We draw braids and dreadlocks in Photoshop

What will you create

Style is one of the important aspects of art. He gives a special character to your characters, telling us about who they are and what they are. In this lesson we will try to figure out how to portray two realistic hairstyles – braids and dreadlocks.

If you have not read the lesson “Learning to draw realistic hair in Photoshop”, I advise you to read it in order to practice drawing lighter hairstyles.

1. Brushes and Settings

Basic Brushes

To create these drawings, I used a graphics tablet. Wacom Intuos Draw, as it allows you to work with the sensitivity of the pen. In the process, I will use a hard round brush with pressure adjustment, which you can find in Photoshop brush sets.

This brush is perfect not only for sketches, but also for adding basic colors and drawing as a whole. Take advantage of the function Pressure for Opacity (Push for Opacity) for more control with the pen (translator’s note: an icon that includes this feature (you can see on the right side of the image above).


Later in the work on the dreadlocks, I will need to add the appropriate texture. I’ll use a brush for this effect. Chalk (Chalk) with changing some settings.


Here are the two main sources that I used to create these illustrations from the Envato Market (http://envatomarket.com/). Try to find photos with good lighting, which would clearly show the direction of the hair, as well as their texture. You can search for more pictures on the Internet, so as not to copy everything from one photo.

Examples of pigtails and dreads with Envato Market

Layer Customization

For each pattern on the tablet, I use a method that can be called the “Mixing Mode Method”. As part of this method, you can create a clipping mask for the basic colors of your pattern, and group them by dividing into lights and shadows. For shadows, set the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication), and for light areas – blending mode Overlay (Overlap) or Linear Dodge(Add) (Linear clarifier (Add)). The blend mode of all other layers can be left as default.

(Left) New layer is clipped by layer with base for creating shadows, (right) New layer is clipped by layer with base for creating shadows.

2. How to portray Spit

Drawing pigtails is not as difficult as it may seem at first glance. All you need to do is to deal with the weaving patterns, and you can easily develop the right rhythm!

Step 1

Before we start drawing, let’s break the construction of the braid into several simple parts. Open a new document, 1700 x 1200 pixels, resolution 300 dpi. Using a hard round brush, with the regulation of opacity with the help of pressure, quickly draw an oval with two lines – this will be the back of the head and neck. Do not forget the ears!

Step 2

In this style, the pigtail of my character will come out of the tail, just like in the source picture. Draw a circle – it will be a rubber band, and from it draw down three vertical lines.

Step 3

Draw diagonal lines on both sides to the center. Try to draw them so that they are not an exact reflection of each other (that is, they should not touch each other at the center line). Just place the next diagonal line under the previous one. Continue to draw such lines until you reach the end of the pigtail.

Step 4

Now erase the straight lines to the left and the right, and in their place draw rounded lines, as shown in the image below. Draw a rubber band at the end of the pigtail, and draw the remaining hair ends to complete the sketch.

Before moving on to color, let’s clean up a little sketch. Lower Opacity (opacity) of the existing draft up to 50%, and on top of it create a new layer. Use this layer to make lines more neat, using the same brush as before, as well as adding new details, such as hair strands. Combine both layers.

Below is the final sketch.

3. Draw Realistic Hairstyles: Braids

Step 1

Hide the sketch layer and place it in a new group called Painting (Picture). First, let’s work on the background. Fill the background with a light gray-blue color (# dae3e6), and then use the aforementioned Mel brush to add texture, varying the color slightly, so that the effect is more interesting.

Step 2

Make the draft layer visible again. Create two new layers below it for the primary colors. Base colors for hair and neck should be placed on different layers. With a hard round brush (B) paint your neck blue (# bbc3c6). Then in blue (# 226f98) is a rubber band, and hair is light brown (# b1927c).

Now add a couple more new layers and turn on the mode. Clipping mask (Clipping mask) to layers with basic colors. These two layers will turn into layers with a shadow for the neck and hair. Change the blending mode of the shadow layers to Multiply (Multiplication). To make the sketch with the main colors look better, change its blending mode to Overlay (Overlap).

Step 3

Lower the opacity of the draft layer to 60%. Now, select the layer with the shadows, and start painting the shadows on the neck with Hard Round Pressure Opacity Brush (rigid round brush, with regulation of opacity with the help of pressure). Take advantage of Eyedropper Tool (Eyedropper) (I) to select the base color as the base color. Since we have changed the blending mode, we will automatically paint with a darker color.

Let’s speed up the process a bit. Experiment with blending modes, and see how each of them changes your shadows. Use layer with overlay mode. Linear Burn (Line dimmer) to create a linear gradient of a warm orange color, and then add more shadows on top of this effect on the blend mode Multiply (Multiplication).

When drawing shadows, the gradient will help you create a more natural effect.

