Painting hair with a glossy effect





[1] About this course

Hair is an important aspect that determines the impression of a character. You want to make the hair look smooth and shiny when painting.

In this course, I will teach you how to paint a glossy effect while blending other colors and adding highlights.


[2] Brush and the procedure of painting hair

■ The flow of painting the hair


The general flow of painting the hair is in the order of “Flat colors → Lighter shadows → Darker shadows → Highlights”.

I will explain them accordingly.




■ Brushes


I will introduce the brushes to use when painting the hair.

I mainly use [Opaque watercolor], [Dense watercolor], and [Mapping pen] brushes.


<Opaque watercolor>

I use [Opaque watercolor] to roughly add shadows.

Opacity is set to about 80% so that the color below can be seen.

There is not much starting and ending effects.

Tool Location: [Brush] Tool → [Watercolor] → [Opaque watercolor]


<Dense watercolor>

I use [Dense watercolor] to portray the subtle shadow of the hair.

It is convenient when trying to express the flow of the hair, because it has starting and ending effects.

Tool Location: [Brush] Tool → [Watercolor] → [Dense watercolor]


<Mapping pen>

I use [Mapping pen] for adding darker shadow.

Unlike the watercolor brush, mapping pen has an obvious outline and therefore, I use it to add variation.

Tool Location: [Pen] Tool → [Pen] → [Mapping pen]


[3] Expressing the flow of the hair

I use [Opaque watercolor] and [Dense watercolor] brushes to express the contrast and flow of the hair.




■ Flat Colors


① I continue to the next step after painting the skin and clothes.


② First, I use brush and fill tool to fill in the areas of hair along the line art. Paint so that there is no overflow or unfilled area.


③ Pick a lighter color than what you aim to finish with, because the color gradually gets darker as shadows are added.

I wanted hair color to be dark blue eventually, so I selected grayish blue as the flat color.




■ Add rough contrast


① First, I painted the rough shadows around the face. Create a new layer above the flat color and check [Layer] → [Layer Settings] → [Clip at Layer Below] from the menu. Doing so prevents overflowing beyond the flat color area.


② Place a color darker than the flat color using the [Opaque watercolor] brush while being aware of the shape of head.


③ Use the [Blend] tool → [Blur] to blend the bottom part of the shadow with the flat color.


④ Erase the upper part of the shadow as well as the bundle of hair with the transparent color selected from the [Opaque watercolor] brush as if drawing an ark.




■ Paint along the flow of hair


① I paint along the flow of hair. Imagine that hair flows from the top of head to the tip.


Express the flow of hair by roughly drawing the shadow with transparent color using the [opaque watercolor] and then erase it with [Dense watercolor].


③ Add shadow to areas that hide behind the body or where the hair overlaps.




■ Add dark shadow


① Once I'm done with painting along the flow, I add darker shadows in the deeper areas or where strands of hair are overlapping.


② Then I add darker shadows with the [Mapping pen]. Be careful not to make the overall tone of the entire hair dark by adding too much shadow.


Now I am done with painting shadows.


[4] Expressing the glossy hair

■ Paint highlights


Next, I will paint the highlights of the hair.


① I create a new layer above the layer with shadows.


When painting highlights, use a very bright color so that you can express contrast in the color of the hair.

However, white is not an appropriate color for hair, so try using colors that blend well. This time I picked a bluish color because the girl has blue hair.


② Similar to how I added the shadow to face, paint highlights in arc shape using [Opaque watercolor].


③ Erase the highlights from top to bottom with a transparent color using [Opaque watercolor]. Along each section of hair, erase the color with transparent color in the direction of the arrows to make the hair look shiny.


④ I add highlights using [Dense watercolor].


⑤ Then I add thin highlights at the tip of the hair for a delicate impression.


Now I am done with painting the highlights.


[5] Finishing details

Finally, I adjust the color to express the transparency of the hair.




■ Change the color of hair


① I used [Soft] function from the [Airbrush] tool. It is very useful when expressing soft gradient.

Tool Location: [Airbrush] Tool → [Airbrush] → [Soft]


② Make a new layer and add a light blue gradient to the bottom half of the hair.


③ I can add gradient effect to the color of the hair by changing the blending mode of this layer from [Normal] to [Soft light].


Read the following TIPS article to learn more about the blending mode of the layer.


④ Create a new layer with the same procedure and express the transparency by adding another color to the hair tip.

If you add skin color to the bangs, it will result in a lighter touch.


⑤ Finally, add thin strands of hair to the new layer using [Mapping pen]. These details can portray a sense of delicacy.


<Example of Layer Configuration>


All processes are completed. Please take a look at the video tutorial as well.


※ The video is in Japanese.




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・ Artist profile: Shino Sera

I like girls with long hair ■ GA Novel “魔王の娘は世界最強だけどヒキニート!” Illustration E☆2 (12th anniversary) etc. ■ Currently a member of “Gelatin*”



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