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How to draw the head

Learn how to draw the head by understanding its anatomy with this extract from The Complete Guide to Anatomy for Artists and Illustrators by Gottfried Bammes

The head is a protective capsule enveloping the brain. It is balanced so well that relatively little muscle power is required to move it. The two large sections of the skull are the brain case and the facial skeleton. The brain case is egg-shaped, with a ‘pointed’ pole at the forehead, a broad and blunt occipital region, tilted backwards and downwards through its vertical axis that runs from the supraorbital ridge through the external acoustic meatus, and enclosed by the following zones: the forehead to the temple; crown–occipital region; external base of cranium.

The facial skeleton, which forms the internal supporting scaffold for the face – with the exception of the ancillary shapes – forms a vertical bow that is delimited by the supraorbital ridge at the top, the mental protuberance at the bottom and the mandibular fossa at the back

The brain case

From its lateral view the temporal bone lies in a central position, meeting with the vertical walls of the parietal bone above, the deeply recessed sphenoid at the front, the occipital bone at the back and incorporating the external acoustic meatus below. Behind this, the mastoid process protrudes downwards. Immediately in front of the external acoustic meatus is the recess that forms the mandibular fossa for the articulation with the mandibular condyle; directly above this, the horizontal, limb-like zygomatic process extends towards the zygomatic bone. The entire vertical, slightly convex region of the temple arches upwards as far as the temporal line.

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About The Artist

Follow cover artist Henrietta Graham's example and set yourself a challenging project to create a series of paintings on a particular subject matter, or why not try something different from your usual practice to keep your creativity flowing? Our professional artist/tutors offer plenty of ideas this month, from how to paint loose watercolour landscapes by Lea Nixon, unusual compositions from a high viewpoint by Jo Quigley, and how to use pattern to dramatic effect in your still lifes by Penny German. Hazel Soan demonstrates how to paint a lively self-portrait in watercolour, Glyn Macey shows what you can discover by studying Rauschenberg's work and techniques plus we include articles on understanding the structure of the head and how to measure and see more objectively to help improve your figure work. Oil painters will love Martin Kinnear's new series on oil techniques, starting with the importance of value and chiaroscuro, while Charles Williams takes a thought-provoking look at the age-old issue of 'when is a painting finished?' With more besides, you won't be short of inspiration and helpful advice in this month's issue!