By Remi Engels

One of the main points to understand about the forward slanted head pose is the shoulder/neck/head relationship. The forward slanted pose is often invoked to give your portrait a calm and confident expression. When people are calm and collected they tend to incline their head a bit forward. In this article we will explain how to tackle this pose.

In the inclined head pose, a directional change between the trunk and head of the subject will be evident. In particular, your subject’s shoulders will very nearly line up with the bottom of the nose.

With this in mind, before you draw the arabesque or construct, begin with sighting the angle of the head, i.e., judge the angle of the line that connects the bottom of the chin with a point on somewhere on the forehead. To this end, hold your pencil vertically with a stretched-out arm, with one eye closed, and judge the angle by directing your pencil along the above mentioned line. You can now transfer that angle to your drawing.

Now that the angle of the head’s slant is determined you can proceed with the drawing of the arabesque and confirm the head proportions.

The axis of symmetry of the head is at right angles with the direction of the slant. Here you should be aware of the fact that there exists a tendency to revert back to the frontal pose, i.e., to draw the face as if the axis of symmetry was vertical. This tendency should of course be resisted. This can be done by constantly being aware of it and at regular intervals to check if you fell for it.

The next step in the drawing process is to determine the location of a number of head landmarks including the location of the eye brow, the bottom of the nose, and maybe some other landmarks you feel will help you keep your bearings

Be aware of the consequences that the action of the gravity force has on the deformation of parts of the face. The soft tissues particularly on the bottom of the jaw will, over time, sag a bit. Although this feature is fairly slight it should be part of the arabesque. As a beginning artist, you may want to skip this but remember it as something that might make your drawings more professional at a later time.

Take note, too, of the neck. The major visible neck muscle is stretched out. Its opposite is compacted. This natural response of the neck muscles is an attractive feature and should be included in your portrait.

Once the arabesque is drawn and your landmarks are established you can continue with filling in the features of the face and start the blocking-in phase. First, always put in the major light and dark masses. Keep this process simple.

Once you are finished with the major light/dark masses, you can proceed with working out the tonal differentiations by dividing each mass into smaller ones that you observed to have different values. Above all, at this time, do not include any details.

Here are a few items you need to be preoccupied with as you proceed with your drawing:

1. Ask yourself how much finish you should put on your portrait. Often times it is better to leave certain parts of your drawing unfinished look. Remember that you are the artist and that you do not want to slavishly copy the photograph or reproduce the image of the sitter.

2. There exists an in-born tendency to draw pre-conceived memorized symbols of what you observe rather than what is the reality. Make sure to be constantly aware of this tendency and frequently stop and carefully check your observations.

In conclusion, the slanted head pose is special in that the features will be centered on a slanted axis and that the tensions in the shoulders and neck will be different from one side to the other. Also the anatomical features of the changeover from the subject’s trunk and shoulders to the head should be carefully observed.

Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert teacher. Check out his Pencil Portrait Course and his Portrait Print Package Special

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