What’s the best way to approach drawing a head from imagination?
Nathan McGinley, Canada
You can’t skip the theory, so I’ll explain how to understand faces. In my examples I use Photoshop for sketching and colouring, together with my Wacom Intuos graphic tablet. But what I want to teach is a way of observing your surroundings and then make notes for yourself visually. Use whatever technique you’re most comfortable with, but don’t use erasers while studying.
The common problem with depicting faces and their volumes is that most people have no knowledge about the empty spaces between eyes, nose and mouth and all around them. You have to be in control of these flat surfaces, and know how they behave and fit together. If you could draw these empty surfaces then the main facial elements would be pushed into the right position automatically. But how can you draw something that isn’t there? The answer is to translate volume information into lines and use them as a construction basis for your drawing. I’ll give you one thing to observe for each step, that you later have to turn into lines. I’ll also provide some examples of how I do it.
First I cut out the main planes around the actual face: they’re the most ignored part of the human head and the main cause for incorrect perspective. In the second step, you’ll draw eyes, nose and mouth in relation to each other, to get their position right. And in the final step, I’ll show how much you’re able to rely on these lines, even in rendering and shading.
I’ve added a colour layer and set the mode to Overlay. This means that I don’t have to redo anything and can start painting intuitively. A rendered version of
one of my sketches. I use the Chalk brush in Photoshop to underline the abstract look of my
St rengthen your strokes!
of boundaries, but Know and stick to the set use everything else as your playground. Exaggerate first – you can come back to
fun. And in the realism after you’ve had your
the most. end it’s your stroke that matters