Skip to Content

How To Draw Hair: A Detailed Guide to Get You Started

How To Draw Hair: A Detailed Guide to Get You Started

how to draw hairWhen it comes to drawing, some things are simply a pain in the butt to do. There are people who love to draw, but completely strike out when it comes to drawing hands. The same thing happens for feet.

Some areas just require a little more thought than others. One of those areas is drawing hair. For some people, drawing hair ruins their drawings. We are here to help with that by giving you some keen insight on how to draw hair.

If you have ever found yourself struggling to draw hair, you might be wondering why. When you think about it, hair is just lines, right? That means it should be pretty easy, but for a lot of people it simply is not.

Drawing hair has a lot of contributing factors to keep in mind when it comes to success. However, that does not make it impossible. It just means that it takes a little extra work.

If you’re interested in drawing, check out our other drawing-related content:

Choosing An Art Style

When it comes to learning how to draw hair, you have to consider what style you want to draw it in. There is a huge difference between anime hair and realistic art hair. Knowing what you want from a style perspective will help you choose the best way to go about drawing.

Cartoons tend to have a lot less detail and a lot more shape to hair. Realistic drawings tend to have more texture and more layers to them. Knowing the difference will help you get started with the right type of hair.

When it comes to cartoon-style drawings, hair is generally more about the overall shape. This is why anime hairstyles are known for being so notoriously pointy. It is a stylistic technique that would likely never hold in real hair.

This gives the person drawing it more liberty when it comes to choosing a hairstyle. Generally, this style of hair has very little detail in the hair itself. It relies on normal lines to demonstrate what the hair is doing.

On the other hand, realistic drawings tend to rely on more realistic hair choices. They are usually in a smaller range of colors and textures. More importantly, they tend to have more than one color used for their design.

Putting cartoon hair on a realistic drawing is only good if that’s what you are aiming for. While it can be a stylistic touch, it will likely look out of place if you are not careful.

Choosing A Hairstyle

Before you begin drawing your hair, you will likely want to know what style you are aiming for. This is important because it will define the overall shape of the hair itself. A ponytail looks very different than someone wearing their hair down.

Picking a style and knowing what direction you are going can help it come together more smoothly. This will help you begin to outline the general shape of the hair before you begin filling it in.

When you are selecting a hairstyle, it can be helpful to choose from common hairstyles. When you first start practicing, the easier the hairstyle, the better. This will allow you to practice filling techniques without overcomplicating the process.

It is important to start with something small like straight hair to practice the techniques for perfecting it. This can then be used for more complicated hairstyles later on. It’s also a good way to get basic skills down or start practicing with hair motion.

Choosing A Color

The colors that you use when drawing hair are very important. Since hair is not generally one solid color, you will want to consider what shades add depth. You might want to use a light purple for the bulk and dark purple for shadows. The import thing to consider is knowing what colors you want to use. This can be an effective way to add texture when drawing your hair.

When learning how to draw hair texture, you will likely want to rely on various hues. This will help you to bring the hair to life. While you are drawing, it is helpful to use multiple colors to create a natural texture to the hair. This can look particularly stunning if you use colors for highlights.

For a more stark color contrast, you might test your skills at making ombre hair. This can help you work on blending techniques.

In the event you are only working in black and white, hair color still matters. You will be using a black pencil and the absence of it in white or gray. This will create those same textured effects without the need for more colors. Blending can be particularly effective for mimicking multiple colors in hair.

Using Images For Reference

Using images as a point of reference is an invaluable lesson in drawing. If you want to learn how to draw hair that looks realistic, the best way is to look at real pictures. Practicing with actual photos will help you learn the difference in lighting and texture.

This will give you perspective on where you need to put what. It can help with color changes, lighting changes, and overall shape. Mimicking is a great way to refine your skills.

If you want to understand the movement of hair, using pictures is a great method. Since models generally have their hair caught in some kind of wind, you can see how hair moves. This will help you to understand the bizarre shapes and rippling effects of hair.

That motion is what will bring your drawing to life. It also gives you perspective on how your person’s position impacts the way that their hair falls. This can teach you a lot about natural posing.

Looking at pictures will also show you the way hair interacts with the face and body. These images will show you natural ways hair can fall. It will show you the way hair lifts on a fluffy jacket or how it falls over the shoulders. This kind of focus will make you better at choosing where hair goes in your own drawings.

