Head Drawing: Construction Variations

A basic theme that I have tried to emphasize is that we are all very similar in fundamental construction, though quite varied in the details. As your drawing develops, you will focus more on the variations within the framework of a basic structure. The primary source of differences lies in the angles that the various parts take in relation to each other.

Head Variations 1
Head Variations 1

In the head drawing above, using a simple vertical line helps to define the relationship of the chin and forehead. Look at the extreme contrast between the two profiles; one is concave and the other is convex, yet both are very normal and common.

Head Variations 2
Head Variations 2

The alignment of the chin to the edge of the lips, and extended to the nose, is another common series of forms to check as viewed in the head drawing above. Another common variation is the width of the cheek bone in relation to the eye socket. A narrow head is created by pulling in the cheek bone while a wide one is created by pushing the cheek bone out.

Head Variations 3
Head Variations 3

One of the most common situations we have to deal with is the excess skin and fat that is accumulated under the jaw, and we refer to it as jowls. Start by first drawing a line indicating the jaw itself and then draw the skin over the line as in the drawing below. In general, skin folds, fat, and the effects of age may seem to change our appearance, but the basic bony structure does not change. Always look for the underlying structure and build the forms on top of it.

Jowls
Jowls

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.

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