An average human head contains around 150,000 strands of hair. Just the thought of this can be very discouraging. First of all, you don’t need to spend 90% of your time meticulously drawing your subject’s hair. In fact, this step can be done so quickly it might even become your favorite step. The key to adding texture is using confident, steady strokes and maintaining a consistent flow.
The steps below can be used for drawing all sorts of hairstyles from short to long and straight to curly hair. So without any further ado, let’s jump right into the lesson! Here are 4 things you need to keep in mind when it comes to drawing realistic hair:
Drawing hair is probably one of my favourite things to sketch because you can be completely creative with it. You can invent a whole spectrum of new characters by changing them up with a radical hairstyle. Drawing hair is also great for practicing your brushstrokes if you are new to digital sketching; not forgetting to mention it feels extremely therapeutic to draw repeated wispy details. With a bit of study and practice you will be drawing luscious locks that look just like the real thing. Here is How to Draw Hair in Detail by Ashley Bachar.
Start with a bald head. Once you’ve done this, our friend will be in need of a snazzy new hairdo.
To create this messy bun (above), I drew four sections. In each section the hair is doing something different:
It contains additional tips, techniques and close ups so you see exactly what I’m doing.
I added in thin lines underneath the outer layers to show dimension in the hair in order to show volume and create depth and overlap. I also added thin lines around the outer masses to show that the hair has dimension to it.
You can rough out the character’s hairline in a temporary layer. The blue coloured area represents the scalp which determines the edge of the hairline and where all the hair grows from. This is helpful when framing the face with hair and will help you as a guideline in determining where your characters hair is rooted.
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Tip: You can produce long, continuous and smooth lines using an overhand grip on your pencil while harnessing the power of your elbow and shoulder instead of your fingers and wrist.
Having difficulty drawing heads? Click here to learn how to draw one from the front and here to draw one from side.
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1. Practice drawing curls using a cylindrical shape. This will help you achieve realistic curls with plenty of volume.
And of course let’s not forget good old beards and moustaches!
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Click the following link and hit the download button beside the printer icon to download the PDF: RapidFireArt Tutorials – How to Draw Realistic Hair The Ultimate Tutorial
One tip to to consider when trying to achieve a look with hair that is tightly pulled back or wet is that it will appear flatter. You can draw the hair much closer to the scalp to create this effect. I am going for a slightly volumized look in my drawing, but you can also consider these other options for more straight hair (below).
Work on one part of the hair at a time, while following the general direction in which the strands flow. In dark areas, don’t be afraid to press hard (I used a 6B to 8B for these areas). To bring out highlights, flatten your kneaded eraser and swipe it in the desired direction. The eraser will become too dirty after the first swipe, so fold it in and flatten after each stroke.
Once you have the lighting down, start drawing boundary lines between groups of hair that appear to be overlapping. Decide where you want the light to fall and then outline those areas using the shadow lining technique. Shade your way around the highlights. If you often find yourself getting lost in the details, this step will help you keep track of the overall lighting so you can be more confident when drawing the individual hairs.
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How to Draw Realistic Hair: Quick Tutorial Skip to entry content
4. Use swift strokes to add texture. Break free from patterns and boring lines by overlapping or adding stray hairs. Be creative and look to reference images or even the mirror for inspiration. (4B, 8B)
2. Sometimes it helps to make associations. So think of a curl as a ribbon. They have many ringlets which stretch further apart near the bottom. Use curvy lines and avoid any straight lines in order to achieve a more realistic feel and flow. (4B)
Another method you can try for practice, is rendering the hair completely in black and white and then overlaying the colour after so that you can easily translate visually without getting mixed up in your colour palette.
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Click here to go to the expanded version of this mini tutorial (more than 2000 words and tons of detailed images)
Not all hair is the same, which means you will need to alter your technique when you are drawing hair textures. With all the crazy hair types out there you want to be able to accurately portray each unique texture using the right strokes. Hair types generally fall into the three categories: straight hair, wavy hair, and curly.
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Hair is made up of thousands of strands layered on top of one another. To save you the pain of drawing each individual strand, understanding shadows, midtones, and highlights will help you achieve realistic texture without all the extra time. I start by filling in the overall mass with a fancy midtone colour of my choice as a base colour. I then go in with a darker shade and add shadows around the sides of the mass following the direction of hair flow. For the final shine factor, add in thin highlights in areas that you want to pop forward.
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If you’re having difficulties drawing long hair because your pencil strokes are too short or choppy, try holding your pencil further away from the tip. This will give you more range of motion, producing longer, smoother strokes.
It helps to make loose outlines of the skull before you start drawing hair. If you draw hair without the 3 dimensional shape of the human head in mind, it will lack volume and you risk chopping off a part of the skull. Hair hugs the head, but it isn’t plastered to it. For most people with long hair, you can expect at least 2 centimeters of “hair height” on top of their actual height and at least 2 centimeters on the sides as well.
In order to draw hair with flow, you need to be aware of the structure underneath. For long hairstyles in their resting state, the hair flows down, hugs the head and wraps around the shoulders. Somewhat like a liquid. You want to begin by sketching the basic structure of the hair and keep your strokes loose and simple.
