Day 80: Robot Faces, Regular Faces and a Tutorial from Someone who Doesn’t Know How to Draw

Today I wanted to draw some more random faces.  I decided to take a bit of a more structured approach this time though.  I’m still really just trying to learn basic form and construction so I spent a bit of time studying up on it earlier in the day.  I’ve been enjoying and learning a lot from the portraits I’ve been doing but one of the things I really want to be able to do is capture interesting faces and expressions quick it and also make up my own that look realistic.  I’m definitely not there yet but I’m going to keep working at it.  The first step is to get a firm grasp on the underlying form and structure.

I haven’t done any skull sketches in a while but today I decided to focus on something different.  I was making some pretty big claims the other day about how I was able to capture faces in strange angles using construction theory.  That was mostly true but in order to actually be able to explain it I had to brush up on it a bit more myself.  The skull studies I did a few months ago actually did help me understand it a little better than the last time I looked at it.  It all really does tie together.

People always say that the best way to really learn and absorb something is by trying to teach it to someone else.  With this in mind, as well as a promise I made about showing some process sketches for how I construct faces in difficult poses, I decided to put together a little tutorial.  This is entirely based on Andrew Loomis’s great books Fun With A Pencil and Figure Drawing for All it’s worth.  He also draws much better and has a much more sensible way of explaining it that I do so I highly encourage you to check out his books if you haven’t already.

Head Structure Tutorial - Part 1

  1. Draw a circle.
  2. I lied. It’s actually a sphere. Draw two dividing lines on it (contoured to fit the form of the sphere). These can be drawn pretty much anywhere you like. The horizontal line will be the brow line and the vertical line will be the center line of your face so decide which way you want your face to be looking and place the lines accordingly.
  3. Place the final axis on your three dimensional sphere. It should divide both the center line and the brow line effectively cutting the sphere into eighths. The top intersection will be the top of your head. Draw a line here (like a north pole on a globe) to indicate the tilt of the head you’re drawing.
  4. Cut the side off your sphere by dropping a straight line down the side of the head parallel to the center line of the face.  Draw a perpendicular straight line dividing the brow line along the side of the head.  These new cross hairs will be the starting point of the ear.  Then draw a circle around these to indicate the area that you are chopping off and the new boundaries of the face.
  5. Drop the center line of the face down below the bottom of the sphere, approximately doubling it’s length.
  6. Divide this new center line into another four equal parts, each approximately half as large as the distance between the top of the head and the brow line.  These four divisions will mark (in order from top to bottom).  The hair line, (the brow line, already marked), the nose line (at the bottom of the sphere), the mouth line, and the chin line.
  7. Draw another line just under the brow line, curving around the face to the edge of the second circle.  This will be your eye line.
  8. Draw a curved line down from the eye line to the chin line and another up from the chin to just before the ear line.

Head Structure Tutorial - Part 2

9.  I just repeated 8. for continuity on the next page.  The rest of the steps can really be done in any order though.

10.  Draw the eyes along the eye line.  There should be about an eye’s width between them divided by the center line.

11.  Draw the nose starting at the brow line and going down to the nose line (the bottom of the sphere)

12.  Draw in some eyebrows that match whatever expression you want to get across (or your subjects eyebrows if you are doing a portrait)

13.  Draw in a mouth, again keeping in mid the expression of the face.

14.  Draw in some hair, using the hairline as a rough guidepost.

15.  Draw in an ear (starting at the cross-hairs in the cut off section on the side of your head).

I have no idea why I left the ear until last.  I think I kept meaning to do it earlier but getting distracted by other features.  By the end I had almost forgotten that I hadn’t given the poor guy an ear yet.  I’m afraid after all of that I didn’t actually put much effort into the face though.  i basically just wanted to show where the features go on the construction.

For practice, and further illustration of the method, I drew a whole bunch of basic construction models for the head from different angles and at different tilts.  To be honest this was pretty much what I actually wanted to draw today.  Everything else I did was just to give me an excuse to draw a bunch of robot heads.  Here they are.

