Apr 132012

Hello, welcome to my first tutorial.  Here you’ll learn how create basic natural hairstyles using Inkscape.  It’s very easy; no drawing skill whatsoever required!


This is Manyara. She'll be our model for today's tutorial.

Tight curls are probably the easiest hair texture to create.  For this image I also used the technique from Chrisdesign Blog’s tutorial on straight/relaxed hair to draw the front hair where it is pulled back.

Here are the steps in Inkscape:

  1. Draw a circle using the ellipse tool.  (The ellipse tool is the pink circle on main toolbar on the left side of the screen.)
  2. From the main menu at the top of the screen, select Object > Fill and Stroke.  The Fill and Stroke tab will appear on the right side of the screen.  Adjust the the color to something several shades darker than the actual hair color you are going for.  Also add a modest blur; I used about 12.5 in the image above.  At this point your image should look something like this:

    A blurry dark brown circle.

    The underlying shape of the fro.

  3. Manyara with "tight" textured fro.

    Okay! You’re well on your way to making a beautiful Afro. Now we just need to add some hairs.  Use the spiral tool to create a small spiral.  In this case I used a spiral with 1 turn, 0.5 divergence, and 0 inner radius.  You can tighten or loosen the spiral to create slightly different hair textures.

  4. Next it’s time to set the hair color.  In the Fill and Stroke tab, make sure your spiral has no fill (the X is selected under the fill tab.)  Under Stroke paint, choose linear gradient, and then select edit.  The Gradient editor will open.  By default there are two stops, and we need three, so add one more stop.  Set the one of the end stops to a color slightly lighter than than the color of the circle from Step 2.  I recommend using the HSL tab so you can adjust lightness independently of hue.  For the middle stop, increase the lightness quite a bit more.  In my case the middle is about 28 points lighter than the ends.  I also cut the saturation in half.  You may have to come back and adjust this later once you see how the final product looks.  See below for some great tricks to make this kind of editing quick and easy.
  5. Zooming in on your curl, it should look more or less like this:
    One nap.

    A single strand, greatly magnified.

    Alright, here’s is the fun part!  Select your curl (it should be actual size, not huge like the example above.  If it is too big, just ctrl-click on the handles to adjust the size.)  With the nap selected, click on the spray can tool on the main toolbar.  Set the Mode to “Clone” (the middle option of the three at the top left corner of the window.)  Set “Amount” and “Rotation” to 100.  Scale: 6, Scatter: 10, Focus: 0.  Now spray the whole area until the entire circle is covered.  The result should look something like this:

    A ball of hair.

    Once you’ve done that, all that’s left is to clean up any stray hairs that are too far outside the circle, adjust the colors, and make any necessary adjustments to the size/shape/blur of the circle.  It’s done!  Just copy and paste onto a layer below your character’s head.  For styles that don’t pull the hair back, repeat the same process for the hair in front of the head, adjusting the shape to match where you want the hairline to be.

    Manyara with loose 'fro

    Manyara with a slightly looser afro texture.

A few tips:

  • If you spray with clones, press Shift-D to select the original.  Changes to the original affect all the copies, so try changing the size to instantly adjust the hair texture.  Be careful not to delete the original or all the hair will disappear.
  • For most styles you’ll need to use this technique on at least two layers, one for hair in front of the head, and one for the back.
  • Inkscape can sometimes run a little slow.  You can speed things up by hiding other layers or working on the hair in a separate file.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first tutorial.  Leave a comment to let me know if you have found it helpful, or if you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions!

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