Drafting up the Blueprint
Step 1. Draw a Sphere
To begin, it’s easier than you may think! All heads start out the same, as a simple SPHERE. Now simple it may be, but the sphere is the key to this entire method. It is the base that everything else from here on out will be constructed upon.
Since the rest of the head will be built out from the sphere you can use it as a guide to determine the head’s size.
You’ll notice that I’m using the term Sphere instead of circle and it’s an important distinction to make. In order to become effective at dynamic drawing, you’ll need to begin observing what you draw as 3D form, instead of 2D shapes.
Step 2. Slice Into Quarters
As you draw your head, a series of guidelines will help you out along the way. These guidelines will literally show you where everything should be placed so that the proportions of the head and the placement of the features are all correct.
So let’s begin by dividing up the Sphere into equal quarters using two intersecting vertical and horizontal lines.
The vertical line, running top to bottom will represent the middle division of the head and it’ll help ensure that the facial features and the head itself are all centred.
The second horizontal line, running from left to right will represent the brow line.
Step 3. Cut Off the Sides
The human head isn’t actually a perfectly round dome. In fact it flattens out somewhat at either side. So to shape her skull, you’ll slice off the sides of the sphere.
How much you slice off will determine how wide your character’s head will be. The more you take it in, the longer her face becomes, and the less you take off the wider it’ll appear.
Step 4. Draw in the Eye Line
Next, draw in a line that runs across the sphere, directly underneath the brow line.
This line is the ‘eye line’ and it’ll show us where to place the eyes of our character later on.
Step 5. Draw in the Chin Line
Extend the vertical centre line down toward the chin.
The eye line is found half way around the overall length of the head.
Knowing this will allow you to estimate how far down the centre line should be drawn.
Step 6. Draw in the Feature Guidelines
Now between the eye and chin line, break the centre line up into equal thirds. This will give you two new guidelines that are spaced out evenly in the bottom half of the face.
The first line tells you where the nose is to be placed, while the guideline below that will indicate placement of the mouth.
Here’s something to keep in mind. For a classically proportioned face, dividing the lower half of the head up into equal thirds is ideal, but those distances can always be varied to create more unique and interesting looking faces.
Step 7. Draw in the Hair Line
The hair line is drawn in half way between the top of the head and the brow line. This line tells us where the hair on her head will sprout from.
Although the hair line is typically found between the top of the head and brow line, especially on the ladies, it can vary depending on the different hair styles you decide on for your character.
Some characters have receding hair lines; some are bald and have no hair line at all!
Step 8. Draw in the Jaw
From either side of the head, draw a curved line that runs down toward the chin. The corners of the jaw should kink around the same level as the mouth line, be careful not to make them too sharp though!
The jaw is one of the key areas of the head that play a big role in determining how masculine or feminine your character will look. A man’s jaw tends to be more angular, with sharper corners and a broader, squared out chin.
A woman on the other hand will typically have a softer, more rounded appearance at the side corners of her jaw. The chin will also be less broad and more curved.
Although these distinctions are subtle, they are some of the more prominent defining physical factors between the two sexes. So it’s important to keep them in mind when drawing women.
Step 9. Draw in the Cheek Bones
Draw in a guideline for the side of the brows and the cheek bones. These lines basically separate the side planes of the face from the front planes.
The bottom half of the sphere isn’t needed anymore so go ahead and erase it.
Step 10. Draw in the Neck
Now let’s draw in the neck.
From certain angles, the neck can be a complicated area to draw. Luckily, by simplifying it down to its basic forms things become a lot easier.
Think of the neck as a cylinder that joins the head to the body. The head is able to swivel around, side to side, up and down on this cylinder, as if it were connected to a ball joint.
The shoulder and back muscles wrap around the back of the cylinder, while another two band-like muscles on either side of the neck run from behind the ears, down to the front of the collar bone, forming a ‘V’ shape at the base.
Like the jaw, necks also play an important role in defining the masculinity and femininity of a character. Women tend to have longer, skinnier necks, while men’s are more thick and wide.
Because women are softer in appearance their neck also tends to have less detail then a man’s neck. So although you may know the anatomy of the neck back to front, when it comes to drawing in those muscles and veins, less is often more.
Step 11. Draw in the Ears
The last addition to our base blue print is the ears.
Male and female ears are pretty much visually identical, so all you need to remember here is that the top of the ear aligns with the brow, and the bottom of the ear comes down as far as the nose line.
Well folks, that completes the first phase of head construction. Now go pour yourself a glass of water and rehydrate your brain...
Up until this point everything we’ve drawn follows an almost identical work flow to the male head. The only real differences being the jaw shape and neck thickness.
From a distance the base looks rather simplistic. But it is the most important part of the equation.
Look, I’ll let you in on something. If you want to get a really solid foundation in drawing heads, download these steps into your brain through practice and repetition until it is HARD WIRED.
This base structure is the foundation that holds everything else up, and every head you draw will begin by using this formula.
After practicing this simple set up, it will become automatic, and once that happens it’ll take a lot of the guess work out of drawing heads.
As you can see, the head is quite geometrical. Everything relates to everything else in some way. The eye line falls half way down the head, the head is five eyes wide, the nose and mouth divide the bottom of the face up into equal thirds, etc, etc. Try to remember the relationships between the features and chances are you’ll end up with a proportionately accurate head every time.
One final thing to mention before we move on is to double check that everything about your head up until this point is looking correct.
The more you add from here on, the more difficult it will be to change later if you notice something wrong with the overall structure.
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