Sculpting a Sketch

Goal: Modify a sketch before digitally inking or light box inking.

Tools:Scanner, Photoshop

Note: This may be done with any equivalent image manipulation software you may be familiar with, however the steps to do similar modifications may be different. I am using Photoshop 7.0, so other versions may also involve different steps.

The best method any artist should use when going from a rough draft to a final piece should simply be draw, redraw, then draw again. But there are other ways to make minor or even major changes to a rough sketch before you ink it.

Let’s say you love the face or the costume, but parts of the body just aren’t coming out right no matter how many times you redraw it. Or, perhaps you’d prefer to draw your ideas and worry about proportions later. The wonderful thing about this method is how quickly you can swap things around and change the original lines.

This was an experiment on my part. I’ll warn you that traditional artists may cringe at my method. Your sketch will look all chopped up and skewed, but who cares how you went about modifying your rough sketch once you ink the final draft and toss out the intermediary steps?

Using the same method that tabloids and advertisers use to manipulate photos of normal people and change them to look like impossibly endowed models, you can manipulate certain parts of your drawing to look more like you intended it to look without scrapping the drawing and starting over. It may sound lazy, so I apologize. But in defense of this method, it still takes a keen eye and steady hands to make a sketch look better.

Preparing your Sketch

Scanned SketchScanned Sketch (click to zoom) Either scan in your sketch into Photoshop or import it from another source, such as a digital sketch drawn on a tablet.In Photoshop, crop the image with plenty of room on the sides to move things around. Insert an extra layer below the drawing and fill it with white. This extra layer will simply make the chopped up image look more appealing during modification

Prepped Image

Chop and Transform

One type of modification in Photoshop allows you to rotate, move, and scale parts of your sketch. Select the part of the drawing you want to modify using the lasso tool. The polygonal lasso tool works best for large selections and square-shaped selections, while the normal lasso tool will work for small, curvy selections. After you have selected the portion you want to modify, then use the transform function found under Edit > Free Transform, or by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+T.

Now you can drag the selection around, scale it by using the 8 small boxes found around the edge of the selection box, and rotate the selection by clicking and holding outside of the selection as you drag it around.

Tsk tsk, such unlady like posture. In the example below, I make this slouching lady straighten her back out.

Chopping the Image

Or here I decided that her right leg looked oddly off balance, so I straightened out her leg in a three step process.

Chopping Part 2

Okay, so by now you may notice the artifacts left behind, such as white spots where the lines don’t match up or the extra lines overlapping where there is too much. This may look ugly now, but will disappear by the time you ink. Also, the perspective has changed, so things may look different. All of these are things you should keep in mind when doing further edits and when you finally ink the thing.


The Liquify option is pretty well exclusive to Photoshop. In newer versions it can be found under Filter > Liquify, and in older versions it may be found under Image > Liquify. Or you can find it using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+Shift+X. Liquify is a nifty little feature allowing you to quite literally sculpt the image using various brushes and tools.

There are a variety of tools, and they change from different versions. But the most useful tools for this type of application are the following four basic tools. (The changes I made are just exaggerations of their actual usage.)

Filter > Liquify

Warp WarpThe warp tool is the most useful for changing the shape of an object, as you can drag lines around somewhat naturally. You can change the shape of a leg if you feel the perspective is off. You can reshape her shoulders, or move her glutes up. I will warn you that this only really works for curvy shapes. Straight lines are much harder to control, though it is possible if you have a lot of patience and control.
Twirl TwirlYou can twirl the image around clockwise or counter clockwise. This tool can prove useful, but is very hard to control and will distort your image greatly. However, it does have useful purposes, as you can change the angle and curve of a particular line or object.
Pucker PuckerMake objects smaller with the pucker tool. It will cause plenty of distortion, as it basically pulls everything to the center of the brush like a black hole. But it proves it’s worth for several tasks. For example you can make an eye smaller to match another eye, or resize any portion of the body.
Bloat BloatThis is the opposite of the pucker tool. It is also very distorting, but can prove just as useful.


