Creating Form – With Planes

Posted on 2011/12/27 at 22:57 by daarken 33 Comments

Breaking an organic complex form down into shapes can help you understand what the different planes are doing and how they create form. Daarken takes you through the process of doing a study from an Asaro head and explains how planes can help you create paintings from your imagination.

Update – I just want to clarify a bit further about the oval technique. What I meant in the video is that most people tend to draw the oval in 1 second without even looking at the model. They kind of use it as a generic shorthand instead of taking the time to look at the model and trying to reproduce their head shape accurately. Yes there are some people that start out with the oval and the lines for landmarks, so there are always going to be exceptions to the rule. I am just showing you my method because that is how I was trained. My method is by far not the best or only method out there, so I encourage you to at least try different things to see if that technique fits you better.

Asaro Head

Tutorial files
Asaro head reference image
Daarken’s layered PSD file

33 Comments on "Creating Form – With Planes"

  1. Trace007 · 2011/12/28 at 01:22 · Reply

    Ah, a great lesson. I like how you mentioned the inaccuracy of drawing the oval. I think most artists start out seeing these diagrams showing the relationships of the features to the head and actually think a head drawing is begun that way. Some of my classmates in college still use the oval for their self portraits.

    I’ll try to direct some of them here. Nice work, Daarken.

  2. PeeWee · 2011/12/28 at 03:25 · Reply

    Thx D! Awesome work and it seems so simple XD Already waiting for the next one.

  3. Lukas · 2011/12/28 at 05:35 · Reply

    Great video, again.

    You said that you wouldn’t recommend building up a face by sketch in terms of creating a circle, sketching in a couple of lines for orientation/proportions etc.
    But isn’t this a good way to have a solid base to build on? I mean, e.g. Loomis’ Drawing the Head is recommended as basic literature and I assume this is for a good reason.
    Maybe you might explain that, I guess I didn’t really get what you meant.

    Btw, as far as I know Feng Zhu changes his opacity by numbers due to the fact that this is more relative to traditional painting where pressure on your brush doesn’t change the color of your paint, while mixing in another color does so…probably a personal preference.

    • daarken
      daarken · 2011/12/28 at 10:38 · Reply

      Again, technique is all personal preference. There are good artists out there that use the oval face sketch as their starting point, but in my training from school I was taught to not use it. You will always be able to find exceptions to any rule. If you find that it works for you, then by all means use that method. The other thing you need to realize is that you can start with that method as long as you actually take the time to look and accurately draw in the landmarks. What I was saying in the video is that a lot of times people just draw an oval in 1 second without even looking at the model. If you do that then you won’t be able to accurately depict them and you will end up having to erase things and move them anyway.

      • Lukas · 2011/12/28 at 11:39 · Reply

        Alright, I absolutely agree with you. Thanks a lot for your answer!

  4. Johnny · 2011/12/28 at 05:38 · Reply

    Hey Daarken, I was wondering how do you get the proportions right, is it just mileage in drawing or do you go through your knowledge in anatomy to get things just right. Also, how do you approach drawing a face with graphite?

    • daarken
      daarken · 2011/12/28 at 10:42 · Reply

      Yes to both. Getting proportions right takes practice and also a knowledge of the correct anatomy. When I am drawing a face in graphite I start by blocking in the main shapes. I will block in the eye socket, the shadow under the nose, and the outline of the head. I will probably do a tutorial about it soon.

      • Curt · 2011/12/28 at 14:50 · Reply

        That would be great!

      • Judy · 2011/12/30 at 16:07 · Reply

        I agree, that woul be wondeful!!!

