Woodburning Realistic Looking Hair

Woodburning Realistic Looking Hair

Burning realistic looking human hair is easier than you might think. In this article I will show you step-by-step how to burn soft realistic looking hair.

 

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Begin burning in the hair at the root area. Use your skew and begin at one end pulling toward the middle. Be sure to allow your lines to fade as you go. If your pen is not too hot this will be accomplished automatically as it will lose heat as you pull out.

 

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Then approach from the other side beginning in the darkest area and pulling again toward the middle and fading. I will usually turn my board upside down so I have maximum control. This fading in the middle gives the look of shine and highlights. You can lightly pull a few lines to connect the two darker areas (as shown) but be sure you don’t lose the light area. The light area is crucial to the illusion of shine on the hair and will also emphasize the curvature of the head.

 

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Switch to a shader and gently pull in the same direction as your lines to add shadows in the hair as shown. This can also soften any lines that are too course as it softens the contrast and smooths the hair without eliminating detail.

If the hair retains too much texture it will appear to be thick and wiry, when you tone down the harshness of contrast it gives the illusion of softness.

 

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The hair should be approached in sections be sure you identify them before burning your lines.

 

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Approach each section of hair  in the same manner.  Start at one end of the section then flip it over and burn from the other end.

 

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Keep working through the sections. Make sure to keep the hair lightest in the middle. Before you know it, you will have a head of beautiful, natural looking hair.

By breaking down the sections you treat the hair as a dynamic mass of moving strands instead of a blob of lines. It also gives you a chance to work methodically so you don’t lose your way. Every part of your burning has meaning and every line and value has a purpose. By breaking things down into a systematic approach you can create amazing effects with very little effort.

Your turn to give it a try!

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about pyrography I invite you to sign up for my FREE Burning Basics Video Series.

 

4 Responses

  1. John D
    | Reply

    Hi Sharon,
    I have a question in regard to white highlighted areas that call for sharp crisp lines such as a cat’s whiskers.
    How do you achieve a nice crisp realistic look? Do I darken the areas around the whiskers only? This would make sense to me, but I still don’t know how they get such white crisp looking lines, especially where the dark tones meet the white areas. Do they scrape them in later with a razor blade? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    John D

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Hi John,

      Yes you can scrape later but the best way I have found to do this is to engrave the whiskers with a cold skew before burning. Then you can burn around it (you still have to be careful – but it is much easier). If you do happen to burn inside your engraved area it is easy to gently scrape the overburn. Hope this helps. You can see this technique in my Leaf article where I engrave the veins first. Check out that article here https://www.burningwithsharon.com/pyrography-how-to-burn-realistic-leaves/

      Hope this helps!

      Sharon

  2. Shatha Najar
    | Reply

    Hi Sheron,

    10/17/2016

    I’m looking for two important points in the wood burning misled been used in many of your works on Youtube (the same one you worked on the Indian man project and the feather duck, I can’t get it from any stores in my area in Michigan, I bought three setes of the tools does not inclued one of those two pieces. Is there a specific place I can buy one?

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      The pens I use are Colwood. I use the following pens…
      SRS, LRW, J, MC, B2
      You can order from http://www.thewoodcraftshop.com

      Hope this helps!

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