Tip: Drawing Realistic Hair

*** Tips are not software specific and are great for beginners ***

In this tip I take a quick look at drawing a small section of hair in a realistic style. I use a 3 color technique where we build up our hair through three colors(darks, midtones, and lights) and an overlay layer all while using the basic hard edged and soft edged brush.

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14 Responses to “Tip: Drawing Realistic Hair”
  1. Posts: 70
    Daniel Wentzell Jr. says:

    Thanks Tim,

    These kinds of tips/techniques are what make this site such a valuable resource. I know that to a practiced artist this sort of thing is “old hat” but to someone like me, a newbie, they are in-valuable. Now that I have my brand new intros 4 I can really practice the techniques you have been teaching.


  2. Posts: 139

    I still need to watch it, but looks like a great tip. One tip I have that I discovered earlier while doing my hair exercise was using the swirl feature of the Iwarp filter to curl the ends of the hair then going in with a small round brush to add individual hairs. I found it a fun way to tweak the hair.

  3. Posts: 3

    Thank you so much Tim!
    It’s helping me a lot and now will be able to make something that looks way better that what i was trying to do :)

  4. Posts: 102
    verticies says:

    That was way easier than the trial and error I have been doing, Thanks :)

  5. Posts: 37
    john mervin says:

    hey! you know you relesed the forth part of the sillouette tutorial on vimeo?

  6. Posts: 5
    Adam Hirsch says:

    Hey Tim, found the site recently and been loving all the tuts. I’m still new to digital painting and had some brush settings questions if you or others could chime in I’d really appreciate it.

    Two things in particular, I’m having a hard time setting it so that I get a nice taper at the end of the brush stroke. I’ve been using pen pressure and a pretty low minimum diameter but a lot of the time I still end up with a really rounded tip barely touching the tablet.

    The other problem I have is with transfer settings. I feel like I’m at two extremes, either too much paint coming out with barely any pressing and messes up trying to just glaze color over like in steps 2/3 or if I lower the transfer I end up needing to press really hard to get anywhere near solid.

    Thanks and keep up the great work, this site has been awesome.

    • Posts: 640

      Have you tweaked with the tablet settings in the preferences? Because even if you edit the settings in Photoshop unless you change the physical tablet settings then the pressure might be off for what you are comfortable with.

      Here’s a quick tip on setting up the different settings for you tablet: https://cgcookie.com/concept/2012/11/09/tip-setting-up-a-tablet/

      Hope this helps! If not, let me know =]

      • Posts: 5
        Adam Hirsch says:

        Thanks for getting back to me so quick Tim. I did play with the physical settings as well, changing the firmness and such but even with it fairly high I couldn’t seem to get a nice faint glaze of color, rather just big splotches. Could be just my inexperience, I sure hope it’s not a busted pen problem. 😡

        I through up one of my tries if it helps to see. Thanks again.


      • Posts: 640

        It seems like there isn’t much of a transfer going on, it may be a busted pen problem. Are you trying different pressures on the tablet when you draw? Because right now the soft glow that is on the hair with the light brown is coming off too strong.

  7. Posts: 5
    Adam Hirsch says:


    I think you may be right. I tried one more pass and took some pics of my settings too. The second color and the highlight turn out like this even if I am barely brushing the pen against the surface of the tablet. It’s like the color both comes out really strong, and yet washed out so much it doesn’t blend at all. Upping the transfer makes the brown come out even lighter with very little pressure used. If it is the pen itself that’s an easy fix, albeit costly.

    Sorry to bomb you with this technical problem Tim. If I find others with this problem I might just link them to this thread lol.

    • Posts: 5
      Adam Hirsch says:

      Thought I’d give an update concerning this. I’ve spent the last few days fussing around more while painting and have come to a point I can say half solved. I went back into the sensitivity settings for the tablet and messed with the custom settings to make it a sort of 6.5 on the firmness scale to get the transfer opacity to glaze color more reasonably. Unfortunately it hasn’t really solved my brush tapering woes and I really don’t like pressing down super hard to get the full color out but eh, sacrifices must be made.

      If anyone else finds themselves having similar problems try spending more time in the Tip Feel options, much like Tim has said.( *’∀’*)Alternatively you could try just forgoing brush options and using the opacity button, setting the max fairly low to just build up gradually.

  8. Posts: 3

    Wow, the overlay really brings warmth to the colors! Thanks for the tip!!

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