Can you give me some ideas for painting classic pin-up hair styles from the 1970s?
Tafari Christianson, Ethiopia
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.