Secrets to Drawing Heads

Secrets to Drawing Heads
-by Allan Kraayvanger

Paperback: 112 pages
Sterling (February 2007)
ISBN-10: 1402747438 / ISBN-13: 978-1402747434

MY RATING: 4 / 5 stars

Exceptional guide for the novice

Capturing the quintessence of the human head and face, as well as character of the individual, is the “holy grail” of all techniques, to most artists; also the most complicated and challenging to achieve. This is mainly due to the fact that most struggle with the tendency towards drawing things symbolically, rather than what is actually seen. Allan Kraayvanger’s Secrets to Drawing Heads is a classic of simplicity, yet exceptionally focused, when it comes to helpful direction in this exceptional art, especially for the absolute novice attempting to develop their skills in portrait drawing.

An easy-to-read condensed art tutorial, Secrets to Drawing Head’s 112 pages are copiously illustrated with over 230 drawings, including step-by-step instructions and text outlining the core techniques that will help the budding artist reason on why such methods are taken. The reader is shown the building blocks of an accurate portrait and how to master the techniques in applying the study of basic components such as skin values, geometric shapes, shadows and lighting, perspective, and planes, to develop visual awareness. Advice offered on “individualizing” a face is also exceedingly helpful in capturing the subjects ‘character’ and personal aura in a portrait.

Extremely helpful in guiding and nudging the burgeoning artist beyond the lifeless one-dimensional line drawing, the complexities of the human face and head are abridged to their simplest structures to accommodate easy comprehension. It should be said that, while accurate and recognizable, the final result is akin to a loose sketch, rather than a detailed and refined portrait. Therefore, its richly visual instruction and references are geared more towards the beginner or intermediate, as opposed to the seasoned artist who is looking for a greater echelon of detail in a finished drawing.

Also included are discussions capturing realistic anatomy by understanding bone and muscle structure, advice on capturing tipped profiles and angled views accurately, as well as the use of symbolism. A comprehensive index in the back of the book also aids in rapid look-up of particular topics of interest.

Kraayvanger’s own drawing illustrations, coupled with his pointed text and guidance in Secrets to Drawing Heads, strike a perfect equilibrium, as he demonstrates the quick, rewarding way to master the fundamentals of a favorite genre of expression. The beginner artist will appreciate how the author reduces complexities with fun and easy-to-follow instructions. This book is highly recommended to the artist endeavoring to gain confidence in drawing an accurate likeness.

Buy Secrets to Drawing Heads at

-reviewed for Sterling Publishing, NY

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