw
Last edited by TheGeek; February 21st, 2011 at 08:44 PM.

16. I've been busy this week with the beginning of the new university semester.

But yesterday I found a very good DVD from J. watts where he uses exactly the same planes-of-the-head abstraction ! I watched just the first hour (3.35 in total) but it helped me allot.

As I don't have time I just managed to do 2 quick sketches of my professors. I'm happy because I feel how those abstraction helped me to draw without just "copying" as the models where moving and talking. I'm excited to draw more !

~ 5-7 minutes during the presentation of the course (I have a serious problem with drawing the neck)

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