1000 heads challenge.

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  06 June 2014
1000 heads challenge.

Last time I posted in the WIP threads here on CGsociety was more than a year ago. The past year I have constantly been working on my digital painting but at first I really struggled to keep myself motivated.

So at the end of last year I decided that apart from any other work I do, I would try to paint 1000 heads, painting a minimum of 2 a day. In the beginning I was quite lazy and somewhere halfway to this point I took a break but I have finally got myself going again.

My aim is to get better at drawing facial expressions and facial anatomy from different angles. Likeness hasn't been my aim in most cases, I have just studied the basic proportions of the human head. I have also been experimenting with different brushes and painting styles and any advice in this area would also help me out a lot.

So it is about time I posted these somewhere I can get the feedback I need to know how I can improve.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my work.

  06 June 2014
While doing studies like these are helpful, what you're doing is learning by osmosis instead of direct, targeted research.

Learning by osmosis is not nearly as effective as if you were to actually target your understanding of the anatomical structure, the facial muscles that contribute to expressions, physiological responses to emotions, differences of proportions and shapes according to race, gender, age, and perceived personality traits according to facial features and facial contours, as well as hair style.

One single quality book on the subject will far surpass brute force repetition. I highly recommend you look into these books:



And if you just search "facial expression" on amazon, you'll find more.
  06 June 2014
Thank you for the advice. I have read through one of Paul Ekman's books about emotions but actually having the reference there for each expression while I work could be very helpful. I will definitely take what you have said seriously as I go further with these.

The expression I struggle with the most is a smile, I don't know whether you have any advice on how to get a open mouth smile to look more natural. Thanks again.

Last edited by JayceJvR1992 : 06 June 2014 at 02:38 PM.
  07 July 2014

I completed my next 100. I already completed nearly half of them before posting my previous work in this thread as well as on other forums so I changed the way I painted and chose my reference. Near the end I started doing a lot more master studies and I feel like that has really helped me with my lighting as well as brushwork.
  07 July 2014
...I'm loving these studies', I was a self-employed portraitist back in the day earning a modest living, anyway none-the-less from time to time I do dabble a bit in portraying various facial expressions in order to challenge myself, so just a thought as another avenue to explore, again very nice...

Cheers ;)
I like criticism, but it must be my way. - Mark Twain
  07 July 2014
When you are working without references, the difference in accuracy in terms of proportions and readability of the forms drop significantly. I think the problem is probably because you're too focused on the micro-details and not paying enough attention to the macro structural integrity as well as the overall forms. This is what I meant before, when I said that if you are trying to improve by brute force repetition and osmosis, you're going to waste a lot of time going around in circles and seeing far less improvement than if you were to systematically learn and train in your understanding of the structural forms.

What you should be doing that's far more effective than just doing a bunch of heads, is to deconstruct heads and their structural form. For example, do studies where you simplify heads down to simple planes so you get the clearest read on the basic forms.

Also do exercises where you take a head and on another layer, fill in the anatomical structure superimposed, with the bone structure, then in another color/layer, the muscular structure.

Another great exercise is to take the same head and light it from different directions, as well as in different lighting schemes (for example, using hard and soft lighting) and do studies, so you understand how the forms read differently when the light source's direction or quality changes. You can do this with a real person and take photo references, or use a high quality 3D head and light it differently and do various renders, or use a high quality sculpture of a head (such as plaster replicas you can buy at art stores) and do it from life, or take photos.

I guarantee you that if you used the methods I've described, you will improve far faster. Teaching the most effective way to learn and practice and improve as an artist is my specialty, and I've already helped hundreds of students make breakthroughs that they couldn't on their own after years of struggling and not seeing much improvement.
  07 July 2014
Thank you for the advice.

Lunatique, these exercises seem really helpful thank you so much I will definitely try out all of these exercises.

I want to continue with 1000 head portrait studies but will incorporate these exercises continuously. The idea of painting in each layer of the facial anatomy at a time could come in really helpful.

Once again thank you so much.
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