You are also given a number of options on the right hand side of the liquify window. You can change the brush size, and the amount of pressure. Being able to find the right size and pressure will give you an unbelievable amount of control when you liquify the sketch. Options

Erase, Redraw

After some chopping and liquefying, you’ll certainly find things you can’t change using the previous methods. Also, some details may get extremely messy. The best way to modify these parts is to just use Photoshop’s eraser and pencil tool. Create a new layer on top of the original drawing so you can easily delete, move, and swap these digitally drawn modifications. Select a color such as dark blue, that will look slightly different so you have an idea what to change. And draw. It may be a bit tough with a mouse, or with a tablet if you’re not used to it, but keep in mind we are just creating a rough draft to be inked over later. Just as long as you can see how your ideas will look before it is finalized with the inking process, you should be fine.

Copy and Paste

Never underestimate the power of copy and paste. You can take a detail that is used repetitively, such as buttons on a coat, multiple knives, or other details. You can take the copy, move it around using the transform options explained earlier, distort it using the liquify options, and do whatever. It will make similar objects look more consistent.

Composition Process

This is a broad look at how I go from an idea to a finished drawing.
It involves software and a little imagination.
Perhaps it will help you build a structure to creating a
work, or maybe it will scare you into avoiding structure altogether.
In any case, this is how I do it.


Step one--Doodle

(click to zoom)

1. Doodle an Idea.


Okay, so you’re going along your day’s business, and suddenly some idea
hits you for a composition!  What to do? What to do?


Stop, soldier!  Find the nearest piece of paper and pen, and
doodle it.  Don’t focus on the details or the proportions!
Try and convey your idea on your doodle before the entire
composition disappears from your head.


If you aren’t an artistic prodigy, it may not look like a masterpiece
yet.  Oh well,
this is just the idea for a future drawing.

2. Plan the Details.


you put those important details into your original doodle.  Or
perhaps you come back to the doodle and decide to place several details
into it.


I, however, made a second doodle after the first one.  As you
can see here, I made a few modifications to the pose as well.


But in this stage, you can focus on the clothes, jewelry, perhaps even
the way the eyes will look, or the laces of a boot.  Whatever
is important for you to have in your final piece.


But, remember,
things can always change when you finally start your work.  
don’t get caught up here.

Plan Clothes

(click to zoom)


(click to zoom)

3. Draw a Skeleton.


Start your sketch.


Drawing a basic skeleton is very useful in trying to get the entire
composition to work together.  Lay down the foundation before
you start putting the chimney up.


First of all, this helps you get the composition as large as you can on
whatever material is your canvas, but without going off the edge where
you intend a part of it to go.


As well, it helps you get the proportions correct.  Imagine
drawing the perfect toes on a foot, only to realize the entire foot is
too big.  These glaring disproportions may stand out before
you put the details into your work.

4. Sketch in the Details


So, you have that skeleton laid out just the way you
want it.


Start putting the details with a pencil.  Put some meat on
them bones!


If something you draw doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to erase it
and try again, or completely go against your original doodles with your
new ideas for certain details.  Make sure it feels right to


Done?  Okay.  Put the drawing down, and come back to
it another time–give it an hour or a day.  Come back and see
if you still like what you’ve done.  Maybe when you were
focused, something really looked better than it really does as you
glance at the picture with a fresh mind.


(click to zoom)


(click to zoom)

5. Linework


you feel your sketch looks too pencil-y?  


can take a new sheet of paper, and go to a lightbox or a window, and
carefully ink your work for your final composition.


Or, if you choose to do things digitally, you can use programs like
Flash, Photoshop, or free software like GIMP.


I inked my artwork using Flash.  You can see a tutorial on
that method here.

6. Color or Texture


Using whatever method you intended, add a splotch of color.
Or perhaps you’ll make your work black and white?
Or you’ll cover it in gradients like a manga?  It’s
your choice–however your composition looks best to you.


I imported my line-art from Flash and put it in Photoshop.  I
colored it using a method I’ll be sure to post later!