  5. corax · 2011/12/28 at 09:24 · Reply

    Thank you for the tutorial and for the whole site. It is nice to communicate with accomplished artist, that can give advice to beginers.
    I am trying to learn human anatomy by myself, using books, mostly by Burne Hogarth and observation of cource. I know people who don’t know the names of the muscles and bones – only how they connect and overlap. I watched tutorials by artist who have almost medical knowledge about the humman body.
    Should I learn all the names of the muscles and bones or should I concentrate on forms and lighting only?
    And the other thing is speed vs quality. Should spend hours to make only tight drawings and painting or draw a lot lose ones. Some people say that speed is important to take more jobs or have shorter deadlines. On the other hand some say quality is all that matters, no one cares how long you spent painting. I was wondering what is your opinion on that.
    Sorry if my grammar or spelling is not correct. English is not my native language.

    • daarken
      daarken · 2011/12/28 at 10:48 · Reply

      Knowledge of anatomy is very important to take your art to the next level, but it isn’t necessary to know all of the names. As long as you know what the different muscles look like and how they attach and interact with other muscles, you should be fine. When I was in school I had to learn all of the names and even the origin and insertion of all the muscles. I still remember a lot of them, but I can’t remember all of the names and origins and insertions anymore.

      I think you should spend time working on longer paintings and shorter paintings. It is important to be able to do both. A lot of times people get used to doing speed paintings, but when they are asked to create a finished illustration they struggle. When I was in my figure drawing classes they would mix up the pose times so that we could have practice doing both. Sometimes we would do 1-5 minute poses, but other times we would do 20 minute or 1 hour poses. Even concept artists will need to be able to create speed paintings and finished marketing illustrations. Versatility as an artist is what will help maintain your job. When the company has to lay some people off, they are going to lay off the ones that can’t adapt to different situations first.

  6. Curt · 2011/12/28 at 09:37 · Reply

    Awesome tutorial. I love the fact that you are taking the time to show how to paint the planes instead of using the oval approach. I am a beginner at drawing and digital painting and this video was something i have needed to hear and see. I will be buying a head model like that and eventually will buy a Fujitsu ST5112 also, because I have been looking for a cheap alternative to have a more portable workspace than my Wacom Bamboo Touch and 55″ TV. Thanks again your tutorials and PLEASE keep them coming :)

  7. Robert · 2011/12/28 at 10:07 · Reply

    wow interesting stuff. i think a lot of people use the oval and guide lines when they start to draw people. i use it sometimes=(. any way great video i will practice this and try to memorize the plans the best i can.

  8. Dustin Burdick · 2011/12/28 at 10:24 · Reply

    Thanks for this tutorial! Believe it or not, this is a subject we’ve never even discussed in art school, and I graduate next semester with an emphasis in painting. In fact we’ve never even discussed the idea of drawing or painting from our imagination. We are allowed to but we have essentially received no guidance on the subject. So these tutorials you’re making are incredibly helpful!
    They’re especially from the stand point of just getting acquainted with photoshop, and working with it’s tools and interface. I’m brand new to digital painting, and sometimes I’m left feeling like I’m starting over in art and have forgotten how to draw. These are the best tutorials I’ve found, and leave me feeling like I may be able to figure out this “art” thing again! ;)
    By the way you’re an amazing artist. (that was how I first found your website) Between your art and tutorials you have inspired me a LOT. So keep doing what your doing. I suspect I’m not the only person you’re inspiring.

    • daarken
      daarken · 2011/12/28 at 11:07 · Reply

      That is great to hear! Well, not the part about not learning any of this in art school, haha. Which school are you going to? If it is a state school then I’m not surprised. Yeah, sometimes education programs can be pretty lacking, or they end up teaching you all the stuff you never need to know. Going a little off the topic, there are so many things in life they should teach you about in high school instead of things like calculus. When am I ever going to need to be able to calculate the rate at which a person’s shadow grows as they walk away from a light pole? Never. Instead they should teach you things like how to pay taxes as a freelancer. Thanks for all of your comments, I really appreciate it!

