How To Shadow Hair in Procreate

Have you ever watched a horror movie and noticed how crucial shadows are to creating that eerie, suspenseful atmosphere?

Well, in the world of digital art, shadows are equally important, especially when it comes to hair. They’re not scary, but they are the secret ingredient to bringing your characters to life.

Let me guide you through the process of shadowing hair in Procreate – no fear factor involved, I promise!

In this tutorial, you’ll learn

  • How to identify and understand your light source for shadow placement.
  • Selecting the appropriate shadow color for hair.
  • Techniques for layering shadows from mid-tones to darker shades.
  • Applying shadows strategically at the roots and overlapping hair strands.
  • Blending techniques for a natural transition between hair color and shadows.
  • Refining shadow details for added texture and depth.
  • Making final adjustments to enhance the overall look of the hair.

Before We Start

We suggest you check Brush Galaxy’s big collection of Procreate hair brushes, where you’ll find tons of different hairstyles.

For this tutorial, we used Sketch brushes and Smudge brushes. If you want to achieve similar results, we advise you to use them as well, although they are not crucial.

Step 1 – Understand Your Light Source

Before you start, decide where your light is coming from. This will determine where your shadows fall. Understanding light and shadow is crucial for rendering realistic hair, so you might also want to learn how to render hair in Procreate for more detailed techniques.

Hair sketch drawn in Procreate application

Step 2 – Choose Your Shadow Color

Go for a darker shade of your hair’s base color. Avoid black unless it’s absolutely necessary – natural shadows are rarely pure black. This step is essential in achieving a natural look, similar to drawing shiny hair, where understanding the base color and how light interacts with it is key.

Hair sketch drawn in Procreate application, with added shadow color

Step 3 – Layering Your Shadows

Start with a mid-tone shadow and build up to darker shades. This gradual layering creates a more natural look. If you’re interested in adding even more depth and texture, learning how to draw fluffy hair can offer additional insights.

Hair sketch, drawn in Procreate application, with the added layered shadow

Step 4 – Applying Shadows

Use a soft brush to apply shadows at the hair roots and where strands overlap. Remember, less is more. You can always add more shadows later. For those looking to create more complex hairstyles, understanding how to draw braids in Procreate can significantly enhance your shadowing technique by adding depth and realism.

Hair sketch, drawn in Procreate application, with the added shadow

Step 5 – Blending

Blend your shadows gently. Procreate’s smudge tool is great for this. Your goal is to create a soft transition between the hair color and shadows. Mastering blending is also critical in blending hair in Procreate, where smooth gradients are essential for realism.

Blended shadow on hair sketch, drawn in Procreate application

Step 6 – Refining Details

With a finer brush, add deeper shadows to create texture and depth. Pay attention to the hair flow and contours of the head. For those of you interested in capturing the unique challenges of specific hair types, tutorials on how to draw anime hair in Procreate and how to draw cartoon hair in Procreate can provide valuable techniques.

Blended shadow on hair sketch, drawn in Procreate application, with added details

Step 7 – Final Adjustments

Step back and review your work. Adjust the contrast and saturation if necessary to make the hair pop. Now that you’ve mastered shadowing, consider expanding your skill set by learning how to color hair in Procreate in 5 minutes for a comprehensive understanding of hair coloring techniques.

Finished blended shadow on hair sketch, drawn in Procreate application

And voilà! You’ve just added some beautifully shadowed hair to your digital artwork. Remember, practicing these steps will refine your technique over time. Happy drawing!

Author Image
Tanya is a digital artist with a passion for bringing stories to life through her art. Drawing has been a part of her life since childhood, and over the years, she expanded her repertoire to include both traditional mediums and digital platforms. Her toolkit includes a range of software skills, from Procreate and Photoshop to Adobe Indesign, and After Effects.

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