Top artist reveals the secrets of painting hair

hair training

There's a revolution taking place. Massive industry sectors such as music and books, which used to require a middleman – a record company or publisher – to sell your work are now open to individuals to connect directly with their audience.

Video training may be a much smaller sector, but it's subject to the same effect. James Gurney and Patrick Jones are perhaps the most visible of the wave of self-publishers, steadily building up their own catalogues of in-depth training.

Jace Wallace takes a different approach in Painting Hair, his first self-published video. It's a more spontaneous, less-formal take on training, covering a topic narrow in scope but with broad relevance: how to paint hair that's convincing and cool.

Jace narrates over a speeded-up screen-capture, showing his whole process, from base tones to highlights. He starts by working with the larger forms of clumps within the hairstyle, then gradually adds more detail until he's introducing individual strands as finishing touches.

hair traning screen shot

Jace starts with the larger forms of clumps in the hairstyle

Don't be fooled by his laid-back drawl: there's some serious knowledge on display here, as he shows how his methodical process helps him build up the multi-layered look that brings depth to hair.

Although the process is quite straightforward, Jace's narration is full of insights, such as how the colour temperatures of skin and hair's shadow areas differ, or how you can adjust your background to give each part of the hairstyle more punch.

hair training 2

Photoshop's Lasso Tool help to bring depth to the character's hair

hair highlights

The highlights added towards the end are made quickly with the help of Smudge and Layer Masks

Painting Hair may only last 24 minutes, but it's something you'll want to replay over and over to study the process.

It helps to turn a task that many artists find challenging into something that feels much more achievable. Jace has also thrown in the Photoshop brushes he uses and the original PSD file for deeper study.

For just $5, it's a bargain that should be part of every artist's training library. Download the tutorial here.

About the creator

Jace Wallace is a character and concept artist, based in Utah. His highest-profile professional gig has been a three-year spell at Electronic Arts, producing concept work for the Sims franchise.

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