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How to color hair – step by step, part 2

Hello people! Long time no see… but here I am with another cool step by step tutorial for you. Today we’re gonna color some hair again! Not blonde, of course, we already did that. This time I’ll be showing you how to do a natural brunette.


For this tutorial, it will be helpful if you have a look at Part 1 of my hair series, because I’ve explained many basic, general things there. I’m still repeating myself here, because the process is always the same, only with different colors. So Part 2 is a bit shortened to the most important things – for the details, just see Part 1.

This is what we’re going to achieve. I think it’s a nice and natural color that fits most skin tones. The drawing is from Emmanuelle Colin’s Coloriage Wild, which you can get on Amazon (German Amazon via this link).

We don’t need a lot of colors for this, it’s actually not more than those:

Polychromos Walnut Brown (177)
Prismacolor Chocolate (1082)
Prismacolor Beige Sienna (1080)
Prismacolor Seashell Pink (1093)

Not included in the list above is the Colorless Blender I always use. I don’t state that there, because this tool is not a must.

In Part 1 of my hair series, I told you about how the paper in Coloriage Wild eats up my Prismacolors. It still does, of course, but I’m using colors here that I don’t own from the Polychromos range – and Prismacolors are still my favourite. Normally I’d recommend using harder pencils for coloring hair, because they’re so soft that it can be hard to work out the hair’s natural structure. But here we’re coloring in a greyscale drawing – so the drawing itself helps us with that. It’s not just a white space we’re filling with color (like in Hanna Karlzon’s books, for example), but an already defined one. That makes it easier even with wax-based pencils – like the Prismas.

As I always do, I start with the darkest color and work my way up to the lightest. So we look closely at our drawing and have a look on where the darkest parts of the hair should be. This is usually in areas where one strand of hair overlaps another, where strands narrow a bit, or where some other things overlap the hair (maybe the person is wearing a headpiece or has flowers on her head or there’s something very close to the person that shadows parts of the person, etc…).

The darkest parts in our drawing are of course where the flower on her head overlaps the hair, or the edges of her braid. This is where we use our Walnut Brown. Move your pencil in single streaks and always lift it off the paper after each streak. Make sure that you don’t rub it back and forth – we need kind of an “open end”. This “open end” is where we will blend in our next color, which is Chocolate.

Don’t fully go over the Walnut Brown, leave a little space from the top and maybe start in the middle of it. Carefully blend the lighter color into the darker one, using only light pressure and the same kind of streaks you just did with the first color. Also leave an “open end”.

As always, we go on in the same way, this time with our Beige Sienna. We’re slowly working out our highlights with that. Highlights are – of course 🙂 – the opposite of shadows and therefore are in areas where nothing throws any shadow at all. Or where light, sunlight or artifical light, meets the object or, in our case, the hair. When it comes to hair, this is usually the case in the somewhat bulkier areas of it, like the center of her braids here.

After using our last color Seashell Pink, you should have achieved something similar to this. To finish it, I added another layer of all our colors in the same order as above: I started with the Walnut Brown again, darkening the shadows, and worked my way up to the Seashell Pink again. I recommend doing at least (!) two layers of color or it will look quite flat.

If you want to add a bit more of a shine, you can finish off the highlights with some white in the end. But I would recommend doing so after you have used a Colorless Blender (if so), because you’d only smudge the white into the other colors and that wouldn’t be helpful.

I already talked about Colorless Blenders in this post. As I always say, it’s not a must to use one, but I really consider it helpful – especially with the paper in Coloriage Wild.

This was my result after two layers of color and before using a blender. The paper is quite rough in this book, and this is easily visible with all that white dots all over her hair.

I usually get rid of them by blending with eiter the Rembrandt Splender or the Pure Splender by Lyra, or the Colorless Blender by Prismacolor. I’m very satisfied with all of them and haven’t tried the one by Derwent (but I was told it’s great as well). Different from my usual style of coloring, it’s important that you don’t start using the blender in the darkest areas of your coloring, but in the lightest. This is very important, because the colorless pencil will move your pigments into one another and will therefore darken your highlights if you do it the other way round. It can smudge your coloring and make it look really weird, so be careful with that tool and always start with the highlights. When you do that, it’s a really cool tool that does cool stuff. Look:

That’s my result 🙂 There are still a few white spots left, but I can live with them and I do like it that way. After all, it still is a coloring with pencils, and I think that should be visible.

Instead of using a blender, you could also add a third and maybe fourth layer of color and use more pressure on them to get between the “hills and valleys” of the rough paper. I usually like the blender-way more, because I think you can also do “too much” quite easily. If you don’t fully burnish your paper (like I did here), it also gives you the opportunity to add a small amount of pigment later – in case you change your mind afterwards. 🙂

Last but not least, because I know many of you are coloring in Hanna Karlzon’s books (myself, too):

Her drawings are very different from the example page I showed you here. You can definitely adapt my tecnique to Hanna’s drawings, but it might take some more time. One thing I really do not like in Hanna’s drawings is that the outlines are quite thick (it’s very visible when you compare them to the one in Johanna Basford’s books). That’s not always that cool and this still gives me a hard time sometimes when I do hair. But don’t worry, it is possible and you can do that, it might just be a bit more work. So, if you’re a beginner, I can really recommend trying some greyscale first. This will give you some experience on how to do the tecnique right and will make it easier to adapt to other drawing styles later.

Or you just stick to that. I LOVE greyscale (if it’s not too dark!) and I should REALLY try Mariola Budek now.

So that was all I had to show you today. As you can see in comparison to Part 1, it’s not very different in tecnique. If you want to see the girl all finished, just hop over to my Instagram and leave a heart and maybe a comment! See you soon!

If you’re using this tutorial for your work, I would be happy if you credit me, either with this blog or with my Instagram @roxellence. I would love to see it! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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