Stylized Painting | 14 |Adding Hair

how to paint realistic hair in Photoshop finished painting

This is how our finished artwork will look in this tutorial on how to paint realistic hair in Photoshop

In the previous lesson on how to paint realistic hair in Photoshop, Sycra showed you how to run wild with painting the hair, adding broad, confident brush strokes and using various tools to create amazing effects.

Now, you’re going to learn how to apply the finishing touches to Alice’s long, flowing locks before moving on to the final stages in your digital painting.

To speed things up, the first part of this video is in time lapse. You’ll see how Sycra continues to blend colors and add shadows and highlights to really build the hair up and achieve awesome results.

paint hair in photoshop final details

It’s all About the Technique

You know how some hair stylists spend hours blow-drying and tweaking a hairstyle until it’s perfect? Well, you can use a similar technique when painting hair.

Notice how Sycra keeps going over and over areas until he gets the effect he wants, adjusting his brush size and adding layer upon layer of shaded areas and highlights.

The techniques used here are the same as in the previous lesson. It’s just a question of building things up until you get the perfect look.

While you’re working and learning how to paint realistic hair in Photoshop, try and think about what would make interesting shapes in the hair. Here, you can see how Sycra experiments with different ideas before deciding which ones work best.

From time to time, zoom out from your painting to see how everything’s coming together. You can also flip your canvas to look for any areas that still need a little work.

painting hair photoshop wisps of hair

The more you do this, the more it will become a natural part of the painting process. A painting is evolving all the time as you make changes, so comparing different elements is a great way of seeing exactly how everything is shaping up.

paint hair digital art layer mask

Cleaning up the Hair

Once you’ve finished working on the hair, you can go back in and tidy all those areas up where you went over some of the other forms in your painting.

First of all, make a copy of the hair layer you’ve been working on just in case something goes horribly wrong!

Then, you can use a handy technique with the Layer Mode which will allow you to see the areas that need tidying up quickly and easily.

Go to Layer Mode in your Layers Palette and change this to Difference.

Now, you’ll see that the colors have gone crazy but that you can clearly see where you need to tidy up when learning how to paint realistic hair in Photoshop.

Don’t worry about these crazy colors by the way. They’ll revert back to normal as soon as you change the Layer Mode back to Normal again.

paint hair photoshop cleaning up layers
Going Into Detail When Cleaning Up

When cleaning up the hair, you need to go into detail on some areas of your painting. Here, you can see how the hair is falling over the top of the ear but that the rest of this feature needs to be tidied up. To do this, zoom in and use a smaller brush to bring some of those elements back.

Do the same on other areas such as the neck and hairband. You can change the Layer Mode back to Normal at any time to see how your painting will actually look.

Again, this is a process which takes quite a long time, so work carefully and methodically to get the results you want – all your efforts will be worth it in the end!

In the next lesson on how to paint realistic hair in Photoshop, you’ll be putting the finishing touches to cleaning up the hair and then getting ready for the final stages of your fully-rendered digital painting.


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1 thought on “Stylized Painting | 14 |Adding Hair”

  1. Hi! Thank you for sharing this! By the way, do you have any video record on how did you painted the hair?
    I got a little lost on the last part 😛
    How exactly do you clean the shape of the hair? you do it when the layer is still in “diference” using the eraser or using the color picker? I’m a little confused on the last part…


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