One of my fondest memories from childhood is receiving for Christmas the big 64-color box of Crayola crayons (the one with the cool sharpener built in). In that big set, there were metallic colors, such as Silver and Copper. As a budding young artist, I used Silver to draw, say, a silver ring or spoon. I remember being a bit disappointed with the results. Somehow, just using a crayon colored silver did not result in a silver appearance. It was just a grey with sparkles in it. It wasn’t until years later, in art school, that I learned the “trick” to making shiny metal, or in the case of today’s tutorial, shiny hair. This “trick” is really nothing more than noticing how light reflects off a metal surface, and that the key to shininess is placing darks and lights next to each other. Let’s take a look at an example.
Here we have two metal cans or tins. The one on the left looks like it has a satin, or brushed, finish. The one on the right is your garden-variety “tin can,” and its metal looks shiny and highly polished. How do we know this? You can tell how these cans would feel just by looking at them. How? If you look closely, you’ll see that both cans are made up of just three values: a near-black, a middle gray, and a near-white. With just those three values, you could paint either can. It’s how those values meet–their edges–that makes all the difference. Notice how, on the right, there is a hard line where one value meets another. On the left, the values gradually change from one to the other.
Another difference: a highly-polished metal object will have large areas of both near-white and near-black. But in order to look shiny, a material will have a dark and a light right next to each other. That’s the “trick,” by the way. It’s what makes this water drop look shiny:
Just as with the cans, just three values are needed to paint the water drop. It’s the dramatic contrast between the white and the black that make something look shiny. This applies to any reflective surface, including hair. In this example, the subject is wearing a shiny black mask, studded with glittering stones. Her hair is shiny and lustrous. I used the same technique for all three areas, simplifying to just three values. Hair is more complicated, due to the many colors, but the same principal applies: dark against light equals shine.
In this close-up, you can see the principal at work. See how the bright, nearly-white areas are right next to dark areas? That’s the key. But, without the middle values, it would just look like she had black and white hair, or black hair with white streaks. Just as with the cans, the middle values act as the “local color”: that is, the “real” color of the object. The dark and light areas then read as shadow and highlight. So, with the hair, the middle values are browns and oranges in a middle-value range. The lights are placed where the plane is facing the light. The darks are placed in folds hidden from the light. The eye interprets this as shiny brown hair lit by a strong light source.This is easier to see in black and white.
Both hair and gemstones can seem overwhelming in their complexity. As with curly hair (see tutorial), the answer is: simplify. Squinting your eyes helps you find the main shapes and masses. Don’t try to paint every single hair (unless that’s your style, of course). By painting the major shapes, the viewer will have the impression that you’ve painted every hair, even when you haven’t. Let’s take a look at how this works with gemstones.
There’s a lot more brushwork here, in order to mimic the texture of the stones. But notice that the shininess and glitter comes from blacks placed against whites, with greys in the middle. The soft edge of the highlight on the mask portion tells us the surface is smooth but not mirror-like.
For the “beak” portion of the mask, the material is a soft satin, somewhat reflective. For this, there are no hard blacks used, just white and middle gray. As before, the eye reads this as a white material in shadow, with some shininess.
To finish up, I’ll leave you with a work by one of the great masters, Rembrandt. I wish I had a close-up of the seemingly-detailed metalworking on his buckler. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of Rembrandt’s work in person, and I know that he was a master at creating the illusion of complexity with just the right juxtaposition of darks and lights, in quite simple strokes. Velasquez was another master of this. Notice the metal near his throat: black against white. And the whole portrait glows, due to the high contrasted lighting. This portrait is just breathtaking. Enjoy!
- Tutorial: Painting Curly Hair in Corel Painter
- How to Add Sparkle to Your Corel Painter Portraits
- Tutorial: Create a Fantasy Painting with Photoshop and Corel Painter
- Tutorial: Preparing a Beach Photo for Painting in Corel Painter
- Tutorial: Get Creative with Layer Masks in Corel Painter
- Tutorial: Painting the Eyes with Corel Painter
- Tutorial: Painting Clouds with Corel Painter