My thoughts on the Loomis Ball and Plain Method

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    My thoughts on the Loomis Ball and Plain Method

    Hey guys, I've recently started drawing (I'll post some of my portfolio soon) and I've been reading the various Loomis books and the related discussions on this forum. I've been a bit obsessed with the ball and plain method and how to construct a head correctly. I found this thread especially helpful, but I've bastardised it a little and come up with my own.

    So I thought I'd share the method that I've come up with, partly because I have some questions but mainly to get your opinions on whether or not its complete bollocks.

    I'm not too sure if the measuring methods I'm using are correct? Also, I never know how much of the ball to slice off and how to measure it?

    The instructions on the method are below the attached image, please let me know what you guys think, and if you have any suggestions. Thanks!

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    1. Draw a circle and establish the centre point.

    2. Draw a horizontal and vertical line across the centre point.

    3. Establish the brow - decide if the head is looking up or down and by how much, then place a horizontal line.

    4. Establish the centre of the face - decide if the head is looking left or right and by how much, then place a vertical line.

    5. You now have the brow point.

    6. Establish the correct angle of the face. To do this we need to understand that the brow point is a flat cross fixed on the sphere, and that however much it is titled up from the centre (for the brow line) this is how much the face plane is angled. So take the distance from the centre of the circle to the brow line (6.a) and (from where the vertical face line intersects with the bottom of the circle) place a point an equal distance in the direction that the head is looking (6.b).

    7. Draw a line from the brow point to the point made in step 6, we now have the correct angle of the face.

    8. We now establish the ellipse for the brow line. This is based on the principle that if you place two points on opposite sides of a sphere with 180 degrees between them, however much you rotate one point in one direction, the opposite point rotates by the same amount in the opposite direction. So take the distance from the vertical centre line and face line (that we established in step 4) (8.a) and place two points on the horizontal centre line the same distance inwards from the edge of the circle (8b) (8c). These two points are the places where the normal of the brow line ellipse penetrates the surface of the sphere, the one furthest away from the face line is the one we can see, the other is hidden behind the sphere.

    9. Now draw a half ellipse from the brow line to these two points, remember that one point is on the opposite side of the sphere, and we can't actually see it.

    10. Extend the angle face plane line and mark the chin point, nose point, brow point and hair line. Remembering the principle from step 8 about rotating points, so in this example the hair line will be just out of view.

    11. Slice off the sides of the head and mark a cross on the new oval. I've had to estimate here because the hair line is out of view, also I havant worked out what Im doing here…

    12. Connect everything up.

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    I didn't check the details, it looks fine to me. Head constructions, from Loomis, Bridgman or whoever, are an excellent start, but don't get clogged up too much in the geometrical details. Next step is to see how real heads fit the construction, by reconstructing live heads...

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    Ball and "plane"...just fyi. Good effort - will probably help with your understanding of construction - but way to technical to be any practical use. With experience and practice that becomes a 5-10 second starting point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Ball and "plane"...just fyi. Good effort - will probably help with your understanding of construction - but way to technical to be any practical use. With experience and practice that becomes a 5-10 second starting point.
    I'm going with that /\ . General perspective studies combined with some exploration of the skull and face will give you the groundwork to fudge out a rough without so much technical stuffs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhubix View Post
    I'm going with that /\ . General perspective studies combined with some exploration of the skull and face will give you the groundwork to fudge out a rough without so much technical stuffs.
    Yes I agree, I've been studying the skull, and perspective is the next thing I need to focus on, I know I havnt taken it in to account here.

    The reason I'm focusing on this is that it seems like the most fool proof way of constructing a head without any reference.

    I want to make sure though that the way I'm measuring, particularly in step 6, does any one have any feedback on this?

    Also I never know how much of the ball to chop off, any advice?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjamesghost View Post
    Yes I agree, I've been studying the skull, and perspective is the next thing I need to focus on, I know I havnt taken it in to account here.

    The reason I'm focusing on this is that it seems like the most fool proof way of constructing a head without any reference.

    I want to make sure though that the way I'm measuring, particularly in step 6, does any one have any feedback on this?

    Also I never know how much of the ball to chop off, any advice?
    I'll try again, the way you're measuring is too precise/technical. My advice is to stop coming up with measuring schemes and formulas and draw a few hundred heads tilted in all kinds of ways. Sculpting yourself a little simplified version of a head, lighting it and drawing it a lot will help much more than measuring this distance, putting points here, etc.

    You're making this way too complicated...you just have to get in there and do it...no safety net.

    Edit: Oh, and get "Fun With a Pencil"...start there....it's fun. Plus you'll see there is a wide range of head types and structures.

    Last edited by JeffX99; January 27th, 2012 at 01:53 PM.
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    Thumbs up

    To OP: Check out this site: http://innao.blogspot.com/2010/09/he...solved_28.html

    It's the same method you're using, just that she clarifies it better than the guy (JohnB) who came up with it. These guys are all geniuses!

    I gave up on the method after a while because like Jeff says, it gets too technical and confusing especially with heads in challenging angles, and all I see on my paper are a mess of dots and calculations. And it's very difficult to pull off this math-inspired method of construction in an actual life drawing class (try it ).

    The good part is that it gives you a layer of confidence and you can use it in your own studies and stuff, until you get more confident, that's when you abandon this math method and rely on instinct, observation and more "normal" construction.

    Have fun!
    Xeon

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjamesghost View Post
    Yes I agree, I've been studying the skull, and perspective is the next thing I need to focus on, I know I havnt taken it in to account here.
    You can't follow any construction method without taking perspective into account. Construction is all about conceptualizing three-dimensional form on a flat surface.
    Quote Originally Posted by mrjamesghost View Post
    The reason I'm focusing on this is that it seems like the most fool proof way of constructing a head without any reference.
    Loomis' biggest flaw is that he presents the "ball and plane" as a beginner's method, when it actually presupposes quite a bit of foreknowledge. If you can't draw a properly constructed bisected sphere, you're certainly not going to be able to build a head around it.


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    Your process is overly mechanical and leaves no room for interpretation. Basically the way drawing works is that you think/feel/sense something and then you make a mark which embodies that thought/feeling/sense. This procedure you're using is too stripped down and abstract to be of any use, and will be a hindrance to beginners.

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