Thursday, June 3, 2010

Head study - 6/3/10

Charcoal on newsprint


Scott Hulme said...

Very nice one -- I like it a lot. How do you go about doing the hair in a drawing like this. Do you lay down a tone and then bring the highlights back out of it? I'd be interested to better understand that process.

Bruce Hedges said...

Yes, that's how I do it. I put down a tone that's close to what is there on the model, and try to get the big effect as soon as possible. The tone is darkest near the bottom and gets lighter as it nears the top. In this drawing, it's not a consistent, flat tone over the whole hair shape. It never is, really; it shows the big form of the skull and hair mass. Then I can indicate some of the major curls and waves by drawing them in with charcoal. Going darker, not lighter. And finally, using kneaded rubber to pull out the lightest lights and highlights. It doesn't have to follow that procedure. You can pull out lights any time and put tone back in, going back and forth.

I try to keep the original base tone flat, so it doesn't get noisy and compete with the directional strands. Again, not flat as in uniform top to bottom, but a smooth tone with not a lot of visible strokes or value variation. The idea is to draw the big planes --- the top and side planes of the whole hair mass, and the top and side planes of the major curls and other forms. Squint to simplify what you see when you look at the model, and draw what you see when you squint. Draw that simplified effect when you use pencil and when you draw with the eraser. Then add a few individual strands. If you get the big planes or forms, then it only takes a relatively small amount of detail to give the "big effect"--- which is what's important. That's what I'm after.

Notice that the big curl above her temple is a cylinder with some hair strands.

I used a charcoal pencil sharpened to a long point with a razor blade and sandpaper, and drew on smooth newsprint. Virtually all pencil strokes were done with the side of the charcoal. It's easy to get a smooth tone this way. I only use the tip when I need a fine line. It's a wonderful way to draw this type of drawing, and I wish it were archival. It's a shame newsprint turns yellow.

You can see more of this type of drawing if you go to and click on the Instructor tab on the home page. There are also samples on, and you can search Eric Gist and Watts Atelier. I'm sure others can be found as well.

Scott Hulme said...

Thanks very much -- that's all great info. Much appreciated!

Kirstin said...

Wow! The process you described is pretty cool! And the drawing is lovely.

I have a blog now, about books, but one of the posts is about Volkswagen books, and I included your Herbie painting in the picture with some of my VW collection.