How to draw hair in action scenes 

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Action scenes are a huge part of many anime and manga series. Getting the movement of the hair right in these scenes will really add to the drama and believability of a scene! When a character hits or takes a hit, for example, the movement of their hair can help add velocity and show the power behind the hit. So let’s take a look at some common moves from action scenes, and see how the hair should be moving in each!

Remember, you can learn more about hair and movement in our series of articles below:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


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! Special pro tips will be indicated with green arrows.


Punching

When punching, the body moves lunges forward, and the air resistance pulls the character’s hair back, in the opposite direction of the punch. Think of it like wind blowing in the character’s face!

Here the character is looking right, towards the person they just hit, but their fist is coming directly towards us, so we want the hair to be moving in the opposite direction, backwards and directly away from us.

Pro tip!

A great way to convey hair movement is to draw small strands of hair bouncing upwards at the back.

Now let’s see a punch from the side! Here we can see that like before, the character’s hair is reacting as if there’s wind blowing directly in their face. Their fringe is standing on end, and small tufts of hair are flying up all over their head to give a sense of action!

Pro tip!

Have the hair at the crown of the head swirl around in a spiral to show how the hair is raising up off the head.


Taking a hit

When the body takes a strong hit, the hair is also affected by the impact. As the character is thrown backwards, their hair raises and bounces up and out in the opposite direction to which their body is being thrown.

If you have the hair flow up and out into an almost straight line, you can really give the scene impact, and show the affect of a really strong hit!

Pro tip!

Like for the punch pose, think of it like a strong wind is hitting the character. The back, sides and fringe of the hair are all being pulled out to the front of the body.


Casting a spell

In anime, we often see attacks that aren’t necessarily physical, like magical attacks and spells. The more the hair and clothing billows up, the stronger the magical force will seem!

For characters with long hair, the key is to have the hair billow and stand up just enough to show the action, without actually breaking the overall shape of the hairstyle. Having parts like the fringe pushed upwards give the impression there’s a strange magical force working against gravity!

Pro tip!

For spell casting and magical attacks, think of the air/wind originating from where the character is casting the spell, and blowing out from that area. We also want to give the character an overall magical “aura”, so have the wind blowing their hair upwards, even at the back. Imagine it like they’re drawing power up from the earth!


Pushed back

When a character is thrown backwards by some attack, either magical or physical, we want their hair to be pulled up and out in front of their face (similar to the “taking a hit” pose above).

The fringe, side sections of hair, and bunches are all flowing forwards. When the force pushing the character is very strong, it helps to draw both small strands and large sections of hair bouncing up.

Pro tip!

When the hair is tied back in a ponytail or pigtails, however strong the attack is, we won’t usually see much action at the back of the hair. The hair is being gathered up and pulled into the ponytail, so there’s not much room for movement!


Powering up

This is a big one in anime, where “powering up” scenes are very popular, and usually pull a lot of focus. When talking about the spell-casting pose, I mentioned that we should imagine the character drawing some mysterious energy up from the earth, and the same is true here!

For a “powering up” scene, we want to show a strong upward force, pulling the hair upwards and defying gravity. For a character with a fringe, having that fully stand on end will really help show the force of the upward energy! Have all the hair, from the neckline to the tips of the hair flowing upwards in a relatively uniform way, as if the power is surrounding and cocooning them.

Unlike a strong wind coming from below, this magical energy is emitting from the character, so we want to have the hair kind of “float” upwards, with slightly less force and chaos than you might see with wind. Think of it as if gravity has suddenly ceased to function around the character!

Pro tip!

By having the hair flow up in an almost elegant way, you can give an impression of strength and confidence – showing the audience that character is fully in control of the force surrounding them.


I hope you enjoyed this series of lessons on hair and movement! Remember to practice all of the situations we’ve studied over the course of these 4 articles, so that you’re ready to use the techniques in your work.

See all of the other parts below, and don’t forget to join Anime Art Academy for more awesome tips!

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

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

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