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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Photoshop

How to Create Wavy Hair in Photoshop (Type 2 Hair)

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a Photoshop brush for type 2 hair—more commonly known as wavy hair. Then I'll show you how to apply the brush to a photo to create a realistic effect of long wavy hair—or, in other words, how to curl hair in Photoshop! If you wonder how to Photoshop straight hair to wavy, this method will be useful for it, too.

Type 2 hair (according to the Andre Walker Hair Typing System), is something between straight hair and curly hair. The strands have an S-shape that appears below the top of the head (in the 2a type), or right on top (in the 2c type). Although type 2 hair can sometimes be very similar to type 3 (curly hair), it can be distinguished by comparing the pattern of the coils—in curly hair, they're more similar to "C" than "S".

I'm going to show you the general technique of creating this type of texture with a Photoshop brush for long, wavy hair. You can then use different photos to create different type 2 hair brushes. If you want a curly hair brush for Photoshop, though, you should use this tutorial instead. It shows you how to create a Photoshop curl hair brush from a photo, and then how to apply it to a different photo.

And if you're interested in other hair types, remember to check out our other tutorials on hair brushes for Photoshop:

What You'll Learn in This Curly Hair Brush Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to paint wavy hair in Photoshop
  • How to Photoshop straight hair to wavy
  • How to curl hair in Photoshop
  • How to create a brush for long wavy hair for Photoshop
  • How to create a loose hair curls brush in Photoshop

What You'll Need

1. How to Create a Wavy Hair Brush in Photoshop

Step 1

Let's create a loose hair curls brush in Photoshop first. Open Photo 1 and use the Lasso Tool (L) to outline a part of the hair on the side. Copy it to a new layer with Control-J.

outline part of hairoutline part of hairoutline part of hair

Step 2

This will be the long wavy hair for our Photoshop brush. Put a white-filled layer below. Duplicate the layer once more and go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal.

create two copies of haircreate two copies of haircreate two copies of hair

Step 3

Put one of the parts over the other, and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to make it narrower (hold the Shift key to transform non-proportionally).

make the hair narrowermake the hair narrowermake the hair narrower

Step 4

Use the Free Transform Tool in Warp mode to make the other strand more vertical.

use warp modeuse warp modeuse warp mode
warp the hairwarp the hairwarp the hair

Step 5

Add a Layer Mask to both of the layers, and paint on them with a soft brush to blend both strands. Create a New Layer on top and paint on it with a soft brush to make the tip less sharp.

blend the hairblend the hairblend the hair

Step 6

Add a Black and White adjustment layer. Then add a Levels adjustment layer and move the black marker to the right to make the hair much darker.

add black and white adjustment layeradd black and white adjustment layeradd black and white adjustment layer
add levels adjustment layeradd levels adjustment layeradd levels adjustment layer
make the hair darkermake the hair darkermake the hair darker

Step 7

Add another Levels adjustment layer. This time move the black marker even farther, to remove all the highlights.

remove all highlightsremove all highlightsremove all highlights

Step 8

Paint on the layer mask of this adjustment layer with a soft brush, to make the edges more feathered.

fetaher the edgesfetaher the edgesfetaher the edges

Step 9

Select any layer other than the adjustment layers, and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Name it Type 2: Shape.

define new brushdefine new brushdefine new brush

Step 10

Take the Brush Tool (B) and set both Opacity and Flow to 100%. Press D to reset the swatches. Open the Brushes panel and click the plus icon on the bottom to redefine the brush—this time with all the settings included. You can remove the previous brush afterwards. And the long wavy hair for Photoshop brush is ready.

set flow and opacityset flow and opacityset flow and opacity
redefine the brushredefine the brushredefine the brush
save the settingssave the settingssave the settings

2. How to Create a Highlights Brush for Wavy Hair in Photoshop

Step 1

Let's create the highlights for our hair curls brush in Photoshop. Open Photo 2. Take the Lasso Tool (L) and select a part of the hair where the highlights are clearly visible. Copy it to a new layer with Control-J, and place a white background behind it.

open the last imageopen the last imageopen the last image

Step 2

Add a Layer Mask and paint on it with a soft brush to make the edges smoother.select the highlightsselect the highlightsselect the highlights

