One Layer Painting Hair Process Tutorial
Hello! This is a quick process/tutorial on how I paint hair on one layer. I don’t.. really know how to make a tutorial so I more or less explained my messy process …. I hope it is helpful even if a little. If anything is confusing, just ask!
I use PAINTTOOL SAI and the main brushes I use are the basic pen tool, for blocking in big shapes of colour, or light shading. And a custom pen brush, in which has more of a pen pressure to it; I use this one for highlights, detailing, and strong shading. NOTE: I also use a different stabilizer when I shade. I lower the stabilizer with the basic pen brush because I want an even tone when I shade large areas as opposed to detailed areas where I might need a steadier hand and a more fine bold line; thus, with the custom brush, I up the stabilizer. These are the settings I’m most used to. Feel free to experiment however!
ALSO…. The eyedropper (ALT KEY) IS YOUR BEST FRIEND! It is a lifesaver and really speeds up your painting process!!!
I will demonstrate how I paint hair using one layer. First, I have the sketch on Layer 1. Then I add a second layer beneath the sketch layer called “BASE COLORS.” I plan all my colours out first on this layer with the basic brush. I also plan where the light source it after determining my colours. I don’t go very detailed on this layer.
Next, there are two things you can do.
1) You may create another layer above your sketch entitled “DETAILS.” You can then start to blend and refine features of the face and the hair, etc, on this layer. If you mess up, you always have your sketch to fall back on because it is on another layer. If you are not comfortable with one layer painting, this is more recommended for now. As you go, you can also simply create new layers for different parts of the drawing like the hair, as will be demonstrated, and let’s say, clothing as well,etc.
2) Or you can merge the “BASE COLORS” and “SKETCH” layers right now as I have done in the above image. And right now, I’m directly detailing the face on one layer. I will detail a bit of the face for now before going about with the hair.
Okay, again, you can create another layer for “HAIR” or continue on one layer.For the sake of this tutorial, it’d be easier for me to show you on a different layer but it’s technically still painting the hair on one layer hehe. Here we go!
On the “HAIR LAYER,” I begin with a color that will be a dark in my palette for blonde hair. I begin to redefine the strands of hair from my initial sketch. I want the hair to part a little differently with more curve from the top of his head. Ultimately, these lines will help guide you in shading the strands of hair.
The next few steps doesn’t have a right or wrong way to finish the shading of the hair. The goal is to ultimately blend away all the initial sketch lines and the guidelines you made on the hair layer. This is done with applying highlights, midtones then darks and other shading effects to complete the look. You are always welcome to duplicate the layer you are working as you go if you are afraid you will mess up the layer. It’s also a good idea to duplicate so you can always have something to fall back on if you ever change your mind on some drastic edits! Let’s go!
Let’s start with redefining the basic colours. I have the lightest/highlight colour making its way from the topmost strand around the top of his head [A]. From there, then there are midtones flowing down to the tips and the strands that are framing the face [B]. The darkest areas are facing down or are towards the bottom near the ears and forehead. I also have darker tones on the outlying edges of the hair shape [C].
I use the custom brush on low opacity and low stability to begin blending the strands. I start with the lighter tones by drawing on top of the guidelines. I continue doing this by blending the highlights with the hair base colour and also the darker tones. Remember, the eyedropper tool really helps out with blending!!
Some techniques I like to do is creating shapes with darker tones then use a thin brush to draw strands on top with a lighter tone. It’s an easy way to create loose strands and give the character’s hair a more natural look. And in this screenshot, I’m continuing blending and redefining my shapes. Remember, you can always duplicate the layer and continue experimenting!
Another technique you can do is creating branching strands. You do the same thing again creating dark shapes from the top of the head to where you want to end it. Then overlap it with thin lines of a lighter tone. From this strand you can have other strands branching off of it.
(haha excuse me while I continue detailing the face too… eep)
Okay! Now the hair has been rendered more. Now to add some finishing touches, you can add an even lighter highlighter at the top of the head and a thin line at the ends of certain hair strands. The key is not to overdo highlights and keep the brush thin. You can do the same for darks.
And now more effects! What you can do, depending on whether you created a separate layer for the hair or kept to one layer all this time (If so, awesome!) is that you can create a clipping mask and experiment with gradients and textures.
What I like to do is to create another layer on top of my painting, and then use the basic brush at low opacity and 300 px+ to create a soft halo/gradient. You can also use this to add shadow towards the bottom of the painting. Adjust the brush and color and experiment! You can also use a clipping mask with textures. If you made a different layer for each component of your piece, this part may be easier; otherwise, do several clipping masks for your single layer and simply erase or mask certain parts!! I added a darker shading on the sides of the head for the hair!
And there you go! I hope this has been helpful even if a little! Thank you for viewing! Have fun! Good luck!
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