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Drawing the Details: Hair
The difficulty people often face when sketching
hair is that there is simply too much information.
It is impossible to draw every hair, and yet, how
else do you convey the texture and flow? How
do you get across the delicate, formless quality
and not end up with something that looks more
like a helmet?
There are so many different hair types – and different
ways of styling it – that every case has to be dealt with on
an individual basis. However, there are ways to simplify
what’s happening and various techniques for depicting
texture and body.

Things to Remember
 Sketch the overall shape of the hairstyle rather than
individual strands of hair.
 Let your mark-making follow the direction of flow and
describe the texture of the hair.
 Less is more: there will be areas of light and shade.
Sometimes, it’s enough to pick these out.
 Don’t forget the head shape beneath the hair. However
‘big’ the style, keeping the head in mind gives you form
and symmetry.

Posted by Search Press Published See Search Press's 272 projects » © 2024 Lynne Chapman / Search Press · Reproduced with permission.

You Will Need

  • Step 1

    SKETCHER’s corner seeing it
    1 Look for the overall shape of
    straight hair, which flows out and
    down from a central point on the
    parting line. 2 ‘Choppy’ hair is a
    mass of curves, but it is not totally
    random: sections of hair will flow in
    the same direction. 3 Natural
    African-American hair has a curly texture that does not flow; it is far
    more sculptural. 4 The ‘flow lines’
    in the linked sections of a plait
    travel in alternate directions.

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 2
    Step 2

    First marks to tonal sketch
    1 When drawing hair that goes in lots of directions, you
    need to build up a sketch, picking out the various shapes
    and flow lines.

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 3
    Step 3

    2 Hair is made up of lots of subtly
    different shades. It’s better to create the impression of
    brown: I have used tan and olive pencils alongside one
    another, with navy for areas where there is more shadow.

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 4
    Step 4

    3 Blend the watercolour pencils with a waterbrush. This
    will begin to give the sketch body.

    4 Make sure that the
    brush marks also follow the flow lines of the hair. It’s
    good to leave some white paper highlights where the
    hair is lightest, even if, in truth, it is a paler brown rather
    than white.

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 5
    Step 5

    Shading to Give Form
    A bob needs to be viewed as an overall shape,
    but the watercolour marks still follow the
    direction of hair flow. The build-up of shadow
    along the bottom lifts and rounds the bob. Note
    the touches of green and purple to gently
    dampen the yellows and oranges.
    Watercolour, rainbow pencil

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 6
    Step 6

    Hair Direction
    This long hair was curly and wayward despite
    the ponytail. Too many lines would have quickly
    become a mess, so I drew only those that
    described a change of hair direction. The dark
    shadows against her back, at the nape of her
    neck and at the hair tie act as a contrast, pinning
    the hair in place and preventing confusion.
    Sailor fountain pen, black ink
    When hair is very black, navy blue can be
    a more attractive colour for the shadows
    than black or grey, and it is less likely to
    obscure your mark-making

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 7
    Step 7

    The important thing to get right when drawing a
    plait is the angling of the sections up (or down)
    towards the middle. Note how the two sides are
    offset, with dark shadows where they meet,
    creating a zigzag shadow up the centre. The
    occasional pencil line for texture tells us it is hair.
    3B pencil

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 8
    Step 8

    Short Hair
    The top edge of the hair is indicated by a series
    of soft, grey marks, but what really tells us the
    shape is the deep shadow in front and into the
    parting. The unpainted areas between the two
    keep the hair soft and prevent it from becoming
    a solid object.

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 9
    Step 9

    The Head Beneath
    The tangled dreadlocks and the springy texture
    of the hair is suggested by the frenetically
    scribbled marks. Despite this anarchy, the shape
    of the head is followed through, remaining
    strong and clear.
    Sailor fountain pen, black ink, watercolour pencil,

  • How to make a drawing. How To Draw Hair - Step 10
    Step 10

    Mark-Making to
    Show Texture
    These four people had very
    different hair types. Though I
    have used the same pencil, the
    marks I have created are very
    different, so the four textures are
    clearly communicated.
    Rainbow pencil

    Note the greater intensity of marks
    at the neck, where the underside of
    the hair is in shadow

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