Year of drawings - 15th to 19th December 2018

Heads up! I've been drawing a lot of heads over the last few days. I had some leave on Monday and Tuesday as well so spent a little bit of extra time practicing drawing heads. One thing that I did do differently was change the material I was using to study.

In the past I've worked purely of Stan Prokopenko's library of videos on drawing the head using the Loomis method. But as I started applying it to real faces, like my colleague Eduardo, I discovered that the proportions he taught just didn't seem to apply. I asked myself if I was doing anything wrong there in measuring, so to find out I found a copy of Andrew Loomis' book online. The book's name is "Drawing the Head and Hands".

I'm not sure if I'm pirating anything because the copyright on the book is so old, and the copy I found was a collection of scanned pages that has been annotated by the owner. If I do stick to learning this though I'm buying a copy for myself to keep as a reference.

I digress. When I looked in the book, Andrew Loomis talks of how there's an average face type and that all the measurements can change. Which explains why I got eyes instead of eyebrows in the middle of my circles. With that clarified, I then read through his book from the start and am now practicing drawing the average head at various angles until it's been worked into my muscle memory. Here are the results:

15th December 2018

These two aren't faces. I hadn't started just yet. Annnd then:

Trying to see the 3d-ness of a ball
More practicing at various angles. Added dark lines by my son.
including scratches from my son trying to draw a smiley face.

Overall I found it really challenging to keep the 3d-ness of the ball in mind while drawing the ball and the side plane. Once again, without some fundamentals on perspective and drawing lines, none of this is worth starting on. Since I'm trying to accelerate what I'm doing I'm studying multiple things at the same time and filling in gaps whenever I see them. For example, I went back on a separate piece of paper and started drawing circles and balls with various lines around them to practice what I'd need for drawing heads. I also practiced forms such as the nose at various angles.

16th December 2018

The nose went terribly in several of these. And I couldn't draw a circle to save my life.

17th December 2018

Didn't have a lot of time to practice. Tried "seeing" what the circle would like from the side and tried drawing an average face from that angle.

Last session in the night. I got a couple of photos of Tom Cruise in mission impossible fallout and tried to draw the angles I was seeing in that. As you can tell I was happy with the last attempt. There's a final attempt at drawing a female head tilted to the side. I fell asleep after that.

18th December 2018

On the 18th there were more heads, but this was the most interesting exercise. Similar to practicing perspective by turning a box from one side to another I practiced drawing the same face turning from looking straight to looking left. And then again, from straight to left. I decenly happy with this but I really stuffed the nose in 3/4 view. On both lines. Urgh.

19th December 2018

It's a work day. So I took a quick break to put some things I've been practicing into actual use. I did a self portrait.

One immediate mistake I see here is that my jaw, for which I'm famous among friends and family, was too short. I think I was too afraid to deviate so much from the average measurements. Putting pictures side by side here feels like a great lesson in how the features can be pushed. Overall I'm happy with my progress. There's so much more to go, but I feel like stopping to do these kinds of "finished" pictures provides a great break in the grind and also acts as a fun checkpoint which I can look back at over the year to see how I've improved.

Things I'm proudest about in the above portrait:

  • Nose. So far away from the "truth" but at the same time so much closer than I've ever been my entire life to drawing a nose that looks like a nose.
  • The lips. Same as the above. If you told me 6 months ago that I drew those lips I'd say bull and would assume someone else filled in the details of the lips for me.
  • Improvement in the few days since I drew Joel. I won't share the comparison photo since that would be a violation of privacy, but the difference between photo me and drawn me is wayyy less than the differences between photo Joel and drawn Joel.

Things I need to improve on:

  • Proportions. I'm probably going to take this picture (the pencil drawing) over to the PC and draw over it and make corrections to the jaw line to see what I can produce. I need to keep practicing seeing faces and measuring.
  • Not being lazy. One of my most unacceptable signs of laziness here is the eyebrows. They don't take much time to get 80% of the way there but they add so much character. I feel like I threw them away here.
  • There's the obvious stuff like hair and improving forms of features, but that's coming along over time.

A quick couple of notes

  • One thing that strikes me in Loomis' book is that he says that every face is a problem to be solved. He's not kidding. From figuring out proportions to how each individual feature sits on our bones to how the bones are structured underneath the skin is a new challenge with every face. This challenge can be multiplied for each angle we can see the face at. And to get at each challenge, we need to have first built up a visual library of how the average face behaves at all the various angles. This is going to be my exercise over the coming days: Quick sketching the face at various angles without putting any features in just yet (except for maybe a block for the nose).
  • While practicing this, I noticed that Stan Prokopenko has released some new videos on his channel about drawing the Loomis head and how to adjust proportions for each head type. This is fabulous extra material for me while I learn from the book. Speaking of which, I think Stan's material is amazing, but the textbook that is Andrew Loomis' book just has to be followed to truly gain the essence of what Stan is talking about.

Posted on December 19 2018 by Adnan Issadeen