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How to Paint Human and Animal Hair with Acrylics

Do you want to paint hair in your art, whether on a person or animal, but you're not sure how? Today I want to share some tips that will help you paint hair and fur so you can get the look you want. Watch the video below to enjoy these tips and read more below to learn more about painting hair like a pro.

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Here are my best tips from this video to help you paint hair and fur:

Step 1: Observation

Begin by closely observing reference images or real-life subjects with the type of hair you're aiming to paint. Notice the direction, flow, and texture of the hair. Observe the darkest, mid-tones, and lightest colors on the hair.

Step 2: Base Layer

Start with a base layer that matches the general color of the hair. Use a large, soft brush to apply this layer with broad strokes. Avoid details at this stage; focus on blocking in the main areas always going in the direction of the hair with brushstrokes extending the length of it.

Step 3: Shadow Layer

introduce darker shades to indicate shadows and depth in the hair. Focus on the areas where the hair overlaps or recedes.

Use a slightly darker color than the base tone and layer it to achieve the illusion of depth and volume.

Step 4: Creating Highlights

Add the lightest color to the hair. Identify the areas where light hits the hair most prominently. These areas will be lighter and may have highlights or glints. Use a lighter shade of the hair and use highlights sparingly, following the direction of the hair strands.

Step 5: Building Texture

Allow underlayers to dry so you don't get a muddy mess. Use a small round or detail brush to start adding individual hair strands. The more you add the more realistic the hair looks. Use just a little paint on your brush and paint in the direction of the hair to mimic the natural flow of hair.

Step 6: Refining Details

Continuously work on refining the details of the hair. Pay attention to areas where individual strands overlap or clump together.

Utilize both dry brush techniques and glazing to add complexity to the texture and variations in color.

Step 7: Final Touches

Step back from your painting and look to see if any changes are necessary. Make any adjustments needed to get the look you want.

Remember, patience and practice are key to mastering the art of painting hair. You can practice with me in these lessons:

Portrait Painting Workshops

Animal Painting Workshops

As you become more comfortable with painting, you'll discover your own unique approach to capturing hair types in the way you enjoy. You can do it! If you need help, I'm here to guide you through it.

I hope this lesson helped you. Let me know in the comments and feel free to ask questions there as well.