Good Hair and Squinting Your Eyes During Shading

I am back at rendering hair again. I suppose you can’t avoid it if you want to draw a pretty face. As I am drawing Andrea (Sherry Jackson, doesn’t look like her yet) from Star Trek TOS, or any other drawing, I am always squinting my eyes when shading. So I figure this would be a good time to briefly touch on this subject.

The reason for squinting your eyes when shading is to assist you in seeing the values of your shading. In a way, you are ‘zooming out’ of the drawing to get a overall or bird’s eye view of your drawing. I find this extremely important for hair rendering. By squinting, I am able to see the overall flow of the hair, and it is the overall flow that is crucial in rendering good looking hair. Not just for the hair itself, but for the whole drawing.

The hair is very dynamic and you can use the flow to guide the viewer’s eye to wherever you want it. In the drawing, If you look at the curl right under her jaw, that curl helps to stop your eyes from going down further. Then the strand next to it curls toward the face, forcing your eyes to swing back to her face.

In my opinion, most of the time the hair rendering does not need to be overly complicated or hyper realistic. It just needs a good dynamic flow. It does take some planning. Just start with the major strands. Once you like how it flows, keep working in more minor strands to make it believable. Beware of putting in too much details on the hair, as it might attract too much attention and draw the viewer from your main focus. Unless your drawing is all about the hair. So as much as I find it painful to rendering the hair sometimes, a little grunt work really does make the difference. We will see how it turns out when I am done with this Andrea drawing.

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