The Ultimate Guide: Gloss, Hair Types, and Lengths
Realistic hair seems to be a great drawing challenge at first glance, but in reality, it can be pretty simple. If you know the basics and characteristic features of different hair types, it will be great fun drawing hair. Moreover, this knowledge will also help you a lot when drawing different hairstyles.
I would recommend having a pencil and paper ready when reading this guide so that you can get directly into practice.
In the portrait drawing, the light hits dark hair from above and forms two shiny rings in the hair: one sits directly at the roots, the second at the level of the forehead.
If you like, you can draw a discreet mark with a light pencil where we want to put the shine. This mark should be so light that it disappears under the later lines.
Next, draw individual lines that you let fade out inside the mark. It’s best to start with a light pencil and repeat the process with progressively darker pencils until you achieve the desired darkness.
Let’s divide the different hair types into four categories and take a close look at what to look for when drawing a strand.
Start with a few single lines that form a basic structure for our straight hair strand.
Straight hair never consists of perfectly straight lines, so draw the lines slightly curved to make the hair look more natural.
It is important that the ends of a straight strand are all straight.
In the next step, draw the individual hairs with a 2H pencil, following the lines of the previously drawn basic structure.
Here we can already pay attention to light and shaded areas while drawing. The light areas in straight hair are always drawn long because the surface is smooth in this hair structure and reflects the light evenly on these smooth areas.
If some hair overlaps others of the strand, we can draw the hair below a little darker.
In the last step, we can use the 2H pencil to draw individual hairs that stick out from the strand. However, these should not only be on the edges, but also in the middle of the strand.
In addition, we can intensify dark areas a little with an HB pencil to give them more depth.
For the basic structure, draw wavy lines and curve the ends a bit. The reason for this is that the weight of the overall hair pulls the wave apart, but the ends however are much lighter and can take on more of a curl.
Draw all the lines a little differently. With wavy hair, individual uneven strands form, which slightly curl in a different direction or follow a similar course but with an offset.
Wavy hair requires a little more concentration when drawing the details than straight hair.
Before you draw the individual hairs with the H2 pencil, decide whether you want to draw in the highlights on the left or on the right side. This is important because you will be drawing highlights into the curve on that side. On the other hand, you will draw the curve on the other side a little darker. For my example drawing, I choose the left side for the highlights.
It’s best to start with the hair that is in the foreground and cover others. This way you can work your way into the background step by step.
In the last step, emphasize the shadowy areas with an HB pencil, where an area is covered by another strand.
You can also draw the curves of the dark side darker. The resulting contrast with the highlights makes them really shine.
As with straight hair, individually protruding hairs must not be missing for a realistic look.
For curly hair, draw the lines of your basic structure very curvy, because if there is too little curvature, the strand will more closely resemble wavy hair.
At one point or another, you can even include a small loop, although it will look more natural if this loop is near the end of a strand.
Im Prinzip gehen wir beim Zeichnen vom gelockten Haar genau wie beim gewellten Haar vor, nur dass die Linien anders geformt sind.
When drawing curly hair, you basically proceed exactly as with wavy hair, except that the lines are shaped differently.
In addition, with curly hair, it is recommended to draw more individual hairs that stick out. Curly hair easily rubs against each other with movement and therefore fluffs each other up, which leads to the many hairs sticking out doing their own thing.
Coily hair is characterized by the fact that the curls are small and close together. Therefore, keep those in mind when drawing your lines for the basic structure.
Unlike curls, with coily hair you can incorporate loops anywhere in the hair strand because the hair structure will hold the curl well even with the weight of a very long strand.
In the next step, trace the individual hairs of the coily hair strand with a darker pencil.
To make the strand look light, include free spaces within the strand and draw many individual hairs that follow the general line but take their own path.
Hair of different lengths can be drawn equally for a woman, a girl, a man, a boy, or other identities. There are no differences in drawing here because hair is hair, no matter which head.
Below you can follow along on drawing different lengths of hair accompanied by example drawings.
For long hair, it is advisable to sketch out important strands of hair in advance. For example, the red strand would be important, as it lies above the top hair and ear. Under no circumstances should you draw over this strand. The green part should be neatly stroked behind the ear so that the hair looks neatest there. At the back of the head, the hair divides into two parts: The blue and the purple part, with the blue part sitting on top of the purple one.
Let’s start with the neat part, because it is the easiest to draw. All you have to do here is place strokes of different lengths next to each other to achieve a nice shiny effect.
Then we draw the individual long strands, each of which is drawn from the top down.
Let’s continue with a soft pencil. With this, we draw over all the strands of hair again and can highlight certain areas by darkening others.
For example, the part with neat hair becomes darker at the top of the head and just before the ear. Individual strands are given more depth by slightly darker strokes and thus appear more realistic.
In my example drawing, a light breeze comes from the right, which makes the hair blow in the wind. Even without wind, however, we should always have some individual hair sticking out.
The only exception is wet hair, and if we look again at the drawing above this paragraph, the hair does look a little wet, doesn’t it?
Faces can’t stop the wind from blowing hair all over it, so you can draw single hairs over it.
However, you should not overdo it and I would always recommend, in addition to the blowing hair, to incorporate some hair that only slightly is out of line, but does not fly around completely free.
The remaining strands are also provided with protruding hair.
In this example, we will draw a short hairstyle where the top hair is longer than the hair on the sides. In places, the top hair overlaps the shorter hair, which we will all capture in a detailed sketch.
We sketch each strand individually, starting with those that overlap the rest of the hair. In the case of this hairstyle, these are the strands in the swirl at the back of the head.
Although the strands should all follow a general direction, if some strands bend in a different direction, the hair will look more natural. It’s also good if the strands vary in width.
For each individual strand, we need 2H, HB, and 2B pencil weights.
With the 2H pencil, we draw out the entire strand. In the area where the light falls on the hair, we let the line fade out for the shiny effect. Next, we draw over it with the HB. The transitions in the shiny effects will be especially smooth if we don’t draw too much over the strokes of the 2H with the HB. With the 2B pencil, we draw only the base of the strand and the tips.
This is how we proceed with every single strand in the top hair until we are done.
To make the short hairstyle look even more natural, we draw in individually protruding hairs at the edge with the HB. A little chaos is always good with hair.
Once the top hair is drawn, we can move on to the rest of the short hair.
Unlike the top hair, we’ll skip the highlights in this step because the shorter the hair, the less surface area it has for them. But that doesn’t mean we don’t include any light areas. The difference between light and dark is important to give the head its round shape.
In the example drawing, I have therefore marked an area at the back of the head that should be drawn a little lighter compared to the rest of the hair.
We are working our way in small sections so that we have better control over the direction of each stroke. All the short strokes should be drawn evenly throughout. Under no circumstances should we draw the short strokes in rows one below the other, as this would resemble roof tiles rather than short hair.
One place that grows in a completely different direction is at the back of the head. There, the hair sticks out a little to the right edge of the drawing. It doesn’t matter in which order you draw the sections, as long as we don’t lose track of them.
At the point behind the ear and under the swirl in the top part, we draw a little more gently with the 2B, leaving a subtle brightness there. It’s not noticeable but still gives the head three-dimensionality.