Head Proportions

Humans are amazingly similar in their diversity. The first step in being able to show the variations and individuality of each person is to have a clear basis for comparison. You will find as you study the head that the proportions are very consistent. It will be useful to start each drawing with a standard set of proportions that you can then modify for your expressive needs. The proportions given here are an accepted norm and will be found to be useful for a standard basic head.

Head Drawing Proportions Side
Head Drawing Proportions Side

The eyes are in the center of the head.
The face is divided in thirds:
1. hair line to brow
2. brow to bottom of nose
3. bottom of nose to bottom of chin.
The bottom of the lower lip is halfway between the bottom of the nose and the chin.
The width of the head “HW” equals:
1. The distance from the top of the head to just below the nose
2. From the point just below the nose to the pit of the neck

Head Drawing Proportions Front
Head Drawing Proportions Front

By Glenn Vilppu

This article was taken from the Head Drawing and Anatomy, Volume One Manual. This book parallels very closely the head drawing classes that I teach, and a majority of the illustrations were created as lecture demonstrations in class. Consequently, this is in reality a head drawing and anatomy manual to be used by students in my classes as a textbook. The use of this manual should be of equal value to those working on their own who are unable to attend my classes in person. The material is the same as in my classes with the advantage of portability and no time constraints.

I have consistently found myself drawn to the fundamentals in teaching drawing. A solid grounding in the basics, approached as tools of expression, rather than rules that must be followed, free the artist allowing him or her to follow their individual direction.

The basis of my approach is founded on very simple grounds. First, you must know how to describe form. Second, you must understand the form you are drawing. These first two give you the freedom of expression.

As you go through the chapters, you will become aware of another basic element of my approach: to do anything you must have a clear cut procedure, the knowledge to put it to use and, of course, the spirit to carry it to completion. None of this is new, and in fact, everything I teach has a very long history. I think of myself as a student just as much as a teacher; each drawing I do is in reality an analysis of what I am drawing. I am constantly telling my students that we never copy the model, but that we are trying to understand it through visual thinking.

Approach this manual as you would any textbook, as a guide to learning.

Glenn Vilppu teaches life drawing at the American Animation Institute, the Masters program of the UCLA Animation Dept., Walt Disney Feature Animation, Warner Bros. Feature Animation, Dreamworks and Rhythm & Hues Studios. Vilppu has also worked in the Animation industry for 18 years as a layout, storyboard and presentation artist, most of this time was spent working at Disney. His drawing manual and video tapes are being used worldwide as course materials for animation students. Glenn Vilppu has, in effect, either through teaching them directly or teaching their teachers, trained an entire generation of professional animators.