Can you give me some ideas for paint­ing clas­sic pin-up hair styles from the 1970s?

Ta­fari Chris­tian­son, Ethiopia

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An­swer

Tony replies

To get a feel for spe­cific hair styles, I sug­gest look­ing at pho­tos from the time pe­riod for a while. Not just tele­vi­sion and movies, but candid pho­to­graphs of ev­ery­day people. Cer­tain styles can be at­trib­uted to cer­tain per­son­al­ity types. For ex­am­ple, if you saw a man from the 70s with hair down his feet and a long beard, chances are he’s not a drill sergeant. Like­wise, you wouldn’t want to de­pict some­one who’s been liv­ing on the streets for two years as hav­ing a per­fectly cut, blow-dried bob that could only be cre­ated with a lot of care and at­ten­tion.

As a gen­eral rule, ev­ery part of your char­ac­ters should be telling an as­pect of their story. You could use messy hair to im­ply that the char­ac­ter hasn’t show­ered that day, or in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cultto-style hair to show that a per­son spends too much time on their im­age. For this pin-up I’m paint­ing, I want to give the im­pres­sion that she’s fun with­out di­vert­ing too much at­ten­tion from her face.

Sim­i­lar to paint­ing leather (see my other Q&A ar­ti­cle on page 36), one way to break down hair is to think in three lay­ers. Start by paint­ing in a mid­tone, fo­cus­ing on hav­ing an out­line that reads well. Us­ing the sil­hou­ette as a base, you can then paint in shadow and high­lights to cre­ate depth.

Choos­ing the right hair­style for your char­ac­ters is as im­por­tant as cloth­ing choice. How people cut and comb their hair can say a lot about a per­son, so choos­ing the right shape is sim­ply a mat­ter of per­son­al­ity. A nice, round shape like this bob moves the eye with­out mak­ing a spec­ta­cle. The more novel the hair­style, the more it’ll stand out as a fo­cal point.

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