How to Shade Hair: Illustration Basics | Natalie Parker | Skillshare

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How to Shade Hair: Illustration Basics

teacher avatar Natalie Parker, Illustrator and Concept Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Step One Hair Sketching

    • 4. Step Two Base Shading

    • 5. Step 3 Sectioning the hair

    • 6. Step Four Adding Contrast

    • 7. Steph Five Final Rendering

    • 8. Practical Application

    • 9. Closing Thoughts

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About This Class

In this class, we will be learning how I go about shading hair. We will cover the basics of how hair interacts with light and shadow, as well as how to paint hair digitally.

This class is made for those who are just beginners or those who are interested in trying a new style. The course will offer you a chance to explore stylization in your artwork. You can apply this to your portfolio or even take these steps to traditional painting with gouache or acrylics.

For this class, you will need some sort of digital art tablet and digital art software. I will be using a Wacom Cintiq 22 HD and Photoshop CS6.

If you wish to see the full version of the speedpaint example, go ahead and click this link:

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Instagram: @miapichina

Youtube: @miapichina

Twitter: @miapichina

Meet Your Teacher

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Natalie Parker

Illustrator and Concept Artist


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1. Introduction: Hello, everyone. And welcome back if you don't know me yet. My name is Natalie, Freshman illustrator and concept artists working in the gaming industry. Stay. I'm going to cover how I shade hair. This is an awesome video to pair with my illustration basics how to shade skin video. So once this is done, go ahead and check that out so you can keep learning. We're gonna go over how I create my stylized hair for my portrait. It's I'll give you a couple of homework assignments that you can post to get one on one feedback from me. Also, feel free to stop by in the comment section and share your work with your fellow classmates . Not without further ado. Let's jump right in. 2. Class Project: so today is gonna be all about shaving hair. Specifically, how I approach a stylized digital art to guide you through this process. You're going to go through a couple of steps. The first part will be walking through step by step, how I shade here by creating a patch of here for practice, I highly encourage use. Follow along with your own patch of hair. It will serve as great practice and help you understand the style more. After we go through the individual steps, we will have a longer speed. Pain of one of my pieces will walk you through my process while creating it to give you a better idea of how to apply this technique to your own work. At the end of the video, I will have a class project for you to complete. You'll be creating a study to show off what you've learned in this court's. The main focus of this piece should be the hair. However, if you want to gain some insight on how to shade skin for your portrait, there's already a video for that on my channel. I'll add a link to that in the description below. If you want to do something more than a portrait. Please do. By all means. The sky is the limit, so let's get started drawing there. 3. Step One Hair Sketching: So the first step is going to be our sketch because the most important step for any peace is going to be your sketch we wanted lead down that strong foundation or things can get difficult in the long run. Now there are a lot of kinds of hair for us to choose from between colors and textures. We've got a lot of options for this drawing. We're going to choose a levy patch of hair. In the future, I'll make a in depth tutorial about drawing different kinds of hairs like coils and curls, maybe something that is little more frizzy. But for now, we're going to go with something that's flowing it, but not too complicated. So while you're sketching your hair, I want you to imagine gentle waves on a lake. You're gonna have high points, and you're gonna have low points in the hair and something to note that while you are drawing your hair and once you have that overall basic shape, we're going to start sectioning things off smaller. And while you're sectioning, you need to remember that hair, while it is flowy, does have attraction to itself, so you shouldn't be drawing sections of the hair that have lines moving in opposite directions. It doesn't look natural, Andi. It's just something that will stand out to your audience in a bad way. So while you're drawing it, feel free to reference a photo. I was referencing a photo when I was drawing this because you can't get any better at drawing things naturally if you're not referencing images from nature. So go ahead, start breaking down the hair into little sections, not too small, or you're going to lose the stylization of the hair, but just small enough that you get your own individual and identifiable sections of hair within this patch. So once you have that broken down and you feel comfortable with your base sketch, feel free to move on to the next step. 4. Step Two Base Shading: already. So now that we have our basic shape, we're gonna go ahead and add the base color. Here. I'm choosing a nice Burnett on color. It's pretty common, and it's really easy code to work with because of the highlights and shadows that it creates. So I'm going to go ahead and color in our base layer with a very opaque brush. You don't want it to be transparent because of its transparent any areas. What happens is in the future. Have you decided to change the color of your background? There's a chance that you could get thes random swatches of different colors. So if you go from white to green, it's going to give you a really odd, effective happy and some greens watches in the background. So go ahead and take a really opaque brush and work through face, color and all of that. And after I'm done bees coloring our patch of hair, we're gonna move on to our shading. So we're gonna choose a medium highlight, meaning that it's somewhere closer to the yellow side of things and disip it brighter. Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and make a new layer and draw a mini son so I can make no of where the light is coming from, and we're gonna just go ahead and start putting in the highlights in the areas that we believe, Um, delight is going to interact with our hair. So I've placed them. If you notice the's to Peking areas and then the little tail end area of the hair below and to give you an idea of that, I'm just going to show you kind of the shape of the hair. So you see how this is carving out words in words and then out again. So that's exactly where we're going to be seen contact made from the sun as well as this little tail and at the bottom because it's away from these darker areas for the hair is moving away from the sun and kind of curving inwards. Same things gonna happen a bit at the top there. So now that we've laid out the highlight portions, we're gonna work with our medium dark, and we're gonna go ahead and move a little more towards purple. On this scale, it looks like it's red, but it is moving more towards purple Itoen, and you're gonna start shading with hair curves and hides. Um, the light from direct contact, his wells up top lawyers again, curving away from our little imaginary son. And so now that we've established our general highlights and shadows, we're ready for the next part which is going to be making definitive sections in the hair. 5. Step 3 Sectioning the hair: Alrighty. So now we're going to do my favorite part, which is sectioning the hairs. Remember when I said that we wanted to draw light lines that are matching their This is gonna be our guidelines for that. So go ahead. We're gonna take your top layer, that is your Leinart, and we're going to reduce the opacity of that. We're going to create a new layer above that that will eat where we are creating these sections. So go ahead and select a really dark brown color. It's not gonna be black, but we're gonna get kind of close to that area, and we're gonna start overlapping those lines above the layer. You're gonna have to different kind of lines that you can use. One's gonna be a thicker line, and the other is gonna be a center. Here's the difference. If you want it to look like one section of hair is overlapping another one, like physically coming over it, go ahead and used a larger, thicker line. It will give you that illusion of the hair casting its own shadow. Otherwise, you're going to use a fairly standard Leinart, um, thickness of a line to create these sections of the hair and you're just gonna take your time and go through and outlined the hair as you feel It fits as natural sections appear. Follow your gut for that. I wouldn't go with too many sections. If you're trying to achieve this kind of stylized look that I have is the more sections that you create, the more it starts to look like a string effect. And what we're going for is actually a ribbon. Yeah, To get this effect, go ahead and select your medium highlight, and you're gonna go ahead. And now mind the interior portions, uh, e sections. So, like you see me doing here, I'm tracing along the inside of these sections just with the highlight that have already placed down. And we're starting to create what I like to call a ribbon effect. So this is what I think of whenever I'm working on rendering my hair is how a piece of ribbon kind of interacts in real life. How we have the highlighted ends of the ribbons along the sides, and it can get really light and really reflective, depending on what you're going for. I personally enjoy how this looks So just go ahead and start lining these interior sections not too bright, but just getting in there and making the sections more defined more individual until you're satisfied with how it works. And you can go ahead and back and forth between the dark color and the light colored who feel like you're accidentally over the darker color. I always just redefine the sectional lines that I've made, whether brown as I go along and I just keep working until I'm happy. So once you are satisfied with your hair so far, feel free to move along to the next step. 6. Step Four Adding Contrast: already. So what we're gonna do right now is adds an even darker shadows. And the reason when we do that is occasionally while I'm working with this process, I find that the dark start to lose their contrast. So I select a color that's very close to what we've already sectioned our hair off with. This is totally fine. Don't worry about it, and I start emphasizing the darker areas of the hair. I do like to use a clipping mask while I do this as well, just to keep the shadows again within our patch of hair and not bleeding out to the sides you'll see in this New York guy started without doing the clipping mask, so I had to clean up my work a little bit later. So I recommend that you save yourself a little bit of time and start off with the clipping mask, and this is a take particularly long to do. But I think that this is an important step. If you want to bring depth and dimension into the hair and not make it look so flat on or so de saturated he want this hair to stand out. That's part of what makes the ribbon effect. So good is how well you can see the individual strands of hair and just blowing again, like last time till you comfortable with it. And what you're happy with darker shadows we can move on to our finalist. 