Term I, Head Drawing I, Week 1

Week of December 7, 2020

For a description of this unit see my Head Drawing I unit plan. For full context, see the description of my Art Home School Curriculum.


The main observation this week is that I’m starting at both ends of the spectrum simultaneously — I’m doing very basic head lay-ins, just focusing on structure, but I’m also trying to do fully rendered head drawings with the 100 head challenge. I feel like there’s a huge void between those two ends. I may switch to comic style heads next week for the 100 head challenge instead of drawing real people from photos.


I was able to get over thirty hours this week. I drew over 100 heads (if you count a basic Loomis head)! I also tagged each task as either drawing or study so I could make sure I’m putting in enough actual practice relative to how much material I’m taking in. Below are the summaries per tag. My goal was 10 hours of drawing for each hour of study. I didn’t quite get there, but I was close enough. Tracking the time like this motivated me to clock a lot of drawing hours this week. In previous weeks my study time was probably closer to 10 or 12 hours.

Drawings and Critiques

Monday, Dec. 07

Drawing for fun.

Every morning this week I drew a medieval sculpture of a head. This one looks like a gnome.


Loomis heads.

This is the most basic head one can draw, popularized by Andrew Loomis.

100 head challenge.

It’s pretty difficult to go from the Loomis head straight to a fully finished, realistic head. Lips, eyes, and noses all elude me at this point.

Tuesday, Dec. 08


The main goal for these simple heads is to have a sphere for the cranium, and divide the face plane into thirds: hairline to brow, brow to base of nose, and base of nose to bottom of chin.

Loomis head in three quarter and profile views.

100 head challenge.

Female faces are much more difficult for some reason.

Wednesday, Dec. 09

Drawing for fun.

More medieval sculptures.

100 head challenge.

Any up shot of a nose I draw looks piggish.

Warmups and Loomis heads.

Putting some features on a Loomis head.

Skull profile view.

The process for head drawing in the Watts lessons is 1) copy the instructor’s drawing, 2) copy the photo reference that the instructor used, and 3) try the same drawing from memory. The top skull is 1) and the bottom is 2). The extra lines are mapping in where the shadows go. I noticed that every drawing I copy from the instructor is better than the drawings I do from photos, even the the instructor and I are drawing from the same photo.

Thursday, Dec. 10

Drawing for fun.

This one looks lobotomized.

100 head challenge.

Proportions got out of hand on 10. The body is below water in 12. These are all women, but they all have manly, chiseled features. I need to practice drawing more female faces.

Loomis heads and a quick skull for warm up.

Skull frontal view.

I believe the first was from a photo and the second was from the instructor drawing. I think the skulls would read better with a little shading in the hollows.

Friday, Dec. 11

Drawing for fun.

Here I just mapped in the shadows instead of trying to shade them. I think it turned out better. This way is more planned out as opposed to adding tone to areas with no forethought.

100 head challenge.

I like #13, but it looks nothing at all like the reference. All my facial expressions come out stern. I like #15 tool. Old men are easy since you can just put lines everywhere. The nose looks wrong though.

Loomis heads and skulls.

Drawings from Loomis’s book. The formula is a bit different than how it’s taught in the Watts videos.

Saturday, Dec. 12

Drawing for fun.

I decided to do a head from The Savage Sword of Conan today and I really like how it turned out. I meticulously planned out the shadow shapes before rendering, which helped me control the hatching.

100 head challenge and more drawings from the Loomis book.

I like #16, but again she is much more stern than in the photo. I used the shadow mapping technique. #17 was actually from a sculpture.

Warm ups and skulls. I think the bottom skull was done from memory. When I was watching TV today I kept seeing people’s skulls underneath their faces.

Simplified Asaro head.

The goal is to get a simplified understanding of how the planes of the head connect to each other. The first front view is from the instructor’s drawing, the second is from a photo, and the third is from memory. The three quarter view is from the instructor’s drawing.

Simplified Asaro head, side view.

The second is from a photo, and is much more squished than the first.

Sunday, Dec. 13

Drawing for fun — The Savage Sword of Conan.

Here’s a shadow mapping, and then the final rendering. Doing it in steps like this really helps keep everything in place.

Warmups and three quarter simplified Asaro head.

This Asaro head is one of my favorite drawings this week.

Reilly abstraction, side view.

This is known as “the abstraction,” invented by Frank Reilly. I can’t say I completely understand how it’s used yet, but it’s fun to draw all the swooping lines. It’s supposed to combine the bones and muscles into rhythms, and is different on every person. It’s a way to make sure everything is lining up properly. First from instructor drawing, second (and worse) from photo.

Reilly abstraction, front view.

First from photo, second from instructor drawing. The first looks like Frankenstein, with big temples and close eyes. All the ovals around the nose and mouth make these look like cat people. It’s difficult to maintain symmetry of all the curves in the 3/4 view.

Reilly 3/4 view and abstractions of some 100 head challenge heads.

It will take a lot of work to get familiar with this method.