Learning to draw realistic hair in Photoshop # 2

Virtually no portrait can be considered complete without beautiful hair. In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw a realistic beard and two kinds of short hairstyle. You will definitely need a graphics tablet, I will work with the Wacom Intuos Draw.

If you prefer long hair, look at the first part of this lesson.

1. Theory

There are many types of short hairstyles, from pompadour to prickly hair and haircuts under the pot. Today we will study two fashionable hairstyles, which are often painted.

Follow the direction

No matter what hairstyle you draw, one rule remains the same: to get a quality result, draw in accordance with the direction of hair growth on the head.

Let’s see how this works in practice …

Start drawing from the top of your head. Pay attention to the direction of the hair up or down, depending on the hairstyle. Do not forget about this rule during the sketching and organization of layers.

Challenge yourself

If you are new to hair drawing, you may want to fill the sketch faster with color without paying attention to the structure. Despite the fact that this is the easiest way, test yourself and do not paint dull and lifeless hair. Draw hairstyles from which you tend to stay away, study different types of hair to give your work a highlight.

Choose nice photos with hair

I can spend hours studying stock sites. For work, choose clear and well-lit photos, so you can easily determine how to draw a particular type of hair. If you are just starting to learn how to draw hair, choose simple color schemes without complex transitions that are easiest to imitate in digital drawing.

2. Which brushes to use?

The choice of brushes is perhaps the biggest mystery for beginning artists. Remember: the simpler the brush, the better. I will use standard Adobe Photoshop brushes.

A plain round tassel is very comfortable. Experiment with its rigidity to get hard or soft edges and achieve the desired effect.

Soft brush with Hardness (Hardness) 0% (top) and tough with Hardness (Hardness) 100% (bottom).

Next brush is my favorite. This is the Hard Round Pressure Opacity Brush, which is also in the standard brush set.

Activate the option Pressure (Push) in the brush settings, then the brush will be more convenient to use, for example, when applying smooth transitions between colors.

For other brushes, activate the option Pen Pressure (Pen pressure) in settings Shape Dynamics (Dynamics of form) so that each brush stroke is elegant and pointed at the ends. I like to use this brush in places where you need to be especially careful.

Additional brushes

Additional brushes that you can install in Photoshop will help you achieve a realistic hair effect much faster. Use them if you have a good hair drawing technique or you need to save time. In addition, you can use ready-made templates with hairstyles. Below the links you can see two templates:

15 realistic makeover props

30 realistic makeover props

3. Draw the pompadour

Pompadour is a mixture of classic and style. In the 50s, this kind of hairstyle was preferred by men-smoothies. Today, the pompadour is often worn with shaved sides.

Step 1

Make a sketch of hair, using a smooth pointed brush. To create the foundation, I used the first photo from the list. Please note that the mass of hair on the forehead is directed back, and on the sides – down.

Step 2

Fill the sketch in brown. The layer with color should be under the layer with a draft. Above the base color we create a new layer and transform it into a clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G), then change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). On this new layer, draw a shadow using the same shade of brown.

Thanks to the blending mode and due to the superposition of one color layer on another, the shade will automatically become darker.

Step 3

Create additional layers and transform them into clipping masks. After that create another layer in blend mode. Overlay (Overlap). Select white and start painting soft highlights in places where the light source falls. We continue to work with the light and make sure that everything looks harmonious and in accordance with the selected lighting.

Step 4

Now we get rid of the sharpness of the layer with the draft, combining it with a picture. To do this, set the blend mode of the outline to Overlay (Overlap). Then on a new layer in blend mode Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear brightener) in light brown color draw bright highlights. We select color from those shades which are on hair.

Step 5

Adjust the color using adjustment layers. Move on Layer – New Adjustments Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New adjustment layer – Color balance) and in the appeared window add red, blue and violet tones.

Step 6

Having finished with color correction, we continue to detail the hairstyle. Set the brush stiffness to 100% and draw the correct line of hair on the forehead.

Step 7

Reduce the size of the brush and draw fine small hairs along the edges. Finish the drawing by adding a round gradient of blue color on the background layer. Along the edges of the hair with a background color we add strokes to make the hair look more realistic and harmonious with the background.

4. Draw the hair in layers

The next hairstyle will be lush and textured, separate strands will fall on each other in layers.

Step 1

Using the brush from the previous section, draw a sketch of the head and hair. Note the change in direction of the strands, starting from the crown. Since in this case the hair is long and fluffy, we will not draw out every hair, but try to depict the hairstyle in the form of large strands. Detailing deal later.

Step 2

Paint over the sketch base colors. Each color should be on a separate layer, above which we create additional layers for the shadows and convert them to clipping masks (Ctrl + Alt + G). Set the layer blending mode with a shadow on Multiply (Multiplication) and use the base color to apply the shadows.

Step 3

Reduce the opacity of the layer with draft to 25%. Then we create two new layers, the first mix mode is set to Overlay (Overlap), the second – Color Dodge (Lightening the basics). On the first layer draw bright blue highlights. Then we put on the hair a dark pink color with which we painted the background.

Step 4

Reduce the size of the brush to 5 pixels in diameter and set the stiffness to 100%. Now we will do the detailing. Draw hairs, trying to follow the direction of the strands. We pay special attention to the places that overlap each other, then we modify the sloppy edges of the hairstyle.

Step 5

Create a new layer and set its blend mode to Linear Dodge(Add) (Linear brightener) to paint more intense highlights. Choose a pink background color and apply neat strokes on the edges of the hair. This will add hair clarity and shine. Let the background be seen in some places through the hairs, so that the hairstyle does not look bulky and dense.

Step 6

We clean all problem areas. Add more highlights and additional strands to more clearly show the shape and movement of hair. Finishing work by applying a correction layer Layer – New Adjustments Layer – Levels (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Levels) to add intensity to colors.

5. Draw a realistic beard

Another type of vegetation on the head that we cannot miss is beard. It does not grow on the top of the head, however, it behaves in much the same way as regular hair. Let’s take a closer look at the drawing process!

Step 1

We start with a sketch, paying special attention to the direction of beard growth. Do not forget that the hair grows from the lower part of the face and is directed downwards.

Step 2

Using the way of organizing layers already familiar to us from the previous sections, paint over the sketch with a base color and reduce the layer opacity with a sketch to 20%. Soft round brush on the new layer in blending mode Multiply (Multiplication) draw a shadow on the beard. The color of the hair on the face is largely dependent on skin tone, so make sure that the beard and mustache gently and beautifully go into sections with the skin.

Step 3

On the same layer in blend mode Multiply (multiplication) we draw the strokes directed downwards to give texture to the beard. Notice how the hair strands are wrapped inside the jaw and neck.

Step 4

Create a new layer and set its blend mode to Overlay (Overlap). Select white and paint the beard. We focus the glare in the upper part of the beard, where most of the light falls. We modify the skin by adding new tones to get a more holistic and realistic picture.

Step 5

Create a new layer and set its blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear Dodge). With thin strokes we paint highlights on the beard. In the upper part of the beard, where the skin passes into the hair, and on the sides of the jaw, we paint highlights in bunches.

Step 6

We continue to refine the beard and paint more glare until the result satisfies you. Do not forget about the stubble on the neck. Add a soft gradient background and adjust colors with an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves).

This is what a finished beard looks like! You can try to add more details on the face or leave as is.


To breathe life into your hair, pay enough attention to the direction of growth, the movement of the hair, and how it interacts with the lighting. Improve your skills and you will learn how to easily draw hair.

Posted by: Melody Nieves

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