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How to Draw Hair Step by Step

There is a lot of technics that can be used in hair retouching. Right now I wanna show you how completely change hairstyle and comb model`s hair.

Here is what we`ll create:


Photographer: Slava Samoylenko

You can download Raw file here: and practice with me during this tutorial.

Here is before image:


First step: Let`s apply Liquify Filter for hair. We`ll create more volume and make a base for the hairstyle.


Then I cleaned up skin and  removed small hairs from face and body. I use Frequency separation technics. I really love how it gives you great results with less time then if you would Dodge & Burn. But it`s good to combine those two technics to gain great results.


Now, let`s work on hair. You`ll need Mixer Brush tool at first.


Choose Hair brush, which you can download here:


Start to paint, smoothing hair and creating curls and strands. Don`t worry that it look all smudged, we`ll create texture in next steps. Your image may look similar to this one:


Create two layers with Curves. One with Dark Curve and one with Light. Hide them by black Mask.

Снимок-экрана-2015-01-22-в-15.14.37 Снимок-экрана-2015-01-22-в-15.09.27Снимок-экрана-2015-01-22-в-15.09.12

And now gather all your patience, you`ll need a lot of it :) Because we`ll actually draw small hairs on masks of those Curves.  Take a small Hard brush Снимок экрана 2015-01-22 в 15.20.31 of 3px with 30% Opacity. Turn On Shape Dynamics and set Size control to Pen Pressure.

Снимок экрана 2015-01-22 в 15.24.01

Start to draw on layer mask of Light Curve with white brush. You need to imitate hair flow. Use Rotate Tool (Hot key “R”) to rotate image so it would be more comfortable to draw. Here is how layer mask will look like:

Because we use 30% of Opacity on the brush, when two lines cross each other they create line with 60% of opacity which will give us texture which you can see on real hair.

Again, you need all your patience here. We`ll need to do the same thing with Dark Curve. Only now we`ll draw dark strands of hair. All actions and brush are the same as in previous step.

Here is how your hair will look like after you`ll finish to draw texture:

Then I went crazy on image: changed background, added color toning, used Dodge and Burn technic with which I worked on Hair to make it stand out.

To make hair more glossy, I created blank layer and set it`s blending mode to Color Dodge. With the same brush we used for drawing hair texture only with 5px size I draw on top of strands of hair. Use Eyedropper tool to choose light color. Add sharpness to hair with High Pass filter.

Final touches are: some more color toning, added nicer blush to cheek, painted brush strokes on model and added background glow and dust.

So this is the main principle of hair drawing. There is no Magical button for nice hair texture :) All you need is a couple of layers, brush, your hands and patience. Other effects can be added as your imagination will go.

I`d like to see what you came up with this image. Or if you tried this technic on some of your photo, I`d like to see it as well. You can post it in comments.

Hope this tutorial was useful. Let me know in comments :)

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  • Steven

    This is fantastic. I thought it was 100% digital painting at first. Really nice final result.

    • Kate Ignatenko

      Thank you, Steven)

  • mikono

    Hi, thanks for this tutorial. I it possible to re-update the original picture, because the link is dead :( ?