1. Construct the shape of the head and position the ear in the correct place. (4B) Click here to learn how to draw a head/face from the side and where to draw the ear. 2. Draw a loose outline of the hair using strokes that flow in the actual direction the hair is pointing. (4B) 3. Shade the dark areas, keeping in mind this step is for helping you see the big picture. (6B) 4. Add texture by working on one area of the hair at a time. Outlining groups of hair and then adding texture is also a good technique. For thin hair, use ‘v’ shapes to taper most hair ends. Keep in mind that thick hair usually does not taper at the ends. Instead, most hairs will stand on their own. (4B, 6B, 8B)
Home Learn How to Draw How to draw realistic hair: The ultimate tutorial
For hair ends, work outwards so your hair tapers nicely without looking too blunt and dull.
Drawing short hair is really no different than drawing long hair, except that you will find yourself covering less ground in the same amount of time because the strands are much shorter.
4 steps for drawing hair Close look at drawing a small lock of hair How to draw curly hair (Mini tutorial) How to draw short hair (Mini tutorial) Expanded tutorial is now available! With over 2000 words of valuable content + detailed images!
Are you struggling when it comes to drawing hair? Drawing hair can be an intimidating task for those who are just learning how to draw. With the overwhelming amount of detail and commitment required, many people lose their patience and resort to a series of sloppy scribbles.
Our character has a somewhat complicated hairdo, but yours can be as simple as you like.
When creating your first layer of pencil strokes, mix it up with a variety of different line weights. I use a mixture of dull and sharpened pencils as well as mechanical pencils. As you are creating each stroke, remember to press and then lift as you approach the area you want to highlight. Work your strokes inwards so they fade in the middle of the lock.
Pay close attention to how you want the hair to be chunked together and how the hair will fall over the head. These arrows show the direction in which the hair is being pulled into a bun. Think about the direction you want the hair to go in and what parts will overlap each other. Start to define more pieces of hair.
It seems we’ve gotten ourselves in a bit of a hairy situation! We’ve embraced the buzz of Movember and created this tutorial on how to draw hair in detail. (If you possess almighty beard growing capabilities, you need to read this review and it’s never too late to join the movement on the Movember Foundation website.)
Drawing curly hair is really fun and absolutely great for building confidence when it comes to adding texture.
Outlines of various hairstyles you might want to consider to frame your characters face.
Add a second layer of strokes. In this stage, I usually opt for a 0.5mm HB–4B for touch-ups and a very dull 6B to fill some white space without making it look too busy.
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UPDATE: I’ve broken the steps down further (7 steps) in video format. It’s a really detailed video tutorial that covers 6 different hairstyles:
Drawing hair isn’t just a bunch of lines in boring repetitive patterns. Use the 4 techniques below to make your drawings more interesting to the eye.
Pencils by Derwent Mechanical Pencils with 0.5mm HB and 4B Ain lead by Pentel Kneaded Eraser
Next, draw the overall volume of the hair and then break it up into pieces. Hair sits above the head so the overall mass will extend around the scalp. Big hair don’t care! There is no right or wrong way to draw hair as they come in different volumes and thicknesses. It all depends on how you want your character to look.
You can add more or less detail depending on the level of realism you are trying to achieve.
The way you render the strands of hair makes a significant difference on the overall texture you are trying to emulate. If you want to draw short hair, draw short choppy strokes. On the flip side, if you want to draw long hair make longer strokes. It might sound a little straightforward, but believe me it makes a big difference. You can also reduce the pen pressure in order to get thin tapering lines that capture the soft wispiness of individual hair strands.
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3. Pay attention to the highlighted areas of the hair and keep it consistent. For this example, the highlight is in the center. As you can see, the hairs closest to the front have more prominent highlights than the back. (6B)
Keep doing this until you achieve desired results. If you want to create a shiny look or replicate harsh lighting, try to keep the highlights fairly clean. You can use an eraser if need be.
This is my longest tutorial to date! I hope it covers everything. If you want to see more tutorials like this one, please let me know. Also, don’t forget to share the love using the share buttons below 🙂 Does the thought of drawing hair make you cringe? Let me know in the comments!
The top layer is much larger to show looseness in the bun. It is followed by a layer beneath showing hair that is pulled much tighter on the sides of the head. The bottom chunk is hair that is falling loosely at the bottom that is being pulled down as well by gravity.
The last section is the bun outline showing hair that folds and wraps into itself.
Start to fill in the mass with more detailed lines to give the volumes more texture so that they don’t look like solid chunks.
To some of us, drawing hair can be a nightmare. But a change in your approach can help you leave those fears behind. In this tutorial, I will introduce 4 simple steps for drawing realistic looking hair.
Before we get started we need to figure out what hairstyle we want to draw on our character. The easiest way to start is by locating the hairline and determining how the hair is going to fall over and frame the face.
There are as many hairline types as there are people, but here are a few general examples to get you started on drawing different frames.
The way you render the strands of hair makes a significant difference on the overall texture you are trying to emulate.
A head of hair contains many shades, so before you start scribbling away, take some time to determine where the light source is coming from and how it will affect the tonal value of the hair. If you are working off a reference image where the lighting is too soft, posterize the image or turn up the contrast using a free image editing program such as gimp in order to exaggerate the 3 different shades – Making them much easier to identify.
Straight hair: Straight hair is the easiest texture to achieve. Simply draw straight lines down or in the direction of hair flow if the hair is tied up. Wavy hair: Similar to straight hair but slightly alter your lines into long “S” shapes to give that natural beachy wave effect.
Curly hair: Drawing curly hair is kind of like drawing wavy hair except the “S” shapes are much shorter and more condensed.
Are you ready to draw some hair? Let’s implement the steps and techniques above in the 2 mini tutorials below! Pencils I will be using: 4B, 6B, 8B