15 November 2010

Recent Head Drawings and the Egg Effect

I'm back taking head drawing this term with Meadow Gist.  Meadow can draw heads, and she's a good teacher, too.  One of my professional goals is commissioned portraiture, so learning to draw (and ultimately to paint) a convincing head with a good likeness is important to me.

One of Meadow's recent class tips was the importance of the "egg" effect when modeling the head.  That is the gradation of tone moving away from the light, both laterally and top to bottom. I know the concept, heard it many times, but didn't fully grasp it's importance until now. Just wasn't ready. I always modeled laterally, but not so consistently from the top down, which flattened my results.  My chins were as light as my foreheads.  Below are portraits drawn in the last 3 weeks.  Compare the bottom head (without top-down "egg" modeling) to the 2 upper heads (after getting the "egg" tip).  The tonal differences are subtle but the improvement is clear.  It's a simple tip, but the good ones usually are.

If you are interested in looking at the work of other artists who really know their head drawing, check out:
All drawings took approximately 2 hours, from life, using a Conte Pierre Noir 1710 B charcoal pencil on 24 x 18 smooth newsprint.


  1. Very good, the top one. The difference is very pronounced. I find that the egg effect applies to composition as well, in that the value and color tension gradually fade out as they move away from the focal point/source of light.
    I just found your blog and really like the work, thanks for sharing.

  2. Dear Candace,
    The quality I really appreciate in you is the dedication to excel in what you are doing! Thanks for inspiring :)
    And as for your 'heads', (I'm not much into portraits),they all look wonderful :)

  3. Thanks for your comment, Nika...makes good sense, given the dependence on light that these features all share. I like the idea that the "egg" is everywhere. TY

    Ramesh, As always, I appreciate you support. Very impressed at the evolution of your work. Surprised you don't care for portraits, given the high quality of the few I've seen on your blog. Best.

  4. All three are outstanding, i think. Yes, those highlights off the dome of the forehead and lesser lights on the chin are terrific in the first one, but i must confess i like the bottom one best. But then, i'm more into expressive painting so i guess i'm bias.

    To my taste that bottom head has real 'bite'. The facial planes are so strongly established that the skull is visible beneath. The sharp lines round the eyebrows and mouth give real edge, suggesting the sitter is a strong woman of strong character.

    The eyes are masterful, introducing a slight dreaminess to suggest a person of layered contradictions and complexities. The mouth sensual but disciplined. Yes, the egg effect is absent. But i think that adds to the drama. The full-on face is in-your-face but in such a beguiling and engaging way.

    So all three are winners in my book, Candice. Each ia a terrific piece of draughtsmanship and fine composition. Big fan here.

  5. hi! I wanted to say I enjoyed much of his work!!

  6. All 3 of these are superb! Such confidence in every line.

  7. Beautiful portrait work!!

  8. the bottom one I connect with - beyond technique - which is so important - but I sense the subject the way I did with portraits of your daughter...did you connect better with this model or is it all in my own egg head?

  9. Thank you for sharing
    This Wonderful work with us
    Good creations

  10. these are wonderful... though i must admit i liked the bottom one too:) the light is side on and you have made the necessary adjustments if the egg had been lit side on;)

  11. Gracias por tu buena aportación con este blog. Pasaba por aqui pero me he quedado.Felicitaciones. Victoria.

  12. Thanks to everyone for your considered comments. I appreciate them all, but especially those that point out a preference for the "uncorrected" drawing at the bottom. It reminds me that there is no correct way or incorrect way to draw/paint/create art. The strong appeal of art is the absence of a "right answer". It's much more complicated than that :o)