Robot HeadsI think some of them turned out better than others and I definitely didn’t get the proportions quite right on a lot of them.  Then again a lot of the proportions were a bit off in my tutorial sketches too.  Oh well, that just gives me a wonderful excuse to keep practicing!  That means I get to draw a lot more strange looking robot heads.  These are almost as fun to draw as silly faces.

After all of that I still decided to draw some silly faces anyway though.  The original intent was to further practice and illustrate the construction method.  To be honest I didn’t actually use it properly for all of these though.  Mostly I was just having fun with them and doing my own thing.  I like the construction method as a guidepost and it’s definitely a very helpful learning tool.  Still, sometimes it’s fun to be a bit unstructured and just play around with things (even if they look bad).

Constructed Faces

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12 thoughts on “Day 80: Robot Faces, Regular Faces and a Tutorial from Someone who Doesn’t Know How to Draw

  1. Wow. Now that is useful to me. I just cannot seem to sort these basic relationships. Do you actually go through all these steps every time? Or is it one of those things you’ve internalized? I’m guessing the latter. Thanks! I’m kinda digging those robot heads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely the latter although I’m still working on it. That’s what the robot heads are for ;). They’re fun to do and involve actually going through all of the basic construction steps (just without the added steps if drawing a face on top. They really help me internalise the process though.

      If I’m really struggling with a face or a specific head tilt then I’ll actually draw out one of those really lightly and place the face on top, it helps me fully visualise it in 3D space and work out what angle I’m seeing the features from. Most of the time though I just go through the first 3 steps. I draw the sphere for the cranium and work out the tilt of the head with the three axes. Then I just hang all of the features off of that base, guesstimating the correct sizes and distances between them. Those are the only construction lines you’ll see in most of my silly face sketches (and some of my portraits if you look close enough).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just picked up (Saturday) Andrew Loomis book about drawing faces and heads (“Drawing the head and hands.”) I see where your exercises came from. It’s super helpful for me to think beyond the quick circle for the head. and dropping by two-thirds down the front to get the jaw line is good. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re welcome. I mostly did the tutorial to help myself better internalize Loomis’s method. I haven’t looked at “Drawing the Head and Hands” yet but it doesn’t surprise me that he would go over the method again in that book.

        He originally published this method in “Fun With A Pencil” which is a great book that I highly recommend as just a general intro to drawing book. He then briefly explained it again near the end of “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth” (which is also great but a little bit intimidating for a beginner, I think I’m going to work my way up to that one).

        I fully intend to take a look at “Drawing the Head and Hands” too at some point. He has really great construction methods and I’m sure that book is very educational as well. I’m just focusing on the general overview books more right now. I think I’ll get to that one when I’m looking to refine things a bit more.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe I should try & get my hands on Fun With a Pencil – I really love Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth & definitely want to check out his other books.

    I have a really hard time with the head tilting, too, & I do think his method really helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really does help a lot although I’m back to trying to wrap my head around just the beachball (cranium) component right now. Still, at least his method lets me break it down like that and try to understand it better which is really helpful.

      I very much recommend Fun with a Pencil. Right now I’m just reading through a whole bunch of books without really doing any of the exercises just to figure out which ones will be most useful to me.

      When I do start going through them properly I’m pretty sure I’ll start with Fun with a Pencil. It was Loomis’s first book and I find it the most approachable and beginner friendly. I read Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth too and really enjoyed it but also found it a bit intimidating. It felt like to me at least there wasn’t always enough of an explanation of how you go from one thing to the other. That could just be me though.

      Fun with a Pencil is also useful though because it lays out all of the basics one at a time. It starts with how to draw the head (first cartoon and then realistic). Then it moves on to bodies, then scenery, rooms and perspective.

      It has some great tips and I myself also enjoyed some of the comicy style. He always explains how to draw things realistically but also goes over how to exaggerate certain things and lets you have a bit of fun with it even if you’re not quite getting everything right.

      Like

      1. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll keep an eye out for it. And it’s not just you – Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth is tricky for me as well. I mean, I’m starting to grasp some things with the basic mannikins, but when it comes to rotating them & putting them in different angles & positions, it’s hard. It sounds like Fun with a Pencil could help me in some ways.

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