However, you could just as easily print out your line-art, or use the
line-art you drew by hand and color it with water colors, paints,
pastels, crayons, colored pencils.  However you want it to


(click to zoom)


Your methods are up to you.  If you feel you have something
better, or just something that works better for you, be sure to discuss
it with us on our forum!
Maybe you can add your own method as a tutorial here.


Practice Makes Perfect!

Practice Makes Perfect!

I’m sure that if any of you
are like me, you have gigabytes
of artistic Jpegs and art books lining your shelves of your favorite
from many different artists all over the world.
That is good.  As
your imagination
takes off on its own course, it’s great to know what you like.  That is inspiration for

A great exercise when you want to
doodle, or perhaps build
into a habit, is to go through different photographs, paintings,
drawings, or
any form of artwork.  While
through various pictures, focus in on parts you struggle with, or what
parts of
the composition you love.

If you are having trouble creating
the perfect eye, for
instance, look through pictures and focus in on the eyes.  If one in particular
catches your attention,
take a minute to draw it.  Set
the eye up
as if you were drawing it from scratch using your source of inspiration
as a
reference.  Perhaps
you’ll make changes
as you see fit—that’s a great sign of uniqueness.  Just don’t trace!  You won’t learn
much by tracing.    


And who doesn’t, at some point,
have trouble with
hands?  Knowing how
to treat each finger
and thumb while in different positions can take quite some time.  So, flip through pictures
and focus on hands
and make quick sketches.


This type of practice can even be applied to
more broad
topics such as poses.  You
can make a
sketch of a wire-frame skeleton (ie, a detailed, proportionally-correct
figure) of certain characters posing in different ways.


This method can be applied to practically

There are many ways to hone your
skills—copying others may
not fit your style, even if you’re not taking credit for

Just remember:
makes perfect!
 Or at the very least, it can get
you where you want to go.

Inking in Flash


Although Adobe Flash was never intended for this purpose (at
least I think not), you can use Flash to digitally ink still
drawings.  This actually makes a very, very clean line, not
much unlike that of professional anime.  It allows for you to
erase, copy, paste, and many other things analog ink just won’t allow
for.  Also, with this, you can skip a process in the inking
process, which is to retrace your own work…  as long as it’s
not too sloppy.

Scan in the image you
want to ink.  You can even take a digital picture of it with a
camera if you don’t have a scanner.  (Though it’s 10 times
easier to just buy a cheap scanner and scan it in.) 

Anyhow, you should
change anything you want to before you ink it.  This can be
easily done with Photoshop.  You can drag things around and
resize them.

Then import the picture
into Flash MX.  (File >> Import on Flash MX.)

You should resize the
work area in Flash to suit your picture’s needs.  This can be
done by clicking on the white work area, and clicking on the properties
tab.  Then click on the button next to “Size: “ 

Create a new layer
over the original sketch.  Make sure you select the new layer,
or the lines you draw will simply slide underneath the copy of your
original sketch.

Now, trace the
drawing.  Make sure you Smooth on the pencil options on the
bottom left, and change your pen width on the bottom in the properties.

I highly recommend using
a Wacom Tablet, or a similar product to trace.  Though a mouse
works alright, though much slower.

Don’t be afraid to press Undo, and don’t be too impatient to completely
redraw a complete body part.

3 (continued):
This took me well over
4 hours to trace up to this point. 

Try viewing the picture
without the picture in the background.

Delete the sketch
layer, once you are confident enough not to need it anymore.

Obviously, if we were
perfect, we wouldn’t need this step.  Even then, computer
error can come into play;  Flash likes to stick lines to other
lines, making things look very awkward.  This means you need
to micro-manage.  Zoom in and drag things around.
Look at everything that looks even slightly weird.

Here I am dragging the dragon’s
arm up.  I did this by selecting the black cursor on the tools
menu, and held shift while I select all of the pieces to his
arm.  Then, I just clicked and dragged up.  After
that, you need to do some simple erasing and extending.

