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How to Draw and Design a Human Head from Imagination

Drawing by Fernando Freitas

Today, we’re going to look at the head, and we’re going to look at some basic concepts that will help you guys design and invent your own heads. Alright, so we’re going to talk about how to draw a head here. And, the first thing for most beginners is understanding the shape of a head and what you want to create is the idea that the head general – most human heads are shaped like an egg. So, you can think of first the sphere as the top of the head and then you can bring that sphere down and create a slightly more elliptical shape towards the chin and the jaw. So that will give you your inventive imaginary head – a representational appearance to it. So, most human heads have the general egg-like shape; wider at the top tapering thinner towards the chin and elongated, Okay. So, that should give you a pretty decent idea of how to create the block of the head.

Another way you can think about it is again working with the sphere is creating a loose quick sphere. You can also work a partial cube at the bottom of your head so it will create a more masculine effect; give you a more muscular jaw, a square chin. So, you can either get the head starting with the sphere; going into an ellipse or start with the head as a sphere and add on a cube. Alright, so you can arbitrarily decide how tall the head is and then you can figure out how wide you want it. Give yourself that sphere at the ellipse of the bottom or cube that can help block your head.

Alright, so once you figure out the general size and shape of your head, the other thing you gotta think about is – what’s the gaze of the head going to be? I mean, right now, I can suggest different situations with these heads by deciding which direction they’re going to observe or look or gaze. So right now, let’s just talk about how to get the head to look straight on. Alright, so with the straight-on gaze, the center of the head by putting in this axis here – this vertical axis. This is already telling me the head is straight on – it’s entered. When you go in to start to position your imaginary features, you first should think about the eyes, the eye-line and from the top of the skull to the chin; the eye-line is about half way on the head.

So there’s the eye-line – this is through the center of the eyes and then from there, we can look at the bottom of the chin – sorry, the bottom of the nose; put a local landmark for the bottom of the nose and then another half way mark from the nose to the chin for the lips. Alright now, lips tends – the mouth tends to hit the corners of the jaw. The nose will tend to be at the same height as the ear. So the ear itself will be positioned from the nose line to the eye-line and you can block your ear out from that. Okay, so that’s starting to give you that straight-on gaze. Alright, so once we have our gaze and we’re suggesting a front view here straight on.

Alright so, on a straight on view, your eye is going to be going across from temple to temple traditionally about five times. So you can space out equal amounts. So that each of these should be equal and it should go across five times from temple to temple. And once you figure out how wide your eyes are, you can work from the tear duct down towards the nose. That should help you decide on how wide the nose is. And then, from the center of the eyes, you can draw imaginary vertical alignments to tell you how wide your mouth is going to be. And so in essence, you’re getting good proportions on an imaginative face here.

Now, these are just standards – standard simple basic rules that you can follow when you’re designing your own head. Alright, and then you can build hair if you want. Start figuring out the shape of the forehead. You can design your own head; your own hairstyle, all of that. But the idea is just to first position your features. Don’t draw them right away. Alright, now let’s take that same idea. This is the part that I find most people have a hard time figuring out – is how to take this straight-on idea and now apply it to different gazes like what if I want the head looking upwards or downwards or to the left.

Alright, so what we can do is again just start with our egg-like shape. I’m not going to just give you some simple ideas. I’m going to draw four eggs here and each of these eggs, I’m going to give you the suggestion that the head is going to gaze in different ways. Alright, let’s say I want the gaze of this head to look downward. Alright, the first thing I’m going to do is deal with the center of the head. Alright, so there’s the center now. Now I’m gently arcing it so that it follows the form. And if I – I’m going to put it absolutely straight; I mean, I can. Alright, and again, this is the top of the head and this is the bottom of the chin.

Well then, the eye gaze is going to be about half way. But now you have a downward gaze so you’re going to want to lower that even more. And then, here’s our nose and then here’s our mouth. So, just by doing our landmarks of the eyes, the nose and the mouth; I can already give you the feeling that I’m going to have that head looking downward. Let’s say I want the head looking upward and straight-on. So again, my center will be here, now the eye-line has to arc upwards. So this arc downwards. These little guidelines. So there’s the eye-line; here is the nose and here is the mouth. And I can even put a little landmark for the chin and eventually this would be the underside of the chin working its way into the neck area. And that has that upward gaze. So by constructing first the poles, the action; you can then build upon that and start to make your head more convincing as you try to make it more realistic. This all depends on how illustrative or cartooning you want to be.

So again, if I want the head looking the other way; I’m going to first deal with the center of the head making sure it’s about two-thirds to three-quarters this way and only a quarter or a third of the size of the head being viewed from that side. I can make the gaze now looks slightly upward. So in other words, I’m viewing the head from down here. So, a worm’s eye view, and if I’m viewing the head from up here, I would call that a bird’s eye view; making sure that head is looking downward. And then again, you can invent different gestures and different gazes that way. So you could start with the simple idea of an egg and actually this is not a bad idea. If you get an actual egg and draw with a marker, a center line on the egg; put a landmark of where the eyes, the nose and you move that around. You will start to see how your landmarks will follow the form and suggest already a simple 3d effect of which way you’re going to throw the head up. So, we’ve done a downward gaze to the left; we’ve done the head gazing straight up; we’ve done a gazing to the right – upward right. So, let’s say now you want the gaze to be down to the right. So again, it’s the same idea – making sure the center, the axis of the head is arcing over your egg.

