How to Draw Hair

Many people do not know how to draw hair.  They find it difficult to draw because it varies greatly in texture, volume and style. It is impossible to cover all of the different hair types in this introductory course however below are some handy tricks that can be used with any hair type to simplify the process.

First off, it is important to realize that all hair, whether straight or curly is drawn with curved lines. A common mistake made by amateurs is to draw straight hair with straight lines and the end result looks straw-like and flat. When hatching, it is important to follow the natural contour of the head and pay special attention to the direction of different sections of hair. Even more importantly, it is crucial that graduated value scales be utilized when shading. It is this combination of different tones along with varying lengths of hair that creates realistic depth and texture. Consequently, graduated hatching must be used for all hair colors.

The difference in hair color lies in the percentage of dark tones vs. light tones used. When drawing blond hair, lighter tones are predominantly used with carefully placed shadows to create depth. When drawing dark hair, a larger percentage of dark tones are used with select lighter tones added as well as pure white to create the effect of highlights/shine and form. What is more, remember that all hair colors will look darker further from the light source and even more so in the shadow areas.

How to draw hair: Start by choosing a point that is a short distance above the skull. This is the area from which the hair will grow. Hair always grows outwards from a central point and falls in distinctive clumps that can be sectioned off and treated individually, according to volume and direction. To isolate these clumps, have an eye for shapes and define these sections with contour lines. With the shape of each key section of hair identified, one of the most effective techniques for rendering volume is to think of these locks of hair as individual shapes, each in need of form through a progression of light and dark hatching.

When shading, do not hesitate to shade beyond the edges of defined contours. Also, the tips of hair should be somewhat feathered, rather than stopped abruptly. Both of these measures will help give the hair a more realistic appearance. Reinforce contour lines of the dominant sections of the hair if necessary. Finally, add a number of short, wispy hairs at random to the top and sides of the head. These fly-away hairs are a key component of any realistic coif.

The following illustrations use female models. If you are concerned with male hair, rest assured that if you can draw long curly hair or long straight hair, you can draw short hair.

Below are examples of how to draw hair. Expect a certain degree of difficulty in completing this exercise as it requires graduated hatching, a skill that takes considerable time to master.

Other pages of interest

How to draw a nose
How to draw ears
How to draw hair
Drawing the mouth
Drawing teeth