7. Steph Five Final Rendering: we are now officially in the final stages of how I shade my hair. And what we're gonna do is we're actually going to get a brown color that is very, very close to black. Um, I only recommend actually going to straight black of your trading with black hair. But for this case, we're just going to get to an extremely dark brown and we're going to go over those section lines again. And as you've noticed to also toggled the sketch layer off completely so you can't see it anymore. And now we're just gonna worry about the painting itself. So go ahead and start going over any areas you feel have been muddied down throughout the shading and rendering process, making that pop a lot more. This is especially helpful in those areas with the hair is already pretty dark. So in those crevices that are hidden from the light, I like to go over those a few times. I also want to make sure that this stage is a little bit neater than are others so really just taking my time to work with those sections and lions when they look crisp and really meat and making sure that none of them look a jagged or break the feeling that they Harris flowing. I don't want the hair to look like it's been sculpted out of clay. You know, any really rough edges? I want it to look like flowing like we talked about in the very beginning, waves on a late kind of feeling. Now, once we get done with over lining the dividing areas of our sections or going to make some very light highlights and we're gonna do this in two parts were first going toe build up a pretty light color. It should be lighter than the highlight you've already put down. And we're going to repeat the process that we've already done before. So you're gonna go through at one section of highlight where the valleys peak in the hair and outlined the inner area of each section. We're gonna go ahead and do that only in the areas where the light is making very direct contact and taking your time to again make sure the hair looks really flowing. So go ahead, do your first pass of the hair. I'm with your next level of highlight already . So you completed your first passed by this point. If you needed a more time, go ahead and just pause a video. But if you're ready to go, we're now going to go ahead and select Really bright highlight now, personal preference. You could go all the way to white if you want to, but that really occurs in nature. Unless it is your hair's what or you have just really glossy oily hair and we're going to take this right highlight, and we're going to not shade as much off the peaks and valleys. You really want this to be Onley in the center of the highlighted areas, and we're also going to branch out just a little bit further to highlight the inner areas. You don't want to take your Bartosz highlight and to all the way down the section of hair because then it will look more like plastic. So just a little bit further outside of where the center highlight is located, and you're gonna go ahead and cover that over all of your hair pieces again that are in direct contact with the light and you're going to start seeing this take it signal for form that you get him and he says, and really get that ribbon me ask feel to your hair Once I'd be like a pretty much done with creating my harsh highlight. I'm gonna go through in my final rendering task. So what I'd like to do in this case is merged any layers that are related to the hair into one. And the reason why I do that is because it becomes very easy to edit any stray strands of hair or anything. That kind of comes to a weird end. If they're all in one layer is just easy to erase that versus trying to go through all my layers, finding where that occurred. So as you're going to see, I'm going to really refine those edges on that. The hair might have bunched up on making sure they look sharp and crisp, removing any Jack Guiness that came from the edges and kind of making it look like a polished finish strand of hair. And normally, when I do this in pieces, um, full finished pieces of artwork is one of the last stages that I do takes about 15% of the overall works. Just do a really big pass and make sure that everything is looking a okay. And again, this is to where you feel comfortable. And I don't want you guys aiming to make it look perfect, because I feel like artists. What happens is when we try to aim for perfection, we end up over editing and you're probably gonna end up making the keys look worse than it really was in the end due to the hyper criticism. So I just want you to look at the piece and go, Yeah, I feel good about that. I feel comfortable. So congratulations. You've just on your first process how I shaved hair in my style. What we're gonna do next is going to be a little bit of a longer with voiceover. I'm going to walk you guys through on actual t's that I made into my portfolio specifically what I did in the hair and talk to you guys about the thought process on how to practically apply this into your own artwork. So I will see you there. 