How to Draw a Black Mane and Tail using Photoshop
 By T W I   •   3rd Sep 2012   •   14,280 views   •   0 comments
This is my second tutorial on the painting of manes and tails! My previous one detailed how to draw chestnut manes and tails, and since the process is very different for black hair, I thought Iíd make a whole new tutorial specifically for black hair! Please note that since tutorial involves a lot of hand painting, a tablet is very important to make sure that the hair has the proper flow. I will be describing the process of painting the mane specifically, however the technique can easily be applied to tails.

Software: Photoshop Elements 7 | Skill level: Advanced

Make a new layer for your hair. Choose a color that isnít pure black (#000000), but a shade of dark grey. Iíd recommend somewhere around (#161616), but the exact shade isnít too important. Make sure your brush is at 100% hardness, and change the size to somewhere between 5-9 pixels.

Now, we will begin drawing the basic outline of the hair! This step is deceptively easy, as it only takes a few strokes to define a strand of hair, but it is very easy to go wrong with those strokes, and effectively mess up your hair painting job in the first step. Itís usually easier to follow the general flow of the horse original hair, so that you can get an idea of where it falls.

Horse Graphics - How to Draw Black a Mane and Tail using Photoshop

Once youíve finished drawing the outline, make a new layer. This layer will be your base color layer. Pull this new layer underneath the layer that contains the outline of the hair. Although in the image below, I didnít actually do this, Iíve found that itís very helpful to make the base color just a little bit different from the hair outline, either lighter or darker, so that you can still see the outline after youíve blocked in the color.

Change your brush to a fuzzy brush and pull the opacity down to about 85%. Again, in the image below I kept the opacity at 100%, however Iíve found that itís best to keep the opacity below 100% when blocking in color. Your brush size can be fairly large now. Mine are usually at 25 pixels, but the size doesnít really matter, so use whatever you are comfortable with.

Begin filling in the outline you drew. You donít have to perfectly shade in the sides of the your outline, as we will be drawing fly-away strands of hair on the edges.

Horse Graphics - How to Draw Black a Mane and Tail using Photoshop

Switch layers, so that you are now working on the hair outline layer, on top of the base color layer. Change your brush back to a hard brush, and the size to 4-5 pixels. The opacity can remain at 85%. Start drawing in the small, fringing hairs that are found at the edges of strands. They can be as long as youíd like, as there are always stray hairs found in every horseís mane.

Horse Graphics - How to Draw Black a Mane and Tail using Photoshop

Now itís time to start shading! Make a new layer. Change your color to a light grey tone, as we will be drawing in the highlights. Pull the opacity down to anywhere between 30% to 50%, and keep your brush size at 4-5 pixels.

Follow the motion of the hair, gently painting in highlights on top of the black. Feel free to use your imagination! Clump highlights in one area, and make them sparse in another; just make sure they correspond with the immediate lighting. For example, the area right beneath the horseís neck would be in shadow, so I wonít be drawing many highlights there.

Horse Graphics - How to Draw Black a Mane and Tail using Photoshop

Zoom out and assess your work. Do the highlights look realistic? How about the strands? Once Iíve finished highlighting my manes and tails, I usually spend 5-10 minutes fixing up my work, painting in more strands usually, erasing and re-drawing my highlights until Iím satisfied with my job.

Once youíre happy with your mane and tail, itís time to make it pop! Select the dodge tool, and change the range to midtones and the exposure to 30%. This is the fun part! Choose certain areas, usually two or three in the mane, and one in the forelock where you think the sun would reflect. Now rub the dodge tool over those areas to give them an eye-catching shine. While I always add shine with the dodge tool to all my manes and tails, no matter the color, shine always looks best on black. If you are confused as to where to put the shine, please refer to the image below to see where I put mine.

Once the shine is done, now we just need to work on making the lighting is correct - this is accomplished by using the dodge and burn tools, with the exposure way down, to shade the hair in large areas. I also like to stroke the dodge tool overtop of the main strands to make them more apparent. Iím not trying to add shine, like we did in the previous step, so I pull the exposure down to 10%, and only lightly rub the tops of the strands.

Now your mane is done! I added little beads into mine, which unfortunately this tutorial will not be covering, but the process is fairly simple.

Horse Graphics - How to Draw Black a Mane and Tail using Photoshop
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