      • Dustin Burdick · 2011/12/28 at 17:20 · Reply

        You’re right it’s a state school. I’m going to the University of Central Oklahoma. It was basically a financial decision.
        I’ve been telling teachers in my school we need a digital painting class. They disagree but the more I learn about this program, the more I realize that this is the medium to learn. The separation of studio art and illustration is ridiculous. Studio art used to BE illustration.
        But yeah, learning taxes in highschool would be fantastic! Imagine learning actual life skills in highschool! lol

        • daarken
          daarken · 2011/12/28 at 17:35 · Reply

          Yeah I went to a state school for a semester and it was pretty horrible.

          • Dustin Burdick · 2011/12/28 at 23:27 ·


  9. Carlos Arthur · 2011/12/28 at 13:18 · Reply

    Hey Daarken, the video is awesome, i’m trying draw the head
    but is hard T.T, I already drew nearly all the left side, but the right and the size of the nose are giving cable me, when I finish,i’ll post here for you to see :D, but it’s funny to draw it, just stopped for a few minutes now because not I like to be drawing much in the iMac, became i accustomed to the windows, by the way, taking advantage of here, I use a wacom bamboo, so here I click on windows Alt + button of the pen, and has some way to do this in mac os x system??, because there i have to be pressing [and]… sorry my poor english T.T

    • daarken
      daarken · 2011/12/28 at 15:04 · Reply

      I’m not sure exactly what you are asking, but Mac computers have an alt button. Instead of ctrl you use command on a Mac.

      • Carlos Arthur · 2011/12/29 at 10:33 · Reply

        i know that XD, i have a mac but for example here on my laptop, to increase the brush in photoshop I hold the alt, and the pen button, and when I drag the stylus up the brush increases, and when i drag down the brush decrease , and i can’t do this in the iMac , I have to press “[ and ]” to increase and decrease, sorry my poor english :s

        • daarken
          daarken · 2011/12/29 at 11:11 · Reply

          I’m not sure what the “and” button is you are talking about. I googled it and for Macs you have to hold down option+ctrl.

          • Carlos Arthur · 2011/12/30 at 05:04 ·

            isn’t the “and” xDDD xD, the brackets [] to increase and decrease the brush,but never mind, I got a a similar way, :C Sorry about that!I really have to improve my English >.<

          • daarken
            daarken · 2011/12/30 at 10:29 ·

            Ohhhh, lol. Sorry, I see what you mean now.

  10. Artem · 2011/12/28 at 13:19 · Reply

    Cool tutorial! Your tutorials very informative and helpfull. With good practice they can give good base of knowledge.

  11. Robert · 2011/12/28 at 20:38 · Reply

    hey Daarken i need help! i have been trying to recreate this and i just cant really get the nose and chin right i mean it looks really flat and ugly. got any tips?

    • daarken
      daarken · 2011/12/28 at 21:45 · Reply

      Post it in the forums and I’ll give you some help.

  12. Robert · 2011/12/28 at 22:38 · Reply

    thanks that would be great! i uploaded it in WIP section

  13. Arthur Ortega · 2011/12/28 at 23:43 · Reply

    Daarken, this is awesome man! Thanks soo much for taking time outta your day to create these videos. You’re an awesome dude!

  14. Jose David · 2011/12/29 at 00:53 · Reply

    Thanks man! for taking your time and sharing these awesome videos.

  15. Extrics · 2011/12/29 at 19:10 · Reply

    I’ve never really had the chance to say this before, but thank you so much. I’ve been following your tutorials even before I got my tablet back and they’ve helped me improve so much.

  16. Kihlstrand · 2011/12/30 at 00:32 · Reply

    Hey Daarken! I used this tutorial for sculpting instead of painting (in Zbrush), helped a lot! Especially around the cheek area, had a hard time understanding it until now.

    Keep it up with the tutorials, they are really useful!

  17. techrobot · 2011/12/30 at 10:49 · Reply

    Just make sure you do plenty of ( Fundimental’s ) there what i really need to know cause i never went to art school and i know that’s the most important thing, like this vid and your other one’s i mean. Other than that i’ll be tuning in cause this is a top resource, thanks. Ps working on getting some Tut’s of yours for dvd:D

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