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Mike Sibley


Comment posted Nov.14th, 2012, viewed 20 times

EXERCISE 4
I think you either allowed this to overwhelm you or you worked your way through it too quickly. The impression I get is that you were viewing it as one entity instead of breaking the job down into small, manageable areas. If you had concentrated on one single lock at a time and treated it as a drawing in its own right, I think you would have suggested more reality than you have achieved.

You're frustratingly close to getting it right, but I can't help feel you were creating a drawing and not creating a living animal. To create a sense of realism you have to set out with that intention - to believe that it's a living animal (or any subject) that you are about to recreate. That you will be sculpting the form and seeing every hair as a hair. It only needs one sketchy or hurried lock to drag the rest down to its level, so quality time spent on each is never wasted.

The important thing here is seeing the ways you can break it up into work areas - dark to light, and background to foreground. Concentrate on just one area. Let's take the area the left of the nose as our example (see image below).

There are three LAYERS.
A: foreground lock of hair
B: midground layer of hair
C: background shadow beneath the top jaw

By drawing the darkest tones first (and the furthest away) you will know the tones available to you for the whole drawing, so begin with AREA "C". You don't need to complete it - just draw enough of it so you know what the tone is. Outside of the nose and lip, your darks are rather weak so you've lost depth.

Lightly (and accurately) outline AREA "A" to protect it, because we won't be touching that area. I use a sharp 2B so I can erase it completely if I need to. Leaving it as pristine white paper means we can do whatever we want to do with it later.

Next begin AREA "B" (the midground). Draw this completely one small manageable area at a time, taking care to make certain that any line crossing underneath Area A stops at one edge and continues correctly from the other edge. Your dark midground shadow actually cuts into the hanging lock in front of it, which damages the spatial relationship between the two. By creating dark shadows between hairs in this area that deliberately cross underneath "A" means that "A" is visually pushed forwards - it's obvious to the eye that it's in front.

Finally, now you know all the tones of the background, shade area "A" to give it some form. And, as we left it pure white, you can now use those whites to create your highlights.

Take it easy, one step at a time; and concentrate on just one small area so you understand it completely. If you try to draw too much at the same time, you will not fully understand each area and your drawing will lose its feeling of reality. And think "hair" and not "drawing".

Never worry about how long any of this might take. In this case you'll learn more from slowly building one area than you will by rushing through the whole drawing.