Step 3

Add a Levels adjustment layer. Drag the white marker strongly to the left to accentuate the highlights. Clip it to the layer below by pressing Control-Alt-G.add levels adjustmentadd levels adjustmentadd levels adjustment

Step 4

Add an Invert adjustment layer, and clip it too. This is necessary because for Photoshop brushes, white = transparent. So if we want to paint white highlights, we need to make them black first!

invert the colorsinvert the colorsinvert the colors

Step 5

Add another clipped Levels adjustment layer. Drag both markers slightly to the middle to increase the contrast.increase the contrastincrease the contrastincrease the contrast

Step 6

Press Control-Alt-Shift-E to copy everything to a new layer. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to make the brush more vertical, and also longer/narrower.

resize the strandresize the strandresize the strand

Step 7

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and name it Type 2: Highlights. Redefine the brush afterwards, but this time use white as the default color, and set Flow to 50%.

define the highlights brushdefine the highlights brushdefine the highlights brush

3. How to Create a Wavy Strand Brush in Photoshop

Step 1

Open Photo 3. Press Control-Shift-U to remove the colors, and then add a Levels adjustment layers to make the background pure white.

change the contrastchange the contrastchange the contrast

Step 2

Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select the long flying strand. Copy it with Control-Shift-C, and paste it to a new layer.

select part of hairselect part of hairselect part of hair

Step 3

Create a New Layer below, and fill it with white. Rotate the strand to make it more vertical.

rotate the strandrotate the strandrotate the strand

Step 4

Add a Layer Mask to the strand to make the top softer and the bottom shorter. Then save it as a new brush—Type 2: Small Strand. Redefine it with black as the default color, and 100% Opacity and Flow.

clean up the brushclean up the brushclean up the brush

Step 5

Create a New File with dimensions bigger than Type 2: Shape brush. Then click once with this brush on the canvas to paint a single strand.

draw some hairdraw some hairdraw some hair

Step 6

Add a Layer Mask and paint over it with the same brush to create one short strand with a naturally feathered top. You can also use a soft round brush to make the bottom less sharp.

use a layer maskuse a layer maskuse a layer mask

Step 7

Save it as another brush, Type 2: Big Strand. Make it black and 100% opaque.

define strand brushdefine strand brushdefine strand brush

4. How to Paint Wavy Hair in Photoshop

Step 1

The brushes are finished, so now let's learn how to paint wavy hair in Photoshop with them! Open Photo 4 (or your own photo). Take the Magic Wand Tool (W) and click Select Subject in the upper bar.

click select subjectclick select subjectclick select subject
select the modelselect the modelselect the model

Step 2

Press Control-J to copy the selection to a new layer—name it Model. Then create a New Layer below and use the Type 2: Shape brush to create some hair behind the head.

add hair behind the headadd hair behind the headadd hair behind the head

Step 3

Create a New Layer on top and use the same brush to add some hair in the front. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) in the Warp mode to change the shape of the hair, if necessary.

add hair in the frontadd hair in the frontadd hair in the front

Step 4

Add a Layer Mask and paint on it to remove the parts of the hair that cover the face too much.

add a layer maskadd a layer maskadd a layer mask

Step 5

Add the hair on the other side as well, using the same techniques.

add hair on the other sideadd hair on the other sideadd hair on the other side

Step 6

Use the Type 2: Big Strand brush to add smaller strands wherever the hair doesn't look detailed enough. You can use the Small Strand brush for the same purpose, but not too much—otherwise the hair will look fluffy/frizzy.

add more hairadd more hairadd more hair

Step 7

If we're going to use a part of the models' real hair for our purpose, we need to change its color. Select the Model layer and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above it. Lower the Saturation and Brightness.

add hue saturation adjustment layeradd hue saturation adjustment layeradd hue saturation adjustment layer
darken the photodarken the photodarken the photo

Step 8

Fill the layer of the adjustment layer with black to hide the effect. Then paint on it with white to reveal it back in the hair area.

darken the hairdarken the hairdarken the hair

Step 9

Right-click the adjustment layer and select Blending Options. Then go to the Blend If settings and drag the lower white marker to the left. Split it with the Alt key for a more transitional effect. This way you'll get the highlights back.

add blend if settingsadd blend if settingsadd blend if settings
reveal the highlightsreveal the highlightsreveal the highlights

Step 10

Hold the Control key and click the thumbnail of the merged hair on top. Then create a New Layer and add a Layer Mask to it—the selection will be applied to it automatically. On this layer, use the Type 2: Highlights brush to add the highlights.

