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How to Paint the Hair

 

The hair is the last element of the face to be painted.

The hair is the last element of the face to be painted.

The painting of the hair is usually the last part of the head to be completed. It follows the natural order of the painting, finally covering the rough edges of both the background and the skin. The colours used for the dark areas of the hair were ivory black and Prussian blue, while the highlights were mostly titanium white.

 

Underpainting the Hair

 

Detail of the hair painting technique.

Detail of the hair painting technique.

You can see the technique used for painting the hair in our actual size detail above and in our masthead banner . The underpainting was applied with freely brushed glazes of ivory black and Prussian blue. The overpainted details of the hair were built up with fine strokes of black and white whose direction follows the contours of the haircut. The opacity of these brushstrokes was varied to suggest the depth, texture and highlights of the hair. The density of the brushstrokes decreases around the edges of the hair to convey softness of its outline.

 

Painting the Eyebrows and Eye lashes

 

The soft texture of eyebrows and eye lashes.

The soft texture of eyebrows and eye lashes.

Facial hair like eyebrows and eye lashes are usually the same colour as the hair on the head, but they are painted more delicately with the smallest brushes. The underpainting in these areas is simply a darker shade of skin tone. The soft texture of the hair on the eyebrows and eye lashes is slowly built up with delicate strokes of a thinly mixed ivory black. It is very easy to overdo these features, so you should start by applying a few strokes, then stopping to check the effect. Apply a few more, then stop and check again. Continue this process until you achieve the satisfactory density of hair for the eyebrows and eye lashes. It is often better to omit the lower eye lashes which tend to obscure the the tone and consequently the form of the lower eye lid.

Our lesson on pencil portraits should help you with drawing the hair.

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