Mike Sibley Comment Posted Dec.4th, 2012, viewed 130 times
These are looking quite good and you're almost there... but not quite :o)
All the attempts suffer from the same problem - you're not tapering/feathering the ends of your lines as they meet the highlight. On the plus side, you're not making a common error and hooking the ends of your lines, but they do stop rather abruptly.
You've got good contrast - those dark lines really help to make the highlights shine. One thing that might help you is to look at where your pencil point is going rather than at the point as you draw each line. That way you'll be aiming for a point at the far end instead of the middle, which will help you to maintain the correct curvature.
In most cases, your lines sweep fluidly from one end to the other, the dark lines boost the contrast of the lighter ones, and that single dark line from end to end in "Best yet?" provides maximum contrast right where it matters.
<< Would you usually put dark behind it to further bring it out? >>
Yes. Many such locks are bordered by deep shade - between that lock and the next alongside it - and if you establish a really strong black either side of these locks I think you'll be surprised just how brightly the central highlight will shine.
I think we have two problems here. As I mentioned, your lines don't taper - all your initial dark lines just stop - they're blunt-ended, so they cannot seamlessly run into the highlight. However, you've left good gaps between the lines, and those gaps appear to be subdued highlights in the shade after you had applied a few subsequent layers over them.
The second problem is that I think you are probably taking each layer too far - or you have insufficient layers. I'd probably use 8-10 layers, each starting right back at the beginning and extending a little further than the previous one. And each layer is slightly lighter than the previous layers too. The idea is to gently tease each end towards the centre until you feel you've left the highlight that pleases you.
Personally, especially for very dark locks, I only used a 2B, but in an actual drawing I might begin with 2B to create the dark end, switch to an HB (that will burnish the 2B) until I'm approaching the highlight, and finally I might (not necessarily would) switch to using a 2H to achieve a really smooth transition into the highlighted area. Then I have the choice of leaving the highlight white or toning it down with further layers of 2H or even HB.
Practice this as often as you can, because this technique (and one to come next week) forms the base of almost all you need to effectively draw hair - animal or human.
In response to image: