I know what you’re thinking, “Hasn’t this dude written ad nauseam about drawing styles and various instructor’s methodologies?” The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!”… but there is always room for more. So buckle in, it’s time for more drawing education, jam packed with all the excitement of reading someone else’s lecture notes!

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A kaleidoscope of crazy or a
collage of random lecture doodles?

This time I’m giving my take on a constructive head drawing class lead by artist Steve Huston over at New Masters Academy. The coursework was 20+ hours that I worked through late in 2020 and continuing into the winter of 2021. I didn’t quite finish the whole thing but it’s certainly enough to fill a few blog posts. The course itself is broken into beginning and advanced sections so I’m going to do the same in two separate posts. Let’s move onto some beginning head drawing, shall we?

Lesson 1 - Gesture

The first lesson was all about gesture, which is very common for figure drawing, but something I never really thought of from just the "head" point of view. I won't recount the whole lesson, but here are the items I found interesting or new:

  • The head in profile has the gesture of a triangle or rather a sailboat's sail
  • Consider the features of the face similar to a mask on an egg
  • The "digastric plane" is the area beneath the jaw between the chin and throat and is very important for conveying depth

Some interesting bits there and a new term, “digastric plane”, well worth the price of admission already!

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Lesson 1 - Gesture Homework

Lesson 2 - Secondary Shapes

The second lesson started getting into defining more features. While it's easy to get lost in facial details Huston's suggestion was to try and avoid minutiae and think of the face as a squared eqq or a box. A few more points from this lesson:

  • Using a box helps to give more corners which in turn give more position/perspective and also gives more structure
  • Simplifying digastric plane when drawing face from underneath, use edges of jaw and base of chin to make schematic and easier to understand
  • Think of eye socket on side view as whistle notch
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Lesson 2 - Secondary Shapes Homework

Lesson 3 - Eyes

Here is where the course broke into focusing on individual facial features, the first of which is the eye. My notes from this lesson:

  • Think of the eye as a ball in a socket
  • The cornea of the eye’s shape changes as it turns, circle from front narrow ellipse from side, wide ellipse from below, etc.
  • Lower lid of the eye rests at about the “eye plane” or center of head
  • Imagine the eyes as binoculars in perspective

Nothing too earth-shattering here, but his point about the lower lid resting at about the center line of the head was something I had forgotten, so nice refresher!

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Lesson 3 - Eyes Homework

Lesson 4 - Nose

The nose is a very tricky collection of shapes to draw or even sculpt, which I found out years ago when I was deep into ZBrush. There are tons of plane changes and how all those bits fit and overlap becomes very important to understand. The highlights:

  • The “philtrum" is that small divot between nose and lips
  • Plane of mouth goes into the nostril
  • Actual hole of nostril up & in the nostril
  • Nostril should be back from the front ball of the nose

Another new term here, “philtrum”, or perhaps one I just forgot due to the ravages of time?

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Lesson 4 - Nose Homework

Lesson 5 - Mouth

Moving down from the nose, we head to the mouth. This is another area where any tips I can get are helpful and Huston had quite a few:

  • Think of the mouth like a muzzle on a dog, only less pronounced
  • Suggests to not fill in full contour of bottom lip to leave more organic
  • Top lip is three pillow forms and bottom is two pillow forms
  • Can use pen in difficult perspective, hold up to see if center of mouth above or below corners

The last item, holding up a pen, is a great suggestion and I did it on a couple of the homework poses.

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Lesson 5 - Mouth Homework

Lesson 6 - Ears

We're almost done, if you're still reading I applaud your commitment to art education! Let's wrap up with some ear notes:

  • Gets narrower as you turn away from profile in either direction
  • Tube form on exterior and half ball on interior
  • Simplified as a "C" plus two question mark – draw as a tube "C" on exterior and two reversed question marks on interior

You can kind of see the reversed question marks in my homework… maybe?

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Lesson 6 - Ears Homework

Aaaand we're finally done with beginning constructive head drawing. I really enjoyed this class, looking back on the notes and the assignments has been helpful too. I'll put up the second half of the coursework in a few days and I'll try to avoid tons of boring notes much as possible... hint: it won't be possible!