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

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Over the past few articles, we’ve been talking about how hair moves along with a character, and under the influence of all different elements like wind and water. Let’s continue the lesson today! Today we’ll be focusing mostly on how the hair looks when a character is touching or moving it.

Make sure you check out part one and two for lots more examples!

Part 1 

Part 2


Remember, we’re using the following key to show hair and body movement! Watch out for the pink arrows for body movement, and blue arrows for hair movement. We’ll point out special areas to focus on with green arrows!


Using a hairdryer

When using a hairdryer to dry our hair, we get a much stronger and more concentrated flow of air than we might get from natural elements like wind. So when using the dryer, we see a more select area of hair being affected. That one area moves very vigorously, whilst the rest of the hair might be relatively still.

Here we see the wet hair that’s still being dried, curled in the palm of the hand – the drier strands fly up at the back. This way, we can show the weight of different sections of the hair, and make our scene more realistic!

Pro tip!

Having the hair fly up at the back, regardless of the size of the bundle or strand of hair shows the strength of the hairdryer.


Playing with hair

When a character is absentmindedly playing with their hair or fixing their hair, we sometimes see them take up just a few strands with their fingertips. Let’s take a look at how the hair should look when picked up like this!

Here we see that the hair has been picked up and held just a little higher than the tip, and isn’t being pulled tightly. This means that the part of the strand higher up is hanging down, the part being held onto flicks up, and the very end of the strand curls downwards. Having the tip of the hair flicking up like that shows the hair to be springy and voluminous. Another point to look out for is the single strand of hair hanging down a little lower than the rest – this is a cute thing to add in, and gives the scene a touch of reality.

Pro tip!

Drawing the section of hair larger at first, and having it converge to a smaller point where it’s being pinched by the fingers will give the hair more volume!


Pushing back hair

A character will often lift their hair up or comb their finger through their hair when they’re either fixing their hair, or sometimes when they’re “scratching their head” in confusion, when they’re really thinking hard about something.

Because the character is running their fingers through their hair against the flow of the hair, we get little strands escaping between the fingers. Having the character tilt their head in the direction of their hand makes for a daydreamy kind of expression.

Pro tip!

Make sure to draw in all the stray strands escaping from between the character’s fingers. Those strands should come up and over the hand and fingers, and flow down again, following the same flow and curl pattern as the hair on the head.


The “hair flip”

The trademark move of a confident or narcissistic character – the hair flip! We see this in movies and TV too, and in anime, it will often be accompanied by a wink to top off the confident pose.

Here the key is elegance, so we want to have the character’s fingers spread out in an elegant way, and have them take just a small section of hair from the side of their face to flip back. This hair should be resting on the back of the hand as they flip it up and back.

Pro tip!

Have the hair flow smoothly over the character’s hand and arm for a stylish finish!


Washing hair

We talked about how hair looks when it gets wet last time, but that was more like a light soaking from the rain. What about in the shower? When the hair is soaking wet, it will cling to the skin and lose all its volume, and most of its curls, in the case of curly hair. When drawing a character shampooing their hair, we will usually have them either pull the hair to the side if it’s long, or push it back and lather it up on top of their head if it’s short.

When lathered up with foam, the hair sticks together into one bundle like in the above picture.

Yes, you probably won’t see many real people with long hair washing their hair like this… we’ll probably be flipping our heads upside down or tipping our heads back and lathering up more thoroughly. But in anime, the above kind of pose is very popular. Not only does it look reserved and cute, which are popular traits in anime girls, but it’s also handy for covering up the character’s body, with both the hair and their arms/hands to avoid showing too much.

Pro tip!

Having the hair spiral and flow round into one large twist, almost like a braid is effective when drawing long hair being shampooed.


Lifting hair up

This kind of pose might be seen when a character is stretching, or when they are pulling their hair out from inside their outer clothes after putting on a sweater or a coat. When this happens, the back of the character’s hair will fan out behind them. But unlike some of the other movements we’ve looked at, this is a very gentle motion, so try to have the hair curl around the shape of the character’s hands and arms, without flipping up too much.

When reaching back to flip the hair up, our characters’ elbows raise right up, and they pull their chin up too. This pose can be somewhat sexy when used in the right scene!

Pro tip!

The hair should curl inwards at the tips as it settles around the shape of the character’s hands and arms.


So how did you find today’s movements? Be sure to look over each of them and practice them in your own work!

Next time we’ll be looking at even more movements – this time focusing on action and battle scenes. It’s going to be lots of fun, so don’t miss it!

And don’t forget to check out parts one and two of this series here:

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

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


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