I’m a sucker for oddly-colored hair.  I once went out with a guy just because he had fire-engine-red hair.  WORST DATE EVER.

My own locks have been red, purple, blue, tangerine, magenta, and a combination of black and yellow, before settling into a long stint of ash blond.  The past decade has been all natural, however. 

I encountered a picture of a guy with lavender hair somewhere this past week.  It became the impetus for a character sketch, possibly fitting into a comic-book world that currently exists only in my imagination.


In part, this drawing was also an excuse to try out some techniques I’ve been developing in various unpublished doodles:  the eyes, the mouth, and the lower part of the nose.

1)  The eyes. 

The shapes I prefer to use for eyes has evolved over the years.  When I was in high school, I used an almost rectangular style to draw eyes that was heavily influenced by the (comic book penciller) Jim Lee ‘school’ of representation that was very popular at the time.  I picked up a wider, rounder style upon becoming exposed to the post-art-nouveau work of Egon Scheile.  This was combined with the comic work of Chris Bachallo.  I’ve alternated this style with a much simpler, more stylized ‘kidney-bean’ shape.  Not realistic, but also less derivative of any other styles out there.  

Lately, I’ve sought to develop a more realistic, more voluminous method of depiction.  You can see this in the way the nearer eye is shaped differently than the farther one.  I’ve attempted to show how the eye-lid wraps around the sphere of the eyeball and interacts with the depression of the ocular cavity (the hole in which your eye is housed).

On the nearer eye, the depth of the eye sitting in the socket is suggested with the shadows above the lid and extending out slightly on either side.  On both, the volume of the eyeball is also indicated underneath the eye with the lines that show the skin wrapping around it.  Finally, I attempted to set the farther eye behind the bridge of the nose more than I’m used to.  This effect would be lessened in some Asian faces, and in anyone whose eyes are less deeply set, or whose nose projects out less.

2)  The mouth.

Lately, I’ve been vexed by the limitations of my mouth-drawing abilities.  I think the root of this problem lies in not really understanding the different planes and surfaces involved in the mouth.  Mouths are pretty interesting because they seem simple, but their shape is actually quite complex.  Their contours are affected not only by their own unique shapes or the lips, but also the way they interact with teeth, and the fat and muscles surrounding them, like the cheeks and the chin.

Here, I’ve tried to show some of this by again wrapping the mouth around the shape of the skull, and by stressing the overlaps of the top and bottom lip.  Finally, I tried to indicate that the lips are not flat, but tilt in towards the interior of the mouth.

3)  The nose.

Minor innovations here.  In the drawing, I’ve indicated with a light horizontal line where the plane of nose wraps underneath at the lower tip.  This is reinforced with some subtle shading of color both on the nose itself and under it; above the lip.  It helps give the nose the feeling of projecting out from the face.

A final aspect to note is the mottled coloring.  I had noticed some illustrators online whose drawings have a slightly softened, mottled feel to the colors.  The effect is reminiscent of the surface of an old comic-book.  I discovered some vague instructions for how to acheive the effect in Photoshop using the ‘mezzotint’ and ‘blur’ filters.  Maybe if enough people ask, I’ll do a tutorial on it someday…

There are some other things going on here, but I’ll leave that for you all to discover and comment on.

This entry was published on September 5, 2013 at 11:53 am. It’s filed under Digital Drawing, The Artistic Process, Tools & Equipment, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Lavender

  1. He’s got a kind of ‘what’s going to happen now that I’ve done that’ look going on… although what he has done, exactly, isn’t coming through to me right now! I like his eyebrows, and his hair of course! I had hair like that once, Gabriel. Bleached blond though, not lavender, and my hair had a mind of its own. It still does, actually.

  2. I like it.
    The light tones are not as good as the dark tones- and they are very good. I like your line work and the 3D sensual feel of the drawing – nice that you are mentioning the artists that are inspiring you.
    You didn’t mention the ear and I think you forgot it when finishing your drawing – the hole is missing and seems a bit off to me.
    Nice to see your new work and hear your thoughts on it.
    :)- love coloured hair – rarely done it myself – just a fun expression. Would have wanted a different colour every day. Laziness keeps it what it is..

    • I’d love to hear a little more about what you mean by the light tones not being as good. I’m not arguing, mind you – i just want to learn!

      You’re right, too, about the ear. It didn’t get as much attention as some of the other parts of the drawing. This was really a pretty quick sketch, and would benefit from a little more time. Besides the less-than-deliberate linework and the undeveloped hole-shadow, it’s a little too narrow, giving it the feeling that it’s tucked up against the head in an odd way.

      Your feedback is SO appreciated. Offer it as frequently as you’re moved to.

      • Thank you – was a bit unsure about the critique – but I understand it is a work in progress. The light tones = where the light would fall on the top most planes of the face and shoulders if the light is falling straight down or from an angle. You lightened the top of the head and the nose [mostly on one side] and the underside of one brow If the light is coming from a few places – so be it. I was looking for some on the cheek, the side of the face &/or the shoulder of the side facing us. When light goes into an eye it darkens the side it goes into and lightens the opposite – you appear to have done both. The darker area is a perfect place to put the white spot/highlight.
        I love chiaroscuro and the dramatic use of 3 tones.
        All to say that traditional aspects can be ignored for dramatic effect.
        One of my favourite illustrators for Illustrated Novels is R.M. Guera – see Jason Aaron’s Scalped series. He has an elevated use of dark and darker. You’d like his use of colour as well.
        Keep up the great work – I have enjoyed your life sketches. Your natural style is much more tender and lyrical. So many styles out there – it is educational to copy [naturally learning as we add to our repertoire] those you admire but don’t loose your natural gift.
        I have returned to drawing after many years and am also challenged with lost skill and skills I didn’t acquire. I am making many mistakes and enjoying the journey. One thing I am studying is multiple overlapping/layered shadows.
        Check out this artist – A very accomplished artist – very traditional and yet strong dramatic use of light/shadow. I would like to see what they could do in editorial & not always studies. Their painting style is soft and less defined.

      • I really appreciate your thorough response. I’ll check into the artists you’ve recommended. And it’s a good thing I asked for the clarification, because I totally mis-interpreted what you meant by ‘light tones’ the firist time around. The highlight definitely could use some studying. Thanks!

  3. I immediately went to the nose. I like it!
    Your discussion on the eyes reminded me of a talk I once had with my daughters pediatrition. I had noticed that one of her eyes was larger than the other. He laughed and replied that the rule applies to all of us, but is generally exaggerated a bit thru the toddler years. Looking at my daughter now, I notice no difference.
    I am always intrigued by a persons choice of hair color. The strawberry color or dee blues are my favs. I don’t think I’ve witnessed a lavender in person.
    Now, I noted the shadow and can’t help but wonder if the young man’s expression is related to the antics of his partner. Our subject seems a bit bewildered, perturbed and annoyed. Could he be mulling over a grievance?
    Forgive me, for I am the novice. I thoroughly respect your work. So much talent in those fingertips!

    • There’s no need for forgiveness! In a public art form, everyone’s opininions and observations are valid. That’s really interesting about your experience with your daughter’s doc. I had never heard that before.

      And I love other people’s interpretations of art, so I love the storyline you came up with. I think mulling a grievance is probably a likely scenario.

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