This is part one of a series of recommendations of art books I plan to do. First, let me start with my all time favourite book. Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis. It’s an old book, first published in 1956, but it’s a real gem and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any better book.
I’ve never had particularly good technique when it comes to drawing. I draw what I see, which, with portraits, brings the risk of strange proportions. The advice everyone always gives is to read up on the anatomy of the human head. It’s true, and good advice, because it helps you focus on shapes rather than details, but it’s the most dull thing ever. Still, if you can manage, try that first.
After that, Loomis is an excellent resource. Why? Because he describes the process of drawing the face in easy to understand steps, with really really useful examples and measurement charts. Unlike most art books, it’s not full of the artist’s attempts to impress the hell out of you. Loomis will do that, too, don’t get me wrong, because his works are amazing, but it’s clearly not his primary objective. His primary objective is to teach.
The examples he uses are of classic faces, not faces that you see nowadays, but in old romantic movies. That said, it doesn’t make them any less useful.
The book covers all ages, both male and female, and deviates to other styles, too, not just realism. Apart from faces, there is also a really good section on how to draw hands (as the title suggests). Hands are the trickiest things to draw, and Loomis makes it look easy. This book is meant for pencil artists, but even as a digital artist, it’ll teach you more than any other book you’ll find.