And now, your eye-line is going to be really low down arcing across the egg; a little landmark for the nose, a little landmark for the mouth and you’re already suggesting that that head is going to look downward in that direction. So, you can play around with that it’s like having a little model in your hand and just moving it around. Another idea is just to think of the head like an olive and you have a toothpick running through it and if you held that and moved it back and forth, side to side; you’re getting an idea of how the head would move. So think of the axis through the head as rigid as a toothpick going through an olive. And then, all the landmarks of the features – the eyes, the nose, the mouth; they need to be parallel to each other and perpendicular to that axis. Alright, let’s take this idea and let’s grab one of these gazes and let’s develop the head a little bit more realistically.

Alright, so let’s deal with inventing a head again and this time we’re going to take one of those simple examples and build up upon it. So, let’s do the downward to the left gaze. Alright, so again, I’m going to start with my sphere just to get my head going. Coming off that sphere, I’m going to come around and deal with the ellipse of the egg. Alright, so there it is. And now, the center. So there’s the anchor. That’s my three-quarter view turning the head in that direction. We’re going to come in, bringing the eye-line so that we finish that sphere. Alright, so we’re getting a lot of sketchy lines. We’ll erase all these lines as we start to get closer to where we want things. Alright, so we got our chin about our eye-line. Our nose is about halfway between that. And then our mouth is going to be down here.

Alright now, what we now need to do is start to suggest the front of the face, the side of the head, the top of the head and things you want to think about. First of all, from the chin running up to the cheekbone, you’re going to have a diagonal plane or change that helps to suggest more of the side of the jaw. So, look for that triangulation at the front of the face that works its way up to the cheekbones and just across to where the eye line is. And then, from the corner of the chin, work your way back to the back of the jaw. Now, the ear will begin at the back of the jaw. So, my nose is here and I need to wrap the guidelines of the nose to tell me my lobe is going to start here. If my eyes are here, I need to wrap the guideline back around that sphere and say that the ear will start there.

So, though now, our ear is back here positioned to the back of the skull. Let’s bring in the neck. Let’s give it a little gesture. We’re going to give that head a little sweep as the body is facing this way and the head is turning that way. Let’s make him a little muscular; giving him some nice strong trapezium. I’ll even bring in the clavicle for a second. Alright, so we got that slightly settled downward gaze turning to the left. Alright now, coming up; grab a landmark of the temple, block that in, get more or less your hairline and that should square up the head nice and planoid.

Alright so, we have our dome even the dome slightly squares up right there. So, this is the side of the skull, this is the top of the skull, this is the front of the head. Let’s bring in the brow-line. Now, from the brow-line to the bottom of the eyes. Your eye – your grouping of the eyes is going to start to come in cutting into the face like this and then back out to the cheekbone and tapering down to the jaw. Alright, so what I’m trying to show you is that from the high point of the cheekbone to the brow-line and then to the center of the eyes, you’re trying to create a cavity that cuts in into the face so that we understand the socket area is going to sink in. The nose will come from that. Alright, and then the eyes would go right there at the balls of the eyes. So this area is all caving in into the head and that’s a really wonderful way of thinking about – like think of the forehead kind of like a two-by-four block. The butt end of a two-by-four block going in that direction.

Alright, so as we start to scope this, we can now see that we have our center here. That means the center of the nose, the center of the eyes, the center of the forehead, the center of the philtrum, the mouth, the chin; all of these things should follow this and all the heights of our features should work across that perpendicularly to that anchor. That’s how you keep your features correct. So for example, if I landmark at the bottom of the lips on this side then I have to come across and make sure the bottom of the lip – the corner of the lip is on that same side. But the center of the lip might be a little higher. So, now the bottom of the lower lip will be about here. And that would work its way up to the corners. This would work down towards the corners and then I can add thickness to the left. So the peaks of the center of the lip will be of the same height as well. They — all these landmarks need to be parallel and to the same height.

Again, if I have the brow area coming from the high point; going towards the bridge of the nose and i want to make sure that my mouth is hiding the center of the eye. Then I just work vertical alignments to understand that. So, if I have the back of the nose hiding the tear duct. I have the other nostril in the tear duct; even not in that three quarter view. All of these things are vertically aligned and horizontally aligned as they go across the form. So let’s push a little darker to show you how this would build up. Alright, so there’s an answer. This is going to be really crude just to illustrate the idea. We can finesse this on another drawing. This is going to give you an idea how to keep your features in that direction that you are looking for. Think of the nose having four planes. We have the front, the sides, the bottom. And obviously, we wouldn’t see the bottom on a downward glaze so the nose would come slightly downward. And if you’re going to go into the eye, you are going to think of the spheres of the eye and then you’re going to build lids over the eye. Think of the mesoblastic bands.

Alright, so that’s just kind of a rough idea of what I’m talking about. We’re going to do another quick sketch just to show this more convincingly. Alright, so this was just a very simple intro into the head. Just some basic thoughts, basic ideas for those of you who are just starting out to think about.

Again, think about the shape of the head. Give it that egg-like feeling. Remember you have the core anchor of the face, the center of the face and what direction; what gaze do you want to invent that head – upwards, downwards, worm’s eye view, bird’s eye view. Think about the positioning of the eyes; the nose and the mouth first and make sure they’re perpendicular and parallel to each other. Remember the corners of the mouth would center with the center with the center of the eyes. The width of the nose tends to hit the tear ducts of the eyes and spacing between the tear ducts. Remember those big planar changes, the front of the face to the side of the face. Look for the corners of the chin to work up towards the cheekbone and then over towards the temple and along the forehead up to the hairline to really suggest the front of the head to the side of the head. Remember the ear tends to begin just behind the jaw. And if you’re seeing the head in profile, that would be midway. So your ear would be there as the head would be coming – for the head as in profile, the ear begins halfway from the front of the skull to the back of the skull. The top of the ear and the bottom of the ear use the landmarks of the height of the nose and the tops of the eyes. Alright, so that’s it for this basic intro into the head. Thanks for joining us and keep an eye on more of these videos to come.