how to draw a realistic face 3In this blog post and in the accompanying video I share with you what I learned in a traditional art school, Watts Atelier, about Skull, Rhythms and Planes.

Drawing faces begins with the 3 unified interacting systems that are naturally designed into the structure of our faces.

  1. Rhythms in the face
  2. Planes of the face
  3. Skull knowledge

 The infrastructure is a fusion of rhythm lines, planes of the head and the structure of the skull. These three tools will give your drawings life and a 3D look and feel to them.

It isn’t quantum mechanics (thank you Albert E.) and if I learned it so can you.

It just takes using these tools in daily drawing practice and you will get a hang of it in no time at all.

how to draw a realistic face 1            how to draw a realistic face 2             how to draw a realistic face 3
You will also draw much faster using the knowledge from these three tools of drawing the face.
The best part about these tools is that they are learned through repetition and embedded into your mind and muscle memory over time.

This gives you a free hand and eye for drawing beautiful faces and you will be drawing faster and with greater confidence.
The Reilly Head Abstraction is a grid like system of the many rhythm lines found in the face and head.
It was created by Frank J. Reilly who was an American painter and illustrator. He taught for several decades at the Art Students League of New York.
The Reilly Head Abstraction is used by many great painters and is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.

The planes of the head as I use them come from the great Andrew Loomis and the use of a manikin head called the Asaro Head, created by John Asaro.
In addition to the Asaro Head, drawing from a skull model is such a great learning exercise and I highly recommend finding one for yourself. You could also draw from online photo references as well.
After you watch the video and get an idea of how the face infrastructure looks go to the links and start studying these three systems.
Start with the Reilly Head Abstraction. Draw from the reference and then try to draw it from memory. Draw it throughout the day and every day.

In a short time you will have it memorized and you will begin to see these rhythms in people’s faces. When I first learned it I suddenly started to see the rhythms in faces everywhere. It is amazing.
Next work on the skull and also draw it often along with the planes of the head. Its a must in the understanding how light falls on the face and head. If you can I recommend the Asaro Head or just use online photo references as well.
These three things are easy to put to memory and the growth you will see in your drawing will blow you away. The face is truly an amazing landscape to draw.
Great videos on Reilly Method and other methods

Bradwynn Jones
Welcome to my blog on drawing techniques I am learning in art school. By focusing on the core attributes of drawing, there is enough time in your day and it's NEVER too late in life. Visit me on
  • Gail Ray

    Enjoying your videos and meeting you in person. Very interesting to know your work from instagram. I am @gailrayaia. I am an architect, retired now because of the economy. So I am following a path I started many years ago to draw portraits. I’m working digitally but also in pencil and oil. I am experimenting but also learning alot and reading books, watching tutorials on line. So thanks for sharing. And thanks for your encouragement on Instagram. Gail

    May 9th, 2014 18:48
    • Bradwynn Jones

      Sounds like we both love portraits and we both got off our original path a little bit. At least your profession is artistic. In my profession pharmacists are generally not given the opportunity to be creative and that is a good thing lol! Stick to the script. Any Ways I thank you for stopping by and commenting. I generally only hear crickets on this site right now as I just recently put it up. If you have any things you would like to know about in drawing let me know and I’ll see if I can answer it in a future blog post. Thank you Gail!

      May 10th, 2014 0:26
  • Pam

    Brad, you are the reason I am now enrolled in the Watts Online Atelier. I saw a video you did demonstrating the O’Rielly Method on Facebook which was posted by Graydon Parrish. I was hooked! I checked out the Atelier and joined in December. It’s like the answer to my prayers. It’s the next best thing to being there. Love your outreach! Hopefully I’ll be posting some work in a challenge soon!

    February 22nd, 2015 2:28
  • Adam

    HI Brad,

    I have recently viewed your video on the Reilly method and headed over to “Watts” to check it out! I’m joining tonight!!! I graduated from Massachusetts College of Art in 1992 and now want to go back and learn things the right way…:) Thank you!

    March 2nd, 2015 1:19
    • Bradwynn Jones

      Very cool Adam! You will enjoy the classes online I’m sure. I’ll keep an eye out for you over on Watts.

      March 3rd, 2015 0:37
  • Rick

    Hello Brad,

    I was intrigued by your mention of pharmacy being your profession. Back in ’72 I had a choice between painting and pharmacy. I chose pharmacy to make sure my wife and children would have a good life. I told myself that I would be a part time artist. Sadly, I did not have the follow through on that and spent 36 years in that profession. I retired in 2011 and thought I would take up the banner of art once more but find that there is something missing inside and I haven’t been able to take up the pencil or brush since retirement. I still watch and read much about drawing and painting but I guess I figure it’s too late now. I watched your drawing of the face using the Reilly method. I thought, that’s just another hijack of Andrew Loomis’ method but as you went through it I saw there was more to it. I never put together in my mind that there are patterns to the face. I knew it intuitively but could not put it into words or lines. It was like an awakening. I have looked for more videos and writings about Reilly with little success. I was wondering if you would go into his methods a little more in depth in a future video? I enjoyed it and look forward to more. Thank you, Rick

    October 15th, 2015 13:20
    • Bradwynn Jones

      Hi Rick. Glad to hear you are going for it in art. Reilly method info I got comes from Watts Atelier and its owner Jeff Watts. Stan Proko comes out of the same school and also has online school and youtube videos about it. I had Stan as a teacher and he was great. I highly recommend Jeff Watts and his online school. Erik Gist is a teacher at Watts Atelier and he has a long time running blog and shares loads of information on the drawing processes. Hope that helps. I just noticed my website is not working properly prob due to an update that had a bug in it. Arg. My youtube channel is working great at least. Website may be down for a few days. I dont have time to fix it right now. I still work 45 hours a week in pharmacy. lol Thanks for the message. I’m happy to meet another fellow pharmacist who is really an artist. We just have to let that artist get in some awesome training and build skills! Getting into a drawing group once a week is a great way to boost motivation and inspiration to draw. It worked for me.

      October 15th, 2015 18:06
  • Ariana Young

    i love your Reilly Method drawing video it has really helped me in class. I was wondering if maybe you could help me. i cant seem to find any other good Reilly method videos. Maybe you could give me some help or make another video yourself . Id love to hear back soon. Please and thank you.

    March 24th, 2016 15:12

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