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LauraHollingsworth's avatar

Hair Coloring Tutorial

All characters from the coloring examples are from The Silver Eye webcomic, by yours truly! :iconthe-silver-eye:
Download to see the super huge fullsize file!

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The most handy hair structure tutorials are this video by Proko and this
blog post.These are useful for thinking about the direction hair locks flow with different styles: 1 2 3 4 5 | Painting Realistic Hair | Shading with gradients: 1 2

Tutorials by me including: Gimp Brush Dynamics, Coloring Eyes and Coloring Method.

Final Thoughts/Dissing of smudge tool
As I was looking for other hair tutorials to plug, it made me sad. Sooo many of them recommend techniques that leave you with blurry hair, whether from the smudge tool, the airbrush tool, fuzzy brushes, or brushes with low opacity. I think rendering with only the smudge tool on hair is the Comic Sans of digital painting and it's a sure way to make any painting look amateurish.

When I first started digital painting I wasted months and months on the smudge tool. It only made ugly art worse and stole time away that could have gone towards getting better at Ye Trusty Paintbrush Tool. It might be a tool lots of people use, but smudge gets no mercy from me.
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© 2014 - 2021 LauraHollingsworth
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TheFagGoth's avatar

This is so well done, kudos!

TheNekOtaku's avatar

I actually disagree with your opinion on Burn/Dodge. Its a little complicated to work with, but extremely useful. To just use it for fiery effects is an absolute waste as it can be used to enhance your artwork in many ways, especially on a lightings perspective. I use it all the time recently (courtesy of Ross Draws lmao). For me dodge/burn especially dodge gives a really nice lighting effect, and mixed with other layer modes and playing around with different colours and opacity on different elements within the environment really sets your drawing apart.

You should actually try using it, it'll add a really great addition to your artwork. Also, I think picking and choosing several colours (at least 3-4 different colours by changing the hue on the colour wheel simultaneously dragging the colour picker to lighter or darker tones) for the gradient will actually make the artwork look. It'll add a fresh saturated pop and will make drawings look livelier.

My artwork ain't that great so I'm no expert, but your artwork definitely is! So I hope these tips help. And if you already know them..err...just ignore heheBlush emoticon IMing: Blush - Shy

Gurdim's avatar
really cool tutorial :)
Starry-Storm's avatar
Haruh2's avatar
I found this useful to understand better detail for hair, Thanks!
Sailor-Crystal-Moon's avatar
(Also, yay, a GIMP tutorial!)
black-cat16's avatar
This is perfect if it comes to all hair colours except white. It gives me hell. Can you give some tips, please?
LauraHollingsworth's avatar
Here is an example of a white haired character that I painted: Faolan for Tigryph by LauraHollingsworth   Here is a value scale:… With white hair you need to be gentle with your values, it doesn't have much contrast. Based on that value scale, I would have most of the hair in mid values at 2-3, some brightest highlights at 1, some shadows at 4, and maybe a few strands at 5 in the darkest part of the shadows, but I wouldn't go darker than that (unless the lighting is super baroque and dramatic). White hair is also very reflective, and it takes on the hue of its surroundings. That's why it has a teal tint in my example instead of being pure greys. I always incorporate a bit of the background color like that when I'm painting white hair. I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any questions!
Greebs232's avatar
this is so perfect so very very perfect <3
pinchback's avatar
 Excellent, thanks! Sad to say I use smudge tool quite a bit; happy to learn a new technique
omniscientllama's avatar
this is really useful. thank you <3
KatieStarrK's avatar
I really love this tutorial! But what magic gradient brush do you speak of?? 
LauraHollingsworth's avatar
Do you mean the gradient tool? (I made this tut three years ago, I don't know if I said something about a gradient brush :XD:)
KatieStarrK's avatar
Yes the gradient tool. Is this in photoshop or paint tool sai? (Or neither. Also thanks for responding!)
LauraHollingsworth's avatar
This is in gimp, but both photoshop and sai (and really most art programs) have a gradient tool.
KatieStarrK's avatar
Oh! That's awesome that that's in gimp! Thank you!
KearaNorrisComics's avatar
Awesome tips! Thank you so much! I have tried the smudge tool and it hasn't helped, this looks like it will though!
Frost-Raining's avatar

LauraHollingsworth's avatar
Gradients are my best friends! You are welcome!
Frost-Raining's avatar
Seriously though. This actually is helpful.
nolmet's avatar
Finally, a tutorial I can follow! Yay! Thank you so much.
devduck01's avatar
Thank you for sharing :-)
redjanuary's avatar
Thanks so much for the tips... I am never touching the smudge tool now :D (Big Grin) 
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