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Tutorial: Hair Color

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While I was working away at first creating the Hair Texture tutorial, I realized that I should probably create a Tutorial regarding the color. There are several different ways to do color, but I figured I would try to give a further explanation so that it didn’t feel like just a stab in the dark to create it. Before I dive in I am going to quickly explain the importance of the color wheel.

The color wheel will have many benefits down the road for creations you may make, but I must stress the importance of it when creating hair. Most hair stylists I have ever worked with, use it in order to come up with the dyes required to make the requested hair color. We can use this very method when working with hair in photoshop, but first let me explain how the Color Wheel works.

It begins with the primary colors: Red, Yellow and Blue.

Then it goes to the Secondary Colors: Orange (red with yellow), Green (yellow with blue), and Purple (blue with red)

Then we have  the Tertiary Colors: Orange/Yellow (yellow with orange), Yellow/Green (yellow with green), Blue/Green (blue with green), Blue/Violet (blue with purple), Red/Violet (red with purple), and Red/Orange (red with orange).

So how does this all apply to hair color? Well hair color basically uses different ratios of the three primary colors. If there is a primary color you want to stay away from (lets say yellow) you would look at the secondary color that is opposite from that to help try to neutralize (which would be purple). This is how you discover which color neutralizes which.

How does this apply to photoshop?

First pick the base color that you want to go with in order to create what it is that you are aiming for. Then decide do you want it red, golden, ash/faded, or just neutralized in that color. Then take the top of a lighter color and then of a dark and apply the streaks. (Note: This is how I recommend trying it just because I like seeing lots of shading of colors in my hair samples. But you can also use double the same color to get a stronger result)

Let’s say I want to make a red hair color. I want a pure red, a slight golden red, and a faded red. For the first one I use a pure red as my base hair color and then a lighter and darker tone of red. This was the result:

For the slight golden red, I used a pure red color for the base and added a pale yellow and then a yellow.

For the faded red, I used a pure red for the base and added a light tone of purple at the top and then a darker tone of purple.

I am going to quickly note some things before I continue on about this. I suggest going with the tone you are shooting for as your base and manipulating around that with the color you would like to see to help improve it. Green in this case is a neutralizing color. So if you are wanting something red but yet neutralized, it would look like the following: (I apologize to anyone that is red/green color blind. This part in the tutorial may be a little tough to see).

Now there are several different ways of doing a hair color, but if you want to add a way of being able to understand what it is you are doing as you go, then this is what I suggest doing. I also suggest working with the Tertiary Colors and Secondary Colors together  in your hair swatch creations.  I hope this helps in the understanding of how to create hair in Photoshop.

If you missed the Hair Texture Tutorial, please click here.


Written by brandydarkrose

March 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm