Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Tu Tor Plus, Tutorials

Artist author and instructor Andrew Loomis influenced several generations of budding artists and his work still is influential.  The plate to the left is one of his illustrations of facial planes to help in viewing the basic shape of the human face.  If one is to become comfortable with carving faces in wood, one needs to be able to see the human face in various ways to fix an image in the mind.  It is part of what I mean when I say, “Think inside the Block,” (the Block Head as well as the Block of wood)  as being able to see in the mind first the basic shape of the human face.  It is the mental image that guides the carving hands and tool to shape the wood into a human face.  By using a study of facial planes both visually and carving facial planes the carver will be able to carve to shape a face that looks natural and pleasing.

Intentionally carving facial planes in this study does not mean that in every carving of a human face that all these planes will be carved.  Rather this is a study and practice of getting the mental image of facial planes fixed in the carver’s mind and helps to see the human face from another angle and perspective.

“The simplest definition for carving is to shape a block of wood  using  a sharp cutting tool in a slicing action to round square corners and flatten round surfaces.”  Carving a face plane practice stick will be slicing flat surfaces to form planes with the realization that the corners of these  flat planes will be rounded to shape the sculptured face.

The two photographs at the left show two different ways to carve a face plane study stick with the numbers representing the steps in progression for the carving of one face.  These study sticks were carved out of one inch square blocks of basswood.  The study stick with the six numbers shows six progressive step faces.  The second photograph shows eight individual  progressive step faces carved into individual blocks of wood.  With any study stick the intent is to follow the progressive steps to carve one face rather than duplicating the study stick.  There is, however, merit in carving one’s own facial study stick as a way to learn because the more one carves the better one carves so that it becomes second nature.

Tapering the sides of the square block of wood is to illustrate the narrowing of the face.  The face is two thirds wide and three thirds tall and by slicing off the opposite corners creates an angled plane on either side of the face narrowing at the front and tapering outward as it makes it way towards the back of the block.  The first photographs shows  the left  block of wood with guidelines draw to indicated the corners to be sliced away.  The middle block has had the corners sliced away while the right block of wood has been carved into the vertical face plane study stick.  The second photograph shows end view of the sides tapered.

The first photograph above shows all the eight progress steps. In the second photograph, Illustration 1,  the corners have been sliced away to illustrate the narrowing of the face and across the front two lines are drawn to illustrate  the length of face divided into thirds using the Rule of Three of Facial proportions.  The upper line represents the eyebrow and the second line represents the bottom of the nose.  The third photograph is a frontal view, Illustration 2 and the last photo, Illustration 2a is the profile view of the next step of slicing down from the nose an angled plane and slicing up from the nose an angled plane.

Illustration 3 is a front view with a notch cut across the eye brow line while illustration 3a is the profile view.  Illustration 4 begins by carving a hairline notch straight across the middle of the forehead and than an angled notch cut of either side of the straight notch cut.  Next  the planes of the forehead are carved  by first slicing off the corners of the forehead as in Illustration 3 and slicing off the corners between the eyebrows and bottom of nose in Illustration 3.

The first two photographs above show the first four steps together with a front view and a three quarter view.  The next two photographs show the next four steps.

Illustration 5 continues the process of extending the hairline notch down toward the temples  and then slicing in another plane for the outside corner of the eyebrow up to the hairline notch.  The angled wings of the nose nostrils receive angled notch cuts. One third down between the bottom of nose and chin  slice a plane up towards where the two nostril angled cuts meet in a V.  This creates the beginning of the mouth mound.  Slice downward on either side of the mouth mound the outside corners of the jaw  to begin the rounding of the dental curve.  Take a thin slice on either side of the cheek to create a plane for the cheek.  Illustration 5a is the profile view that helps show how the planes have begun to shape the face.

Illustration 6 begins with a three cut triangle chip on either side of the nose at the juncture of the nose nostril and smile line.  The smile line is extended down at an angle with a notch cut. The top of the mouth mound slices a plane over to the smile line notch cuts.  Below the mouth mound planes are carved with one down the middle and one on either side of the first plane under the mouth and towards the chin.  The side burns are established with a notch cut that extends the hairline down from the temples.  Behind the side burns the ears are established with notch cuts to form the shape of the number 7 on one side and a reversed 7 on the other.  The ear is positioned on the back half of the head with top of ear in line with the eyebrow and bottom of ear in line with the bottom of the nose or the middle third of the face.  Illustration 6a shows the profile view of the progress made thus far and shows that the bottom of the jaw line has been established along with the thinning of the cheeks.

Illustration 7 represents the basic form of a face carved with its various planes and angles that are quite evident.  The transition between Illustration 7 and Illustration 8 is carving in the details that give character to the face.  Illustration 7 and 7a show a good foundation of form.  Detail always follows the Form and is the icing on the cake.  Without a good form, no amount of detail will help the carving.  Putting icing on a half baked cake has the same disasterous result.

The corners of all the plane facets will be rounded in the detail carving process as carving is basically rounding square corners and flattening round surfaces.  Illustrations 8 and 8a show the end result of carving a Plane Face.

This Plane Face Study is only one of many ways to study face carving.  Additional tutorial information can be viewed and printed as a pdf document by going to “BEE HIVE” and clicking on either “Face-Eye Study” or “Three Version Face Study Stick.” 

Of course nothing takes the place of a carver simply carving a face study stick on their own for every time we carve it is a learning experience and every carving is a practice piece.  Study faces in drawing and painting books, other carved faces, faces in photographs, faces of other humans and even the face looking back at you in the mirrow.  Begin to see with the mind and all the various ways of studying and practice carvng faces will eventually result in faces that face up to a well designed face.

Andrew Loomis still has things to teach us as can be studied in the following illustrations of more of his instructional pages.











Face Study is an ongoing process in which the closer we look the more we will be able to see even though we see faces all the time without really seeing.  Take a second look over and over again to be amazed at what can be seen for the first time.  Then is when we come face to face with beauty in the eye of the beholder.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 at 4:00 pm and is filed under Tu Tor Plus, Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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