Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nathan Fowkes Head Drawing Workshop Review and Notes

This blog post is way overdue, but it's never too late to make a post about one of my favorite artists.  I've had the fortunate opportunity to attend two Nathan Fowkes Head drawing demos. One at Comic-Con, another LAAFA. Instead of going over his technique - I'm going to talk his philosophy and artistic mindset. He already has many tutorials in his blog (, so I won't bother with that.

Nathan Fowkes demo at the LAAFA Booth at Comic Con

These are notes that I took during his LAAFA demo. When he was drawing, he constantly emphasized getting the "biggest simple shape."  Even in the drawing process, he would really simplify things, using a circle for the eye socket.  He used the Riley method during his lay in - which is a method that unifies a lot of features of the face.  

 Any activity and detail should work with the simple shape instead of against it. When drawing any detail on the head, he made sure that it accentuated the statement that the head is a sphere. 
For example, the hair of the model had a lot of detail and strands. In the drawing, he simplified the highlights and the strands. There are many things he left out. Now, take a look at the red cloth the model was wearing. It looks different in the drawing. Nathan purposely simplified the folds and changed them so it would read better in the drawing. If the detail does not emphasize the simple statement of the drawing, you should either leave it out or change it. 
Notes for Head Drawing workshop at LAAFA
Nathan wouldn't be afraid to leave things out or sacrifice detail for the greater effect of the drawing.   See the turquoise bun that the model has under his head in the photograph? It was completely left out of the drawing.  He studied the model and explained that if he were to draw that in, it wouldn't really read. In the short time that he had, he decided it wouldn't be effective to try to draw that.


I think it is not only a good drawing philosophy, but also a really good life philosophy. In today's hyper-speed society, there are so many things to do, see, hear etc... Young people these days need to balance school, work, friends, jobs, parties, sleep, health, relationships etc...  You can't have it all. BUT, you can make a conscious decision to sacrificing unimportant things for the important ones.