Earlier this week we looked at how to solve the “string mop” problem by using big brushes, keeping the masses simple, and softening edges.
It also helps to visualize masses of hair as ribbons. In a real ribbon, the highlight goes across, not along, the curving shapes.
Leyendecker often captured this ribbonlike quality when he painted hair. Note the lock of hair at the righthand edge of this woman’s bun. The cool highlight crosses the lock, with the warm-toned highlight beside it.
When hair is short or pinned close to the head, the highlight extends across a large region of the entire head, with the full mass of hair getting darker as it turns away from the highlight region. Kroyer paints the lighter brown tones where the hair catches the frontal light, and lets the whole back of the head go to an uninterrupted dark.
The same is true with Leyendecker. Even though he weaves those strokes like a basket, he never loses sight of the big arrangement of light tones, linking individual locks into a single light mass across the whole head.
Drew reminded me about pen and ink techniques, so here are some coiffures by Charles Dana Gibson that show all the same principles we’ve been talking about, but in a totally different medium.
Even if you want to suggest a lot of detail, as Boldini does here: use a big brush, merge locks into larger waves, paint the highlights across those wavy forms, and aim for the ribbon instead of the mop.
Part 1 "Hair: The String Mop" link.
Thanks, Steve and Augie for the Leyendeckers.
To see the full Leyendecker photo set on Flickr, link.