Hair: Breaking Down and Building Up





Hair. Of different types, shapes and sizes. It's pretty and drawing it is fun. Hello! Name's Belle. I'm here to talk about hair and share how I go about drawing it.

How I will go about this is through:

1. Understand how hair works by breaking it down using a reference. For this one, a drawn reference.
2. Then, from that break down, build up or draw the hair from what we understood instead of what we just see.

You can check the video tutorial if you prefer to listen:

Let's start!

Breaking Down:

Why breaking down? This way, when we go and build up hair, we follow what we understood instead of just relying on what we see. Knowing how to use your reference is a step up from just using a reference.

If you are a being in possession of a head of hair, you can use said head as a reference point for understanding.

Here are some points to understand:

- Roots:

Whatever the head shape you decide on or whatever you are looking at, humanoid or not, figuring out the sections where the hair takes root is important. For a humanoid head, the usual areas for hair to grow are:

- The sides.
- The top.
- The back.
- The front: This in relation to the hair line, as bangs.

- Growth

After defining the roots, we figure out how it grows. This is where we break down the hair itself. When looking at reference, whatever reference it might be, breaking it down from large chunks to small details is very helpful.

Here's the reference that we will be using:

-- Overall Form

So with our reference, let's start with the biggest chunk: The Overall Form

From this, we get to understand the following things: the structure/type of hair, general direction/flow, and the volume of the hair.

- For structure/type, is it straight ? Wavy? Curly or Coils? For our reference, definitely wavy. Tight sort of wavy.

- For general direction/flow, these are affected by gravity, external forces, or just plain movement of the character. For our reference, the main force is gravity, given that even with all its waves, it's all going down.

- For volume, is it thick from top to bottom? Is it on the thinner side? Where does the volume focus? For our reference, the thickness of its volume is focused around the middle to bottom. Also, there's a bounciness to it.

-- Layers and Sections

--- Layers

For this stage, what we're looking to understand is how the aspects of the overall form is supported and made more interesting.

Now, how many division of layers or sections you make depends on your preference, and how much variety you wish to isolate. There are many ways to go about dividing the layers and sections. Feel free to explore for what works for you.

For our reference, let's go three layers: top, mid and bottom.

Now, during this stage, what is expanded on: Volume

With how the layers are divided, you see that how I understood it is: for the left side, the bottom layer pushes the mid layer in a way that shows more volume and it pushes the top layer higher. On the right side, how I understood it is a matter of the middle and bottom layers peeking out from the top layer.

--- Sections

Now that we've defined the layers, let's go for sections:

Some notes:
With drawn/stylized references, you can definitely determine the sections using how the lineart was drawn or how the shadows/lights were rendered.

On more realistic/real life references, you can determine the sections based on the variety on the hair and changes on it in addition to how shadow/light behaved.

For our reference, we're following the lineart for the sections.

What is expanded during this stage: Flow and Direction, Structure

Similar to the overall form's flow, the flow of sections are affected by the same factors, just on a smaller scale.

Earlier, we established that the overall form's flow is downward because of gravity. During this stage we see that the downward flow isn't as straightforward because of the hair structure and its behavior. We see during this stage how wavy this wavy hair truly is. Just how tight the waves are.

Also, we see through the sections how much the shoulders disrupt the flow. It's not just plain down. The left side is spilling to the front and the right side is spilling to the back.

How it is sectioned is often where you see if there are very specific ones isolated due to some external factors: for example, a more elaborate hairstyle (braids or half up/half down, etc., for example) or like blowing wind.

-- Small Details

Finally: the Small Details

This is what I can consider as the spice to a lovely meal. Because too much of it without proper execution could break the piece.

On our reference, it would be the stray strands that break the silhouette and other extra strands

And with this, we're done with the breaking down.

Building Up:

Now we're going to talk about building up. We're going take what we learn from the breaking down and then use it to execute and draw hair with Clip Studio. In this section, I will share what tools I use and why I prefer them. Will also talk about what my brain goes through during drawing.

This is mainly how I draw, so feel free to just take whatever works for you and run with it. If you find that by the end of this, this 'how' doesn't work, that's fine. The goal is whatever makes things easier and whatever makes you happy with your art.

- Sketch

Some things I think about:
1) I am, what I consider, a very messy sketcher.
2) Define and decide as much of a foundation as you can during the sketch stage. It doesn’t have to be clean, but cover as much ground as possible even if it would be changed later, like in the matter of hair:
a) Overall form:
Structure/Hair Type: Straight
Volume: Relatively consistent

b) Layers and sections, with focus on direction and flow.
Layers: One side is held by the hand. Everything else, going down.
Sections: The sectioning of the hair tangled with the fingers.

c) Details that can be considered as extra strands or just small enough sections that I need to take note of.
d) Rough Colors
e) Rough Environment, with focus on lighting and shadows.

Transparent Watercolor

It's smooth and fast which helps with quick establishment of the overall form of the hair. Also, you can work on the flow and direction.

The layering behavior of the brush is a plus on defining the sections as you go for a smaller brush size.

- Lineart

Things I think about:

1) If I've defined a good foundation during sketch stage, the lineart stage is mainly a clean-up. Doing the lineart is picking the best line/path made during the sketch.

2) Vector Layers are a blessing.

Mapping Pen
Vector Layers

A Vector Layers tangent:

Again, they are a blessing. The main advantages of doing lineart on a vector layer are the CORRECT LINE sub tools and the VECTOR ERASER.

You can draw a long line in one go and if it's off by a bit, you can use the PINCH VECTOR LINE to move sections or curves.

You can draw one long line in multiple sections and then use the CONNECT VECTOR LINE to make them one.

Line thickness? Use the CORRECT LINE WIDTH to narrow it down or thicken it up. This is helpful for someone that always starts with thick lineart because my vision is far from 20/20.

Need to erase an intersection? Use the Vector Eraser.

These are just some that I use.

- Flat Colors and Rendering

Things I think about:

1) Lighting and Shadow behavior and strength.
2) On defining hair strands, if it's dark hair color use light and if it's light hair color use shadows.
3) Color choice.
4) For Lighting. The Layer Blending Mode: Glow Dodge or Add Glow
5) For Shadows. The Layer Blending Mode: Multiply or Color Burn

To lay down the colors:

Lasso Fill
Close and Fill Tool Without Gaps (隙間無く囲って塗るツール)
- Content ID:1759448

For Soft Shadows: Soft Airbrush
Hard Shadows: Lasso Fill

Final stuff
Mapping Pen for Small Details/Stray strands.
Gaussian Blur for Drama


What we understood during the breaking down is applicable as well when we draw "not-quite hair" hair. Drawing elements as hair is a favorite of mine. What I mainly do is take the behavior of the element and combine it with how hair behaves. Then, balance these behaviors to achieve pretty hair.

Note: In terms of execution, you can go as simple or as detailed or rendered as you want. However, making sure that you understand what you are executing is vital so the final piece works.

Go forth and draw pretty hair! Enjoy while doing it too!

Thank you!



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