Digital painting tutorial, painting hair

Digital painting tutorial, painting hair. Learn to paint hair step by step using Photoshop or any digital painting application and Wacom pen tablet. I have a lot of request how on painting hair tutorial. Hair is one of those object that really confuse artists and can throw them off. My personal approach of painting hair is just like painting any other object, nothing special or different. First, I will observe the shape and size of the whole head, then I will break layers of hair into groups or clumps of hair. If you squint and look at people, you will get a clear picture of how value really works. Everything will look simplify. Same as hair here, when painting hair, don’t think of it as painting every single hair. You should approach it by breaking the whole head of hair down into a few shapes. Notice how the hair shape and how light and shadow interact with it. I recommend go to life drawing to paint in real setting. There are three most important things you should remember in painting. First, you have to get its shape and size as accurate as you can. Second, value (light and shadow) is very very important when painting hair. In all case, value is not only just light and shadow in its setting, but also the reflective property of the subject. In this particular step by step demo, I am painting blonde hair so its property is almost as reflective as some metal because they are shiny. Third, edges are very important. To successfully painting hair, you have to get the edges right. Hair is one tricky subject and it can be fun playing around with edges.
This tutorial, like any other one of mine, is not intend to be photo realistic. If you are looking for photo realistic style painting, you are in the wrong place. I tend to favor painterly style, bold brush work and very conceptual like kind of painting. It could resemble realism, but not in photo realistic kind of way.

Here is a final painting of straight long blonde hair.

Painting hair tutorial

Painting hair tutorial

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Below are step by step how to paint long blonde hair.  I didn’t use any reference on this one because I didn’t have time to find a good one.  So this is very basic.  I recommend using ref or go to life drawing to get good practice.  Step one, I just sketched basic long hair shape.  Notice that I kept it really simple.  Step two, I use only two value, mid tone and dark, to define the shape of her hair, but all in one hue (green brown color).   Step three, I define the edges, soft and hard, between two value and get rid of the outline.  Step four, I then introduce the lighter value and try to get its reflective nature of the hair to shine.  Step five, I clean up and again define edges.  By defining edges, I meant smooth out some part and separate light part from shadow, also separate between groups of hair.  Step six, I added highlight and bring out some additional small strains of hair on the outer edge.

Digital painting tutorial, long blond hair

Digital painting tutorial, long blond hair

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About Xia Taptara

Xia Taptara (黃曉聲 Huang XiaoShēng), currently a freelance concept artist for games and films, formerly a character concept artist for ArenaNet/NCsoft (GuildWars & Guildwars 2). I also work on various projects for Game of Thrones, Square-Enix, Paizo Publishing, Fantasy Fight Games, Disney Interactive, and many publishers & clients. I use Wacom Tablet Intuos and Photoshop CS2,3,4,5 to do most of my professional art work. I use pencil, pen, and traditional medium in my free time. I founded ( in 2007 to motivate myself to create more and better art. Also I get to draw and paint whatever the hell I want to. Hopefully I can inspired some young soul and old soul alike. *QUESTIONS & COMMENT: PLEASE POST THEM ON THE BLOG. Or CONTACT ME via idrawgirls Facebook page. DO NOT E-MAIL ME. Thank you. ;-)
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2 Responses to Digital painting tutorial, painting hair

  1. Xia Taptara says:

    Thanks buddy, no prob. Keep it up! Observe well and constantly practice will get you everywhere.
    First, take your time in drawing and painting. Know what you want to achieve.
    Read all of them carefully.
    Focus on value when painting

    I use a few layers at the time then I merge them all. Focus on value (light and dark). Be honest and trust your eye because your brain will tell you otherwise. Draw what you see, not what you think the object should look like.


    Color read this:
    Using Overlay

    here is how to set it up

    3 rules of Painting

    Color vs Value
    Value Exercise

    How to improve your drawing 5 steps:

  2. Daylijah says:

    This is freaking amazing :O !! Thanks for this great tutorial, I am sure it’ll be a huuge help, as I currently suck at coloring things xD …

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