Mastering the Loomis Method: A Guide for Portrait Artists


The Loomis method is a widely acclaimed drawing technique that has revolutionized the way portrait artists approach their craft. Developed by Andrew Loomis, this method provides a systematic approach to capturing accurate proportions and creating lifelike portraits.

Related Class: Drawing the Human Head with Mike Creighton

In this guide, we will explore the key principles and steps of the Loomis method, offering valuable insights for aspiring portrait artists.

1. Understanding the Loomis Method

The Loomis method focuses on constructing the head and face by breaking them down into simple geometric shapes. By utilizing guidelines and establishing key landmarks, artists can achieve proportionate and realistic portraits. The method emphasizes the structural foundation of the head and helps artists develop their observation skills, leading to more accurate and expressive representations.

2. Establishing the Basic Shapes

The Loomis method begins with a construction phase, where artists sketch basic shapes to define the head's structure. This includes a simplified oval for the cranium, a wedge shape for the jaw, and guidelines to place the facial features. By mastering this step, artists can create a solid foundation to build upon and ensure correct proportions.

3. Placing the Facial Features

Once the basic shapes are established, the Loomis method guides artists in placing the facial features accurately. From the position of the eyes and nose to the alignment of the mouth and ears, specific measurements and guidelines are employed to ensure harmony and proportion. This step allows artists to achieve a likeness and capture the unique characteristics of the subject.

4. Understanding Facial Construction

The Loomis method emphasizes the three-dimensional structure of the face, considering its planes and forms. Artists learn to visualize the face as a collection of geometric shapes, allowing for accurate rendering of light and shadow. By understanding the underlying structure, artists can create depth, volume, and dimensionality in their portraits.

5. Refining and Adding Detail

Once the initial construction and placement of features are complete, artists can refine their drawing and add finer details. This involves carefully observing and capturing the subtle variations in facial features, such as the nuances of expression, texture, and skin tones. The Loomis method provides a solid framework that artists can use as a guide while infusing their unique style and interpretation.

6. Practicing and Developing Skills

Mastering the Loomis method requires practice and dedication. Artists are encouraged to study from references, engage in gesture drawing exercises, and experiment with different poses and expressions. Online classes that focus on the Loomis method provide structured instruction, exercises, and feedback to help artists develop their skills and refine their understanding of facial proportions and construction.

7. Advantages of the Loomis Method

The Loomis method offers several advantages for portrait artists. It provides a systematic and logical approach to capturing accurate proportions, enabling artists to create lifelike and expressive portraits. The method also enhances observation skills, spatial awareness, and understanding of facial anatomy. Learning the Loomis method through online classes allows artists to access comprehensive instruction and guidance from experienced instructors.


The Loomis method has become a cornerstone technique for portrait artists, enabling them to achieve accurate proportions, construct lifelike features, and capture the unique essence of their subjects. By mastering this method, artists can elevate their portrait art and create captivating and realistic portrayals.

Related Class: Drawing the Human Head with Mike Creighton

Want to create a convincing portrait? You have to get the head right. In this beginner-friendly class, you'll learn the fundamentals of drawing the human head and all its features from different angles. Learn more.