Introduction: Pyrography: How to Burn Realistic Looking Hair

About: I am a third generation artist with a background in oil painting and watercolors, I fell in love with pyrography in 1984 and have won numerous awards, written 6 books, am a regular contributor to major print m…

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.

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.

Step 1: Finish Your Strands

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.

Step 2: Smoothing the Hair

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.

Step 3: Dividing the Hair Into Sections

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

Step 4: Pay Attention to Each Section

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.

Step 5: Completing the Hair

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!

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