MINI TUTORIAL: Art Nouveau Hair

I did a panel on how to draw Art Nouveau style hair at JordanCon this past and thought I’d share the info and results of what I drew there live!  

DISCLAIMER:  This is by no means the definitive guide of Art Nouveau hair, but my own interpretation!

Inspiration Sources

If you want some gorgeous hair to get your creative juices flowing, check out the art of Alphonse Mucha and any number of the artists I’ve mentioned in the Unknown Nouveau article series.  I also have several favorite study sources up at my Art Nouveau resource page.

Before You Begin…

Think about your concept.  Art Nouveau isn’t all pretty ladies and flowy lines. Much of it has deep symbolic roots.  What visual elements or symbols could you tie into your piece?

Art Nouveau at its visual core is about flowing lines, graceful curves, and aesthetic design, in addition to the spiritual and symbolic roots of the movement.

Source: I used an image from this evocative set of stock art by ArtReferenceSource  as a base for the figure in this tutorial.  Check out the rest of his gallery for even more amazing poses for use by artists!

The Bad Example

I made this bad example by randomly drawing lines (and even then, it was really hard to make that beautiful base pose look bad!).  I consider this an ineffective use of the Art Nouveau style because it is directionless, does not serve the compositional flow, and generally just looks a mess! 

A Good Example

Now this is better!  You don’t necessarily have to have the hair of a figure flowing out everywhere in your composition.  This approach shows that you could have a more subtle stylized and graphic take on the hair where it has become more of a decorative shape than a realistic object.  

Perhaps she is a river goddess and her hair has become the flowing waters?  Perhaps she is a volcano goddess and her hair has become lava flowing down the mountain?  Weaving the hair into your background elements is one way you could bring in interesting visual elements and symbols!

Another Good Example

Here we have a more traditional take on Art Nouveau hair where the lines of the hair all curve back into the face, the heart of the piece, in this case.  Nearly every line in the image is smooth, curving, and gentle.

I’ve also abstracted the ends of the hair into curly decorative strands, which is another very specific quirk of the Art Nouveau style that you’ll see Mucha and his students use a lot.  These curly ends add a decorative touch to the hair that’s a bit more interesting than just ending the hair.

I’m sure I could write more about this topic, but I’m ending this tutorial here before it becomes a book!  I hope it gives you some basic ideas of what to do with your Art Nouveau style hair.

Do you have any favorite examples of Art Nouveau style hair? Share in the comments area, as I’d love to see them! 

Leave a Reply