Step 4

And now let’s add some highlights! Create a new layer, change its blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear clarifier (Add)). Take advantage of Eyedropper Tool (Eyedropper) (I) to select those color areas where you want to add highlights. Then add warm highlights to the head, as shown below, and to the individual strands of the braid.

Keep adding highlights. Reduce the size of the brush, this will allow you to depict thin strands of hair.

Step 5

Time to clean our drawing a little. Merge all layers that are clipped to layers with base colors. Then combine both bases. You have the opportunity to make the edges of your design more accurate – it applies to the head and neck.

Before moving on to details, remember to merge all the base layers.

Step 6

Increase your drawing, and start adding details to your hair. To do this, use a solid round brush. (B) small size. Show the direction of the hair and how it is intertwined in a pigtail.

Do not forget to add a few thin strands! Check out Hardness (hardness) brush – it should be 100%. These strands, in fact, can be knocked out in absolutely different ways, so you can experiment.

As a final touch, add a little shadow behind your character. You can also finish the exterior lighting on the hair, coming out of the background, as it were, using a soft round gray brush. Here is the final drawing.

4. How to portray dreadlocks

It is even easier to draw dreadlocks than a pigtail. Imagine them like long, hairy tubes scattered across your head and back.

Step 1

The beginning will be the same as in the situation with braids: a document of the same size, the same background. Using a stiff brush with opacity adjustment with pen pressure, scribe the neck and head with small bumps in the upper part – these are future dreadlocks.

[22. jpg]

Step 2

We start to gradually add dreadlocks. Looking at the image source, draw each strand in the form of a tube that stretches along the character’s head. Try not to make them too even and correct, since dreadlocks are much more untidy.

From left to right: a step-by-step process of drawing dreads. Start with simple tubes, and gradually fill their heads.

Continue working on the dreadlocks form until you are satisfied with the result. You can add a few beads to your hair – this will add a certain character. I present to you a finished sketch with dreadlocks on a plain white background.

5. Draw Realistic Hairstyles: Dreadlocks

Step 1

Since we will use the same background, I think we can go directly to the main colors of the hairstyle. Create a new group, name it Dreadlocks(Dreadlocks) and place a sketch there. Under the sketch, create a new layer, and with the help of a rigid round brush (B) add primary colors. I will use the following colors:

  • I’ll draw purple hair: # 514f5b
  • Gold Beads: # b99556
  • And the skin – gray: # a1a1a1

Step 2

Change the blending mode of the outline to Overlay (Overlap), and Opacity (opacity) lower to 60%. We will use the same method: apply a clipping mask for layers with shadows for hair and body, blending mode – Multiply (Multiplication). Now, draw a shadow with a soft round brush, paying special attention to the shadows on the left and right side of each tube-strand of hair to create an ambient light effect.

Step 3

Add another layer, change its blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). With help Eyedropper Tool (Eyedropper) (I) select purple (base hair color) as the base color. Select Gradient Tool (Gradient) (G), type – Foreground Color to Transparent (From primary to transparent). Create a linear gradient so that the deepest shadows appear at the bottom of the hair. Opacity lower to 73%.

Continue adding more shadows, and then move on to highlights. For highlights, create a new layer, change its blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear clarifier (Add)), and with Eyedropper Tool (Eyedropper) (I) select purple (base hair color) as the base color. Using a soft round brush, paint highlights near the center of the hair.

Step 4

And now time texture! To begin with, merge all the layers, cut by layers with the base colors, and then merge the two base layers.

Dreadlocks are made up of matted hair, which means that a bunch of tiny hairs will stick out of each dreadlocks. Using the Chalk brush, add texture to the entire hairstyle, and do not forget to paint a little with the same brush around the head, thus depicting loose hair.

Brush Chalk helps you quickly and easily create a wonderful texture of tangled hair.

Step 5

I didn’t really like the color of the hair that was chosen at the very beginning, and I decided to make it a little warmer. Create a new layer overlay mode. Overlay (Overlap), and walk through the hair with a soft round brown brush. In the process, several parts can get lost, and therefore it would be nice to have a hard round brush to add more shadows between the strands.

Add highlights! Create a new layer, change its blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear brightener (Add)), and start painting highlights on it. To make hair look tangled, brush strokes must be large and wavy.

The amount of glare should increase towards the center of the head as a whole, and the center of each strand.

Continue to work on the picture. Edit the beads a bit, and, as in the previous figure, add the ambient light, making a few strokes on the head with a soft gray color. That’s what happened in the end.

That’s all!

And which of these hairstyles would you like to try?

You know, in fact, drawing realistic hairstyles is no different from working on any other details. Break the task into several simple steps in order not to complicate the process.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and feel free to leave comments below.

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