We draw hair in Photoshop

This is not a complete lesson for one simple reason – I constantly experiment with drawing hair and do not stop at one technique. However, there are things that I use almost always. I am sure that the technique shown in this lesson is not the best of its kind (maybe it will even be backward =)), but it suits me completely.

Another thing I have to mention right away is that I always work in black and white, and only then I work on “coloring”.

In the process of the lesson will be used brushes that I made myself. I give permission to all users to use these brushes, you can, of course, thank me, but this is not necessary. I trust you and I hope that you will not give out these brushes for your own and sell them.

Note: On the website source link to the author’s brush is inactive. You can use brushes to draw hair from our site.

  • Download brushes

So, we have a body blank (a very rough piece, but its mission is just to be there), now we will determine the approximate shape of the hair by adding shadows and highlights. Usually for this purpose I use a hard brush with rough edges, something like chalk. Our “strokes” should be less than hair curls should be, all this in order not to sweat afterwards with “protruding” edges.

Now I will do the same job with a smaller brush to denote thinner curls.

Draw the back of the hairstyle behind the layer with the body itself.

After that, I use my hair brushes. You can use your favorite brushes. I usually use the setting Pen Pressure (Pen Pressure).

We start with a large brush.

After that, I paint more highlights and shadows using smaller brushes. I like to put shadows under highlights to better draw all the curls. If necessary, remove some unwanted curls – for example, covering the face, as I did.

Now combine all the layers with hair (except hair behind the body) into one group (CTRL +G) and duplicate it. Select all layers in the duplicate group and apply the function to them. Merge. Now blur the resulting layer a little. While you can hide the group with the original, it’s good when you have a backup copy that you can go back to if something goes wrong.

And now begins the real detail. I usually work with shadows first, and then add highlights. Even at this point, I change the shape and location of the edges of the hair locks mostly in a random order and stop when I like the way it looks. I work with an increasingly smaller brush, then switch to a stiff brush that looks like a pen, as small as needed depending on the size of our image to add knocked out hair.

Now we press (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E), highlighting only the layers with the hair (of course, except for the back), and adjust the contrast using Levels (Levels).

Using again Levels (Levels) with mode Screen (Lightening) on a new layer, I add highlights to the work, and also add shadows, again using Levels (Levels).

You have obviously already made the question why I chose such an intricate way. Well, let’s go back to the original version with shadows and highlights. When I painted shadows and highlights for the first time, I still didn’t know what the hair would be, so the contrast was exaggerated, in some places shadows and highlights appear in inappropriate places. Therefore, we went this way – dimmed everything and modeled the lighting again.

Yes! Half done! Now go to the coloring. To make it easier, I combined all the layers with hair and Levels (Levels) in one group.

To begin, I add Gradient Map (Gradient Map) with mode Color with primary colors for shadows, highlights and intermediate tones. You can use for this photos or pictures that you like.

One more Gradient Map (Gradient Map) with mode Color will add warm tones, and one more – the third such layer – will finally finish our correction. I also inverted the masks of these layers and, using my “hair” brush again, selected the places where I want to change the original color.

Next, let’s play with the settings, adding more shades (hair includes almost all shades of colors) on the layer with soft light and on the layer with overlapping. All this is purely experimental, you should see how and what tint each setting affects.

When you’re satisfied with the result, add a layer over the top. ColorBalance (Color balance), to even out the colors.

It’s time to add some basic lighting. Add a layer Levels (Levels). By the way, do not forget to use ClippingMask (Create Mask). Now invert this mask and paint over the dark areas with a large soft brush.
Now create another layer.Levels (Levels) with blend mode SoftLight (Soft light). Again we use a large soft brush, but this time we paint over the light areas.

Almost done. J. Now we need to finish the hairs out of the hairstyle. To do this, I use a small hard brush and PenPressure (Pen pressure). I drew hairs mostly on light areas, very little on dark ones.

Now let’s make the hair ends glow. To do this, use this brush with blending mode. ColorDodge (Lightening the basics). And again add more “highlights” to the bright areas and less to the darker ones. I like it – nice and bright, though not realistic. You can do it the way you want by changing the value Opacity (Opacity).

And finally, add another layer ColorBalance (Color balance), to finally adjust the colors.


Here is another work drawn in the same way:

Author: pikkatze.

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