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How to shade hair using markers

By Chameleon Art Products
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Although creating a bald fairy or any other character can look great, let's not take the easy way out. It's time to come to terms with it once and for all - you need to shade hair right to make your work look realistic. Once it begins to sink in that there's no escaping from it, don't dive in right away. Think about the types of markers you'll use, along with where the lighter and darker colors need to be placed on the hair. Here's how to shade hair using markers.

While the principle of hair shading with markers is the same, we're going to take you through how Kristy Dalman, an artist from the Chameleon Creative Community, easily managed to make the hair above look how it does. The best part about it? She only needed one marker. Here are the five steps:

  1. The light source comes first
  2. Mark the darkest areas of the hair and color in the shadows
  3. Dilute the marker 
  4. Add the highlights
  5. Repeat the process

The light source comes first

Something you're going to hear time and time again when shading is to keep an eye on your light source. In your artwork, imagine the sun or something bright shining down on the main object you'll be working on. The closer the object is to the light source, the lighter the color will be. So the area furthest away from the light source, the darker the color will be.

Use the exact same logic for when you're shading hair. Let's get right into the good stuff...


Mark the darkest areas of the hair and color in the shadows


Drawing dark color hair using a Chameleon Pen


Grab your marker and begin placing the darkest color in the darkest area of the hair - the places where there will be less light.

This is a visual guide to make life easy for you, as it helps you pick out where you want your eventual blends to be when it comes to that. Plus, you'll know where to use the darkest colors on the image.

For this, you don't need to keep your marker on the paper and guide it across for short strokes. Instead, just make some short flicks. This means start from one side and then as you move across, lift the marker off the paper.

Then, just color in the shadows. 


SHADING TIP: Flicking isn't the only technique

For added realism, we don't recommend just flicking.

There are other techniques which can help create more realism. For a more advanced look at how to shade hair, take a look at how artist Warren Louw used a Japanese nib to create hair starting with a lighter shade and moving to a darker color.



With Warren's technique, you're ditching the flicking for something more guided. As you can see, he's using shorter strokes to apply the layers continuously.


Dilute your marker


Time sheet to show the effects different fuse times between the Chameleon Pen and Mixing Chamber has on the color created

These timings (and all within this post) are based on Chameleon Pens.


If the area of hair you're shading is similar to the one which Kristy is working on, then you want to fuse the color in the Mixing Chamber between five to 10 seconds.

Chameleon Pens are the best marker to use when you want to want to create multiple tones and seamless blends. This is because of the innovative Mixing Chamber which allows you to fuse colors and create many tones - all with one pen. You can now wave goodbye to the days of using 10 different variations of the same colors and getting frustrated because you lost that vital shade you need right now.

Remember, the shorter amount of time you fuse the nib with the Mixing Chamber, the darker the color will be. The longer you hold it there, the lighter the color will be. In this case, you'll need it quite light but the area being colored isn't huge, so try somewhere around 10 seconds.


Add the highlights


Adding highlights to hair using a Chameleon Pen


Once you've got the diluted color, it's time to put the pen to paper. 

As you'll have the darker color already there as a visual guide, this makes your job easier. Start working in the highlight areas of the hair and use the diluted color to your advantage when you go to layer in the highlight sections.

This is brilliant for realism, as this is adding a lot more texture to the hair rather than being flat.

BLENDING TIP: We recommend not stopping mid-blend. Stopping while you're the middle of blending might cause streaking in your work.


Continue repeating steps four & five


Drawing of a girl with short brown hair colored in with a Chameleon Pen


Just because your color is dark again doesn't mean it ends there. Whip out that Mixing Chamber again and infuse for roughly the same amount of time to repeat steps four and five.

Whichever technique you've chosen, whether it's Kristy's or Warren's, keep your eye on the color of the marker. As soon as it's dark, infuse again.

This step is all about adding layers and texture to the hair. The more you do this, the more detail you get and the better it ends up looking. Think about it: if you do it only once, how good will it actually look?

So, repeat it until you're happy with the results. Even though there are still white areas above, they're not actually white. In fact, that's where the light source is directly hitting and Kristy has used the most diluted color in that area.


Ready to try it for yourself?

If you couldn't keep up with the step-by-step breakdown, don't worry. Check out the video below of Kristy's technique and how she shaded hair with only one marker. You can also take a look at Warren's Instagram here for even more creative inspiration.

Once you're done, head over to the comments section below and show us and everyone else your results or use #ChameleonPens on social media to share your artwork with us. 



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Want to discover more ways to use your Chameleon Pens?

Shading hair isn't the only thing you can do with your Chameleon Pens. These unique tools can be used in so many more ways to give you unique results. Find out what they are in our ultimate guide to artistic techniques using Chameleon Pens. 

Unlock Your Potential With Chameleon Pens Guide CTA

Tags: shading, Textures

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