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How to Create Hair and Fur Textures in Photoshop Using the Kyle T Webster Brush Sets

This post is part of a series called Science Week.
How to Create a Retro Poster With an Astronaut Child in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Drawing animals is a passion of mine. You may have noticed that many animals, specifically mammals like humans and primates, have hair and fur. Drawing fur can be incredibly time-consuming. When I found out about Kyle T Webster's Adobe Exclusive Brush sets in Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, I was very keen to give them a go to see how they would enhance my workflow.

I chose Dame Jane Goodall, British Primatologist and Anthropologist, for this illustration to try out fur and hair brushes. Jane is inspirational and has dedicated her life to understanding primates, so I decided to create an illustration of her and one of her beloved chimpanzee friends. Here's a little bit about her: 

"Considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her over 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees since she first went to Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania in 1960. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots programme, and she has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. She has served on the board of the Nonhuman Rights Project since its founding in 1996. In April 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace." 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall

This tutorial will focus on the use of the Kyle T Webster's Adobe Exclusive Brush sets rather than drawing techniques. I will show how I create a base for the illustration with the Kyle T Webster Gouache Set and then imply detail quickly and efficiently using the Kyle T Webster Concept Brush Set along with little tweaks I implement along the way. 

I feel these brush sets are not intended to be used like stamps—they could become very recognisable on their own and detract from the overall image. In this tutorial, I will be focusing on hair and fur, and you will see how I take brushes anyone can use and how they will look once I have added my own details over the top.  

In this tutorial, I will cover:

  1. How to get a free seven-day trial of Adobe Photoshop CC and Kyle T Webster's Exclusive Brush Set
  2. Planning the sketch
  3. Planning the colours
  4. Creating flats
  5. Adding hair and fur textures
  6. Adding the finishing touches

Tutorial Assets

For this tutorial, I will be using:

Please note: A graphics tablet with pressure sensitivity is crucial for the Kyle T Webster Brush Sets to work properly.

For this tutorial, you will need a basic knowledge of how Photoshop works and be familiar with how to create clipping masks, lock transparency, and use blending modes. We will concentrate on Kyle T Webster's brushes more than the ins and outs of illustration. You'll learn how to combine and modify these brushes to speed up your workflow.

Without further ado, I'll explain how you can get your hands on these exclusive gorgeous brushes. Fret not—if you don't have an Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 subscription, you can see how these brushes work with a free seven-day trial. 

1. How to Get a Free Trial of Adobe Photoshop CC and Kyle T Webster's Exclusive Brush Set

Step 1

Kyle T Webster's brushes are now exclusively available via Adobe Photoshop CC, and you can get a free seven-day trial to try them out! 

Adobe Photoshop CC Trial Download Window Screenshot

Step 2

Once you've installed the Adobe Photoshop CC Trial according to the setup instructions, you need to download Kyle's brushes from the Adobe website. Some of Kyle's brushes do come with Photoshop CC as standard (the General Brushes, Dry Media Brushes, Wet Media Brushes and Special Effects Brushes), and there are extras available to download from Adobe. Here, I will show you how to do that!

In Photoshop CC, press F5 to bring up the Brushes panel, click on the stack icon in the top right corner, and click on Get More Brushes.

Get More Brushes Dialogue

Step 3

Clicking Get More Brushes will take you to the Download exclusive brushes from Kyle T. Webster section of the Adobe Photoshop CC website.

There's a huge selection of brushes for every illustration need. I have selected the Gouache and Concept sets. Press Download to download the brush sets to your drive of choice.

Kyle T Webster Gouache and Concept Brushes from Adobe

Step 4

Once you've downloaded the .abr files (Adobe Brush File), select Import Brushes from the stack icon drop-down menu.

Adobe Photoshop CC Import Brushes

Step 5

Next, navigate to where you have downloaded the brushes—in my case, this is in the Adobe Photoshop CC 2018/Presets/Brushes folder. Please note that these instructions are for Windows, and Mac operating systems may install these differently. 

Your directory will be something like:

(Your Local Disk) C:/YOUR NAME/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CC 2018/Presets/Brushes

Click on one of the brush sets, and press the Load button at the bottom of the box. Repeat this step for the other brush set—unfortunately you cannot select multiple .abr brush sets.

Kyle T Webster Brush Load Location

Step 6

Once you load each .abr file, you will see in the Brushes window that there are two new folders: 'gouache' and 'concept'.

Loaded Kyle T Webster Gouache and Concept Brushes

Step 7

Click on the arrow next to the name of each folder to see its contents. What I love about Adobe Photoshop CC is that you can now see the strokes alongside the name of the brush, which makes finding what you need a lot easier. 

Here's what the brush sets look like in the Adobe Photoshop CC Brush dialogue.

The "Gouache" Set:

Kyle T Webster Gouache Brush Set

The huge "Concept" Set:

Kyle T Webster Concept Brush Set

Now we are ready to get drawing and painting!

2. How to Plan the Sketch of Jane Goodall and a Chimpanzee

As this tutorial is concentrating on how to use some of the Adobe Photoshop CC Exclusive Kyle T Webster Brushes, I have prepared a sketch of Jane Goodall and a chimpanzee having a cuddle and showing mutual appreciation for each other. Right now, I'm all about circular compositions, so I felt that it would be perfect to round it off (get it?) with a border of leaves. 

Greyscale Sketch of a Chimpanzee Jane Goodall

3. How to Plan the Colours for the Illustration

Before I start colouring an illustration, I always create a few palettes to ensure I have the correct mood for the piece. This is an important step as your clients will want to see a variety of ideas before you commit to the final piece. 

