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Help with horse hair and furry things

The animal and wildlife forum concentrates on drawings of all animals, from domestic pets to wildlife - anything dressed in fur, feathers or scales. The emphasis is on drawing but paintings are also acceptable.

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Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby stevengarver » Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:10 pm

I am starting to draw a little again about a month ago after many many years. I was never much good compared to what I see here, but I enjoy drawing and will continue doodling with it for fun.
I have a very hard time trying to make things look realistic especial hair or fur on animals.
Is there a place i can find information on drawing fur and hair on animals?
here is a picture I started last nite but will probably have to start over once i find the answer.
Thanks for the help.

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby Laurene » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:16 am

Hi Steven and welcome! I can't see your uploaded drawing, but a great place to start learning is Mike's site (https://www.sibleyfineart.com/). You can check out his free tutorials (https://www.sibleyfineart.com/tipsndx.htm). Eventually I strongly suggest buying his book or taking his online course at Drawspace.

Hope we'll see some of your artwork soon!

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby KenBrown » Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:30 am

Hi Steven ... I can't see your drawing either, but keep in mind that drawing is a skill that can be learned with practice and perseverance - talent has little to do with it.

Here's an explanation I did elsewhere on the net that may be of some help.

I was going to mention the hair but I didn't want to overwhelm you with stuff. Hair is actually not that hard - it's just a texture and you have to learn how to render it so it "reads" realistically. I suppose that is probably my best skill .. but it's really important that artists not start to think of it as "hard". It's not - just learn a technique and it's really pretty easy. In time you will think of it as fun.

Everyone will tell you not to draw every hair (including me). That will drive you nuts and your drawing will get entirely too busy. But, you have to get the overall shapes in the right places. Then enough detail to get the viewer to "see" it as hair.

There are several ways to do this. Mike Sibley draws hair negatively as does Armin Mersmann (I believe). I can't seem to get my brain to work that way so I erase hairs. Negative drawing has the advantage of not putting graphite on the paper on the light hairs until you decide just what value to put there. Erasing will never quite return to pristine paper. Both have pros and cons, of course, as does every technique it seems with graphite. So you need to try different ones and see what works for you and what is too cumbersome or just won't come out well.

My technique works for all kinds of hair/fur .. the difference is in the motion of the eraser and the pressure used. There is almost no overlap between my method and negative drawing so keep that in mind as I explain what I do. Since most of my work deals with cats, I will start out talking about that but bear in mind any hair uses the same technique.

I begin in small areas and use a grade pencil that approximates the darker shadows/recesses. I use a dull pencil - not much more than flat - no sharpeners. In fact, I sharpen my pencils less than once a year and generally immediately scrub them back down to dull. What I want is some sharp places but mostly dull so they cover larger areas with each pass. As you apply the graphite try to avoid those "hooks" as you return the stroke for the next one. Anything you put down will show through in the end so you need to fix anything you don't want. The strokes need to be in the direction of the hair growth. Then I use a stick eraser to lift hairs. I sharpen the eraser by cutting it off with a razor blade or scrubbing it flat parallel to the tip of the tube so I have reasonably sharp edges all round. Then, holding the eraser in a writing grip and using the sharp edge, I'll squeeze my hand dragging the eraser over the area I want the hair to be. Graphite is a dry lubricant so not every squeeze will result in a light hair - sometimes it will just skim over the surface and leave almost no trail. This is fine - it replicates those almost invisible hairs. The stick eraser leaves eraser residue .. you MUST remove this NOW. I start out with a 2" paint brush fairly aggressively. Then I move to a kneaded eraser shaped to a point and try to pick up any little pieces I can see. If you neglect this step, those pieces will get rolled up by your pencil, become small graphite balls and adhere themselves to your drawing - usually in the worst possible place - like the middle of an eye or forehead. And you won't be able to get them off. I've tried erasers and even scraping with a razor blade ... they are horrible and seemingly permanent. So beware of that. This shows one of my pencils so you can see how sharp it isn't and also the scale I work in.

catdrawing-context.jpg


The erased hair is now appearing to lie on top of the other hair with a definite start and end. This is not realistic so I use a pencil to push one end back into the mass of hair where it belongs just using value. I may also shape the hair by shading the back shadow side slightly though not always.