5 (Continued):
Here, I have copied
the wing, by holding shift and selecting it like my last example, but
instead of moving it, I just copied and pasted it.  Then it
was a simple matter of inverting it and rotating it (Using the Free
Transform Tool,) then erasing the portions that overlapped.



Once you feel that you
have completed the drawing to the best of your abilities, publish
it.  Make sure you edit the Publish Settings first.
(File >> Publish Settings.)  Uncheck the Flash
and HTML types, but click on the JPEG.  Then click on the JPEG
tab in the upper left-hand corner, and change the quality to 100%.

Now print it, color it
on Photoshop.  Whatever you want.

Flash can also be used for
many other things, like actually sketching a rough draft, inking, and
coloring.  But that’s not something I have ever
tried.  That’s a technique from
Alpha Shade
comics, whom gave me the idea to try this out.  (The technique
on this tutorial was completely made by me, though.)


Female Body


The Torso

triangle1.jpg (38232 bytes)

The Triangle TrickAn interesting rule I
have learned not too long ago is to invision an upside-down triangle when you’re drawing
the torso.  The sides should be twice the size of the base.  This helps
you with a couple of areas in the torso.Point A, at the corner of the triangle’s base should be the point of the shoulder.
That should be where the shoulder bone ends.  (Though, like in my example, the
arms can move out a bit more.)

Point B, about 3/5 the way down the side, should be where the hip ends, and the
body starts to move towards the waist/buttocks area.  (If you’re laughing at me
writing “buttocks,” grow up.  ^_^  Ok, I laughed, but still…)

Point C, the tip of the triangle, is where the crotch begins.

Of course, these points can be mirrored to the opposite sides.  And this can be
used at a 3/4 angle of the body.  You just have to skew one of the angles towards the

Note: This is only to be used as a guide for the female torso.
Remember–a woman’s body is supposed to have no straight lines; only curves.

shoulders2.jpg (19861 bytes)

The ShouldersThe shoulders are a simple thing to draw
as long as you keep one thing in mind, as I have said earlier.  There are no straight
lines.  The shoulder curves out from the neck, and, depending on the pose, may bump
back up a bit and roll down on to the arms.If the length of the shoulders is short, this generally creates the look of a child,
while lengthening the shoulders can make the character look more mature.

Also take note of the collar bone.  It can be shown in several ways, such as two
lines on the left, or the two lines and curve on the right.

shoulders.jpg (22147 bytes)

BreastsAre the breasts really the holy
grail of drawing a sexy character?  Of course not completely, but drawing them right
has always been a trouble for many artists.  Expecially men.  (Including me ^^)
Maybe they feel perverted practicing drawing them?  Or possibly they’ve never
seen any.  *Cough Cough*
bossoms.jpg (21992 bytes) When somebody thinks of breasts and anime at the same time,
they think…  big…  (Not that it’s a rule…  I’ve seen plenty of good
characters without them.) So, when drawing large breasts, keep gravity in mind.  Even
when you consider the bra on, they are not a perfect half sphere off the chest.  Some
people may argue that is the style of manga.  I argue it’s that some artists just
claim it to be.  The breasts start off at a base, normally the same no matter the
size.  Gravity pulls down the fat the same way old me without any necks have,
umm…  do you really want me to finish that?The main point being…

b.gif (17764 bytes) The base starts below the armpit area.   In fact, the
breasts grow from the armpit line.  There is also a space between the two
bases.  Remember that.  From the base, the fat of the breast expand in ever
direction, but mostly downward.Of course, when you consider putting a bra on your
character…  (I hope you do dress her…)   A portion of the gravity could be
pulled back, so the end result would be somewhere between my bad and good example.

raised.jpg (17539 bytes)

When the arm is raised, such as in the figure on the left,
this will illustrate how the breast grows from the armpit line.  This also pulls the
breast upward.As for the figure on the right…  As I’ve said before, the bra is
there to support the breasts.  Hopefully, you will be dressing your character.
The bra pulls the two together to create the pressed together look as on the right.
It also pulls up, creating less of a hanging effect.
bra.jpg (21590 bytes)

seventen.jpg (20416 bytes)

