How To Draw Anime Hair

Hair is a very complex subject to draw because it is like a substance that can take many forms. Because of this, manga artists have developed a special method to simplify hair. In the manga or anime, you design your hair as a volume or fabric. This way it can be drawn quickly, with exaggerated shading that disguises the lack of detail.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw different styles of manga hair: straight hair, wavy hair, braids and short hair. I’ll also explain the method behind it, so you can design your own anime hair styles from scratch. Before you start, be sure to check out our previous anime drawing tutorials:

1. How to draw anime hair

First, let’s examine the method by which anime hair is drawn. Once you get it, you can create your own anime hairstyles without any help!

  1. The hair is not supported on the skull. Always start by setting a distance just above your head and design a simple helmet like this:
  2. Then, sketch a simple sketch of the hairstyle. How much time? What is your general shape? In this way, you can see the effect that the hair has on the composition before actually drawing it.
  3. The hair must reveal the face in some way. Draw the outline of the bangs or move the hair to the side.
  4. Now sketch the inner contour of the hair. Think of the hair as a single mass and mark its edges.
  5. Then find the secondary rhythm in the hair. Mark it with lines and curves. The less the better.
  6. Sketch the rhythm lines and create hair strands.
  7. Finally, draw additional lines that repeat the rhythm, simulating the spaces between the thinner threads.

2. How to draw straight anime hair

Let’s see how to put this method into practice to draw anime straight hair step by step!

  1. Draw the “helmet” to mark the distance to the head. Straight hair is generally not very bulky, so you don’t need to add a lot of space.
  2. Draw the basic shape of the hairstyle. Straight hair goes down. The only curve appears where the hair falls on the shoulders.
  3. Draw the fringe. Our character will be cute and innocent with them!
  4. Now draw the inner contour of the hairstyle.
  5. Draw some secondary rhythm lines within the main outline.
  6. Complete the shape of the strands by drawing a line from the top of one rhythm line to just below the top of the other.
  7. Also add some lines of rhythm to the pony.
  8. By drawing extra lines between them, you will create beautiful thick threads.
  9. Separate the long strands of hair in the same way.
  10. The guidelines are ready, so let’s get to the main design! Copy the rhythm lines along the strands to make them more detailed.
  11. Outline the entire shape of the hair.
  12. Sketch the fringe. Keep your lines clean and safe!
  13. Sketch the inside of the hairstyle.
  14. Sketch the ends of your hair. Avoid sharp points.
  15. Copy a few rhythm lines at random to the main outline.
  16. Emphasize the edges to create some contrast between the hair outline and the detail lines.
  17. Add more detail lines as needed.

It’s over! Of course, there are many styles of manga, and not all require the same level of detail. You can always change this method to get the style you want. There are many shortcuts you can use to further simplify this style!

3. How to draw wavy anime hair

They know how to draw straight hair. Now let’s learn how to draw wavy anime hair step by step!

Bonsai Trees

Although a wavy hairstyle can look quite bulky at first, it doesn’t add much space to the top (of course, you can modify it for an over the top effect!).

  1. Draw the outline of the hairstyle. Wavy hair doesn’t give in to gravity so easily!
  2. Split the hair in front and reveal the face.
  3. Draw strands of waves on the sides of the face.
  4. The upper part is usually straighter due to the weight it supports.
  5. Draw the bottom with more curves.
  6. Sketch the strands and make them thicker on the way up.
  7. Draw another wave to the side.
  8. You can make the wires more detailed by distributing them:
  9. When you have the main transparent wires, add some pieces here and there. This creates a nice, overlapping appearance.
  10. Those were the guidelines. We can now draw the last lines on it. Start with the top of the head.
  11. Draw the waves. Add a lot of overlap!
  12. Emphasize the contour of the hair …
  13. You can accentuate parts of the lines to simulate shadows where the strands intersect.
  14. If you want to add more details to the hair, you can add lines that follow the rhythm.

However, be careful when drawing these lines inside the waves – they can look very heavy with long lines. Instead, try to pick up your pen from time to time to make the lines less continuous.

All done! Of course, you may want to simplify some of the steps. A wavy hairstyle can be designed with very few lines if you shade correctly.

4. How to draw anime braids

Braids are a very popular hairstyle for beautiful anime girls! Let’s see how to draw anime braids step by step.

  1. As the braids pull the hair on both sides, you can already mark two “humps” at this point.
  2. Sketch a beautiful long bang that surrounds your face.
  3. Mark the hair ties on the sides.
  4. Mark the rhythm of the braids. In anime, they tend to be very bouncy and defy gravity in some ways.
  5. Sketch the spirals of the braids.
  6. Transform this coiled wire into a coiled ribbon with some contours:
  7. Add similar coils on the sides to add volume.
  8. Draw cute ties on the ties.
  9. That would be the end of the guidelines! Last line time. Outline the main part of the hair.
  10. Sketch the arches. Make sure to keep them behind your head.
  11. Sketch the curls.
  12. Add a few lines of details, if necessary.

Accentuate the edges. As this hairstyle is very exaggerated, it works better on thick lines than the others.

It’s over! Although these curls are not very realistic, they blend perfectly with the anime style.

5. How to draw anime short hair

Finally, let’s take a look at the classic short anime hair that works for both girls and boys. Follow me to learn how to draw short anime hair step by step!

  1. Short hair can be very bulky at the top, as it is not pulled down by its own weight. Feel free to add lots of space here!
  2. Carefully close the hairstyle behind your head.
  3. Sketch the pony’s pace.
  4. Sketch the rhythm of the strands on the sides. Keep them slightly random for a messy look.
  5. Connect these wires.
  6. We’re done with the guidelines! Now draw the final outline of the hairstyle upwards.
  7. Go around all the strands by adding some details as you go.
  8. You can add some detail lines to the wires.
  9. Since this hairstyle is very stylized, don’t be afraid to use thick lines here.
  10. Our short anime hair is ready!


