Hair Tutorial


Greetings all! I’ve been asked on several occasions to share how I draw and color Lorraine’s hair. So today is your lucky day as I am back in the saddle drawing “1977 the Comic” again and here’s a step-by-step of my process of inking and coloring Lorraine’s hair! As a note, I use Manga Studio EX5 and a WACOM Intuos 4 tablet to do all my drawing.

Inking Step 1 - Click for larger view

Inking Step 1 – Click for larger view

My first step is easy, I simply ink my pencil sketch of Lorraine. But as I do this step, I think of how her hair would be parted and where the curls and curves would appear. This is important for the next step.

Inking Step 2 - Click for Larger View

Inking Step 2 – Click for Larger View

Ink Shades Detail - Click for Larger View

Ink Shades Detail – Click for Larger View

This the hardest and most time consuming part. I use a my regular inking tool in Manga Studio EX5, but mark the Starting and Ending of the tool to fade in and out. Usually by 50% as a percentage of the line drawn. Then, I start at the outside of the hair with larger strokes and work my way inward using progressively shorter and shorter strokes. There’s a lot of experimentation in the beginning, but once you get the hang of this, it becomes easier. In the example on the left, you can see how I’ve created these areas. You don’t have to be overly neat, as by the time you reduce it down to 72DPI for the internet, no one will see the overlap or how some ends curl. I use quick, short strokes to draw these in. Your hand and arm will soon build up a memory of the strokes you need.

As you can see from the end result above, you now can see the highlights of her hair. Even without coloring or shading, you can see and feel her hair’s depth now. This was a huge break-through for me when I finally worked out this technique. But, be aware, this takes time and patience. So, decaf coffee for sure.

Coloring Step 1 - Click for Larger View

Coloring Step 1 – Click for Larger View

Next comes flattening the comic. I use a very simple process of bucket filling the major areas. For Lorraine’s hair, I use a medium, flat blue color. Even though she’s a brunette, you’ll see why I chose this color in a moment. Note that I have turned off the inked highlights. I do them on a separate layer to make filling in the colors easier.

Coloring Step 2 - Click for Larger View

Coloring Step 2 – Click for Larger View

Now I turn the inked highlight area back on. Big improvement already! She’s nearly done, but her hair dresser has one more trick up his sleeve.

Coloring Step 3 - Click for Larger View

Coloring Step 3 – Click for Larger View

lorraine-hair-workflow-5aThe final step is to add highlights and shading. I use the Soft Airbrush Tool from Freden Brushes for this step. It gives a nice soft edge to the shading process for a smoother, more realistic look. In the example in the left you can see the shading I’ve added with the inked shaded layer turned off. Imagine trying to do that without the inked layer as reference!

Now I add in light and dark blues tones. The reason I use blue as my base is that in most photos brunette hair is reflecting light and color from around  it. I chose blue as it seemed to blend the best the best. I turn the saturation down in these colors to help soften the look and not draw a lot of attention to the colors. You want them visible but not jumping out at your reader.

I add highlights to the outer portion of her hair and the top areas of the inked shading. I do not add in a lot of dark blue shading, but under her ear and around her neck, plus on the bottom side of some of the inked shading. This final step gives the whole process the needed depth for her hair. I am so happy with this technique that I have gone back and re-colored some of earlier pin-up drawings of Lorraine. I am not one to go back and re-do things, but this was a Quantum Leap in style for me, so it was worth it.


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    • You’re welcome, Aron. There’s not many differences between MS5 and MSEX5, so you’re good to go with either one. I highly recommend getting Freden’s Brush sets. They’re inexpensive and so worth it.

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