06082013-1.gif


This sort of shows the process. At the moment I did this the drawing appeared a bit flat but later sittings resolved this. I go over my entire drawing up to the time I last stopped when I first sit down to a new session. This allows me to fine tune or change things I do not like. My day job won't let me draw except on weekends but I put the scan of my drawing on my computer as wallpaper so I can look at it numerous times each day and come to see the flaws and limitations so by the next drawing session I know most of what I want to work on.

Here's a closeup of the same area on the final drawing a number of sessions later.

12052015-1.jpg


The same thing can be done with human hair. The only difference is in how hard you press with the eraser and the movement you make. Beards, for instance, are almost always thicker, squiggly hairs while hair on the head can be straight or curly but generally longer. I will usually repeat the drawing process at least twice and often more till I reach the appearance I'm wanting.

6022011-3.jpg


3202013-1.jpg


With more complex patterns, do it in stages.

3202013-1.jpg


Now I also know I draw in more detail than many want which is just my style. I'm not advocating that anyone else do this but the technique can be adjusted to whatever level of detail a person wants - just stop earlier. And my method may not work for you or anyone else. I've had people tell me they could not get anywhere with it .. but then I can't get anywhere with negative drawing. We all are different and nobody is right or wrong. Some part of my method may very well work for you and with practice and some experimentation you will likely find a way to make it your own.

When you are lifting hairs, always be aware of the lighting - especially on head hair. Keep the erasures light (not coarse) and let the viewer do most of the work filling in things they "think" they see. Put em to work

Also, hairs are not soldiers standing in nice neat rows. There is overlap, stray hairs even if they just got up from the hairdresser. Ignoring this will lead to an appearance of a helmet. Also, always put in some flyaways because it will soften the outside edges. Again, leaving the edges hard makes it look something like a helmet.

Here's one I did some time back where I intentionally left the hair helmetlike as I progressed. Then I put in the black background and softened the edges. It was much easier to put in the black with a more solid edge.

3202013-1.jpg


And that's about all I can offer in help for hair. It's really not hard like your brain is going to tell you ... just a texture and a technique.
HTH ...

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby KenBrown » Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:36 am

I'm not fond of the program this site uses ... attachments in particular are very touchy and hard to use. There were some duplicates in my message but the site will not let me add new ones so I guess it has to stay the way it is. Hopefully at least some of it will be helpful ...

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby Laurene » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:50 pm

Hi Ken,

I wanted to thank you for you detailed post. I know you meant your reply to be for Steven but it helps everyone and is a great refresher for those of us who knew your work back on Artpapa. Back then when I hadn't been drawing for a very long time, you were very generous in answering many of my questions and I appreciate it. I also wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate you on making the cover of Strokes of Genius 8. Well deserved!

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby BlackScorpion » Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:35 pm

Wow... the fur on that cat is magnificent!
I try to follow your explanation, but I find it difficult.

What is a stick eraser?
And you say you do not draw every hair, but in the sample it surely does look like it.
I would love to know more how you work, my main interest is furry animals.

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby Garry » Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:23 pm

img001806.jpg
A Stick eraser is simply a plastic eraser in a pen form, you can cut the end to what ever shape you want. As Ken suggests he cuts the end square as do I but I also cut it to a chisel shape the same as a pencil.
Garry
"Learn to draw, it will change your life."
https://www.facebook.com/garryrogersfinewoodandpencil

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby KenBrown » Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:51 pm

Sorry about my absence ... I wasn't notified of any responses or I would have checked earlier.

I'm glad my explanations were of use, Laurene ... and thank you for your congratulations! I was probably more surprised than anyone but we all take our 15 minutes of fame when it comes our way.

