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)


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