Fo you have any advice for drawing heads and hands?
Use lots and lots of references.
I used to really struggle with hands. There are plenty of pictures I drew when I was a teen where I tried to find strategic ways of hiding them. It wasn’t until I fully embraced studying references that I started to see improvement… and part of that, for me, was learning that tracing is not a dirty word when it comes to learning how to draw something. The concept of breaking objects down into basic shapes is something I’ve known since I was a little kid, but my proportions could still end up all over the place when I tried to simply eyeball something. I’d get a bit of a lopsided mess that I’d erase and redraw and erase and redraw and then either settle with the best I could do or just give up altogether.
Now, an example. The first column is obviously my reference (nabbed off of pinterest for this post), the second is a tracing that breaks those hands down into their basic parts, and the third is my super-quick rough sketch where I drew them again freehand (heh) without tracing or using an overlay over the original reference.
The last column is by no means perfect, but it gives me something to work with as I clean up the image further. The more I practice, the easier it is for me to draw hands without a reference - but that practice came by not only giving myself a photo to look at, but also a visual break down of how that image can be translated into a drawing. The more I do this, the better I get, the easier it is to do.
Heads are more complex. Our eyes are naturally drawn to faces because we want to see the information they convey - the emotions of the subject, how they’re engaging with their environment, etc. Despite the added complexity, the way I study faces/heads is essentially the same. Take an image and break it down into it’s basic components. Don’t just think about the nose and the eyes and the lips, but consider the overall structure of the head and how those features sit on them. Is the brow heavy or light? How is the eye socket - the space between the brow and cheeks- shaped (which is often a major indicator of mood - if the muscles of the brow, eyes and cheeks tense, the shape of that space will change in the drawing).
As an example, I did a super quick rundown of some shots of Solas:
As you can see, the top of the skull isn’t a perfect circle with a jawline hanging straight down from it. It’s more ovular. In profile, the nose, lips and chin don’t fall in a straight line from the forehead - instead, they follow a subtle outward curve. When he’s scowling, the cheeks and brow draw close to one another, narrowing the space around the eyes. When he’s relaxed or sad, the size of that “socket” widens.
Every face and head-shape is different. Do lots and lots of studies of different faces at different angles… I promise, the more you do, the easier it becomes to draw them freehanded.
One more tip I will give with regards to studying references:
Don’t marry yourself to your reference.
Aesthetically, people are attracted to symmetry. You could take a photo to study and trace it down to the last detail only to step back and see that it looks off in a way you can’t quite put your finger on as soon as you take the reference image away. The asymmetry we accept as natural in a photograph looks like a conscious decision (or worse, a mistake) in a drawing. Don’t be so convinced that your reference is somehow more “right” than your own artistic instincts. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate or diminish features, to change the expressions, etc. Chances are the image will look very flat and static if you tie yourself completely to your reference…. give it some life. Make the image your own. Play around with it… an image study is your chance to experiment and learn what works and what doesn’t, what looks good to you, etc.
Hope that helps!