I got this question and I really wanted to show on very simple examples how to render hair. Because it really is… simple! Following this guide you will be able to paint hair in few minutes.
This is called the ribbon technique.
It is used by many artists out there. I just wanted to show you a couple of examples. As you can see I picked Adam Hughes and J. C. Leyendecker. Look at it and see how they paint the hair. It doesn’t look like a mop. It looks more like big, overlapping shapes organized in some fashion.
Try to imagine a string of hair like a ribbon. Ribbon symbolize a large portion of hair. Don’t focus on every single hair string, instead of this imagine it as bigger shape. It will catch light in highest point and it will have core shadows.
Establish where light is hitting the hair and where it turns dark. Start with big shapes. big brushes to get the lights and volumes right. Then You can go into details and paint small brush strokes to add details like single hair strings.
I attached two examples. First is very simple where you can clearly see and understand the similarity between hair and ribbon. Second example is theory put into practice. But it’s basically doing the same things as shown in simple example.
Let me know what you think about this?
I based my knowledge on James Gurney blog (author of Dinotopia and Light and Color book)
And for the example I used Faestock (from deviantart) photo.