The Seven-Ten GuideIt’s a fact of
psychology that men generally regard women with a hip to waist ratio of 7 (hip) to 10
(waist) as being “sexy.”  Ratios like 8 (hip) to 10 (waist) work
well.  I wouldn’t recommend going below 6, because than she looks anorexic.Please, don’t get out a ruler.  It’s just a guide so you can just
guestimate.  There are more important things to worry about, such as the face of the

And while I’m here, I may also point out that, yes…  there is a space between
the two legs.  The crotch is something people beginning to learn about artistic
anatomy forget, not jsut on female bodies, but male bodies as well.

buttocks.jpg (14812 bytes)

ButtocksLike from the front view, you can
also see the 7-10 figure on the back.Now, think in terms of 3-Dness.  The buttocks is coming out of the normal plane,
so it will overlap near the bottom where gravity is pulling down on it.  Also note
that you can see part of the crotch.   The legs branch out near where the crotch
meets the buttocks    (o_O Getting a bit graphic here, eh?)

back.jpg (17607 bytes) The back viewYou shouldn’t just conquer
the front of a character design.  The back, as well as the side, is just important if
you’re trying to express a scene in your picture.  As mentioned above, you can still
see the seven-ten figure on the back, and the triangle trick works just the same.
The difference is…  it’s the back.  You basically draw the body in the same
way, except you don’t put breasts on it.  (I hope you knew that before you read what
I just wrote.  o,o)There are a few lines to signify bumps on the back.  Mainly, they’re simplified to
the spine and the shoulder blade.

side.jpg (19269 bytes) The Side ViewThe side view is a bit
strange.  It follows it’s own rules.  However, even on the side, you can make
out the distict hourglass shape of the body.  Not only does the waist become concave
on the front view, but the side view as well.I can’t think of many more tips for the side view, because it becomes something you
learn over time and practice.  Try drawing the sideview like the one shown, and make

The Legs

legs.jpg (20201 bytes) Legs, straightThe legs can be split into
three parts; the thigh (top of the leg), the calves (lower part), and the feet.
Proportional-wise, the calves are longer than the thighs.  Though sometimes in manga,
the two are exactly the same.  It may be some type of a style issue.With the legs, there are plenty of curves you must learn to get right.  The side
profile of the leg has a much more curvaceous figure than the front view.  On the
calves, there’s a larger amount of fatty tissue towards the knees.  On the thighs,
the curve is not as noticible than on the calves.  The knees can simply be a slight
depression. Don’t make it look like the legs have just been near strangled to death.

legsbent.jpg (18270 bytes)
The legs, bentWhen drawing bent knees,
such as the figure on the left, it’s important to consider how the legs are actually 3-D
objects.  The knees create the end to an imaginary three dimensional box, with
rounded edges.  The knee will not bend like a gummy worm; it has corners like a box.
ex.jpg (15474 bytes)

foot.jpg (17518 bytes)

The Toe

toe.jpg (12154 bytes)

The Bare FootYeah, yeah…  it’s a
foot, so what?  Ah, yes, but it’s harder to draw then you may think.  It’s about
as curvaceous as the rest of the body.  Just look at your own foot when I describe
every crook and nanny.  It’s actually rather complicated.  Then try to draw it.The foot sort of branches out from the leg.  It slopes down at a slight angle,
increasing more until you get near the toes.  On the bottom of the foot, you have the
calcaneus bone, which is that large bump at the back of your foot.  Above it is the
ankle.  On the side facing in towards the body, there’s a large pyrmaid shaped bone.
On the opposite side–the side facing away for your body,–is a smaller pyramid
that is lower down the foot than the larger one.  The foot isn’t flat, obviously.
The foot becomes concave and curves inward towards the foot.

And the toe is something you must think twice about.  It’s not simply stubs coming
off the foot.  The toe, like the finger, bends in 3 joints.  The first is a
little bit off the toenail, followed by one about 1/3 the way down from the first.
And finally, there is one that connects the toe to the foot.

