How are different hair colours used in anime?

This magazine is brought to you by Anime Art Academy. Get professional tips on how to draw manga and anime here!

We talked about how different hair styles affect a character’s image, but did you know hair colour is another tool we can use to change how a character appears. Let’s talk about how all different hair colours are used in anime! This should help you when choosing the hair colour for your characters! We’ll use the same character and hair style, so you can see how hair colour alone can totally change a character.


Black

Black or dark brown is the natural hair colour of most Japanese people, so it gives a character a sensible, neat and tidy appearance. Adding more highlights to the hair will make the character look more grown up and elegant.


Brown

Brown is the next most popular hair colour for Japanese people to dye their hair, so it gives off a fashionable appearance. In contrast to the serious, sensible appearance of black hair, brown haired characters tend to be more bright and active.


Blonde

Blonde hair isn’t a natural hair colour in Japanese people, so blonde hair is often used on non-Japanese or half-Japanese characters, or on characters who are very fashion-conscious and flashy. You can adjust the tone of the blonde to finetune how the character looks.


Silver

White or silver hair is sometime seen in anime, and gives a character a cool and mysterious aura. Depending on the length and style, we can give the character an elegant and refined appearance with silver hair.

Another common use for silver hair is for fantastical characters like vampires who are hundreds or thousands of years old. A combination of red eyes, pale skin and silver hair will make a character look very vampiric!

Red eyes and silver hair are the sign of a vampire in manga and anime!

Blue

Blue hair is often seen on cool, intelligent characters. Darker blue will give off a serious image (very similar to black hair), and lighter sky blue can have a similar effect to silver hair, giving the character a mysterious or magical appearance. Pastel blue can be used on characters for a soft, daydreamy appearance.


Red


Firey red hair gives a character a strong, energetic image, and depending on their face and expression, a red-haired character can look aggressive.


Pink

Pink hair is very tone dependent – bright pink hair is often used on bright, peppy, friendly and energetic characters. Pastel pink is good for soft, cute, feminine characters.


Green

Green hair is often used on young, kind characters. The green colour is associated with nature, so it can give the character a sense of stillness, vitality and being at one with nature. In fantasy, we often see spirits or elves with green shades of hair. In more realistic settings, our green haired character might enjoy being alone, enjoying nature or reading books.


Ombre shades

Of course there are many more exciting shades of hair in anime, and with recent advances in digital art, ombre and gradient shades of hair are becoming more popular. Using the same colour and just tweaking the saturation towards the roots or tips will make for a nice natural finish, and using two totally different colours can give the character a colourful, flashy, and fantastical appearance.


Hopefully this article has helped you see how important hair colour can be in character creation! Use this as a guide to make sure to choose a hair colour that fits with your character’s personality! When watching anime, take a look at what hair colour each character has, and how it corresponds with their personality. Being aware and observant will help you develop your knowledge in this area!

Anime Art Academy is on Discord! Come and join our community!

Previous Story

Anime hairstyles for men: how does the hair we choose affect our character’s image?

Next Story

How to use real life anatomy to draw a perfect anime nose!