How to Draw a Head
August 31, 2007 4:38 PM   Subscribe

How to Draw a Head. Fun tutorial. Amy is cute. Go draw a head. (For those easily confused, start with Getting Started.)
posted by snsranch (21 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
She gives good head.
posted by Poolio at 4:42 PM on August 31, 2007

Next try these.

Astro Zombie knows all about it.
posted by fair_game at 5:38 PM on August 31, 2007

Attn pirates: they are talking about yer brain-pan, not yer piss pot.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:39 PM on August 31, 2007

Huh, I didn't even know how to hold a pencil properly.
posted by IronLizard at 5:46 PM on August 31, 2007

Huh, I didn't even know how to hold a pencil properly.

I have always held a pencil the "wrong" way.

When I was in kindergarten, my teacher rubber-banded crayons to my fingers (think Edward Scissorhands) the "right" way to try to correct my method. She failed.
posted by Poolio at 5:50 PM on August 31, 2007

The fact that they consider erasers essential drawing equipment made me click out fairly soon.
posted by signal at 6:26 PM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, the early use of shading.

If there were a LOAD OF CRAP award, this would win it.
posted by hexatron at 6:38 PM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Huh, I thought this was pretty good for beginners who perhaps haven't spent 50 grand at the fashion institute or the above mentioned "art" schools. But I could be wrong.

FWIW, my head came out really well.
posted by snsranch at 6:59 PM on August 31, 2007

Makes me long for days spent drawing "Tippy the Turtle" in my youth.
posted by cazoo at 7:21 PM on August 31, 2007

Do people really draw using proportions like this? I thought it was like "just draw what your eye sees".
posted by smackfu at 9:06 PM on August 31, 2007

It should be "draw what your eye sees", but being reminded of the classic proportions helps newbies avoid classic mistakes such as faces taking up way more space on the head than they should (see the first clickable set at the top left for a good example of this). You should still look closely at the face before you to see where it varies from the classic proportions, of course. To give the instructor credit, he did say several times that the proportions will vary for each person, which is what makes our faces distinctive.
posted by maudlin at 9:28 PM on August 31, 2007

And art will vary for each person, which is what makes art distinctive.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:35 PM on August 31, 2007

The fact that they consider erasers essential drawing equipment made me click out fairly soon encouraged me.
posted by sourwookie at 10:38 PM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

The fact that they consider erasers essential drawing equipment made me click out fairly soon.

Erasers are essential drawing equipment to most people who draw. Pencils and other mark-makers are additive tools; erasers are subtractive. They are not solely for correcting mistakes -- though they can be very useful for that, too.

Gestural drawings done without erasers tend to look like mud before long.

I'm not trying to suggest that you should use erasers if you've learned to draw without them -- just that it would be kind of dumb for a basic tutorial to ignore one of the fundamental tools.
posted by medialyte at 11:01 PM on August 31, 2007

Its a very spiffy presentation, sure, though the narrators voice gets a bit irritating after a few minutes. Its good on stepping through the proportions of the face. Sometimes drawing what you see requires guidance to get you to start thinking about proportions and such rather than what you think you should be seeing.

I don't draw much realistic stuff; my art has always been cartoony. Blow me down, I've been holding my pencil wrong too! But then, I think you should use whatever works the best for you. Its a very appealing and visual tutorial, but I've found similar information on the web and in books.

Dixon Ticonderogas are my favorite wood pencils.
posted by Mister Cheese at 1:12 AM on September 1, 2007

Man, that gave me flashbacks.

Ditto maudlin. Drawing what you see is good and all, but first you have to learn to actually realize what you are seeing. Going through the classic proportions is a way of saying pointing out that a person's eyes are not, in fact, 3/4ths the way up your head.
posted by moonbiter at 1:58 AM on September 1, 2007

The only thing that gave me pause was the "determine the hairline, then divide the rest of the head into thirds to determine the eye and nose positions". I know we're just talking general guidelines, but that didn't stop my head from repeatedly imagining a guy going bald and having his eyes and nose move up his head in accordance with the change in hairline position.
posted by Bugbread at 8:06 AM on September 1, 2007

Do people really draw using proportions like this? I thought it was like "just draw what your eye sees".

The thing about your brain is that it doesn't see like a camera. You don't really see a panorama of colored pixels spread out before you--there's one layer of cells in your retina that does, but then the entire rest of your visual system is devoted to processing this. By the time visual information reaches your conscious mind, it's already been processed for contrast, orientation, motion, object identity, and so forth. It's not that you see a bunch of color and actually know that it is (say) a lamp, you actually just see the lamp.

Perhaps this is why drawing is hard? (Or why it's so much easier, at least for me, drawing from photos than from live subjects?) You have to go a step backward and figure out not what it is that you see, but what set of 2-D stimuli will, when viewed, make you see the same thing that you see right now. Proportions and guidelines are important because artists throughout history have solved certain parts of this problem already, so you might as well use their solutions.
posted by goingonit at 8:26 AM on September 1, 2007

The other thing is that it is hard, at first, to figure out how much white space between things you actually see.

Let's say you start drawing with the eyes. You draw the left eye, and then you look carefully at the subject to see where the right eye is. Then you go to your paper, and you try to figure out how much gap to put...but it's tough. At first, your mind just isn't that good at determining gaps. With proportions, you have a second aid. The space between two eyes is roughly one eye wide. You can use that info to help figure out the gap to place.

Then, when you get good at translating what you see to paper, you can skip all the proportional aids.

It's like a using mnemonic aid until you know something well enough you no longer need the aid.
posted by Bugbread at 8:49 AM on September 1, 2007

It seems very similar to what an art teacher showed me (and that's the one time I've drawn anything resembling a head)


I'm not sure Flash was the best way to present this. As a beginning artist who has already read a book or two, I was disappointed that I'd have to sit through a 10-minute lecture on how to tell different kinds of pencils apart before I could start drawing.

Also, it would have been nice to refer back and forth to this as I drew - I'd much rather have a web page I could look at (or print!) than an inexact Flash system where I have to pause at the right moment.
posted by mmoncur at 2:17 AM on September 2, 2007

And as for "Just draw what the eye sees":


My eye sees a bizarre conglomeration of visual details that would make Picasso blush. It sees in three dimensions. It can see an entire scene equally lit despite the actual pattern of shadow. It can see the same scene, with the same contrast and brightness, at dawn and at high noon. It can zoom in and see tiny details or see the big picture, or both at the same time. It can blur, or ignore, vast expanses of the canvas and make others crystal clear. It can change angles of view a hundred times in a few seconds. It can make lightning-quick decisions about what to focus on at any given moment based on my needs, my current situation, and even my emotions. It can fill in details that are obscured, inferring from other parts of the scene or from my memories of similar scenes.

And it does all of this automatically, without any direction from me.

Turning that off, and seeing "what a camera would see" instead of "what the eye sees" is 99% of the challenge of becoming an artist for me. So methods like this that help me see what's really there rather than "what the eye sees" are very helpful.
posted by mmoncur at 2:23 AM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

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