How to Color Render: Hair | Lessons with Luna (BluMoon) #1

Hey there! as requested by @pupplegum and @kayinkreates, here’s how I usually render hair on my characters! I hope this helps! :grin:

Big shoutout to @Celestial_Night for letting me use her story cover for this tutorial! Please go read her story when it’s out! :hugs: :grin:

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.

Step 1

  • 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.

Step 2

  • 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.

Step 3

  • 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.

Step 4

  • 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.

Step 5

  • 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.

Step 6

  • 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.

Step 7:

  • 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.

Step 8:

And voilà! we’re done!

If anyone’s wondering, I use the same technique with male hair as well! :grin:

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!



This look so nice!

1 Like

What app is this? Cause i use IbisPaint X and its different from this one

I usually work on my laptop with a free drawing software called “Krita”. I usually do tablet work, but I’m guessing that there are enough tools on ibis paint X similar to what I use.


1 Like

Thank you sm! :blob_hearts:

1 Like

This looks amazing! Thank you so much!!

1 Like