Are skulls hard to draw?
When it comes to drawing skulls, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around. People seem to think that skulls are difficult to draw, or that they require special skills. But that’s not true! Anyone can learn how to draw skulls with a little bit of practice.
Why do artists draw skulls?
Understanding Anatomy: The Skull
|Skull Studies 2009, graphite, 3′ x 7′. All artwork this article collection the artist.|
The bones of the skull offer enough information on a person’s facial structure that it is possible for forensic artists and scientists to reconstruct the accurate surface appearance of an individual’s face. For this reason, it is essential to understand the large bony masses of the skull and how they relate to the proportions of the individual model. by David Jon Kassan
|Skull 2006, graphite on Bristol board, 91⁄2 x 71⁄8.|
The human skull is one of the most interesting parts of the body for an artist to explore. This can be proven by looking at the countless historical works of art in which skulls can be found. In most of these pieces the skull serves as a memento mori—a symbol of life’s fragility and our own mortality.
- The skull is pretty much devoid of articulation, being largely made up of bones that are fastened together by sutures that don’t permit movement.
- The one exception to this rule is the hinging of the mandible (jawbone), the only movable portion of the skull.
- The skull’s primary functions are to protect the brain from injury and support the foundation of the face.
The skull also fixes the locations of the eyes and ears, which provide the brain with sensory information about the body’s environment. Most of the visible appearance of the human face depends upon the shapes and qualities of viscerocranial bones; many of these bones push on the muscles and skin to dictate the shape of portions of the face and head.
When this occurs, it is referred to as a bone point. Examples are the jaw and chin line, as well as the turn of the forehead at the superciliary crest. The bones of the skull offer enough information on a person’s facial structure that it is possible for forensic artists and scientists to reconstruct the accurate surface appearance of an individual’s face.
For this reason, it is essential to understand the large bony masses of the skull and how they relate to the proportions of the individual model.
|Profile View of the Skull 2006, graphite on Bristol board, 91⁄2 x 9.|
The structure of the skull can be divided into two main parts—the neurocranium (braincase) and the viscerocranium (facial bones). The neurocranium is the part of the skull that holds and protects the brain in a large cavity called the cranial vault. This crash helmet for the brain is made of eight platelike bones that are connected to one another by solid bone, bone sutures, or cartilage joints.
The neurocranium includes the frontal, parietal, occipital, sphenoid, temporal, and ethmoid bones—together these bones form a protective vault surrounding the brain. The most important of the cranial bones for the appearance of the face is the frontal bone, which gives structure to the top of the face above the orbital cavities (eye sockets) and helps define the forehead and brow.
This area of the skull acts as the border of the neurocranium and the viscerocranium. This separation starts at the root of the nose and follows along the top edge of the orbital cavities and around to the external auditory canals. The 14 bones of the viscerocranium form the lower front of the skull.
The bones of the face work intricately together to form small cavities, including those for the eyes, the internal ears, the nose, and the mouth. The important facial bones include the mandible (the largest and strongest facial bone), the maxilla (upper jaw), the zygomatic bone (cheek bone), and the nasal bone.
The uniqueness of these bones’ shapes provides the main structural framework of the face and thus determines much of its static appearance. For these illustrations I was able to draw from a real skull that was on hand in a studio where I had previously taught drawing classes; it has an extraordinary uniqueness and personality to it.
|Diagram 1 Note the divide between the neurocranium (braincase) and the viscerocranium (facial bones).|
Understanding Anatomy: The Skull
What is the toughest shape to draw?
A Rebecca Harrington Original Let’s face it: drawing circles is hard. Our minds are programmed to love the symmetry of the shape, but our hands just can’t make it perfect. We’re so inadequate at drawing circles, scientists have even studied it. One study found we get worse at drawing the faster we try to go, and another concluded that our brains prefer to move just one joint instead of the many required to create precise circles.
As Rachel Nuwer writes for Braindecoder, the parts of our brains that are responsible for drawing circles and recognizing perfection are separate, so they have a hard time working together to produce impeccable circles. “The circle is one of the hardest shapes to control,” Natalia Dounskaia, a kinesiology professor at Arizona State University, told Nuwer.
“The brain doesn’t have enough resources to focus on corrections of movement and do cognitive tasks at the same time.” Our brains love the symmetry of circles. ponderu/Flickr So how can you improve your ability to draw circles? You can practice. This math teacher from Ottawa, Alexander Overwijk, is known as the “World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion,” though that’s not a real competition.
What body part is hardest to draw?
5. Hands and feet – Even with a solid basic knowledge of human anatomy, drawing hands (and feet) remains very difficult. Many artists learn to draw fluid and natural figures, but they have block-like, stiff appendages. Often, the impulse is to draw over-realistic hands that become heavy in a piece, making it lose a natural look. Porsche via Michael Vizard
How should a human skull be shaped?
Normocephaly is the term used to describe a normal head shape, one that has normal dimensions and proportions within the population. The factors that determine what is regarded as ‘normal’ vary with social and cultural values such as gender, age, ethnic origin and rank in society. There are around 7.5 billion people on the planet and each and every one of us is different. Although this is something to be celebrated, with evidence to suggest that misshapen skulls are linked to health issues such as visual defects and developmental delay, it’s important to know how to recognise what can be termed as a ‘normal’, healthy head shape and what treatment can be put in place for babies suffering from skull shape deformities.