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Thread: Head Construction Sketchbook
August 20th, 2012 #1
Head Construction Sketchbook
I'm fascinated with head construction methods. I'm trying to work out a clear, simple, solid, consistent, accurate, flexible, practical one that works. Some of what I'm looking at for reference: Gnass, Loomis, DaVinci, della Francesca, Reily, Fixler, Lemen, Bridgeman, Reed, Hogarths, Bammes, Vilppu, Hamm, Hampton, Chen, Prokopenko, Disney, and forensic facial reconstruction. I really like this puzzle. Any suggestions feedback is greatly appreciated.
Im starting with a sphere, like Loomis, and using orthographic projection and graph paper to keep the model consistent from all angles. My diagrams are usually traditionally drawn then cleaned up and manipulated digitally.
Measurements are from lots of sometimes conflicting sources and I modify them regularly as I get new information. Any suggestions are great. I know there's no real answer, but I'd like to get it as accurate, simple, consistent, and beautiful as I can.
My work from the past few years is here - http://TanHend.blogspot.com
Last edited by Mechanical Man; March 23rd, 2013 at 05:03 PM.
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August 25th, 2012 #3
Well you picked a really good source in Bammes... for the skulls.
Your technical head could be considered pretty flawless; and for what that diagram is used for (establishing a basic head in your mind's eye) it's perfect.
That said, there's something that makes it look inhuman... but I believe that's
true of most all head diagrams.
Many of the greatest artists of the Reniassance did this... worked out a canonical head for themselves.
You have a neatness and exactness about your designs that will serve you very well if you do much drawing/designing. Are you an architect?
August 25th, 2012 #4
Hey p_sage, thanks.
You're right, the nature of the diagrams prevents them from looking like life. The required smoothing over of all the little organic bumps and grooves that makes the big ideas clear results in a machined look.
Looking at the work of the Renaissance artists has been helpful. I even found some diagrams using othrographic projection. Piero della Francesa was painter and a mathematician who wrote a mathematical book about perspective in painting called De Prospectiva Pingendi. <-the wiki page has the diagram. He was a contemporary of Da Vinci.
I am not an architect but two of my good friends are and they are the ones that suggested I try using orthographic projection when I was struggling with getting a 3/4 view to look right. I do draw a lot and I am also using graph paper and a light table over rougher drawings to get the neatness and exactness.
August 27th, 2012 #5
Is this true?
*Image edited after finding answer*
Last edited by Mechanical Man; April 6th, 2014 at 03:59 PM. Reason: clarifying incorrect information
September 19th, 2012 #6
What I've gathered in the past few weeks:
Each ellipse will divide the sphere equally as long as I'm using orthographic projection but will shift off center in perspective. The ellipses themselves are what always stay equally divisible regardless of perspective.
The ellipses do not stay perpendicular to each other, even in parallel perspective.
I need more practice with this.
September 20th, 2012 #7
September 22nd, 2012 #8
I think the eye sockets are not quite right and the teeth got sloppy because I discovered partway through that I had miscounted them when I did the front and side views.
September 22nd, 2012 #9
September 22nd, 2012 #10
While your technical studies are a great way to master anatomy (and you've got some great skull and head forms here), I notice that you're having a hard time breaking away from the basic skull shape-- some of your faces look a bit painted-on. Flesh sags. It shifts. It holds fat and weight, and even the expressions you make will alter its shape.
I'd suggest spending some time attacking the head from the other direction as well-- sketching from references how the face feels from the outside to supplement.
September 23rd, 2012 #11
Thanks TNiznet, I'm glad you found it helpful.
ElizaWy - I agree I have a lot of work to do on the flesh and I really like your observation about the face looking painted on, it's very helpful. Up til now I have mostly been using the face shapes to help me figure out the skull shapes, I'm just starting now to focus more on the face itself. Isn't the way that flesh sags, shifts, holds fat and weight, and alters shape with expression part of anatomy?
I use lots of references when I'm doing the technical studies, but I agree doing some more direct drawings from references is a good idea.
Thank you for your help =)
September 23rd, 2012 #12
These are pretty good. The features aren't flat, they're sculpted.
You're attacking the problem the right way by finding the large masses first (skull, etc). Keep working... you're just the kind of person who will become a great draftsman.