I also knew a few factors. For example, Jane had to be a caucasian female with blonde hair and a pale green shirt, while the chimpanzee was black, although a lot of reference images show them to be a blue black. It's important in images to have a harmony with your colours (unless of course it's a deliberate choice to pick discordant colours!).

Three Colour Tests For The Jane Goodall Illustration

I felt that 3 was the happier, more pleasing option, but I also liked the darkness of the foreground leaves in 1, so I combined them to make the border pop!

Jane Goodall Final Colour Palette

I shall be referring back to this image when I paint the artwork. 

4. Creating Flats: A Brief Overview

Kyle's Paintbox - Gouache Perfecto in the Gouache Set is aptly named as it is perfect for creating flats due to its smooth edge and high density.  

Kyles Paintbox - Gouache Perfecto

Here I have created a gif to show how each layer is blocked out on top of each other. More information can be found in my Create a Digital Painting of a Zombie From Scratch in Adobe Photoshop tutorial. Flats are a great tool when creating images as they can be used to mask areas off, lock transparency, create clipping masks, and add a flat base of colour to work on top of.

5. How to Add Hair and Fur Textures

Look at this magnificent creature! I love the blues, navys and blacks that bring the fur alive. 

PhotoDune Image - Chimpanzee by macropixel

I will show you how I use Kyle's Concept Brushes - Sir Hairy Long 2 (fantastic name!) to create this effect and apply it to my illustration. 

Step 1

Select the Kyle's Concept Brushes - Sir Hairy Long 2 brush. Note how the strands of hair all follow the direction of the brush. This will make light work of creating fur on our primate friend.

Kyle Concept Brushes - Sir Hairy Long 2

Step 2

Create a base for the fur using the dark navy colour. If you were creating this over an illustration, you would have the flat base colour already laid down. This example has been done over white to clearly show the direction of the fur stokes.

Chimpanzee Fur - Base Layer and Colour Swatches

Step 3

Next, pick the mid-blue colour by pressing Alt with the Brush tool (B) selected. Decrease the size of the brush slightly by pressing the [ key. You can increase the size of the brush by pressing the ] key. Sweep the mid-blue over the central area of the dark base to create a highlighted area. 

Chimpanzee Fur - Midtones and Colour Swatches

Step 4

Next, colour picking the lightest blue using the Alt key from your swatches, reduce the size of the brush slightly using [ and ] and paint roughly over the middle of the mid-blue colour, keeping in mind the direction of the hair.

Chimpanzee Fur Highlights Colour Swatches

Step 5

Here, I am still using the same brush, but I have made it incredibly small. Adding an extra swatch of light blue, I draw in some small strands to show the tips of the hairs.

PRO TIP: to give the appearance of fluffy or uneven fur, add a few dots to the edges of the lightest areas. 

To add contrast, I have added a few darker areas to the edge of the light patch. This gives the fur depth and dimension.

Chimpanzee Fur - Details

Step 6

Carrying on using the Kyle's Concept Brushes - Sir Hairy Long 2 brush, I take a slightly darker golden brown and begin to define the general direction of the hair on the scalp and into the ponytail. 

Jane Hair Base

Step 7

Here you can see that I have softened the hairline using short strokes of the base colour to give a natural appearance and to break up the hard, unnatural edge. 

Jane Hair Edge Details

Step 8

Gently continue the same process as with the chimpanzee, going from dark to light with smaller and smaller strokes, and adding highlights where the light would naturally hit.

Jane Hair Midtone Details

Step 9

Next, we swap to Kyle's Concept Brushes - Sir Hairy Long 1 with the darkest honey colour matching the contours of the head. The hair is really starting to come alive here!

Jane Hair Darker Details

Step 10

Next, I stroke some highlights into the hair using the lightest honey tone. The rule of thumb is the lighter the colour, the lighter the stroke—less is more! 

Jane Hair Highlights

Step 11

I'm really happy with how the hair is turning out. However, we need some chaos in the mix! No hairstyle is ever perfect, and there are always stray hairs—especially in the jungle! 

KYLE Ultimate Pencil Hard

Swap to the KYLE Ultimate Pencil Hard brush for details and sketch out some flyaway hair around the ear, down the ponytail, and across the scalp.

Jane Hair Details

Step 12

Select the Kyle's Concept Brushes Fur Animal Left brush.

Kyles Concept Brushes - Fur Animal Left

Here, I have gone over the arm with Kyle's Concept Brushes - Fur Animal Left, working through the swatches in the brush demonstration above from dark to light.

Adding Details To The Chimpanzee

Step 13

For the details on the chimpanzee, I used Kyle's Concept Brushes - Sir Hairy Short 1 along the back of his head in a navy blue and over the scalp in a light blue to show shine and texture.

Kyles Concept Brushes - Sir Hairy Short 1

Chimpanzee Head Detail

6. How to Add the Finishing Touches

Step 1

Next, we select the KYLE Ultimate Pencil Hard brush and add some depth by colour picking (press Alt on the keyboard) the fur around Jane's hands and arm from the chimpanzee and having it overlap her fingers.

Fur details around Janes Hands

Step 2

Here, to add some jungley depth, I have created a Clipping Mask set to Multiply and painted in some dark areas over her hair where some leaves would cast shadows. 

Close Up Of Jane With Leaf Shadows

The Finished Illustration

While Kyle's brushes are fantastic, note that to get the exact feel you want, you may need to tweak the settings slightly. Few things work straight out the box, but by using Kyle T Webster's brushes and Adobe Photoshop CC, you can get very close. I hope you have enjoyed following this tutorial and learned a few things along the way. 

Thanks for reading this tutorial, and please let me know if this has been helpful! 

Finished Jane Goodall  Chimpanzee Illustration

If you liked this tutorial, please have a look at my video course on Creating and Applying Textures to Illustrations in Adobe Photoshop.

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