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The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head Paperback – January 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill; First edition (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823003590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823003594
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Maughan has taught advanced head drawing, head painting, and landscape painting at both the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. He lives in Napa, CA.

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Customer Reviews

This book is extermely well written and very easy to understand.
John A. Kaiser
Would highly recommend to anyone that has basic drawing skills and wants to take their art to the next level.
Douglas W. Macpherson
Purchased this book specifically because to help learn new methods of drawing portraits.
Sarah Lenore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 134 people found the following review helpful By S. F. Bell on June 12, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a previous reviewer has noted, the title of this book is a bit misleading- it's not a "complete" guide to drawing the head. It really has a rather narrow focus: it concentrates on drawing three-quarter view portraits with (if you follow Maugham's instruction precisely) using two particular colors of pastel pencil on shaded drawing paper. In addition to his specific materials and subjects, Maughan concentrates on teaching chiaroscuro (use of light and shadow to depict form) in a "classical realist" style. However, for what the book really does, it does quite well. Keeping a narrow focus in a drawing instruction book is a virtue. Many drawing books (and I have a lot, since I've been trying to teach myself) try to cover far too much. They try to summarize in a page or two each of the different drawing mediums (pastel, charcoal, pencil, pen, etc.) and different elements of drawing (line, tone, etc.) while not giving you enough depth or detail about any one thing to learn much that's useful. Maughan, though, sticks to his central focus, describes the basic principles of chiaroscuro in an understandable manner, breaks down his drawing process into basic steps, and provides more demonstrations and detail than most books of this sort. The best evidence I can give in its favor is that my drawing immediately improved after I read this book and started practicing its techniques (even though I've mostly been using pencil rather pastel, so you don't have to precisely follow Maughan's recommendations).
Overall, it's one of the clearest and most useful drawing instruction books that I've seen.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By E. Johnson on November 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I took classes with William Maughan, several of them in fact and I need to set the record straight. This is the best drawing instruction book I have ever read. It will give you fundamental and instinctive understanding of techniques that can carry over to any medium (that includes oil and pastel and graphite). Your people will never look like aliens again, they will be shockingly realistic (if you want that) or effectively abstracted (if you want that). It's just a shame that Bills humor and approachability doesn't come through in the text, but all the info is there.

In this book you will learn:

An extraordinarily simple and instinctive understanding of how shadows really work. Chiurascuro is a fancy word for how shadow forms are shaped and he'll teach you how to see it and render it. This is the secret to realistic drawing.

How value works. Value is really just how dark or light something is, but there is a logic to it that ties into painting and drawing. You will also draw MUCH faster with more convincing results. The curious color of paper and charcoal Bill uses in this book simplifies values to become easier to render, instead of ten shades of darkness he compresses it to five, thus making it easier for you to understand. From there you can apply it to white paper or canvas and any color medium you want. All tools he teaches you to use here are instinctive and excellent.

The proper proportions for the head and face no matter the sex, age, or ethnicity of the subject.

An incredibly fast, effective, and instinctive drawing technique that WILL translate into other media and other subjects.

Sincerely, these are the core fundamentals. These are techniques rarely taught in school or presented in books.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Schamae ben Yaacov on November 10, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By insisting that a likeness is obtained by concentrating on the shadow shapes and avoiding line, Maughan makes it clear how to make a magical three-dimensional image rather than the typical ideogram obtained with line. It's the difference between drawing two lines down the side of the nose, signifying "nose" and two dark circles signifying "nostrils", and drawing the cast shadow of the nose, its form shadow as it turns into the dark, and adding a high light to have the visual sysem of the viewer construct a nose for itself.

He's clear about the materials (a white and a sanguine Stabilo pastel pencil)--even how to sharpen the pastel pencils -- and suggests a simplified 4-value structure. He points out how important the light is on a head. He can be forgiven the repetition, a section on drawing monsters by combining animal and human heads, and a section on color that should have been left out.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By GoldenEars on February 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book on drawing portraits. Yes, it does not cover every angle and does not cover a variety of media. However, those are minor limitations.

The whole premise of this book is that drawing shadow shapes accurately and expressively produces great portraits. I am self-taught and it is THE book that made a difference in my approach to portrait drawing, and drawing in general.

The author focuses on key aspects of rendering the head beginning with gesture. Then he addresses different features--eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and hair, with useful tips for each. Once you have developed your seeing and rendering skills, you should be able to draw the head from any angle. The author correctly does not focus on this. It will come naturally.

He also provides tips for using color. Again, once you know the basics about shapes, values, etc, you should be able to render these in any medium. Finally, the hybrid animal/human drawings are included simply to make the point that any face can be constructed once you have mastered the basics.

All in all one of the best art instruction books ever. I would go so far as to say that I do not need to read another book on portraiture after this one. It has been that good for me.
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