Understanding Hair Patterns

Hair is not just a bunch of lines on someone’s head. It might literally be a bunch of lines, but the texture itself is much more complicated. Real hair has layers to it that must be shown for a natural look. Since no one has a clean row of perfectly even hair, understanding the patterns in hair is important.

Hair falls in all kinds of strange ways and acts differently depending on style and product. Beyond this, there are simply different textures of hair.

Curly hair follows a different pattern than sleek and straight hair does. This is why you want to consider the texture at hand. If you try to draw straight hair but add curly texture, you won’t end up with what you wanted.

The shapes of hair changes the way that it will flow overall. Curly hair is also generally shown with more flyaways than straight hair. These details can make or break a picture.

Recognizing that hair follows unique patterns will help you learn how to draw hair quickly. Just because the majority of someone’s hair goes one way, that is not always the case.

Chances are that if their hair is waving, some of the waves are going the opposite way. Transversely, in straight hair there is likely at least a few waves. Grasping the complexity of hair texture will help you create a more realistic look.

Remembering That Hair Isn’t Solid

Unless someone is using serious product, hair is not usually solid. Depending on the positioning, light, and wind, hair moves a lot. This means that almost all hair has gaps in it. This might be smaller gaps that can be shown with shading. It might mean large gaps as hair blows in the wind. The important fact is hair isn’t one blob, but many strands instead.

Understanding that hair is mobile is huge when it comes to positioning. Recognizing that hair will not all move in a uniform way gives more complexity and life to a picture. It would be strange if your hair all moved in a solid block.

Instead, portions of hair move in sections while others get left behind. In motion, there will always be stragglers left between sections of hair.

Since most people don’t have perfectly smooth hair, flyaways can be a great detail add. Everyone you know has hair that does not do what the other hairs are doing.

Capturing this in a drawing is an excellent way to add a lifelike detail. It can make your drawing look more realistic, even if you only add a few. The sculpted imperfection of flyaways can be a great tool when drawing.

Creating Volume

An important thing to consider when learning how to draw hair is creating volume. Since most hair does not merely lie flat, understanding the volume of hair makes drawings more believable. This is an important tool when it comes to making your hair look realistic.

As a detail add, it can even tell a lot about your setting. For example, flat hair can be used to help demonstrate that a character is sweating.

Getting the volume of hair right is important for allowing space for hair texture. If you draw hair to be one flat layer, there is not going to be room to add in much detail. Recognizing that hair has a shape and volume of its own that takes up space is crucial. It will help you get the shape of your hair right so that you can add in the texture after.

Recognizing What Direction The Light Is Coming From

With any drawing, you want to consider the direction of the lighting. This is important for making sure that the coloring of the image is believable. It will also add a great and lifelike detail to your drawing. Since nothing is truly in light all of the time, you must account for that.

It is a great skill to understand how light will fall. This can change the shape of your drawings as well as the details. Lighting is another great tool for adding texture to a drawing.

Lighting can be particularly fun to play with when it comes to hair for a few reasons. First, lighting gives you a chance to make some areas of the hair glow.

This can be achieved through the use of color and can give a stunning overall effect. Using various shades to demonstrate the glow of light on hair is a powerful technique. It can make images seem more vivid and alive.

As a general detail add, lighting takes images into the next level. The use of lighting can convey emotion, time of day, or even complex setting details. Knowing how to use it effectively is a great way to bring your drawings up a step. When you use colors, you can create unique effects that are special to your drawing.


In order to get the most out of drawing hair, you have to pay attention to the details. When you think about hair as the very real thing it is, you can learn to manipulate it. If you want to succeed at this, work on adding too much texture before you dial it back. Messy hair is still more believable than completely flat hair.

Remember when it comes to hair, you want it to be realistic more than anything. If you have a beautifully detailed drawing but a single layer of hair, it is going to stand out. You want to avoid this by adding layers, texture, and color changes. This will help show your audience that the hair has a mind of its own.

Which drawing tip did you already know?

Drawing FAQ

How can I draw better?

Think about what you need to improve on. Focus on that, and keep practicing. Don’t be afraid to use reference to help you improve.

What do you draw when your bored?

Drawing things like patterns, trees, different hairstyles are all drawing exercises you can do when you feel bored.

How do you draw guy hair?

Get some reference of hairstyles you like. From there you can use the tips in this article.