What are some good online resources for learning how to draw human heads?
February 26, 2010 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I want to learn to draw human heads. Google turns up a plethora of tutorials, but some of them are obviously -- even to my mostly untrained eye -- blatantly incorrect on important things like proportions. Can you recommend any good places to look for a solid foundation on heads, faces, and features? I'm not overly concerned about what style as long as it can be done with a pencil. Thanks!
posted by cyborgirl to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

hogarth is a pretty decent starting point. his work is unsettling to me because it's so clearly in the service of the kind of heroism bwing drawn during WW2, but his sense of proportion's fine.
posted by patricking at 2:27 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I second Hogarth. Also, Andrew Loomis. You can download PDFs of his out-of-print books here (sorry, that animated fox is really annoying). At my art school, Bridgman has a lot of advocates, though he's not the best reference for beginners. Have fun!
posted by changeling at 2:44 PM on February 26, 2010

I've taught elementary school through high school art for almost 15 years. This was one of the most useful books for me early on. Hogarth, Loomis and Bridgman are all worth looking at as well, but thier work is incredibly dated. If you can distill the info and apply it to your own drawing, then its a useful additional resource.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:00 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I always really liked Bridgman and Hogarth.

I'm not entirely sure how an art anatomy book can be dated. Though the ideal form changes according to period and an artist's personal style, it's not as if there have been great advances in biology that change the way people's heads look.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:06 PM on February 26, 2010

I agree with blaneyphoto. Edward's Drawing on the right side of the brain improved my realist sketching immensely.
posted by b33j at 3:30 PM on February 26, 2010

It all depends what you're aiming for, too -- example: for fashion illustration, 9 Heads is the standard text, and it has a more "fashiony" style -- elongated, supermodel-like bodies, etc. The basic proportions of the head never change much, though.

I am teaching an online class in fashion illustration that's geared towards knitwear designers at the moment and my co-teacher, who is a trained painter and illustrator, keeps dropping all kinds of cool tips on me that I never learned from my parents (both of whom went to art school), such as how earlobes and noses line up, etc.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:30 PM on February 26, 2010

I'm going to have to go with PBWK here -- A head's a head. At risk of sound like a snob: accomplished artists (like the owner of my school) study the heck out of anatomy for a reason. Great art is a combination of sight and knowledge, but the Betty Edwards method is all about glossing over the latter. You'll become an decent copier if you follow her, but your drawings will undoubtedly plateau without studying (which the OP is interested in -- great!!)

BTW, the drawing on the cover of Drawing on the Right Side of The Brain makes me cringe.
posted by changeling at 4:03 PM on February 26, 2010

Changeling, I can see you feel very strongly about your school but I'm not sure how that's relevant. I've attended some of the best art schools in the world - should I link to those?

And I don't think anyone has suggested neglecting study and observation. The OP seems to simply be looking for resources to get going.

And yes a head is a head. However, the style of depicting that is quite variable and I find Edwards approach to be the most neutral. Hogarth, Loomis and Bridgman are all stylistically stuck in their era - dated looking.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:17 PM on February 26, 2010

changeling: BTW, the drawing on the cover of Drawing on the Right Side of The Brain makes me cringe.

Ha ha ha...I've seen much worse at art schools.

Now, to answer the question...I do recommend starting with Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of The Brain. It's a great place for the 'untrained', as the poster says, to start developing their way of seeing, and many of the exercises and training sequences that it uses to accomplish this involve...ta da...portrait drawing.

I think that you'll get the most out of the other recommendations if you work your way through Edwards first.
posted by toodles at 5:47 PM on February 26, 2010

drawing on the right side is a great way to learn to draw.

when i was going through it as a kid, it helped me unlock a portion of the brain i never used when drawing by forcing me to look at the physical relationships between objects, which is a great stepping ston to gaining the knowledge you'll need to understand a subject.

however, i think i remember it lacking simple tutorials -- which was why i picked the hogarth.
posted by patricking at 6:15 PM on February 26, 2010

Best answer: My favorite intro book: Jack Hamm's Drawing the Head and Figure.
posted by zompist at 11:54 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Any time anyone expresses interest in drawing of any kind I recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. If you go through this book you will be able to draw anything. If you do the exercises and can't you can have my firstborn.
posted by cmoj at 9:09 AM on February 27, 2010

I enjoyed these videos; they're all quite detailed on anatomy and proportion:
Vilppu: Head and Neck Anatomy
Drawing & Painting the Adult Male Head with Bob Kato
posted by dpcoffin at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2010

Seconding Andrew Loomis. But you want to know the BEST way to learn how to draw a human head?

Go draw one. And then keep doing it until you're happy with the results.
posted by cleverevans at 10:02 AM on February 27, 2010

Face Parts by Simon Jennings is a good resource for learning how to depict the human face.

(disclaimer: we sell this book at the art supply store that i co-own.)
posted by jimw at 2:03 PM on February 27, 2010

Thirding or Fourthing Loomis. I like Jack Hamm's books as well.
posted by Scoo at 3:39 PM on February 27, 2010

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