Planes of the Head

In the last chapter, we developed the basic large planes of the head as a means of getting a general sense of the three-dimensional qualities of the head.

The surface of any curved form can be created by a series of flat planes that progressively get smaller. This is no different than starting a sculpture with a square block of stone and progressively removing corners until the desired forms emerge out of the surfaces.

The creating of planes comes from an understanding of the shape of each of these individual forms and how they relate to the large forms that they are a part of. Each individual has unique planes, yet as we have been developing our drawing, we have seen that there are general planes that are common to all of us. Much of drawing is learning to see and being able to describe these planes. As I pointed out in the introduction, drawing is a form of visual thinking and analysis. Using planes then is not only a means of describing forms, but also a means of analyzing them.

The drawings are illustrations of analysis of the head from the point of view of planes. Notice that the planes for the different heads are not necessarily the same but reflect the differences in the individual heads. Some of the drawings are quite loose and show the process of analysis.

Planes of the Head
Planes of the Head
Planes of the Head
Planes of the Head

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.