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How to Draw Different Textures of Hair

By Naomi Valdivia
Draw Different Textures of Hair

When drawing characters or portraits, sometimes the job will call for different textures of hair. Straight hair will be different from curly hair, and wavy hair will also be different. This article will help simplify how to create the illusion of different hair textures. You can apply the techniques of how to draw different hair texture to different lengths and styles. Practice the steps from this article and it will become second nature.

Good reference photo of long, straight hair. Image copyright: Bizior

Start with a general shape. This will depend on how long the hair is and how thick. A great way to begin practicing drawing the different textures of hair is to have reference photos.

Overall shape.

Notice the light and how it affects the weight of the hair. Use different line weights to give the contour of the hair more character and volume. A harder pencil is best for this step.

Texture.

Fill in spots with texture, which in this case would be long straight vertical lines going in the direction of the hair. You do not need to fill in the whole shape with this line work, only in spots. Leave where the highlights of the hair would be, blank. Put more texture where the shadow would be. A softer pencil works great for shadows and creating different line weights.

Good reference photo for wavy hair.

Start with a general shape. This will depend on how long the hair is and how thick. Once again, it helps to have a reference photo. The shape for wavy hair will be bigger than the shape that was drawn for straight hair. A harder pencil works best for step one and two.

Notice the different line weights.

Notice the light and how it effects the weight of the hair. Use different line weights to give the contour of the hair more character and volume. Make sure that you are drawing in an organic, fluid, wave shape, not in straight lines.

Whimsical lines.

Fill in spots with texture, which in this case would be wavy, very whimsical lines going in the direction of the bottom of the hair. You do not need to fill in the whole shape with this line work, only in spots. Leave where the highlights of the hair would be, blank. Put more lines where the shadow would be. A softer pencil works great for shadows and creating different line weights.

Good reference photo for curly hair.

Start with a general shape. This will depend on how long and big the hair is. Once again, it helps to have a reference photo. The shape for curly hair will be bigger than the shape that was drawn for straight or wavy hair, ounce for ounce. A harder pencil is best for this step.

Create an interesting shape.

Notice the light and how it affects the weight of the hair. Use different line weights to give the contour of the hair more character and volume. Make sure that you are drawing in an organic, fluid, wave shape, not in straight lines.

Create volume by putting weight on your pencil.

Fill in spots with texture, which in this case would be very curly lines. You do not need to fill in the whole shape with this line work, only in spots-especially where the shadow is. Leave where the highlights of the hair would be, blank. A softer pencil is best for this step and step 4.

Fill in spots with tonal shadow and mid tones. For very curly hair, take your pencil and use the side of the lead to create tonal shading. This will fill in a lot of texture without having to draw curl after curl. Leave highlights unshaded or lightly shaded with light texture.

Tip

Touch different textures of hair to get a tactile understanding of the way it grows out.

About the Author

Naomi Valdivia is an illustrator, designer and crafter who began writing professionally in 2008. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in communication arts from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.