Painting convincing hair can be difficult. We break the process down into a few easy-to-follow steps.
For a full tutorial and walkthrough, watch the video at the end of the post.
1. What NOT to do..
When painting hair, the temptation is to go in with a small brush and begin painting every individual strand of hair.
Not only is this incredibly time consuming, it often looks unconvincing and flat. It also makes it difficult to make adjustments to the light source.
2. Instead, think about hair as a 3D object
Imagine hair not as a collection of millions of individual strands, but as one complete, 3D shape. Just like other shapes, it has planes of high and low values.
3. Begin by blocking out the basic shapes, shadows and highlights of the hair
Use a fairly large, soft brush to block out the areas of high values (highlights) and low values (shadows).
4. Use a smaller brush to begin adding a bit of definition
With the basic shapes in place, reduce the size of your brush to start adding some basic details and definition
5. Use the Smudge Tool to blur these lines in select places
On a new layer, use the smudge tool to blur and blend the lines you just drew in a few select places, making sure to keep some details.
6. With a small brush, begin to add details and individual strands of hair
Use an even smaller brush to add some details. The trick is not to go overboard paint every single hair, but only in key places such as the highlights.
7. Repeat steps 5-6 until you're satisfied with the outcome
Once again, use the smudge tool to blend these new details in a few spots. Then using a smaller and smaller brush, continue to add more fine details and individual strands of hair until you are happy with the result.
16 thoughts on “How to Paint Hair Quickly and Effectively”
Thank you for all the tip, Im happy looking forward on next subject, can I ask you to make a TUT about how to use brush, and how to know what they can be use for, Thank you
Hey Tosa, we’ll definitely be making a few tutorials on brushes soon 🙂 Stay tuned!
Hi just found your site and amazed at so many wonderful helpful free tutorials! Thank you!!
Could you do a woman’s hair painting tutorial please? Particularly the ones where wind is blowing the hair
Glad you’re enjoying the tutorials Stephen 🙂 Thanks for the feedback, we’ll add it to our future ‘to-cover’ list!
this site is amazing! may I know that if its possible for you to make a tutorial on how to make our own brushes?? that would be a BIG help since we can finally create our own medium that we can be proud to use it! hope you can see this hehehe thanks! 😀
Hi Huemica, thanks for the feedback! We’re actually just putting final touches on a brush-making masterclass 😉 Check back in a couple days!
what a nice tutorial !!! And this site is wonderful….thanks for this tut….could you please do a tutorial of some fur…it will be helpfull…
Thanks Ronaldo! We’ll add it to our list of topics to cover
I have just found you and I am already super excited to start following your tutorials! I’ve just started digital painting, so every tutorial and tip will be extremely welcome! Looking forward to joining your class on Saturday!
Awesome, glad to hear it Lygia. Just a heads up that the workshop will be on Sunday, not Saturday 😉
See you there!
This is so helpful! Thank you so much!
This site is very resourceful and easy to understand,hats off to your team and looking forward for more tips and tricks tutorials ,as a digital painting beginner this website is now my destination.Thank you!
Thanks Pratik, glad you’re finding everything useful!
Thank You for your great tutorials.
I am not able to get the psd file for beard tutorial. Please help.
Hi, Karishma! We’d be glad to help- please reach out to us at [email protected] and we can assist you further. 🙂