Hair is a very complex subject to draw, because it's like a substance that can take many shapes and forms. Because of this, manga artists have developed a special method of simplifying hair. In manga or anime, you draw hair as a mass or a cloth. This way it can be drawn quickly, with exaggerated shading that conceals the lack of detail.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw various manga hairstyles: straight hair, wavy hair, pigtails, and short hair. I will also explain the method behind it, so that you can draw your own anime hairstyles from scratch. Before you start, you may want to take a look at our previous tutorials on How to Draw Anime:
- DrawingHow to Draw Anime CharactersMonika Zagrobelna
- DrawingHow to Draw Anime Heads and FacesMonika Zagrobelna
You can draw your own head base for this tutorial, or download my template.
1. How to Draw Anime Hair
Let's take a look at the method behind drawing anime hair first. Once you understand it, you'll be able to create your own anime hairstyles with no help!
Hair doesn't lie flat on the skull. Always start by defining some distance right above the head, drawing a simple helmet like this:
Next, sketch a simple outline of the hairstyle. How long is it? What is its general shape? This will help you see the effect of the hair on the composition before actually drawing it.
Hair needs to reveal the face in some way. Draw the outline of the bangs, or move the hair to the sides.
Now sketch the inner outline of the hair. Imagine the hair as a single mass, and mark its edges.
Next, find the secondary rhythm in the hair. Mark it with lines and curves. The fewer of them, the better.
Outline the rhythm lines, creating strands of hair.
Finally, draw additional lines repeating the rhythm, simulating the spaces between thinner strands.
2. How to Draw Straight Anime Hair
Let's see how to use this method in practice to draw straight anime hair step by step!
Draw the "helmet" to mark the distance from the head. Straight hair usually is not very voluminous, so you don't have to add a lot of distance.
Draw the basic shape of the hairstyle. Straight hair goes smoothly down. The only curve appears where the hair falls on the shoulders.
Draw the bangs. Our character will look cute and innocent with them!
Draw the inner outline of the hairstyle now.
Draw some secondary rhythm lines inside the main outline.
"Close" the shape of the strands by drawing a line from the tip of one rhythm line to just below the tip of the other.
Add some rhythm lines to the bangs, too.
If you draw additional lines between them, you'll create nice, thick strands.
Separate the strands of the long hair the same way.
The guide lines are done, so let's get to the main drawing now! Copy the rhythm lines along the strands to make them more detailed.
Outline the whole shape of the hair.
Outline the bangs. Keep your lines clean and confident!
Outline the inner side of the hairstyle.
Outline the tips of the hair. Avoid sharp ends.
Copy some rhythm lines randomly inside the main outline.
Accentuate the edges to create some contrast between the outline of the hair and the detailing lines.
Add more detail lines, if necessary.
It's done! Of course, there are many manga styles, and not all of them require the same level of detail. Feel free to modify this method to achieve the style you prefer. There are a lot of shortcuts you can use to simplify this style even more!
3. How to Draw Wavy Anime Hair
You know how to draw straight hair. Now let's learn how to draw wavy anime hair step by step!
Although a wavy hairstyle may look quite voluminous at first, it doesn't add a lot of distance to the top (of course, feel free to modify it for an exaggerated effect!).
Draw the outline of the hairstyle. Wavy hair doesn't give in to gravity so easily!
Part the hair in the front, revealing the face.
Draw wavy strands on the sides of the face.
The upper part is usually straighter, because of the weight it holds.
Draw the lower part with more curves.
Outline the strands, making them thicker on their way up.
Draw another wave on the side.
You can make the strands more detailed by spreading them:
Once you have the main, clear strands, add some parts of them here and there. This will create a nice, overlapping look.
These were the guide lines. Now we can draw the final lines over them. Start with the top of the head.
Outline the waves. Add a lot of overlapping!
Accentuate the outline of the hair...
... and the inside.
You can accentuate parts of the lines to simulate shadows where the strands cross.
If you want to make the hair more detailed, you can add lines following the rhythm.
Be careful when drawing these lines inside the wavy strands, though—they may look too heavy with long lines inside. Instead, try to pick your pen/pencil up from time to time to make the lines less continuous.
All done! Of course, you may want to simplify some steps. A wavy hairstyle can be successfully drawn with very few lines, if you shade it properly.
4. How to Draw Anime Pigtails
Pigtails are a very popular hairstyle for cute anime girls! Let's see how to draw anime pigtails step by step.
Because the pigtails pull the hair on two sides, you can mark two "humps" at this point already.
Outline cute, long bangs surrounding the face.
Mark the hair ties on the sides.
Mark the rhythm of the pigtails. In anime, they tend to be very springy, defying gravity in a way.
Sketch the coils of the pigtails.
Turn this coiled wire into a coiled ribbon with a few outlines:
Add similar coils on the sides to add volume.
Draw cute bows on the ties.
That would be the end of the guide lines! Time for the final lines now. Outline the main part of the hair.
Outline the bows. Remember to keep them behind the head.
Outline the curls.
Add some detailing lines, if you want.
Accentuate the edges. Because this hairstyle is very exaggerated, it's more suited to thick lines than the others were.
It's finished! These curls, though not very realistic, fit the anime style perfectly.
5. How to Draw Short Anime Hair
Finally, let's take a look at classic short anime hair, suitable for both girls and boys. Follow me to learn how to draw short anime hair step by step!
Short hair can be very voluminous on top, as it's not pulled down by its own weight. Feel free to add a lot of distance here!
Gently "close" the hairstyle behind the head.
Sketch the rhythm of the bangs.
Sketch the rhythm of the strands on the sides. Keep them slightly random for a messy look.
"Close" these strands.
We're done with the guide lines already! Now draw the final outline of the hairstyle on top.
Outline all the strands, adding some details on them as you go.
You can add some detailing lines on the strands.
Because this hairstyle is so stylized, don't be afraid to use thick lines here.
Our short anime hair is finished!
Now you know how to draw anime hair in many variants! If you like your end result, feel free to post it in the comments!
If you want to keep learning about drawing in simple styles, you will like our series on How to Draw Like Disney:
- DrawingHow to Draw Disney CharactersMonika Zagrobelna
- DrawingHow to Draw Disney AnimalsMonika Zagrobelna
- Fan ArtHow to Draw Disney VillainsMonika Zagrobelna
And if you want to learn more about how to draw hair, we have more tutorials on this subject:
- PortraitHow to Draw Hair Step by StepMonika Zagrobelna
- PortraitHow to Draw Natural, Textured, Afro Hair (How to Draw Curly Hair)Daisy Ein
- DrawingHow to Draw Natural, Textured, Afro Hairstyles (Afros, Locs, Braids, Twists)Daisy Ein