Top Tips Series 3: Graham Bradshaw – March 2013

Graham Bradshaw returns with series 3 of his Top Tips. Here, he runs through ideas for keeping your work clean and learning to draw hair…

Keeping Your Work Clean

Keeping your work clean is the easy part, simply use a piece of paper to mask off the area where you place your hand when drawing at all times (fig1). Some artists use tracing paper or plastic Perspex which is used for projector illustrations. Another good idea is to draw from left to right or right to left depending on which hand you use to draw. When using dusty 9B pencils I’m continuously blowing the dust off as I draw, I do it that much now it’s actually become a habit.



Preparing Pencils To Draw Hair

You’ll find that the majority of graphite artists will use mechanical pencils with 0.3mm leads to get their fine hair lines. With all leads you’ll get a rounded edge, I’ve found that a normal pencil is the best tool for drawing hair when prepared correctly. First of all sharpen the pencil then snap off the tip, then use the broken edge to draw your fine lines (fig1). Once you lose the sharp edge turn the pencils to find another edge, when you lose all edges repeat the process.



Drawing Hair

Hair is commonly the area of a drawing that most artists dread & as a result many make the mistake of rushing through it. There are no short cuts or easy options when drawing hair, there will be a lot planning involved, pencil swapping, sharpening & continuous hours of hard work. The best results take a lot of patience, time & dedication.



The first point of attack is always a very light outline using a hard pencil (5H) to guide you with direction & flow of the hair (fig1).



Then pick out the dark areas using either a 2B or 9B depending on depth (Fig2).



Once this is done you’ll now need to go back to the 5H & use it with long strokes, blending & smoothing as you go. Also use the 5H to flick out the stray hairs which you can see down the left side of this image (Fig3).



To achieve shine on the hair simply leave a white area with the paper showing through (as seen in fig3) then use the 5H to gently feather it in (Fig4).



Draw in the direction of the hair at all times (even when drawing the dark areas) whilst constantly using the reference photo & outlines to help guide you. Once you get a feel for it you’ll then start drawing faster using your memory to help you, but this comes with experience. Remember that you don’t have to draw every hair as it is in the photograph; my technique uses a lot of improvisation. No reference photograph was used during this demonstration drawing; it’s all been done using improvisation, imagination & memory only.

Thanks to Graham for this latest series of fantastic tips. Next time, Graham will explain more about drawing hair and how to manage yourself as an artist.