July 8, 2014

Planes of the Head: Part One

Seeing Shapes

Drawing the human head is one of the most difficult things for an artist to do. It takes many years of commitment and practice to learn how to draw it correctly. This project introduces students to the basics of understanding the human head, and more importantly to understanding shapes. The human head is in its simplest form a shape – that’s how an artist sees it.

However, to the untrained eye, seeing those shapes can be quite challenging. When we look at each other’s faces, our mind isn’t trying to recognize a shape, but instead a person. Our mind does the same thing with objects around us. When we look at an apple, we don’t see it in its most basic shape, something similar to a circle. Instead we see it and understand it with all of its unique characteristics, such as color and texture. We initially recognize an apple as a type of food, not a shape.

The goal of this project is to teach students how to see the “hard to see” shapes in everyday objects. We’ll learn to train our eyes to start seeing shapes – whether we’re drawing the human head, cars, flowers, clothes, or whatever else our imagination allows.

I used the human head model (shown below), as designed by John Asaro, to teach our head/shape lesson. This model shows the two sides of the human head in both simple and complex shapes. The right side of the head is constructed with the most simplest of shapes to show the main planes of the human head. The eye, for example, is a very simple, almost oval shape. The left side of the head is constructed with complex shapes to show a more realistic face. You can start to see the details of the eye, as well as the cheekbones.

Students were asked to draw the human head from the reference images below. We started by identifying and drawing the basic shapes of the human head, then progressed into the more complex shapes.

Planes of the Head is a multi-lesson project which will be recurring in our classes. Students may download the reference images below and practice drawing at home. Happy drawing!


Download PDF – Planes of the Head – Front


Download PDF –Planes of the Head – Profile