How does a character’s movement affect the way their hair moves? Part 1

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Today we’re going to be looking at a very important aspect of hair illustration. That is, how does the hair react to the way a character’s body is moving? This is actually a super important part of drawing hair, and can totally change the atmosphere of a scene!

Let’s take a look at some different movements, and how the hair reacts to them.

We’ll be using the following colours to represent body and hair movement, so look out for pink arrows for body and pink for hair!


Running (happy)

When a character is running, the hair should bounce up in the air around the character’s head and shoulders.

The above image shows the hair bouncing quite dramatically up and down, which lets us know that the character themselves is also bouncing – this works really well to show a character running along or skipping in a happy way. See how the movement of the hair can even tell us about the character’s mood? That’s why it’s super useful to learn!

Pro tip!

When drawing a character moving up and down in a skipping motion, try having the hair curve inwards at the tips – this will make it look extra bouncy!


Running (fast)

When a character is running with more urgency, we see the hair moving like the above image. Because the character is dashing forwards, the hair flows out behind the character, blown back by the air resistance. It’s normal to see the hair fly up to around the height of the character’s eyes in this case.

Pro tip!

Drawing the tips of some of the higher strands of hair flicking up and out will add to the sense of speed and velocity!


Falling (facing upwards)

We often see dramatic fall scenes in anime, and getting the hair right will add to the feeling of motion. Here our character is facing upwards as they fall, so the hair is being blown upwards in the complete opposite direction of the fall.

When a character is falling face-up, the hair is in disarray and there is more space between all of the strands in comparison to when a character falls face-down.

On the back of the head, we get a parting all the way down to the neck, as the hair is divided and pulled upwards by the wind.

Pro tip!

Don’t forget to draw the bangs in between the two larger sections of long hair!


Hanging head

When a character is hanging their head and looking down, we see the hair hang like this. For longer hair, the hair forms arch shapes where the hair is still slipping down from the shoulders. The way the strands droop and hang can help to add to the dejected or sleepy mood of a character.

Remember that as the head hangs forwards, the fringe/bangs will follow the pull of gravity and hang away from the forehead. Make sure not to have the fringe cling to the forehead, or it will take away from the soft appearance of the hair.

Pro tip!

The way the hair is hanging off a woman’s shoulders makes a slightly dishevelled that look can appear sexy and feminine, so it is often used in sexy scenes!


Jumping

The hair has three main states when a character is jumping – at the point where they’re throwing themselves upwards, the point where they’re at the top of their jump, and the point they’re dropping back down to the ground. However, for each one of these “stages”, we should see plenty of movement and bounce in the hair, all the way to the tips!

Drawing in some stray strands of hair among all of the main sections as they fly up to the sides and above the character, and curl up and in at the back, will add to the sense of movement.

Pro tip!

At the apex of a jump, the character achieves a sense of weightlessness, and the hair kind of “hangs” in the air as it is – fluffed up and out in all directions!


We hope you found these studies of different hair movement helpful. This time we covered characters running, falling, hanging their head and jumping, and next time we’ll be going through even more types of movement in part two… so watch this space!

How does a character’s movement affect the way their hair moves? Part 2

How does a character’s movement affect the way their hair moves? Part 3

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