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How to Draw Hair Step by Step

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Hair is very difficult to draw, because what we see is different than what we know. You can't simply draw all the hairs in the form of lines, because that's not what we see when we look at hair. What we see must be simplified to lines and shades, and there are many ways to do it. 

In this tutorial, I will show you one of these ways—a simple method that's great for quick rendering and sketches. I will present this method on four examples: long straight hair, short hair, wavy hair, and afro-textured hair.

Before You Start

To follow this tutorial, you'll need some kind of head base. You can use mine, or create your own in some other style.

Portrait Base
This base will be good for both females and males

Let's take a look at real hair to prepare for this tutorial:

1. How to Draw Long, Straight Hair

Step 1

Start by adding some volume around the head. Hair shouldn't lie flat on the scalp!

straight hair volume
Add even more volume if you're going for manga-like hair

Step 2

Draw the parting in your chosen place.

straight hair parting

Step 3

Draw the outline of the hair around the face.

straight hair face outline

Step 4

Draw the direction of the hair gently flowing down over the shoulders. Keep in mind that you're not drawing the single hairs here, just their flow.

straight hair flow

Step 5

As I've mentioned before, hair doesn't lie flat on the scalp. Show it by elevating the front.

straight hair elevated front

Step 6

Hair is grouped in strands, and that's what we see. Create skewed edges of such strands.

straight hair strands

Step 7

Each strand can be divided into smaller strands.

straight hair little strands

Step 8

The strands we'll be partially visible on top of the head as well.

straight hair top of the head

Step 9

Draw some strands on the side, too, to add some texture. Don't draw them as simple straight lines, but rather as narrow "Y" shapes (normal and upside down).

straight hair single strands

Step 10

Make the hair elevated along the parting.

straight hair elevated parting

Step 11

Outline the whole hair, following the rhythm of strands. Don't press too hard—hair is soft and shouldn't have a hard outline.

straight hair soft outline

Step 12

Draw long lines along the strands. This will give the hair some detail and add depth to the whole haircut. Don't press too hard, and don't make the lines too tight.

straight hair gentle lines

Step 13

Shade the hair now, thinking in terms of strands, not single hairs.

straight hair shading

Step 14

Add some stray hairs here and there to make it look more realistic.

straight hair stray

2. How to Draw Short Hair

Step 1

Again, draw some volume around the head. In this case it will also be the outline of the whole haircut.

short hair volume outline

Step 2

Draw the parting and the fringe going straight from it.

short hair parting fringe

Step 3

Make the general outline complete by drawing the hairline next to the ear.

short hair outline hairline

Step 4

Draw the direction of the hair, creating the 3D form of the haircut.

short hair direction

Step 5

Some stray strands may appear in the fringe. Draw their edge...

short hair fringe edge

... and then their shape going towards the parting.

short hair parted fringe

Step 6

Define the strands on the sides of the head.

short hair strands outline

Step 7

Draw some shadows between strands in the middle as well.

short hair starnds in the middle

Step 8

Gently outline the hair without drawing lines that are too thick. All the lines should be tapered.

short hair thick outline

Step 9

Gently shade the strands.

short hair shading

Step 10

You can add some stray hair to make it more natural.

short hair stray

3. How to Draw Wavy Hair

Step 1

Draw the volume of the hair around the head. Wavy hair is often quite full and elevated.

wavy hair volume outline

Step 2

Draw the parting.

wavy hair parting

Step 3

Draw the outline of the strokes surrounding the face.

wavy hair face outline

Step 4

Make the hair seem elevated by filling the area between it and the scalp.

wavy hair scalp elevated

Step 5

Add gentle waves above the first strand-lines without touching them.

wavy hair waves fringe

Step 6

Create more waves following the same rhythm. These waves shouldn't touch each other.

wavy hair waves drawing

Step 7

Close the shape of each strand by mirroring its wave and adding a pointed tip.

wavy hair tips

Step 8

Draw some more thin tips on the bottom of the haircut. Their curl should complement the other waves.

wavy hair little tips

Step 9

Draw the shape of the strands on top of the head.

wavy hair strands on top

Step 10

Draw the direction of the strands all over the head. Do it lightly.

wavy hair direction

Step 11

Each strand should be divided into more strands at the tips.

wavy hair divided tips
wavy hair detailed strands

Step 12

Make the strands on top of the head more detailed.

wavy hair detailed top

Step 13

Outline the whole hair without making the waves too obviously separate.

wavy hair outline

Step 14

Shade the strands and the spaces between the waves.

wavy hair shading

Step 15

Give a strong outline to the hair, keeping it soft.

wavy hair soft outline

Step 16

Add some stray hair here and there.

wavy hair stray

4. How to Draw Afro-Textured Hair

Step 1

Draw the outline of the volume of the hair. This time it will have a lot of volume. 

afro hair volume outline

Step 2

Afro-textured hair has a lot of curly strands and texture. Sketch "clouds" of strands all around the head.

afro hair surface
afro hair volume sketch

Step 3

Sketch the curly outline of the whole haircut.

afro hair curly outline

Step 4

The hair around the face will have the same shape.

afro hair face outline

Step 5

Gently sketch the general direction of the hair. Perspective is important here!

afro hair direction

Step 6

Imagine each direction line is a branch of a tree. Add the "leaves".

afro hair basic texture

Step 7

Add strands of hair in the form of little springs all around the head. This will create a nice, non-uniform outline.

afro hair spring outline

Step 8

Draw bigger curls within the outline, following the direction you've established before.

afro hair general texture

Step 9

Shade the hair in a very general way—just to show it doesn't have a flat surface.

afro hair basic shading

Step 10

Shade the whole haircut now, drawing curls all around. This will create the texture nicely.

afro hair texture

Step 11

Shade the haircut in a more definite way, drawing shadows between groups of curls.

afro hair shading

Step 12

To make the haircut less round, you can add thicker curls here and there (draw a spring, and then draw over it once more).

afro hair stray outline

Good Job!

Now you know how to draw four different hairstyles. If you want to learn more about creating hair in different techniques, try these tutorials as well:

how to draw hair long short wavy afro
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