Day #009 – Drawing the Head from the Side

Today I worked through part 3 of the ProkoTV series on drawing the head. I then attempted to sketch out a rough copy of a head from a reference using the techniques he teaches. It was interesting how much easier it was to copy something accurately when you already have a framework in place. This is almost counter-intuitive because you’d think a copy is successful to the extent it replicates the original but in reality it’s much more important that the proportions are similar than each individual detail. If you copy an eye very accurately but in doing so you lose sight of the overall proportions by the time the picture is done stuff is just going to look “off”.

This is the reference used.

Head From the Side Pencil Sketches

Some notes:

  • When the head is looking up the front of the neck becomes stretched and the back of the neck becomes pinched. You can feel this right now by just looking up. If you strain to look as far back towards the celing as possible you’ll feel the resistance as your neck becomes pinched to its maximum. Just remembering this will, I imagine, go a long way to getting those rough outlines of the neck correct when the subject is looking up or down.
  • Stan Prokopenko suggests not trying to just copy the contour of the face but instead setting down a series of ‘landmarks’ at each point where the line changes. A point for the end of the nose, three points for the lips etc. and only then drawing in the contour line. Trying this my review would be: START DOING THIS IMMEDIATELY. Made it so much easier to draw it accurately (in conjunction with the lines you already have if you’re using the Loomis technique the videos teach) that it’s an instant no-brainer for the future. By doing it this way it’s much harder to get the proportions out because you’ll be able to tell after you’ve placed the points if things are right or not and then it’s much easeir to erase and move than if you’ve drawn in a whole line. It’s also much easier to accurately place a dot than accurately draw a long line.
  • Looking at my reference picture I just “got” for the first time that there really isn’t a straight line between the head and the neck when looking from the side. Rather the head contour (if you can see it at all) stops about half way and goes up towards the ear. There is unbroken skin from neck to behind the ear. To many people this would be obvious as you can simply feel with your hand that the neck follows up in that way–that the jaw stops below the ear–and yet I have only just realized it now. I think this is what artists mean when they tell beginners to start looking more carefully as pretty much the most crucial fundamental in improving your work.


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