ArT HisTorY

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Figure Drawing - Line and Contour

Drawing the Head and Neck

skull study

Draw the skull from various angles and in a range of mediums. Ideally, you should internalize the forms of the skull to the extent that you can sketch a good likeness from memory. This study by Sharon McKeeman shows the development of a skull study. The drawing is begun with simplified forms describing the skull and jawline, then detail quickly developed. She's begun using some hatching to indicate the planes of the jaw and maxilla. Naming the anatomy may be useful but is not as important as the drawing and observation itself.

musculature study

This study combines a study of skull and muscle placed within a sketched surface anatomy. Take care to place and scale the eyes correctly with a study like this - the size of the eye socket is surprisingly large.

skull and surface anatomy

structure of the neck

The neck and throat are often neglected in figure drawing, resulting in a featureless column that looks incapable of holding up the head. This example from Gray's Anatomy shows the cartilages of the throat and the surface anatomy of the neck, with the prominent Sternocleidomastoideus which is often thrown into sharp relief when the head is turned or tilted. It terminates toward the back of the head, behind the ear. Note also the quite acute angle formed by the jaw, quite at odds with the flatness with which many faces are rendered. While the anatomy is less defined in many relaxed poses, paying attention to the subtle changes of tone, or using implied and broken line to indicate it, will help you create a convincing, three-dimensional neck.

the head in profile

· Beginner artists sometimes make a real pig's ear out of drawing the profile. But it really needn't be as problematic as you imagine it to be. Observation is key; bone structure and musculature obviously varies between individuals, so there isn't a set formula - and a slight tilt of the head changes everything! Look at the alignment of the features, such as the corner of the eye and the top of the earlobe.

· Note the indented triangle formed between the sternocleidomastoid, sweeping up behind the ear, and the trapezius, behind the neck. Observe the depth and angle of the jawbone in relation to the ear. Look at the angle of the throat and chin.

· The planes of bone and muscle aren't flat, nor are changes of plane always sharp: sometimes they are so gradual that it is hard to tell where they happen. In a strong drawing, this change of plane will often be articulated with a subtle change of tone or use of implied line. It needs to make sense, reflecting the anatomy of the model, and not some 'classical' rule or guess. So think about the underlying anatomy as you draw, and closely observe your individual model.