The young man on the left gazes steadily outward, capturing the viewer's interest with his direct stare. His features seem more realistic, more like a portrait than the other, obviously imaginary figures, and his position squarely facing the viewer also isolates him. The care with which Jacques de Gheyn II rendered the boy's fanciful costume also contrasts with the other heads. Paying close attention to the fall of light, de Gheyn evoked the textures of the youth's clothing--especially the turban--with beautiful, varied penwork that demonstrates the creases and gathers. He built up the other heads using rather somewhat more regular cross-hatching.
De Gheyn first sketched the three foreground figures of the young boy and two men, then later added the angel and the female head. He seems to have been one of the first artists to mingle figures drawn from nature with those from his imagination. Scholars believe that these studies may have been cut from a larger sheet, with the triangular patch at the bottom added at that time.