September 26th, 2012 #13
p sage - Thank you. It's great that you reminded me that it's large masses, not large mass. I have been very focused on the largest mass, the cranium, and have been skipping straight from there to a strip of features going down the front of the face. I've been neglecting the jaw and cheeks which are much bigger masses than the nose, eyeballs and lips. I will try to focus more on those larger masses next week.
I cheated a little this week. There are faint circles and marks printed on the page. I am interested in opinions about this idea. My justifications are 1. I don't ultimately want to be drawing the circle, I just need to be able to imagine it on the page. 2. I can practice drawing circles without a model. My time in front of a model is better spent practicing things that I can't practice at home.
I also had the goal, based in how last weeks drawings turned out, of paying more attention to how the jaw attaches to the side of the head. Now I realize I should have been looking for the shape of the mass as a whole, solid object. I will need to do some projection studies of just the jaw mass at different angles.
8-10 min poses. The turn series of poses was really helpful.
September 27th, 2012 #14
The top one is exploring patterns in how the bones and flesh show on the surface.
The middle one is a study of specific faces. I searched three-quarter face, two thirds portrait, and 3/4 head to find references that somewhat matched the angle I'm working on. I used my general model as a template under my page and drew how the face in each photo deviated from it. I learned a lot.
The bottom one is a quick working out of where I'm at with the structure of the jaw mass. Right now it's wrapped around the cranium and I'm confused about the way it turns. The way I have it shaded there isn't right. I think I need to make it more like a block that slices into the cranium instead. My brain isn't relating the two sides to each other the way it is now.
Neat image - CT scan of jaw and cheeks
September 29th, 2012 #15
Drawing from photos of people looking up. I used the same circle template that I used in class earlier this week. I am completely ignoring the cheeks and just looking through to the shape of the jaw since I think I'm confusing the two. A projection study of just the jaw will be next.
I've been slowly making my way through Harold Speed's The Practice and Science of Drawing and the latest edition of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. The bottom drawing is what I was thinking about when I was trying to work out the difficult angles.
Cartooned talk on - The Divided Brain.
September 29th, 2012 #16
Projection study of the jaw and a paper sculpture.
October 3rd, 2012 #17
Another set of drawings from photos of people looking up. Left the cheeks out again and this time just drew the block shape I've been working on instead of the jaw to try and wrap my head around he idea.
Worked more on my general model based on the traces from last week. Ignored the eyebrows because they were confusing me.
I think my class drawings are a bit more solid this week, I feel like I have a stronger grasp on that jaw mass.
October 13th, 2012 #18
After realizing that I could print out the jaw shape I had to try a sphere. I had no idea how to approach it so I searched for a template. I used this one for these.
I freehanded the circles in class this week. I think they are more consistent than before I started using the template. I was a lot more conscious of them. I kind of lost track of what I was doing with the jaw. 5 min poses.
I tried working on the 3/4 general model and wasn't getting good results so I decided to do a bunch of drawings from photos to to get myself thinking about why I'm doing this. I searched for black and white photos with a high resolution and defining lighting. In order - Clara Barton, Mina Edison, Baynard Rustin, Dan Savage, Mark Twain, Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy.
After realizing that I kept having to make pretty big corrections the the basic shapes and structure partway through each drawing I started timing myself for 5 mins and trying a bunch of times to get it right from the beginning. Trying to learn to keep focused. My mind wanders. Too often I find myself thinking about dinner or class or what I need to scan....
October 14th, 2012 #19
Good concept thinking of the skull as having a spherical shape for the top part of it; but that sphere has the two sides shaven off. So it can also be conceived of as a cylinder, with the top and bottom of the cylinder corresponding to the sides of the head.
I like your approach to teaching yourself a depth sense. Have you tried the tumbling cubes exercise?
It's helping me come to terms with sort of an 'automatic depth sense' or automatic perspective sense. Maybe it could help you too.
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October 14th, 2012 #20
I really like how your lines are more fluid in your sketches, compared to yours studies! They're really showing what you're aiming to do.
October 14th, 2012 #21
p sage - I love the cube excercise! I was looking at yours thinking I should do some again. Here's one I did in 2009 I thought I had another one but I can't find it. Yours are awesome. The orthographic projection has been more helpful for me with the depth sense though because it deals with more complex forms and allows me to check if I have things right.