The Arms

armstr1.jpg (20000 bytes)

Arms, straightIt’s important to see the
shape in the arm.  It’s actually much more simple when you look at it as two ovals
rather than a mass of flesh around a bone.  (Though, it’s better to think of it as
both.)  Draw two ovals over your basic outline of the character.  The upper arm
is a bit thicker than the lower arm.  And the lower arm is half an oval, with the
other side sloping down slightly to connect to the hand.  This gives you a good base
to work off of.Remember, if the arm looks too thick, you can always redraw parallel lines and erase
the extra.  A child’s arms are chubby, but a full grown, slender woman more along the
lines of longer, thinner arms.

armbent.jpg (14455 bytes)

Arms, bentFor the bent arms, I used the
same process as the straight, I drew two ovals as the base.   Now, when looking
at the arms from this angle, there’s generally a little mound on the outward side of the
arm that forms due to the squeezing the muscle and fat as the arm is bent.  Also, the
elbow isn’t a perfect half-circle, nor is it a box.  It’s a bit of both, going down
at a straight angle where the bone is, and curving around.

HandsExpect a hands tutorial to be up
within a few weeks.  It will be too large to fit in this little box.  For the
mean time, take a look at Wynd’s gallery of hands.  It’s
a good source of hand models to draw.


Drawing Hands

If there’s anything that any artist has troubles with when he or she first
starts drawing, a large amount of them would have to say
“Hands.”  And with good reasoning–the hands look different from
almost every angle, and are so technical.   Luckily, you and I have two
good models to pose for you when drawing, your left and right hand.  (If
you don’t have two hands and you’re drawing, more power to you.)
Although for most people, drawing and looking at their hands at the same time
is pretty hard.  If you have a simple digital camera you can use that, or
you can look for the pose you’re trying to draw on Google.

of the Hand

handbig.jpg (23691 bytes)

The hand is a bit complicated in that each finger moves in
3 joints.  But even with the fingers straight, it’s a bit
complicated.  The following is an example of one of my early drawings
and what I had to overcome in only 2 years.

bad.jpg (14178 bytes) ß

Granted, that’s in pen, and my example to the left is in pencil, I have
learned many things over the years.  It is stuff that is so obvious, you
normally wouldn’t think about it when drawing.

First off, where the palm of the hand ends, and where the fingers begin is
normally the halfway point, when the bottom of the palm and the top of the
middle finger is the whole object.  So, the middle finger is about as
tall as the palm.

Secondly, each finger is a different size.  It tends to be that the
middle finger is the largest, and the pinky is the smallest.  However,
the ring finger and the index finger are different sizes depending on the
gender.  If the person is male, the ring finger is larger, though if the
person is female, her index finger is the larger.

And finally, take some time on the hands.  Try to make the fingers
look realistic.   If they look too fat, then take the time to make them
look right.  Partly, the hands take time and practice to draw right, but
that hard work really pays off.

Step by Step

When you draw hands, it’s easier to use models as your reference.
Models can be found anywhere from internet searches to your own two
hands.  The references I use below come from Wynd‘s gallery of hands.
(Thanks for letting me use it.)

Step Easy Example Harder Example
Step 1:

Find a reference to work off of.  It can be a photo, somebody else,
or even your own hands.  Pictures are generally easier to find and
easier to use.

Step 2:

Stake out the grounds.  Create the basic shape of the hand.
Don’t try for detail, but rather, proportions and size.

Step 3:

Using the sticks drawn in the previous step, extend the lines to
approximately their boundaries.

Step 4:

Build off of the base you created.  Pay close attention to the detail
of every line in the actual source and try to recreate them.  You may
end up erasing every original line, but that’s a good sign.  Spend
most of your time on this step.

Step 5:

Work off of that rough sketch.  Ink it, color it, whatever.


Take your time, and you’ll get where you want to go.  It takes a lot of
skill and years of practice to become good enough to not need a reference.
No tutorial will help you with that.  Just doodle hands every chance you
get and you’ll learn enough about hands to draw them with ease.  Just keep
a big eraser nereby.

