Notes taken on/from Drawing the head and the hands by Andrew Loomis. Started after finishing Perspective made easyº.

I didn't cover all the content in this book. I wasn't interested in the sections on drawing babies, kids, or teenagers, and skipped to drawings hands after practicing heads for a few weeks.

The notes below are largely taken straight from the text; ie, assume I'm quoting it.


  • The skull is the bases of drawing the head

  • Next most important - the spacing of features (not the features themselves!)

  • This books helps the beginners approach constructing a head in 3D space rather than 2D.

Drawing Men's heads


  • Do you know why you want to learn this subject matter? Ask yourself and try an answer.

  • Try not to be impatient.

  • "Impatience has probably been a bigger stumbling block in the way of real ability than anything else" (19).

  • "Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it" (19).

  • Even though we can only see one half of a head at a time, the unseen half is just as important to construct.

  • "A head is not drawn until you can feel the unseen side" (21).


  • The cross is a point where the brow line crosses the middle line of the face.

    • It is key to the construction of the whole head.

    • It determines the position of the facial plane on the ball; the angle from which we see the face

  • After creating the cross point, one can divide the face down the middle plane into three equal sections for forehead, nose, and chin.

  • From the cross, division is something as follows (generically) (from page 25):

    • Jaws attach halfway around on each side

    • The eyes are cheekbones are below the brown line.

    • the ears are about parallel with the lines of the brows and that of the nose

    • the cross almost suggests the face below.

  • "No matter how great your talent, talent has to work with knowledge to do anything well."


  • One must find the balance between roundness and square-ness in a drawing of a face.

  • The planes of the head should be memorized.

  • Once you know the construciton lines, you can after look for bony shapes and the location of the features.

The standard head

  • Heads obviously vary in the real world.

  • It is still practical to have a basic set of measurements.

  • The front of the head fits well into a rectangle that is three units of measurement wide (so, three columns of a unit of "1") and three and a half deep.

  • The half-way points between each mark can locat the eyes and nose and help place the mouth.

Muscles of the head and face

  • Knowing the names of the muscles is not as important as where they are, what they attach and what they do.

  • Some muscles are attached to bone at both ends; some bone at one and muscle at the other end.

  • The most important muscle of the head is the muscles that closes the jaw.

  • When drawing smiles:

    • it shows more upper teeth than lower

    • the teeth should never run right into the corners of the lips

    • the corners of the lips are puulled away from the teethl causing a darker accent in the corner of the lips.

    • Smile creases usually "run well outside the corners of the mouth" and "point a little way toward the side of the chin."

    • The smile may cause some folds of flesh under the eyes; similarly wrinkles at the corners of the eyes -- it can be difficult to portray this with pencil as they can be made too dark when they are in fact quite light / subtle (49)

    • The toning of the teeth should fade as they recess.

    • The two front upper teeth should be the ones highlighted.

    • The lines between teeth are subtle, avoid drawing harsh black lines


  • Moving into tone from line drawing is a large step.

  • When starting with tone, use simpler/strong lighting.

  • Start with just one source of lighting.

  • cast shadow are shadoes that move beyond the form onto another different object (such as a wall, or d own across the neck under the chin).

  • Cast shadows have their own edges, dpending on the light direction.

Drawing Women/Children's heads

These notes are quite a bit shorter as the fundamentals are also established in the section on "Drawing Men's heads". With that said, there is also some pretty dated and irrelevant content in this section by today's standards. I've taken a few notes below where still relevant.

Differences from the male head

  • Proportions are largely similar save for a few differences.

  • Bone and muscle structure are generally lighter and less prominent.

  • eyebrows usually a little higher.

  • Mouth usually a bit smaller.

  • Lips often more full/rounded.

  • Eyes slightly larger.

Drawing Hands

  • Study and use your hand as a model.

  • "Drawing of hands must be largely self-taught"

  • "The back of the hand can usually be drawn in three planes"

    • one for the thumb section as far as the bottom knuckle of the first finger

    • the other two span the back of the wrist.

  • The palm is usually three blocks surround the hollow of the palm.

    • the heel of the hand

    • the thick base of the thumb

    • and the padded portion just under the fingers.