How to draw a head you are proud of

How painful is it when you see illustrations where the poor artist so obviously struggles with the head that in the process his illustration loses so much appeal it reads as something entirely different to what they have intended. Another version you can often see is when there is no face at all on the figure and it makes zero sense to the drawing and again, the illustration loses charm and appeal.

Maybe for you this is extra painful because it’s your work. I am sorry to hear that and I feel for you. Don’t worry you are not “untalented” or “just not good at drawing faces” (there are no such things). 

It’s not super easy but it’s not that hard either. You can learn how to draw a face today. Like right now babe! Here is what you’re gonna do.

1. Accept that your brain is lying to you

“One of the most surprising aspects of learning to draw is the discovery that your brain is changing incoming visual information to fit its preconceptions, and it isn’t telling you what it is doing. You have to find out for yourself what is really out there.”

Excerpt From: Betty Edwards “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” 

Or in other words, your brain is lying to you. I know, fuck, if you can’t trust your brain, WHO CAN YOU TRUST

Here is the thing, our brains are like super efficient middle managers, they cut energy and labour wherever they fucking can. In drawing specifically, this means your brain will store a bunch of symbols, some cheap ass stock art, for everything it can. ESPECIALLY things it sees often! Human face is one of those things. So when you start to draw, whenever you see an eye and go to draw it you won’t really see the eye that is in front of you, it will helpfully ( as much as it is concerned) offer you your symbol for the eye. And whenever you reject it and say yeah this doesn’t look like the eye I am seeing, it will like an old lady at the refund counter claim “Sure it does! Look at it! This will go until one of you loses it.

There is a way around this, don’t worry, but also you will use exactly this habit of your brain to get fast and quick in your drawings later on.

2. Teach your brain the truth you want it to know

So to be able to actually draw the head and especially if you want to do it without reference, you will have to explain to your brain that there are some new operations instructions, straight from the headquarters ( be sure to use this word, middle managers live to impress the headquarters!). 

One of the easiest methods of drawing and understanding the head, is in my opinion, the Loomis method (Andrew Loomis, american illustrator, wrote books on drawing, about a million years ago, look him up). At the same time it’s absolutely fucking bonkers to me how much I don’t get what he is saying in his books ( I read them, I know the meaning of every word, yet his sentences make little to no sense. Fuck Andrew, why you makin it hard!?!). So I learned his method mostly from Proko. Once I did, it made perfect sense and it’s super easy. 

I would suggest you do the same. It’s not that I am lazy to explain it but at the moment I lack production means and time to explain it even close to him. Start with these two videos


Kevin McCain Studios ( a really good explanation as well. Little longer but well worth the watch)

3. New rules

This is where my hot ass comes in. I’ve made 2 pdfs for you. First one is explanatory to give you another go at those videos and also somewhere to check the measurements and proportions. Even if you didn’t look at the videos ( why not!?! Go watch the videos!) you’ll be able to get it from the first pdf (watch the videos, really. They are fun, helpful and short!).

But the second one, that baby is your golden goose. It’s a workbook that you will use to get your brain to remember the new rules. There are 4 phases. Each phase should last 1-3 days. It will take about 20 minutes a day. It took 10 for me but I actually tested this shit on people who are not where I am and they say 20, so count on 20 minutes per day. The goal is to get your brain to remember the new rules as pain free as possible so it doesn’t have a chance to protest. It will be all like ”Sure is that all?”, but you will be teaching it new neural pathways. Headquarters always get what they want! #sorrynotsorry

You will basically learn the construction of the head, the measurements and the position of facial features. I know some of you will say that you can’t draw features yet, but trust me on this: 

Even if you draw ovals for eyes and a line for nose and another line for lips, if the placement is good, it’s gonna look good. 

It’s gonna look like it’s on purpose. See image below for proof!.

You can see the difference between “properly” drawn features with bad placement and very simply drawn features well placed on the head: if you place scribbles well your head is going to look believable

Here you have both the placement and the feature drawn “properly”. If you teach your brain about the position of the features on the face, once you are more practiced with them, you’ll be ready to draw the heads you are proud of

Here are 3 examples of a student practicing with worksheets. As it progresses she starts playing with different features more and more

By phase 4 she still is not quite there but you can see she is much better with drawing the shape of the head and placing features to their right place without the help of grid. She is overcompensating on the jaw line but that is a normal part of the process. If I had time to wait it out am sure we would get a “perfect” image

I made a super handy pdf for you to download. You don’t even have to leave an email. Just take it.  Print it out or use them on a separate layer on your tablet or computer and practice. 

How to draw the head in front view with Loomis method-instructions

How to draw the head in front view with Loomis method-workbook

Loomis method shows it’s true power once you start turning the head in space, but we’ll get to that eventually. For now just teach your brain how the head looks and that eyes are at the middle of the head. 

I am willing to bet money that in 5 -12   days you will be able to draw a decent face. You won’t ever have alien heads or faceless mannequins again. 

Email me your results. I am so excited to see them. 

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