Monday, August 29, 2011

Newborn Portrait - Finishing the Face

The skin is, now, at the point where I can move on to the hair. I'll return to it, later, but, for the moment, I'm satisfied. When the hair is done, it will be easier to detect any flaws.

I've started the hair, beginning with the mid-tones. I'm laying down the basic shadows, at this stage, and, once again, will build up depth in layers. It is useful to think in terms of light and dark areas, when rendering hair. Trying to draw individual hairs will only produce a messy effect with insufficient form. However, my style is still quite detailed. I don't want the hair to look like the moulded hair of a Barbie doll, so I use a sharp pencil and follow the flow of the strands with every stroke.

After the midtones, I will alternate between light and dark tones, gradually increasing the lowlights and accentuating the highlights, until the hair has sufficient depth and I have applied the different hues which are representative of the colour here. Hair is made up of many different colours, which change in different types of light. It is, also, reflective of its surroundings and can reveal quite surprising colours to the observant viewer. Apart from the reflected colours, it can be surprising to discover that a child's blond hair may appear to have grey tones - not silver-grey, but often a mousey-grey. Very dark brown and black hair can appear to have blue tones.

The picture shows only the start of my rendering of the hair. As always, there will be a stage where the picture looks worse than ordinary. At that point, I normally feign confidence and push on past the 'hideous' barrier, knowing that it usually comes right, in the end, and, rarely, is a challenge insurmountable. However, to this date, I have never experienced the ultimate goal of being completely satisfied with a work. Perhaps, that is a good thing. To have achieved perfection already (besides being an impossibility), would leave no more room for growth and no more artistic triumphs to look forward to.


  1. I can't wait to see the picture when the hair is done. Right now it looks a bit strange with white hair. How much background are you going to put in this picture? As much as in Joel's or a little as in Melanie's or somewhere in between?

  2. Vicky, does the photo show the full extent of the picture or will there be some more background? I didn't realise drawing was so complicated! All those layers! You must be very patient.

  3. Yes, it does look strange with white hair! The hair shouldn't take too long to draw so, hopefully, I won't leave her in that sorry-looking state for too long!

    This picture won't have a detailed background as the portrait is focused on the people and the relationship between them. Joel's portrait was different - the background, in that picture, was relevant to his mood and his story on that day. I won't decide completely until the people are finished, but I expect there will be a simple, pale background, with only the impression of detail. I feel that anything too fussy will detract from the subjects.

    Thank you for commenting, Immy:)

  4. It's funny how it can sometimes take quite complicated processes to make something look very simple! But, once the technique is established, it's quite straightforward.

    Sometimes, it does take a lot of patience to carry on with the layers. I find this especially with the initial layers, which look so pale and unimpressive, and, also, in large pictures, when I need to lay down colouring over a large area. But, while the interesting parts are exciting, the boring parts can be therapeutic.

    I appreciate your comment, Sue:)


Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Vicky