1. Home

Painting Human Hair

A tip to add to your figure painting knowledge


To paint ginger hair (or fur), I never use tube orange as it's a color that never looks natural unless you're paint a goldfish. I generally start with a green underpainting, doing all the shading in sap and/or marine green first. Then I use burnt umber, yellowed and lightened with either an ocher or yellow for very bright ginger hair. (Plus use white to lighten it further.) Shading I do in greens or blues, depending on how the light is falling in the painting and the atmosphere I want to achieve.

If the burnt umber is too deep and dark, I use some raw umber. This is a color often ignored because it doesn't look like much on its own, but it's invaluable when painting reddish or ginger fur or hair.

Sometimes I also use a tinge of red, just a smidgen, in the mix, and tame it all with a last glaze of white.
Tip from: Patti Vas Dias

In order to look believable, hair needs to be soft and follow the shape of the head, not hard straw that sticks out (unless you're deliberately representing a bad hair day!). Try working wet in wet, painting in the direction the hair lies, rather laying down individual strands of hair working wet on dry. When you look at someone, you don't see individual strands of hair, but a mass of colour, with subtle variations in it. Also remember that if there is light on the subject, some of the hair will have a highlight on it; it won't be the same tone throughout.
Tip from: Ariella.

See also: Painting Hair Using Sgraffito

Submit Your Own Painting Tip:
Got a great painting tip to share with other artists? Use this easy form to send it in: Submit a Painting Tip Form.

More Painting Tips:

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.