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.
Let's take a look at real hair to prepare for this tutorial:
1. How to Draw Long, Straight Hair
Start by adding some volume around the head. Hair shouldn't lie flat on the scalp!
Draw the parting in your chosen place.
Draw the outline of the hair around the face.
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.
As I've mentioned before, hair doesn't lie flat on the scalp. Show it by elevating the front.
Hair is grouped in strands, and that's what we see. Create skewed edges of such strands.
Each strand can be divided into smaller strands.
The strands we'll be partially visible on top of the head as well.
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).
Make the hair elevated along the parting.
Outline the whole hair, following the rhythm of strands. Don't press too hard—hair is soft and shouldn't have a hard outline.
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.
Shade the hair now, thinking in terms of strands, not single hairs.
Add some stray hairs here and there to make it look more realistic.
2. How to Draw Short Hair
Again, draw some volume around the head. In this case it will also be the outline of the whole haircut.
Draw the parting and the fringe going straight from it.
Make the general outline complete by drawing the hairline next to the ear.
Draw the direction of the hair, creating the 3D form of the haircut.
Some stray strands may appear in the fringe. Draw their edge...
... and then their shape going towards the parting.
Define the strands on the sides of the head.
Draw some shadows between strands in the middle as well.
Gently outline the hair without drawing lines that are too thick. All the lines should be tapered.
Gently shade the strands.
You can add some stray hair to make it more natural.
3. How to Draw Wavy Hair
Draw the volume of the hair around the head. Wavy hair is often quite full and elevated.
Draw the parting.
Draw the outline of the strokes surrounding the face.
Make the hair seem elevated by filling the area between it and the scalp.
Add gentle waves above the first strand-lines without touching them.
Create more waves following the same rhythm. These waves shouldn't touch each other.
Close the shape of each strand by mirroring its wave and adding a pointed tip.
Draw some more thin tips on the bottom of the haircut. Their curl should complement the other waves.
Draw the shape of the strands on top of the head.
Draw the direction of the strands all over the head. Do it lightly.
Each strand should be divided into more strands at the tips.
Make the strands on top of the head more detailed.
Outline the whole hair without making the waves too obviously separate.
Shade the strands and the spaces between the waves.
Give a strong outline to the hair, keeping it soft.
Add some stray hair here and there.
4. How to Draw Afro-Textured Hair
Draw the outline of the volume of the hair. This time it will have a lot of volume.
Afro-textured hair has a lot of curly strands and texture. Sketch "clouds" of strands all around the head.
Sketch the curly outline of the whole haircut.
The hair around the face will have the same shape.
Gently sketch the general direction of the hair. Perspective is important here!
Imagine each direction line is a branch of a tree. Add the "leaves".
Add strands of hair in the form of little springs all around the head. This will create a nice, non-uniform outline.
Draw bigger curls within the outline, following the direction you've established before.
Shade the hair in a very general way—just to show it doesn't have a flat surface.
Shade the whole haircut now, drawing curls all around. This will create the texture nicely.
Shade the haircut in a more definite way, drawing shadows between groups of curls.
To make the haircut less round, you can add thicker curls here and there (draw a spring, and then draw over it once more).
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:
- Digital PaintingAn Introduction to Painting Realistic Hair in Adobe PhotoshopMelody Nieves
- PortraitHow to Render Short, Detailed Hair in Adobe IllustratorSharon Archer-Thomas
- TexturesHow to Draw FurMonika Zagrobelna
- AnimalsHow to Create a Soft, Furry Kitten in Adobe IllustratorSharon Archer-Thomas