8. Practical Application: All right, you guys. So for this next part, I'm actually going to be doing a voice over the hair portion of this piece right here. If you want to see the full speed pain for that piece, feel free to go to my YouTube channel. Ah, huddling for that in the description below. But if not, let me guide you through how I apply my hair shading into a practical piece. All right, so for this I've already done the basic shading of adding in where my general shadows are. And now I just finished my general highlights, and we're going to start off with sectioning off the hair, which I think it's most important part, and this hair has a lot of different curves and movement to it. So I really my time with lying out where each section of hair should go. I didn't really divide it down to small. I didn't want it to look too pc. I still wanted to have a lot of sections and keep that ribbon e effect to it. And then I went in and I did that second part of reemphasizing the shadows. When that's done, I'd lay down my first level of highlights going through and adding that medium highlight color to the inner corners of the hair sections. And I was going through to make sure that I wasn't overlaying to many of the darker sections. And if I ever did, I just went back and I re emphasized the darker shadows. So that way the contrast didn't get lost. And since this is a larger piece, I sometimes render it section by section. So I immediately at the top of the hair, went in to make the really dark section outlines because I wanted to get an idea of overall , How is this hair going to look like when I'm done rendering it? And when I was really comfortable with how that top section of hair looks like and I was confident that it was gonna translate well into the rest of peace, I started going through and reemphasizing the sections of the rest of the hair, placing all of the shadows down easy. I felt like there was to a tear missing in this area right here. So we added more hair there and just going through and making the piece look really sharp and crisp. and clean in real time. Honey, say the hair probably took me about 3 to 4 hours. Each of these pieces of this caliber can take me anywhere from 10 to 15 hours. Um, on a good day or a good week. But I just took my time with hair because I think this is one of the most important features to my personal style on. And I didn't always follow the initial sectioning, and that I lied are that I laid out for myself. You know, sometimes I felt like I could divide it down a little more. Or maybe on the flip side, it was divided too much. And so I'm just adding our highlights where I think I was going to be direct interaction with light you're gonna notice in some of these areas with the darker shadows, I don't necessarily use the highest highlight ever. I could sometimes leave it with just the first or second layer of highlighting in there. And that's because you know, you're not always going to have direct interaction with the sunlight, so it still will have stuff like reflective light or bounce light hitting the hair from different areas. So I still wanted to have some sort of level of brightness to it, but don't need it to go all the way into the harsh whites or the really shiny sectors of hair, especially the hair behind the ear right there, you see, it doesn't have any of those harsh, harsh ah highlights because realistically, the lights not going to be directly bouncing off that because it's hidden by her ear right there. So I just add one tone of highlight as the bounce light off of her year to give it that life and death to it. But I'm not going in and making it a super, super harsh highlight, and I kind of followed this for the rest of the hair. Zoom out a lot to make sure that it is coming together overall, the piece that I don't get tunnel vision and I'm just super focused in one area of the hair and maybe doesn't match up, and I'm money the ponytails in here as well. And the longer the lines, the longer it takes me just cause physically, it's a lot of movement, but you're going to see me doing a lot of over pain. Teen and I'm not happy with something in this. Totally fine to not be happy with it. Um, I do encourage you to correct your mistakes. If you feel like you see a mistake, even I'm looking back and I'm like, Well, maybe, you know, I could have removed that section. There's a little extra section in one of the ponytails that I just don't agree with and probably could have done without again. This all comes with practice and experience and learning what does and what doesn't work for you in the long run. So that way you can get the desired look that you're hoping for. And yet it's the same exact process that we talked about before. I'm just going over and over the peace until I find that the hair has been rendered. I will do that final pass at the end of the video on my YouTube channel, but that's very nippy. He and just finding what looks jagged and what doesn't look the Chris pissed, uh, Morris Chris as it possibly could be. And then I'll go ahead and zoom in on the final results here for you guys on the you can kind of see where the hair ended up in relation to the body. I did do a color layer to add pink to the end of the pony tails, like the character hasn't the original drawing. But if you follow this process and you've you add your own twist to it, I'm sure that you guys are gonna be able to create your own style and just take my work is inspiration or run with it. Whatever you want to do is fine. So now that we've kind of gone through the steps and the practical application, let's go over your homework. 9. Closing Thoughts: awesome job. You've just learned how to draw hair in my style. I hope that you've been able to pull from this lesson and take some of these tips and tricks and shape them into your own personal style. I'm looking forward to seeing your class project. I'm sure it's going to be amazing if you have any questions along the way. You can always reach out to me in the discussion section, and they were interested in more of my artwork. Don't forget to follow me on the other social media platforms. Just look up me a patina on Instagram Twitter or YouTube as always. Thanks for your hard work and I'll see you in the next one.