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How to Draw the Head – Side View

August 28, 201218 Comments

Assignment: Draw the Loomis Head – Side View

Browse the interwebs for “side profile pictures” and choose your favorite ones. Practice constructing the loomis head from the side view using what you learned in this lesson. This time, try to capture the proportions and characteristics of the subject. Figure out how they are different from the average loomis head proportions and make sure to capture those differences. Observe the major angle changes of the forehead, brow, nose, lips and chin of the contour.

Remember to post your work in the Facebook group.


Start with a circle for drawing the head
Just like the front view, the side view is a flat angle. You are looking directly at the side plane of the head. The process is the same as 3/4 and front view, but I’d like to show you an example just to make it even more clear.

Start with the ball for the cranium and chop off the side plane. Notice that this time the side plane is a perfect circle instead of an oval and it’s in the middle of the cranial mass because we are looking directly at it.

Now let’s indicate this head looking slightly upward with an angle from ear to brow. Make sure that this angle is in the center of the side plane. Establishing the angle from one brow to the other is tricky, since we can only see one side. But keep in mind that if there is a twist, the angle will follow. Also, notice that the side plane is lower on the cranium when the top of the head is pointing at you and higher when its pointing away. I’ll go into more depth in the next lesson on extreme angles. For now, I’ll keep it straight and make the brow horizontal.
portrait side view tilt

A perpendicular vertical line is helpful on the side plane. We will use it later to find the jaw. This should be close to the angle of the front plane of the face.

The curvature of the front plane varies from person to person. Sometimes it will be straight and sometimes curve out from the forehead to the chin. Also, sometimes the chin will be closer to the back of the head, or protrude out from the face. So pay attention to the angle from forehead to the front plane of the chin, as well as it’s curvature.

From the bottom of the ear draw that same angle over to the bottom of the nose. Find the hairline and chin using the rule of thirds.

Now add the jaw.

The cranial mass at the bottom back of the head is actually a bit higher than the perfect ball indicates. So, I’ll make that little correction. And add the neck.

When someone looks up, the chin goes away from the body and the back of the head gets closer. So we need to show the neck stretching in the front and squashing in the back.

neck stretching drawing

Okay! Here’s a little advice on the features… From the side, its hard to draw the features accurately just by following the contour. I like to observe as many angle relationships as possible. Brow to chin, brow to nose, nose to chin, nose to top lip, top lip to bottom lip, and so on. Plotting these points first makes it a lot easier.

A finished side view of head drawing
facial features drawing breakdown

Now let’s learn how to draw head from extreme angles!

Filed in: Portrait / HeadVideos

Comments (18)

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  1. Manny says:

    Hey bud, thanks sooo much for these videos. I have a Bachelor’s degree in art, and I work as a designer, but my dream job is to be an illustrator. These videos are so incredibly helpful. It’s what I’ve been looking for, for a long, long time. Thank you! P.S. I can’t wait ’till you start the body!


  2. Kevin says:


    Great videos! I’m learning a lot. I’m wondering though, this method: won’t all ‘heads’ from different subjects then tend to look the same? Different facial features, but the craniums and jaw proportions will always be the same. But in life, craniums and jaws can vary quite a bit. Also head feature proportions (distance between eyebrow and nose etc) will vary with age. In my figure drawing class, most students are much better than me but I’ve noticed that the figure heads often do not look like the subject’s head but do often all seem to look alike especially at the blocking in stage. It’s like they’re drawing a ‘generic’ head. I wonder if they’re using the Loomis guide? I’ll have to ask! Thanks again .

    • Yes, if you follow the measurements exactly all the time you will get the same generic head. But that’s not the purpose. This gives you a framework to go from. If you see the person has a larger jaw than the average then make it larger. The average proportions that we study are very useful because they give us something to compare to. We notice subtle variations in proportion if we are familiar with the average.

  3. Lucia says:

    Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog wiith my myspace group?
    There’s a lot oof people that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

  4. Elizabeth Wilson says:

    Hi, I cannot see the drawing at all on this video and I have tried to alter my contrast on my computer. I love your videos and have learnt a lot but this one I cannot see.

    Thanks ,

    Elizabeth, I do not have a website yet but I am Elizabeth Penelope Rose on Saatchi on line. Is there anyway you can make it so that I can see you drawing on this video?

    Thanks so much.

    • Hey Elizabeth, the lines in this video are lighter than the other videos, but I can still see them on my monitor. You might need to adjust the settings on your monitor. Maybe lower the brightness and contrast a little? Sorry about the light lines. This is one of my first videos and I’ve learned a lot since then..

      • Elizabeth Wilson says:

        Hi thanks for that, I used another lap top and it was fine. I wonder why at the art schools I went to they never got down to basics with drawing. I believe that great drawing is a talent, like Egon schiele, or Augustus John, and actually even if some people get down to the basics their drawing will still be vulgar or lifeless lacking the real poetry that truly great drawing is. I have needed to get back into drawing and going back to basics has been very good for me. I never knew about your methods or loomis when I was young. You videos are great.


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  8. Charl Anne Brew says:

    Hello Stan,

    These videos are extremely helpful. I am an educator, and the generic head building you present in your videos takes the sting out of guesswork for many students who want to draw heads from their imagination. I am also a fan of Andrew Loomis, his books are wonderful.

    I could use your opinion on one point: getting the distances in a foreshortened view of the head seems kind of approximate. The video uses the phrase below the center. I have some students that would go into a downward spiral about that. I would talk about sight measuring and (as you do) ear to eyebrow angles. How do you help students struggling with figuring out the distance on the heads looking up or down that is a little less “touchy feely”. Especially the diminishing distances from brow to nose and then from nose to mouth to chin?

    Another thing that your videos make crystal clear is how to figure out the division of thirds of the head. I have purchased one course of videos and I am preparing to purchase another set on drawing the figure. I seriously wish you would do a GoToMeeting course on line. I would have myself and my whole class take it.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise with the…well, golly, the whole world!


    Charl Anne Brew

  9. David Goodman says:


    Thank you!


  10. Leslie says:

    Hello! Thank you for your wonderful website and sharing your drawing skills with everyone. I enjoyed the video about drawing the profile and am looking forward to trying it. Would it be okay to share your video, or maybe a still from it, with my friends on Sketch Club? I will be sure to note where it came from.
    Thank you!

    Leslie Raab

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