Below is the cranium shape I'm using. It's a bit more like Preston Blair's bunny egg shape. I'm only starting with a sphere. The sides then get smooshed a little, more in the front than in the back, and the mass extended a bit in the back. The Loomis diagram, where he slices the side off with a knife, was supper enlightening initially and than tripped me up for a bit because I kept trying to make it actually flat =P
Oräli - Thanks, I have a hard time explaining to people that I don't ultimately want to draw the way I do my studies, they are just a method of developing an understanding.
October 14th, 2012 #22
October 20th, 2012 #23
The results of my 5 min head exercises sent me back to looking at proportion. Every book I have has almost the same basic proportions, each laid out in a slightly different way. I "know" these proportions but I don't know them. Betty Edwards suggests that learning verbal reminders can help push past stubborn problem areas. Dan Dennet says "Every time you read it or say it you make another copy in your brain." So I'm writing the out again. This page of notes is roughly from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, chosen because it's supposed to be only the most basic information. I got a bit lazy towards the end.
Taking notes on proportions sent me back to thinking about basic forms. Thanks again p sage for keeping me in this line of thinking. For the cranium I am starting with the simplest form, a sphere, and then modifying it to a slightly more complex but still simplified form. For the jaw I've been trying to to jump straight to a slightly more complex form and it's not working. Relating the sphere to the more complex form of the cranium has been very helpful so I tried to think of what I could use for the jaw to and came up with a cone. It works a lot better than I expected it to.
I think the cone helped a lot with my class drawing this week, but it's hard to compare because we did longer poses. They are of different people because for the majority of the class we drew each other. With the exceptions of the first two and the last one, we sat in groups and alternated modeling. The ones that aren't labeled are 10 mins.
Thanks a la bapsi.
November 3rd, 2012 #24
November 4th, 2012 #25
November 7th, 2012 #26
November 17th, 2012 #27
I started working on this head turn to test out the relationship of the cone to the more complex head. It didn't work very well. I don't think it gives me enough information. I'm working with a cylinder now. I had forgotten this was how I started.
Using a cylinder instead of a cone is getting me to deal more with the ellipses. Having the extra ellipse on the bottom that is getting me to think more clearly about the ellipse that is wrapping around the middle and has highlighted some gaps in my understanding.
I played around with some cubes. Thaks again p sage for sending me back to moatddtutorials. I especially liked this one - The Basics: what they mean
I liked what he said about switching back and forth between the cubes and the cylinders and using the two ideas to support each other. It made me think about these two approaches to breaking down the figure. There's a Luca Cambiaso Drawing from the mid 1500's at the beginning of Robert Beverly Hale's Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters that shows a block breakdown really nicely, and Walt Reed's The Figure: The Classical Approach to Drawing and Construction has really nice cylindrical breakdowns.
The Circles and Ellipses feel better, easier, more natural to me, but the cubes provide valuable information in dealing with perspective that I don't think I can get from the ellipses alone.
I'm reading about childhood drawings in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Edward's has this to say - "One of the most basic scribbling movements is a circular one, probably arising from the way that shoulder, arm, wrist and fingers work together. A circular movement is a natural movement - more so, for instance, than the movement required to draw a square. (Try both on a piece of paper, and you'll see what I mean)" pg 67 Maybe that accounts for my preference.
I also really like Mark's comparison of the basic shapes to basic ingredients in cooking. Coconuts =)
5-8 min drawings from Karl Gnass's class. This was tough, the expressions really challenged my understanding of the structure. I think I held it together better than in previous weeks though.
November 24th, 2012 #28
December 9th, 2012 #29
Heads from Karl's class. I have drawings of this model from around this time last year here
In some ways I like those better and in some ways I like these better. On the old ones I did not have the understanding of the structure that I have now and compensated by trying to be more cartoony about it. I think I lost a little bit of the expression in the recent ones but I'm excited by the structural knowledge I am gaining. This set was actually a lot more fun because I wasn't struggling as hard to keep the face together. I hope to get to a point where I can have it both ways.
I've always been fascinated by the possible implications that I see in the optical illusion the Kanisa Square and I found myself thinking of it when I was scanning these drawings in. I'd like to pay more attention to getting things to connect visually while not having an actual line connect them.
These ellipse studies start to feel tedious and boring sometimes, but I feel like I'm gaining a huge amount of understanding from them. They don't work the way I thought they did and I'm amazed by the insights they are giving me. In some ways I feel like I'm practicing my multiplication tables and writing the letters of the alphabet of drawing.
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December 9th, 2012 #30