Back when I was a kid in the early 1970s, I spent a lot of time at the Torrance library, most of it in the Dewey Decimal System’s 700 section, which is where they keep the art books. I spent hours there reading about everything from the great comic book heroes to the history of burlesque, from how to do stage makeup to how to draw. That last one was important to me. I started drawing at about age 4 and stuck with it through the school years when drawing was no longer cool, when it tagged me as a nerd or worse. By 8th grade I was vacillating between trying to get into animation or trying to draw superhero comics (I’ve dabbled in both a little since then), and there was one book in particular that turned out to be very helpful for both.
The book was “Drawing the Head and Hands” and the author was Andrew Loomis. There were a couple of other Loomis books on the shelves, and I studied those as well, but the head and hands book was the one I most tried to absorb.
The books were old even then, published in the 1940s and ’50s and long out of print; the library’s copy had been re-bound in a nauseating olive drab cover. When we moved a couple of years later, I found that the library in West Covina didn’t have my Loomis books, and I was left to try to remember the lessons from them. I’ve kept my eyes out for them for years at every flea market, antique shop and thrift store, to no avail. When I’ve seen them on eBay or Amazon, they’ve been too expensive, sometimes selling for hundreds of dollars. Turns out I had good taste in art teachers; Andrew Loomis is regarded as a modern master.
The books are now back in print, and can be ordered from Amazon, but if you want a preview, or want to put them on your Kindle or iPad for easy access and searchability, you can download them for free from the Illustration Age website. If you want to learn to draw people, you can do a lot worse than to study the works of Andrew Loomis.