Drawing Hair

When I began drawing way back when…  one problem I
had frequently was hair.  For some reason, I couldn’t draw it correctly.
When I did, it looked completely messed up.  So, here I am to spread my
mountain of knowledge I have gained on to you, my fellow friends, artists, and
of course, the people who randomly clicked here and have no idea what’s going

Common Mistake

you can see I set out two examples.  The example on the left is what
somebody starting out at drawing may do.  It’s a common error to not
consider how high the skull actually goes. 

As I have mentioned in other tutorials, the
top of the eyes are generally half way up the head, so if you take the distance
from the top of the eyes to the chin, that’s also the distance from the top of
the eyes to the top of the head.  Then, the hair should be layered over
that, not going inside the area where the skull should be.  This is only
common sense until you actually start doodling.

So, always keep in mind where the skull
is, otherwise your character may have no room for a brain.


Other common mistakes

Another mistake beginners, and even some more
advanced artists make is how they develop the hair.  Some people start
drawing strands of hair until they have the image of the hair.  What you
should do is plan it out, make an outline, and then start drawing the strands.

A mistake in my book, albeit more an issue of
style, is drawing each individual hair.  In sketches, this works nicely,
but when it comes to coloring, it does not work out too well. Anime, as well as
any other cartoon style, draws hairs in tufts and strands.  That way you
can color and shade inside of it.

One last mistake, one that I made in that
sketch up there, is that you should vary the width of hair strands and tufts.
Hair should come from every where.  Take a look at some

professional anime
to get a good idea what I mean. 

And now the hair!

I could give you step by step instructions on
how to draw hair, but that’s near impossible with all of the different styles
and flavors.  (Flavors with hair?  Why not?)  I would still like
to stress that drawing is acquired by practice and not something you can really
teach.  (Only aid in teaching.)  So, I’ll show you some common types
of hair designs.  Keep in mind I drew these with a sharpie marker to show
up easier, so I couldn’t erase anything.


We’ll start with the boys hair since
it’s easier.
Generally, it’s become the norm
to draw boys hair in big, spiky tufts.  This started way before
Dragonball Z.  (Though too many people associate it with that.)
Now, basically, you have a matter of where to part
the hair.  In this example, the hair is parted in the center.
Here, the hair is parted from the
right.  Also notice how the tufts are shaped in this one.  The
hair has corners and looks kinda jagged.  It can help describe a
character’s personality.
This one is parted from the left.
It’s made as though the hair on his left all visited the right.
This extreme hair-parting shows a character’s coolness, and is also
kinda fun to draw.

There are some exceptions to the rule, but even
the exceptions still resemble it like Keitaro from Love Hina.  (This
Keitaro, not this one  …even though
they both have kinda spiky hair.) 

Ok!  time to break.  Take a deep breath, now.
And if all of this black and white is getting you depressed, here’s some



*note*  I didn’t draw the back of the hair in any of
these, just the front.

With Girls hair, it’s harder to draw
but more fun to draw in weird styles.  Here we have a generic
style.  It would be good for a main character or somebody with a
conservative attitude.
The more separate hair, the more
wild the character appears as.  Also notice the antennas…
for some reason, that’s a very popular trend recently in manga.
Also notice how the bangs just stands up for about
half an inch in the front.  I don’t really know how they would do
that in real life without some kind of a band, but some characters get
away with it.
With this character, she actually
has something to hold up the hair.  Jewelry can be added to the
hair for a royal appearance…  or a spoiled one.
This is an example of the hair being
pulled back.  When it’s like that, the hair seems to be in jagged
in step patterns down the hairline.  Free hair strands add to the
effect of realism in a sense.
A hat can push the hair aside
too–Tomboyish characters possibly.

So, in recap form!

  • Always keep in mind where the head ends and
    build the hair on top of that.
  • Know where you are going when you draw.
  • Vary the width of the hair strands
  • Create a hair style that adds to the

Bonus!  Try out your hair skillz with our
Practice Sheet! (22 kb, .gif image)