Please help me paint a beard

ImagineFX - - Your Questions Answered... -

Jen Bethany, US

Mark replies

There’s an easy ap­proach that you can take to paint­ing a beard, or any type of fa­cial hair. In­stead of try­ing to de­pict in­di­vid­ual hairs, squint and sim­plify it to its over­all shape. Ap­proach it like any other solid ob­ject first. Once you’ve painted in the main shad­ows and lights, slowly break it up into smaller sec­tions.

Keep your edges soft where the hairs end or start, and cre­ate harder edges where the edges align with the di­rec­tion of the hair sec­tion you’re paint­ing, such as below the mous­tache. You don’t have to de­tail ev­ery­thing: re­duce the def­i­ni­tion in your shad­ows and han­dle them like vis­ual noise. Then fo­cus on ap­ply­ing fine de­tail­ing within high­lighted ar­eas, where you can also in­tro­duce much sharper lines. One nice touch is to add ex­tra high­lights and glow to the edges of the fa­cial hair, es­pe­cially if you have strong back- or am­bi­ent light around your char­ac­ter.

Af­ter pro­duc­ing a quick line-work sketch, I move straight into colours and block in the main shapes with a big­ger brush. I lay down the main val­ues first and then slowly build up the de­tails. This helps me to fo­cus on the main fea­tures of the face: the eye-nose-mouth tri­an­gle and the prom­i­nent beard.

Main­tain the di­rec­tion of the beard hair with your brush­strokes, and build up from the big­ger shapes to­wards the sin­gle hairs and high­lights.

Start with big­ger brush­strokes to build up the beard’s vol­ume (1); en­hance the shad­ows, light and ex­tra forms with more tex­tured brushes (2); then paint di­rec­tional high­lights with a sim­ple Round brush (3).

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