Bad hair day

Instead of doing LoD like I should have been over the Christmas period, I went and accidentally did a painting of my niece as a gift for my sister.

Now the likeness is pretty good, but there are a few things that have tripped me up, though I am mainly disappointed by the hair. What would have been the best approach for painting this sort of wavy blond hair (I have never painted any hair before) I think I used too many different shades of blond and brown and it all got a bit messy and muddy and directionless (especially the darker curly locks at the bottom), I suspect I should have designed the curled shapes more and stuck to them more rigidly, but, I don’t really know, so any ideas welcome.


I love it and I think you’ve done a terrific job with the hair. Hair can be tricky I think but as long as you think shapes of value and colour and you don’t get too detailed - you’re away😀


Very nice, I love the hair over the eye- helps to make the portrait more natural!


Thanks for the very kind words and good points I’d not really considered!

I guess it proves you’re always your own worst critic. I think I know how little attention I paid to the hair and that compounds my unhappiness with it, if I’d have given the hair the time and detailing I did with the mouth or eyes I know I would have been more content and the painting would likely have improved for it. I’ll know for next time not to be so lackadaisical towards the ‘less important’ or ‘less fun’ stuff :slight_smile:

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I think the hair looks good, especially considering how difficult it is to do.

I personally have had major problems painting hair. The common wisdom seems to be that you should not paint every single strand of hair.

Now, this sort of works when the hair is very indistinct or heavily in shadow.

But when the hair is well lit, I seriously fail to recreate it’s likeness simply by using a brush to apply strokes that represent different hair strands. The typical problem is that the strands look too thick and clumsy.

An alternative that I have tried is to use a stylus to create very thin fine strands. This technique has great potential I feel, and can be very effective, at least in small doses.

But in large doses it tends to render the whole hair flat and dimensionless.

I feel there is an important middle ground to be had, between macro level hair clumps and micro-level detailed strands, but as yet I have not found it.

If I do I will report back to you, but what I basically wanted to say is that painting hair can be very difficult, at least in my experience.

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Totally agree, I’d much sooner paint clumps of hair and have them indistinct against each other than be painting individual hairs ultra realistically. I like the thought of the details and higher resolution being in around the focal point - the eyes or whole face even, then more impressionistic and painterly moving outward which was in the back of my mind when doing this.

I think an extra issue can come from the lightness of the hair - in this painting, there’s a much larger value range in the hair than if it was dark brown for example, which means putting a shadow next to a clump of blonde has to be just right in relative value or it’ll look too severe and push the brightness forward. I just didn’t have a plan or anything when going into the hair and that’s why I know it could have been a lot better. I was just winging it and expecting it to look perfect in context, after all I thought - hair is just a bunch of swishes of hair colour right…

Always have a clear goal in mind is the lesson there I guess.

I would have the same problem if I was painting fur or some other texture I just don’t know how to approach yet. I think I can do skin okay so far, but jeez I’ve a long way to go with everything else in the world.

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Looks awesome, great work.

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