Step 2: Define the Hair

Okay great! Your character's hair should now have a fresh, stylish new look (even if it is only a rough sketch at this point). Now let’s polish it up.

 

In this step, I’m going to introduce you to the concept of ‘Ribbons’.

 

So what are these glorious Ribbons and how are they going to save your characters from a bad case of spaghetti-head?

 

Hair Ribbons are simplified chunks, or strips of hair, that are layered on top of the head to direct the overall shape and style of your character’s hair-do.

 

In fact in the first step, you already used the Ribbon technique by taking large chunks of hair and styling them into a basic formation. 

The Ribbon Technique

The Ribbon Technique

 

Fig.1 - This is an example of a single, Large Ribbon. You’ve probably already constructed your base sketch using these giant clumps of hair to sculpt its general shape. The next step is to begin dividing those Large Ribbons off into Medium Ribbons to further refine the hair style and increase detail.

 

Fig.2 - The same Large Ribbon except this time it’s been broken off into two Medium Ribbons (effectively creating three new Ribbons). Notice though how the Medium Ribbons still abide to the direction that the Large Ribbon is travelling in. Acting as the governing parent, this Large Ribbon determines the flow and direction of all other Ribbons that split away from it.

 

Fig.3 - Finally, detail is further increased by breaking off the Medium Ribbons into even Smaller Ribbons. Again, they align with the same flow, movement and direction as their parent Ribbons.

 

Hair Ribbons can be divided up as much or as little as you like, depending on the level of detail. Be sure though never to go so far as to divide them up into individual strands of hair – Remember these are comic book characters. An overload of detail will kill the look we’re trying to achieve here.

You’ve probably gathered by now that the basic work flow for drawing anything is to break it down into its simplest possible form, and work your way up from there. Drawing hair is no different. Not only is the Ribbon Technique an easier solution, but it‘ll also ultimately produce better results.

 

As you divide the Ribbons, use Line Weights to give the contour lines a polished finish. Boring Line’s that don’t vary in width tend to take the life out of your art work.

Step 3: Render the Hair

Once the hair Ribbons have been divided up a couple times, the next step is to give them a final render pass. The Rendering stage is the final frontier in this three part process and its job is to really bring out the form and fullness of the hair by accentuating the layers using dark to light gradients.

Rendering Hair

 

Fig.1 - Begin by rendering out the hair one area at a time, focusing on the underlying layers first. As a general rule, these rendering lines should be drawn out from ‘underneath’ each layer to create a smooth gradient that lifts up the Hair Ribbons above it.

 

Fig.2 - Repeat this process, going from Ribbon to Ribbon. This will create more and more volume for the hair. Areas where Ribbons merge and interweave with one another will benefit most from these gradients.

 

Fig.3 - Rendering helps to describe form but its other primary purpose is to indicate a light source so keep this light source in mind as you work. Higher layers will cast shadows onto lower layers and as the Ribbons curve away from the light into shadow rendering increases. To put it simply, in most cases rendering lines will appear at the base and tip of a Hair Ribbon unless the light source is coming directly from above or below the form.

So now that the hair has been split up into smaller chunks, let’s throw in a dash of depth using the rendering technique described above. You can see how through using this rendering technique an immense amount of additional detail is added to the contour line drawing, along with a substantial increase of volume and depth.

 

Click the 'NEXT' button and let's wrap this tutorial up! 

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