Adjust the size to the size of the waves—it may be good to make them even longer/narrower with the Free Transform Tool. If the highlights are too small, it may create the effect of curly hair.

add the highlightsadd the highlightsadd the highlights

Step 11

Create a New Layer above and clip it with Control-Alt-G. Then paint on it to give the highlights a more natural hue.

color the highlightscolor the highlightscolor the highlights

Step 12

If you want more levels of highlights, duplicate the main highlights layer and put it above the coloring layer. Then, in its Blend If setting, move and split the lower black marker to the right, to restrict the lightening effect to the brightest parts of the highlights only.

Lower the Opacity to adjust the intensity of the effect—too much will give you the effect of wet hair.

add more highlightsadd more highlightsadd more highlights
extra highlights addedextra highlights addedextra highlights added

You can repeat this process one more time to create another level of highlights.

add one more level of highlightsadd one more level of highlightsadd one more level of highlights
extra highlights addedextra highlights addedextra highlights added

Step 13

Let's blend the hair better with the head now. Select the Model layer and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Clip it with Control-Alt-G, and darken the face with it.

darken the facedarken the facedarken the face

Step 14

Use the Blend If settings to remove the darkening effect from the brightest areas.

remove shadow from the lightremove shadow from the lightremove shadow from the light

blend if effectblend if effectblend if effect

Step 15

Fill the layer mask with black and then paint on it with white to reveal the darkening effect only in the areas close to the hair.

paint on the layer maskpaint on the layer maskpaint on the layer mask

Step 16

Repeat the process to add more shadows wherever necessary.

add more shadowsadd more shadowsadd more shadows

5. How to Make Wavy Hair in Photoshop More Realistic

Step 1

Add a New Layer on top and use a soft brush to cover the outline of the hair with the color of the background. This will make it fit the environment better.

add some glowadd some glowadd some glow

Step 2

Change its Blend If settings to make the effect more natural.

change blend if settingschange blend if settingschange blend if settings
blend if appliedblend if appliedblend if applied

Step 3

You can use the same technique to make the hair look brighter and more detailed. For example, you can paint over the lower parts of the hair to add light reflected from the jacket.

add more reflectionsadd more reflectionsadd more reflections

Step 4

The parts that are turned away from the viewer are usually more reflective, so you can add more highlights there.

add even more reflectionsadd even more reflectionsadd even more reflections

Step 5

If the highlights are too sharp, the hair may look wet. Let's use a special trick to make it softer! Take the Brush Tool (B), and switch to Mixer Brush Tool. In the upper bar, set the combination to Very Wet, Heavy Mix, and check Sample All Layers.

take the mixer brushtake the mixer brushtake the mixer brush

Step 6

Take the Type 2: Shape brush, and in the Brush Settings panel set its Spacing to 3%. Then, create a New Layer and paint on it to smudge the hair softly.

adjust brush settingsadjust brush settingsadjust brush settings
smudge the hairsmudge the hairsmudge the hair
What's cool about this technique is that you're not actually editing any parts of the photo—the smudging can be turned off at any time!

Step 7

Lower the Opacity and add a Layer Mask to limit the effect to the hair area only.

clean up the effectclean up the effectclean up the effect

Step 8

To make the hair look more detailed, you can use the Type 2: Small Strand brush to add single strands here and there. Pick the colors of the highlights on the area to create a natural effect.

add more strandsadd more strandsadd more strands

Step 9

To finish the effect, you can add a few adjustment layers. Here I've increased the contrast and saturation. Just remember to add a proper mask!

increase the contrastincrease the contrastincrease the contrast
increase the saturationincrease the saturationincrease the saturation

Good Job!

Now you know how to curl hair in Photoshop to create long wavy hair!

long wavy hair photoshop bushlong wavy hair photoshop bushlong wavy hair photoshop bush

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If you liked this wavy hair brush Photoshop tutorial, you may also like other tutorials from our site:

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