Drawing hair: all you need to know to get started!

Hair is an area where many artists have issues, and anime hair might be one of the most nuanced and difficult areas of anime art. It’s easy to feel lost, or not know where to start. Follow the tips below, and you’ll be on the right track to drawing great anime hair!

The basics of hair

In today’s article, we’re going to be splitting the basics of hair illustration into three steps – “hair growth”, “different sections of hair”, and finally “hair length and type”. The way hair is drawn can vary greatly depending on all those different points.

Did you ever notice how most popular anime series will have main characters with drastically different hair styles? Like one with a short bob, another with long curly hair, and another with shoulder length straight hair?

In anime and manga, it’s a good idea to give all your main characters different hair styles that are recognisable from only their silhouette. This is an excellent, easy way to help make them memorable, and help your audience tell them apart in any situation!

Consider the origin of the hair to get the flow right

This is the key point to drawing natural, believable hair styles! Think about where the hair is starting from on the head – the hair “whorl” and the crown of the head. Before drawing in an hair, we need to decide where this origin point is on our character and mark it in! This will help us decide the position and flow of all the different sections of hair, and where the strands end up. Imagine the hair like long grass, sprouting from the crown of the head and flowing down the sides of the head.

Of course not all hair grows out from the crown of the head, so we just want to use this as a general guide for the overall flow of the hair!

Divide the hair into “sections”

This is something that is also very important in real life hairstyling – we must understand that the hair is made up of three main sections. Dividing the hair into these sections as we draw will help us understand how the hair flows down from the parting. The side section can blend in with the front section or the back section, depending on how the hair is styled, and whether it’s brought up behind the ears or not.

Draw the hair in bundles rather than individual strands

Strands of hair come together to form bundles

In anime illustration, we draw hair in bundles rather than drawing each strand separately. It’s also important to remember that the hair should not be glued down flat to the head – we want to give the hair room to breathe between “bundles”, to give the hair volume and movement.

What does hair type and length tell us about a character?

As I mentioned earlier, in manga and anime, we generally want our audience to be able to recognise our character from their outline alone! This helps make them a more memorable character. Hair forms a big part of a character’s all-important silhouette, so let’s take a look at some different types and styles.

Short・・・Bright, energetic and full of life

Bob・・・Energetic, cute, innocent and fresh-faced

Straight・・・Traditional, well groomed

Straight/long ・・・A “respectable”, ladylike image, serious and meticulous

Wavy・・・Fashionable and trendy. Longer wavy hair gives a more glamorous look

What does fringe length tell us about a character?

A・・・Friendly, bouncy, childlike

B・・・Can be used for any character – very adaptable

C・・・A side fringe makes for a more intelligent, sensible or well-grounded character

D・・・The more forehead we see, the more grown-up the character will look (if the character has no fringe, the front section of hair just parts and blends in with the main back section)

Here are today’s three most important points! Make sure to keep these in mind when drawing hair.

  1. Draw hair flowing down from the crown of the head, where the hair parting is
  2. Split hair up into the three sections we discussed – fringe, side section and back section
  3. Draw hair as bundles/tufts, rather than individual strands

Hopefully this has proved useful as an introduction to hair illustration! You’ll find lots more useful hair advice in our online course, so be sure to check it out!

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