B. How to draw and color anime hair

Artist Hyanna Natsu shows you how to draw colorful hair inspired by anime in this text and video tutorial! Learn what “makes” an anime-style haircut and how to give it a beautiful shine!

  1. Manga Art
  2. Anime art
  3. Character design
  4. Video tutorial
  5. Illustration

Hair is one of my 5 favorite things to draw and dye, and this was also a very popular tutorial. I tried to add as much information as possible while the video is fun and full of tips! Nothing here is a strict rule and it’s mainly to show how I do things, so I hope you like it

1. Use references

It’s hard to draw things if you don’t check how they look in real life. So look for pictures whenever you get stuck! Not just anime drawings, but real people as well.

Where you ask There are many places. You can go to Pinterest, Instagram, DeviantArt, etc.! And if you think this is cheating, copying or theft, it is not. Every great artist uses references, so should you!

2. Shape and volume

Anime hair and eyes are often used to express a character’s emotions and personality. Therefore, they usually get more details than in real life. But this is drawing, so there are no complex rules for that! Let your hand flow and practice your creativity. Check out your favorite anime drawings. How do you feel about the hair?

  1. Straight black hair looks serious;
  2. while the soft locks are warm and inviting!

3. Drawing Tips

I’m starting to think only of the general outline, without paying attention to details: when drawing, only the general shape matters.

If you don’t know where the hair starts on the head, think of the skull and add some filler. A single line in the middle should be sufficient to represent this. You can make the upper part more complex by learning how the hair works.

It is also good to work with S curves. Even if the hair is straight, it can be a long open S, which makes the hair look light and fluid. With wavy hair, the S curves are more visible!

  1. For perfectly curly hair, I use a different technique. First I draw a pen and define the front part. So I duplicate this line shape.
  2. After that, I erase the lines on the back and stitch them together in a whole pen!
  3. You don’t have to draw all the threads like that (don’t hesitate if you want!). Some are enough to get the feeling you want, and the back can be simple in shape.
  4. Don’t be afraid to delete what looks wrong and try again. Even if it takes time, in the end it will be worth investing time in that part to get the right feeling.
  5. Another important tip is to work with long lines, not short chicken scratches. This will make your design look more polished and you will have less chance of hurting your wrist!
  6. Take breaks when you’re lost and look for new references to refresh your eyes. Make sure to leave them open when drawing. It will help a lot.

4. About Lineart

  1. Depending on the drawing, I will clean the sketch instead of making the drawing.
  2. By “tidying up”, I mean, I will erase the confused lines and examine them if necessary, which is different from a perfectly clean line. I feel it helps me to relax about the art and not worry too much about the details.
  3. There is no need to zoom in and touch your face on the screen to make sure the lines are perfect! To be completely honest, you are probably the only one who can identify your small flaws.
  4. The brush for the drawing can be the same as the sketch, but it depends on how you want it to look. I strongly recommend looking at standard brushes or checking Clip Studio assets. There are many fun brushes that you can simply download and use.
  5. At this stage, you can make the lines thicker where they will intersect or where there will be shadows. It gives more depth to your lines.

5. Shading

After adding the base color, define where your light source is. Do you remember your basic ball shading lessons? Do just that.

  1. To do this, create an overall shape with the shading color.
  2. After defining the general shape, you can polish to your liking.

But while you are still learning, there is no need to focus on shading. Go slow, within what you think is challenging enough for your current skills and, over time, make it complex! As you can see, there is some kind of backlight on the black that matches the gray on the white side. I usually put a little more color in my hair than I draw because it looks beautiful!

6. How do you choose the right color?

Short answer, there is no right color! Play around with them until you find what you like: try pink on blue, purple on green, orange on yellow and so on. Have fun! I wonder how not to make black and white hair look gray, purple, etc.

Using colors similar to the drawing environment will make the tone look correct. For example, if her shirt was red, I would add more shades of red to her hair. I usually use colors already in the drawing and play with them. Like that hair in a bluish-red room: there’s a little bit of every color in it.

However, if you’re working with complex hair like a rainbow or gradient, you can use Multiply Blend mode to overlay a new layer and test which colors work best without affecting the gradient.

8. Highlights

  1. This part is really fun and there are many ways to add shine to your hair.
  2. Yes, even white hair!
  3. I like to spray the color of the skin on the bangs. Then, when I add white highlights, it appears!
  4. If you don’t know which color to use, you can use the hair color, create a new layer, set the blending mode to add (shine) and add spots, triangles, lines, etc. Either way works. What suits your taste? Then use Hue and Saturation (Ctrl + U) to change the color to a suitable shade.
  5. When I add highlights, I also add messy strands. We all struggle with messy hair, right?

Another thing I like is to make eyelashes and eyebrows transparent. You can do this easily by blocking the linear layer and coloring it darker or lighter than the hair. Try it; It depends on the hair color you are wearing and whether your design is set to multiply or not.

9. Conclusion

Maybe even after this tutorial you are still not sure how to draw hair, but I don’t expect you to become a professional all of a sudden. As I always say, art takes time. So, at least take away this important point: use references! I can’t repeat this enough, but be sure to use them carefully. I don’t think you need a step-by-step guide to learn anything. Instead, try to understand things your way. As long as you enjoy what you do and face the challenges of life, you will grow as an artist! Practice is essential, but patience and passion open the door.

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