In this tutorial I’m going to explain how to the short dark side view hairdo. This particular hairdo features a different hair lengths, and the hair is styled so it lays in different directions. The variety of features in this hairdo will provide us with a nice selection of textures to work on.
Let’s get burning.
SKILL LEVEL: 2
- Shading tip
- 4 x 4 inch (10.2 x 10.2 cm) piece of wood
This paper isn’t bad, but I like the Winsor & Newton hot pressed paper better. The legion brand is usually cheaper though.
Amazon link: Legion Paper
Amazon link: Winsor & Newton paper
I have found that Jerry’s artarama is usually cheaper for purchasing art supplies than Amazon is.
Jerry’s Artarama: Legion Paper
Jerry’s: Winsor & Newton paper
Yes, the photo is from a different hairdo, but I didn’t take a picture of the setup when I started this one.
1) Since I’m burning on paper, I have the paper taped to a backing board (green arrow in the upper left of image). This keeps the paper from warping and protects the underlying surface from heat damage.
2) The reference photo is kept close by and preferably in a spot where you can easily see it at all times. If you are right handed the photo should probably be placed to the left of where you will be burning.
3) Always keep a piece of scrap material nearby. Ideally it should be the same material that you will be burning on. Use the material to test out how hot the pen tip is. Or more accurately what burn results are you getting.
Adjust the heat on your burner to get a dark tan to very light brown burn result. What setting that is depends on what type of pen tip you are using. How much burn time that pen tip has, and the material you are burning on. Test out the burn results on the scrap material and adjust the heat setting on your burner until the desired result is reached.
STEP 1 – PREP THE SURFACE
If you are burning on paper, there isn’t any pre-burn prep work that needs to be done, so you can skip ahead to step 2. If you’re burning on wood then continue reading.
Let the board dry and then sand again.
This piece of plywood board is broken up into three sections. The far left section is how the board looks without any prep work. The board has a rough texture. The middle section of the board shows how it looks after it was sanded, and the surface is a lot smoother. The right section of the board shows it after it was lightly misted with water and allowed to dry. Notice how rough the board looks, but a quick sanding will remove that and leave an ultra-smooth board.
Doing the 4-step process (sand, mist, dry, sand) produces a super smooth surface, and the smoother the surface is the better the burn results will be.
STEP 2 – PATTERN TRANSFER
I use the tracing method to transfer all my patterns to my projects. It’s cheap, easy, and gives me control on what I want to include. Print off your pattern or photo on lightweight paper (standard copier paper is perfect).
Yes, I am again using a photo from a different project. 🙂
Coat the back of the paper with graphite. I like to use a B-4B pencil or a piece of compress graphite for this.
Position the paper on the wood, graphite side down, and trace over the pattern/photo.
STEP 3 – ANALYZE THE HAIR
STEP 4 – BURN THE HAIR
Use the shader of your choice and burn along the trace lines. Even though the hair is dark, keep the burn strokes in the dark tan to very light brown range. This way the lines will easily blend into the hair when we burn over them.
Keep in mind that I’m holding the pen at an angle, so I’m not using the flat of the shader either.
Continue to burn in the thin shadows. Once the shadows are in place then give the hair a base color of tan using the flat of the shader. This will create wide burn strokes that represent locks of hair. Make sure to vary the color of the burn strokes. The color does not need to be hugely different, but the hair needs variety to look realistic.
Rotate the board as needed to keep the pen tip in a comfortable position for burning. For me the hair below the part along the back edge of the head was difficult to burn in while the board was vertical. This position makes it easier for me to work.
For the really short hair I’m using a zigzag burn stroke. You can also burn single lines to create the same look. If you are not familiar with my terminology I do have a blog that explains them. Shader link
As you work on the hair near the top of the head make sure to keep the color in the dark tan to light brown range. This area has some reflected light, so we need lighter colored burn strokes to create that.
Keep in mind that we are not burning individual hairs. Instead we are burning in locks or clumps of hairs. Each lock or clump represents numerous individual hairs that are very similar in color and angle in the same direction. Each lock or clump of hair should be slightly different in color.
I hope you noticed how I keep the reference photo nearby as I work. When creating realistic art from a photo you need to consult with the photo often. The closer it is the easier it is to see and consult with.
A reminder that the hair above the part is darker the closer you are to the part. I start burn strokes on the part and pull them up towards the highlight following the curve of the hair. I let the burn stroke fade out before reaching the highlight area.
To replicate this begin by burning the hairs to a medium or dark tan color, and make sure to burn them in the direction they grow. Then re-burn over the lower portion of each hair to darken it up. The color does not need to be uniform. In fact a little variety will add to the realism.
Be mindful to change the direction of your burn strokes depending on where you are burning. In some areas along the part, the hair is almost horizontal, but the further away from the part the more it curves towards a vertical direction.
If the pencil line is a helpful reminder of where the highlight needs to be, then keep the pencil mark in place!
Here’s a composite photo showing the reference photo and my pyrography rendition of it. It’s not an exact replica, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact if I was doing a portrait I would consider the hair a huge success.
We’re done. Hopefully I was able to explain things well enough and provide enough picture so you could follow along. Now to answer the usual questions I get. This was burned on watercolor paper and I already stated the brand at the beginning of this blog. It took me a bit over 1 hour to complete the artwork.
Until the next blog,
Feb 16, 2021
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