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How to Draw the Head from Extreme Angles

September 5, 201215 Comments

In this lesson, we go EXTREME!

Extreme angles are usually very challenging and frequently ignored by most artists even some advanced. Studying the extreme angles will make you better at the more common angles because you’ll have a better understanding of the method.


Let’s start by talking about rotation along the z-axis, or leaning the head to the side. This has a few important effects. First, the center line and brow line will be at an angle. Second, the side plane will go down to reveal more of the top of the head or up to reveal more of the bottom.

And the ellipse of the side plane will be angled perpendicular to the brow line. This is caused by the ellipse being in perspective.

To get the proper angles on the front and side planes, remember that the head can be simplified into a box to visualize the perspective.

The third effect a twist has is on the gesture of the neck. Look for the curve. No lollipop necks, please.

The concept of stretch and pinch applies here too.

Completed Head Twisting Drawing


Now, let’s take a look at extreme up and down tilts along the x-axis. I always look for the degree of the tilt by observing the angle from ear to brow. Find the angle of the brows and then the thirds. Remember what we learned in part 2 of this series about foreshortening.

The thirds will get smaller as they recede from us. So, in an up tilt, the bottom third will be about the same size as half of the side plane, and the forehead will be fairly small. And the opposite in a down tilt.

Head Looking Down Drawing X Axis

A confusing area for most people is the shape of the jaw as the head rotates up and down. During this rotation, the relationship of the corners of the jaw and bottom of the chin will change. As a person looks up, the chin will come up and at one point be in line with the jaw, creating a boxy shape. If you keep going the shape actually inverts and you get the opposite triangle. In an up tilt you’re also seeing the bottom plane of the jaw, which wraps around the cylindrical neck. As a person looks down, the jaw shape becomes more triangular.

Finished Head Drawing Uptilt
Stan Prokopenko tilting head up and down

Another common area of frustration is the tip of the nose. In an extreme up tilt, the tip will be unusually close to the eyes. It’s so unusual that most of us will feel like we need to move it down to lengthen the nose. Observe the shape of the bottom plane of the nose and compare it to the length of the middle third.

It’s important to remember that the eyes and lips are not flat on the face. They are rounded in their simplest forms. So, observe the curvature of these features as they wrap around those forms.

The Camera

We’ve covered the extreme rotations along the 3 axes, the only thing left is the effect of moving the camera, or vantage point of the viewer, above or below the head. When this happens, the side plane rises or drops, similar to the twist, but this time without changing the angle of the center-line. The neck will be mostly covered by the head, and we just see shoulders.

Like what you learned? Check out the next lesson on how to draw eyes!

Head Drawing From Angled Camera View

GIVEAWAY Winner – Ale Balcázar

Filed in: Portrait / HeadVideos

Comments (15)

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  1. Andrew says:

    Wonderful! Thanks so much for putting all of these together. Great work!!

  2. alfred says:

    thanks for putting up these great tutorials!
    you are a great artist 🙂

  3. Guillermo says:

    GRACIAS MASTER!!!!!!!!

  4. Danilo De Guia says:

    its a great blessing for me to see this videos because not only a lot of people like me who wants to learn more about the proper way to draw thank you very much and God Bless.

  5. Croquis says:

    I love your demonstration!
    thanks a lot.


  6. kit says:

    Oh gosh I need to make myself a small version of loomy to put beside my animation table! This is amazing!!

  7. Michael Walker says:

    How would i know I mastered the fundamentals of each lesson? The feeling of doubt in my own skills might be coming from my head but i just don’t know?

    • Michael, don’t think of these lessons as something you practice a few times and then stop. These are skills you will have to maintain for the rest of your career. When you think you’ve mastered something, that’s when you stop improving. Realize that you can always be better, but don’t beat yourself up because of it. As long as you are putting in the effort to improve you have something to be proud of.

      • Michael Walker says:

        😀 thanks Stan now i know what attitude to be in going through the lessons. This support thing is nice, I usually don’t get any support from anyone. Well on to the next lesson I go.

  8. Hey Bruno I show that process in the premium version of the portrait course 🙂

    Fifths – ya I personally don’t use that from any angle other than front. It’s not useful in other angles

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  10. Katherine Wiser says:

    Hi Stan,
    I was so excited to downloaded your video that I managed to order TWO of the same video of the extreme head presentation and did it twice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OK, I’m 72 this year and got a little overwhelmed. Is there a chance I can exchange my $39.99 for another video for the same price or get a refund???
    I do hate to have two downloads of the same thing, so can you help me out? I surely have enjoyed learning from you.
    Thanks for whatever you can do.
    Katherine Wiser, your art student.

    • Hi Katherine,

      Thank you very much for your purchase, I’m very glad to hear that you are enjoying my video lessons. I’m sorry about the double purchase error you encountered. I’ll have one of my customer servicer representatives email you very soon to help you resolve the issue.

  11. KIT TO says:

    Hi Stan,

    Sorry for asking these silly questions. You have mentioned that the height of the oval (the side plane) would remain the same no matter what angle we were drawing the head from. Does this apply to extreme angle too?

    Also, in order to place the side plane at the “correct” place in the circle, I will need to know what angle I am drawing the head from since the width of the oval depending on the direction the person is looking at.

    I have downloaded the skelly apps, it is very useful! I’m just wondering if there is a way I can just zoom in the head to full screen. I can use it to study the relationship between the side plane and the front plane.

    Thanks for your help!

    • With some extreme angles, the height of the oval can get foreshortened, but I usually just keep it at 2/3 anyway. It gets me close enough. It’s just a guideline anyway. I still have to modify proportions to fit the character.

      In the skelly app, If you pinch with two fingers you can zoom in or out.

      “Also, in order to place the side plane at the “correct” place in the circle, I will need to know what angle I am drawing the head from since the width of the oval depending on the direction the person is looking at.” – Yes.

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