How to Paint Ears and Hair in Oil

Skill Level : 2 Intermediate

Medium : Oil Painting

Subject : Portraits

Tutor : Nolan Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 10 minutes

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Class Description

You will learn :

1) How you can use shadows to create depth in your portraits.
2) How to top professionals use reflected light to add realism to their portraits
3) How to paint the ear and hair.

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I love the speed – it it just fast enough to watch and paint, pausing only occasionally.

Janet Malone

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Class Tutorial

Painting the ear

Colour Mixing

colors-used-for-the-ear

Study the reference photo to determine all the tones and then prepare to mix the paints for the ear and surrounding skin.  You will need at least four tones - midtone, highlight, shadow, and cast shadow.

Tracing the Template

tracing-template-of-ear

Transfer the ear template to the canvas.  Learn to use transition points to help you get everything in the right place.  Use the baking paper trick from earlier lessons to check your lines.

Blocking in Various Tones of Paint

blocking in the tonal range colors of the ear

Refer to your reference photo and block in the colors for the various ear parts and skin tones in the appropriate places on the canvas.

Blending the Paints on the Canvas

blending the paint of the ear

Once you have the basic colors in place, begin the blending process.  Continually clean your brush and work carefully so as not to contaminate your colors.  Stand back occasionally and compare your work with the reference photo.

Refining the Painting

final painting of the ear

Rework the areas of the brightest brights and darkest darks which might have lost their definition during the blending process. Enhance the shadow behind the ear to ensure that the ear stands away from the face.

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Painting hair

Color Mixing

colors used for painting the hair

Study the reference photo to determine all the tones and then prepare to mix the paints for hair, surrounding skin, and background.  The background is important when doing hair as you will have "sky holes." You will need at least four tones as mentioned above in Step 1

Laying Down the Various Tones of Paint

painting tonal range colors for painting the hair

Refer to your reference photo and lay down the colors for the hair from dark to light.

Adding the Highlights

adding the highlights to the hair

Once the body of the hair is complete, begin the highlighting process. Because hair naturally falls in many layers, allow drying time between each tonal layer.  Stand back occasionally and compare your work with the reference photo.

Refining the Painting

refining the painting hair

Add a bit of detail to the face. Rework any areas of contrast which might have become contaminated by surrounding paint.

Nolan Clark

About Nolan Clark

Nolan Clark has been painting and drawing since 1996. He enjoys working in many mediums and styles, but realism is his favourite. He teaches drawing, painting as well as scratch board classes on the site.
Read more about Nolan Clark

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