When I first started drawing back in 2005 it seemed to me like most people were very secretive about their techniques and methods. So I became something of a nuisance in asking and pressing for information. Some people got annoyed but I got the answers I was after. And, of course, some of the methods absolutely would not work for me and others only worked to an extent ... which, of course, is normal. So I had to figure out ways to make things happen for a result I wanted and then figure out why they worked and to a lesser extent, why others did not. I would have to say that Armin Mersmann was probably the biggest influence on me due to my approach to drawing and some other techniques I use. Mike Sibley was a great help but I just cannot seem to do things his way .. and JD's methods eluded me as well. However, the point is that once I started to get a handle on how to do things I started to freely explain my methods/techniques. It has always seemed silly to me that people keep their methods to themselves as if once they are known that artist will no longer be in demand. If I use my techniques and you use the identical methods our drawings may show some resemblance, but they will not be identical by any means. We're unique and everything we do shows that.

Another thing I do that I really do not recommend anyone doing is to draw a small area until it's nearly finished before moving on and doing another small area. I don't use overall construction lines - no outlines. I start on the left side eye (I'm a righty) and move on from there by careful measurements and angles. This method I picked up from Armin somehow and it works for me but is prone to all sorts of mistakes not to mention taking an extreme amount of time. Here's one that made the cover of a book on drawing late last year. Each photo represents a weekend worth of drawing - perhaps 10ish hours. (I'm very slow)

Cassie_Progress.jpg


I will also say another word about the stick erasers - at least from my own experience. Not all of them will work for my methods. The eraser itself must be pretty firm. Some I've tried are fairly soft and flexible and pretty wide. These tend to bend instead of firmly erase so they will not work for me. My favortie was Sanford's Tuff Stuff but it's no longer made. Tombow makes one that I haven't tried yet but it looks like a suitable replacement. I haven't tried the one Gary showed but it sounds like he gets good results with it.

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Re: Help with horse hair and furry things

Postby KenBrown » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:21 am

BlackScorpion wrote:Wow... the fur on that cat is magnificent!
I try to follow your explanation, but I find it difficult.

What is a stick eraser?
And you say you do not draw every hair, but in the sample it surely does look like it.
I would love to know more how you work, my main interest is furry animals.

Thank you. I think the "secret" to working the way I do or anyone else who works in realism is to take it slowly and pay attention to the details. Draw what you actually see and not what your brain tells you that you see.

I think it is the edges of shapes that are most important in drawing fur. I don't do every hair that i see - that would drive me nuts. Just a short jaunt, of course, but nuts nonetheless. So I concentrate on melding edges into believable things.

6022011-4.jpg


Notice the edges of the markings .. the markings themselves are in the right places and the right shapes, but the edges in particular are different from the original. Hairs tend to extend past the edges in either direction and of either color so you have to allow for that by erasing some and accentuating others. Not every hair is drawn although the suggestion is made so the viewer is content with what they see.

One other thing that many people comment on in my drawings are the cat eyes in particular because they appear somewhat glassy. This is done with layering - another time consuming method of course. I tend to start out with 6H and lay down a solid layer using the side of the pencil and almost no pressure. I avoid the pupil and the highlight(s). Then I go to a 4H and repeat .. then a 2H and so on until I get to the 2B. From there I use a writing grip but still no pressure and always in a circular motion to avoid any directionality. Sometimes I'll use a stick eraser to push the graphite around like a bulldozer but rarely to actually erase. I will also dab a bit with a kneaded eraser to adjust value across the eye. Slowly the graphite builds up until it begins to appear glassy. One thing I constantly see in drawings is where I think the artist stopped too soon so they didn't get the effect they could have. There is something of a fine line between overworking a drawing and finishing it but you have to find that for your own work.

When I work I will spend the first hour or two of a new sitting going over everything I've drawn thus far - making corrections or adding things as necessary. If you were to carefully examine each of my updates you would see small adjustments all over but they are easily missed if one doesn't look for them.

First sitting ... There are a lot of layers in this already but there will be many more before I call it "done". I use a 4B directly on the pupil and push hard. It tends to get a bit shiny but I mount it under glass with a matte so glare really isn't an issue. If it were I would spray with a matte fixative when I was finished with the drawing.

10092011-1.jpg


Eventual drawing ...
02242013-1.jpg


Human eyes are a bit different.

HTH ... Ken

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