Hey there! as requested by @pupplegum and @kayinkreates, here’s how I usually render hair on my characters! I hope this helps!
Big shoutout to @Celestial_Night for letting me use her story cover for this tutorial! Please go read her story when it’s out!
note: I’m using Krita to render all of my work, but hopefully this can help with ibis X paint users as well. i hope.
- Before I start rendering anything, I make sure that I have a final sketch (on a separate layer) that’s detailed enough for me to know what shape and form the hair, and sometimes, even a shade-sketch on where I’d want to put in the highlights of the hair so that I don’t have to estimate over and over on where the light hits.
I also do this so that my whole drawing stays in a consistent style and the proportions and overall composition don’t look off, especially when I do requests.
- regardless of whether or not I have a reference or a free “cheat sheet” to use, I start to choose at least 3 color tones (the midtone, highlight, and shadow) within the same hue range (in a new layer).
- To make things easier for me in the long run, I choose the colors from a relatively similar wavelength so that they have enough contrast to separate them from one another - so that when I actually start to color, I don’t have to worry about over-smudging or muddying my work.
These three tones must have some kind of contrast because these three will help you further define the hair without needing to sketch anything.
- Now that I have those two set, I get my sketch layer (make sure that it’s locked! we don’t want to color on this!) on top of a new layer where I want to start putting my colors in.
- I start with the mid-tone as my color base, filling in with a fine-tipped brush at 100% opacity
- as this is taken as what hair color they would have without the effects of the lighting and shadow - of which these two can have multiple ways on how to be placed, depending on where your light source is.
- in a nutshell, I use the mid-tones first because I use the light and shadows as a “filter” to what the actual hair color looks like - to know where it should be brighter or darker.
Add a new layer on top of the mid-tones.
I then get my darkest color next to to start shading in the partitions and the shadows in the hair with a brush that has a fade to its tip, or a brush that’s about 50% to 70% opacity (and altering between them) to get a good blend between your mid-tone and your shadows.
- at this step, I turn down my sketch opacity to where i can barely see the sketch after I’m near done shading. And then, I start to shape my character’s locks by outlining and shading to add depth to the hairstyle
A trick i use is that I turn off the sketch layer to see if I’ve defined and contoured the hair enough, and keep going until I’m happy with it.
- We’re almost done! Add a new layer on top of your shadows.
- With the shadows in place, I start adding in the lightest color in with the same brush, going over the same spot to mark where i want the lightest parts to go.
- it looks boring right now but bear with me. I continue doing this until I’ve marked almost every part where I want the light to go.
- next, (either on the same layer or another one) ** I turn my opacity down and start to add in a lesser shine near to the light spots I marked (i usually use a brush with a faded tip to get that instant blur, but if not:). Blur the edges if needed, but blur ONLY at where the lights blend in the hair.**
Do. Not. Over-Smudge.
- as much as possible, I don’t just leave the hair with a continuous line of light. I do try to get in a lot of the shape within the shape of the hair. I also try to get a balance between my darkest and lightest colors to that it doesn’t look too much of the other since there’s only so much light one’s hair can absorb and reflect back.
- clean up time!
- go through both of the light and shadow layers and start erasing parts that have gone beyond your base color.
- I would highly suggest to use an airbrush-type eraser to get the feathered edges easilty without erasing big parts of the layers drastically.
optional: make another test layer and fill it in with a back or white layer to help you see where the over-color is, then delete after.
- add in the finishing touches with the hair strands using a color slightly lighter than the lightest color we used with a fine-tipped brush at 80% to 100% opacity.
using white is also okay, but can sometimes look distracting, especially with really dark hair in some works, so I use it sparingly most of the time.
Zoom out, and check for inconsistencies.
And voilà! we’re done!
If anyone’s wondering, I use the same technique with male hair as well!
Want to request a tutorial? Ask away here: What drawing tutorials would you like to see more in the forums?
See you guys in the next one!