How to draw hair for beginners

How to draw hair

Hey there, and welcome!

This is Anatomy of a Sketch, where I teach you how to draw the human body.

Today’s tutorial is all about how to draw hair.

And I know you probably have a lot of questions. Like why is drawing hair so hard?

It has volume and texture, is loose, and is never the exact same, solid shape.

Without the proper information, when we are drawing hair it’s so easy to make it look stiff!

Today, I am going to show you how to draw hair easily.

Let’s go!

How to draw hair easy

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Today we are going to learn how to draw hair!

But to start off, I want to show you that I really do know what I am talking about when it comes to drawing hair,

here are some quick examples of my work:

How to draw hair

You can see that my characters always have beautiful hair, with shine and volume.

There are 4 tricks that I want to talk about that will help you draw perfect hair every time!

And at that, how to draw animated hair that looks gorgeous.

I use these 4 tips every time I draw hair!

Trick One: Give that hair volume

If you want your characters to have noticeably beautiful hair, you need to give their hair volume.

The best way to do that is to draw their head first.

I always suggest drawing the character’s head first before drawing their hair.

how to draw a head

You need to know exactly where their scalp is before you add hair on top of it!

Notice the picture below, her hair looks like it has volume even though her hair is short and straight.

How to draw hair

It’s less about the style of the hair, and more about lifting the hair above the scalp.

Let’s take a look at two more examples:

How to draw hair volume

The pink bridge represents the top of the character’s head below their hair.

Especially in the second image above, her hair volume is quite a bit higher than her head!

This gives the hair a bouncy, voluminous look.

Trick Two: Prioritize shape, not strands.

shape of the hair

When I draw hair, I don’t worry about individual strands.

At least not until the image is basically finished!

The shape of the hair is what will make or break the portrait drawing.

Let’s look at some examples of hair shape:

Hair shape

These are all the exact same character, and I didn’t even change her hairline for these images.

But the shape of her hair is very different in each image, and it is one shape.

I didn’t add a whole bunch of loose strands or make it messy and complex.

All I used was one flat color and a round brush.

I specifically made these flat shapes to show that you don’t need a lot of detail to create beautiful hair for your characters!

(The video below contains mind flashing towards the end for some of the color changes that might be sensitive to some viewers)

Trick Three: Pay attention to the direction the hair is going

Direction is really important when drawing hair.

In the images below, the bright pink/purple lines show you the direction the hair is flowing.

draw the hair direction

The image above is my profile picture for my art page on Instagram.

You can see that in this picture, I have drawn myself with straight hair and that the hair around my face is the only part with a slight wave to it.

The direction of the hair, and that slight wave, is just as important as the straighter hair towards the back.

Let’s look at another example:

The woman in the image below has very pretty hair with a very definite flow.

Look at the angles of her hair:

If you want to add body and make the hair look like it’s flowing, it’s important to vary the volume.

how to draw hair shape

By “vary the volume”, I just mean to draw some angles of the hair larger than others.

Her hair dips in close to her face and then flows back out around her shoulders.

Last but not least, let’s talk about flow:

This has to be one of my all-time favorites, drawing flowing hair!

This is a fanart I did of Starfire, a character by DC comics.

She has gorgeous long hair, and it was so much fun to draw.

how to draw flowing hair

In the picture above, there is a lot of movement in the hair.

It’s obvious which way the wind is pulling it,

and the flow is very organic.

Notice how I drew an arrow shooting behind her hair with the pink highlighter to show the direction.

Her hair also has a lot of curves and edges highlighted as well.

To get an idea of what direction your character’s hair should be going, use this technique on your reference photo before you start your drawing.

This will help you find the direction!

Also, try not to be stiff-handed when drawing hair.

Let go of which direction you think it should go, and lean on your reference photos for flow and direction.

Trick Four: Use fun photo references to find hairstyles

This is my favorite piece of advice when it comes to art in general, but use reference photos!

hair shape and style

References are so great to help you learn and to give you something to work from when drawing.

Plus when you are drawing hair, using a reference can help you make the hair look more life-like and realistic.

I typically use Pinterest to find great reference photos, but the photos above are all from

When we are learning how to draw hair, it’s great to practice drawing hair in different shapes and styles!

One of my favorite things to practice with hair is learning to draw hair in a bun.

how to draw hair in a bun

This is one style where the direction of the hair is MOST important!

Want to learn how to illustrate in full color?

Sketching is so much fun and I LOVE linework!

But one of my favorite parts of being an illustrator is rendering my illustrations in full color.

If you want to learn EXACTLY how I illustrate my characters hair, make it super shiny and add texture and shading, consider joining my Patreon community.

How to draw hair really well

On Patreon, I post monthly FULL-COLOR tutorials for my Champion and Hero tiers!

These are so much fun, and Patrons are able to comment and ask questions as well as “like” posts and answer polls.

My Hero tier also receives a monthly vinyl sticker from me via snail mail!

These are such a big hit. Some of the ones we have done so far are Harley Quinn, Princess Leia, Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn), and Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor.

(Featured below!)

Jane Foster Sticker

And if you are a Patron, we do take polls so you can help pick which stickers I send each month.

Join the fun at

Thank you for reading this tutorial on how to draw hair and hairstyles for beginners, and if you feel like you’ve gotten value from it please share this post!

Sharing posts like this really do help websites like this one to thrive and help creators like me to keep making content.

See you in the next one!

What to draw next… How to Draw Ears

How to draw ears

Thank you for being here today and learning how to draw hair with me!

Be sure to share this post if you found it helpful, and I will see you in the next lesson!

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Hi there! My name is Leah, and I am going to help you learn how to draw, and take your pictures to the next level. I have college-level experience with form drawing and multiple art classes under my belt that have helped me create these tutorials. Let's learn how to draw together!
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The following two tabs change content below.
Hi there! My name is Leah, and I am going to help you learn how to draw, and take your pictures to the next level. I have college-level experience with form drawing and multiple art classes under my belt that have helped me create these tutorials. Let's learn how to draw together!