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How to Draw Anime Hair – Full Drawing Process Explained

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In this article, I will go through my experiences of how to draw anime hair and what I tend to look for when drawing it. I will share techniques and ways you can approach drawing anime-stylized hair.


Key Takeaways

  • The easiest and fastest way to draw hair is to start by drawing the major shapes of the hair.
  • Think about the character’s personality and the overall mood of the drawing when drawing anime hair.
  • Add details only after the major shapes work for the character and the illustration.
  • Break boring-looking shapes by crossing or dividing them into different shapes.
  • Hair color should support the character’s personality.

Things to Consider When Drawing Hair

First of all, drawing hair is not easy. It’s actually pretty hard to draw good-looking hair. The difficulties already start from the fact of thinking where the centerline is—the line where the hair is split in half.

You also have to consider the head’s angle when drawing hair. Hair looks very different from above than below.

You also have to think if the character is outdoors and if the wind is affecting the movement of the hair. If the wind blows from the right, the hair should lean left. Also, the clothing should lean left as the wind gets “stuck” in the clothing. The same thing with long fur. Wind affects that also.

So do think about the situation the character or object is in. There are a lot of things to think out before starting the drawing process. You should think about what you want to tell the viewer with the hair. What kind of personality the character has, and how is that presented with the hair?

Establish A Vision For the Hair

First, we start with the character, situation, feel, and personality we want to show. For this particular character, I visioned giving her this easy-going, chill-like mood and vibe.

I also wanted the wind to blow from the right/from her back so that the hair would cover her face a bit and the hands also. Giving that nice flow from behind and making the mood easy and calm. Kind of like waking up and feeling this joy all around.

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The overall vision for the hair

Cover elements that are hard to draw

Sometimes you might hit a wall and don’t know how to draw some specific thing, like arm joints, finger positions (quite hard to master), etc. In those cases, you can try if you could cover them with something. Clothing, hair, accessories? Anything that fits the overall image and makes sense.

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The hair flows on top of the hand, covering hard-to-draw areas. When you gain experience, you don’t have to resolve to these kinds of techniques so much.

No need to be ashamed if you don’t know how to draw something. Very few people know. Covering some parts is not cheating.

It is just creating another way to overcome an obstacle. It might feel too much of a burden to start learning and studying some difficult parts just when you are in the flow of drawing.

There are different sessions when you practice and study drawing, so you don’t interrupt the flow state when you are aiming to draw a full-blown illustration.

Draw the Main Shapes

There are a few ways you can approach drawing the hair. Either you start to draw the hair by detailing it out or create major shapes.

These shapes give you the overall feeling right at the start. With these big blocks, you can easily see whether the hair works. You can also easily try different sizes and flows to the character’s hair.

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The main shape, in our case, is pretty much a ball with a few different sections in it.

The benefit of doing it this way is avoiding the so-called “undo effect” or regret phase. You are not yet too far with the hair, only to realize it doesn’t work. I hate the feeling of drawing something quite long and then realizing that it just doesn’t work.

So even though I sometimes draw hair quite detailed in the beginning, I do also check the major shapes regularly.

Major shapes give you direction and the overall look of the whole hair. It’s easier to design hair when you draw big chunks of it rather than drawing individual hair strands. It’s also faster to draw big blocks.

Choosing A Hairstyle

After creating a few major shapes for the character, think about the vibe, mood, and feeling you want to tell with the shapes. Also, think about the character’s personality and the hair’s personality. Yes, hair does have personality in anime. Hairstyle tells something from the person and also creates opinions.

I could have chosen a more flowy hairstyle with a lot more volume. However, the character is easygoing and like to have slightly shorter yet huge-volume hair. The character is also a more down-to-earth type.

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I designed three different hairstyles and shapes, ultimately selecting the top one to move forward with

Create the Structure For the Hair

In this phase, your goal is to define the hair a bit more and give it that structure. Adding strands and smaller blocks of hair.

Create variation in the hair, but do not add too many details at this point. You have plenty of time and opportunities to do those later down the road. The goal is to define it further, but not too much. Keep the structure loose. This way, you also relax your mind and don’t focus on unnecessary details.

Keeping your mind open to new opportunities is important.

You never know what your mind throws at you, so keep the sketch loose. Give it the space it needs.

Add Details To the Hair

When you have a nice structure for the hair and the main blocks look a bit more defined, it’s time to start adding details to the hair. Try to maintain the major shapes and check that the hair works for the person.

Go through the main blocks and structure you created previously, and this time add those details.

Break boring-looking shapes by adding hair strands here and there.

You can break the flow of the hair by adding curls to the hair.

Don’t forget the wind and the direction it is blowing from. In our case, the wind blows from the right side, making the hair flow to the left.

When you draw the curls, curl the hair inward and towards the right. This creates excellent differentiation between the flow and breaks the mundane flow to the left.

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Adding details to the hair

Breaking the Flow of the Hair

One key point I would like to give you is that you should break shapes. If the shape is big and bulky, break it apart. Break the shape into multiple smaller shapes. Another way is to create strands of hair to intersect the big shapes, thus breaking the big shapes.

Big shapes create dull drawings. Break them. Cross them. Divide them. Dull shapes make dull drawings.

Finalizing The Hair

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Final illustration

The last phase of drawing hair is to make the hair support the character and make the character lively. Specifically, in anime, hair is extremely important. That is also the reason why I always make an effort to draw awesome hair for the character.

Put effort into the hair; it will make your character feel and look much better. In the last phase of drawing hair, I sharpen the details. Look that the overall shape is looking good.

I check that the hair supports the character and also gives the feeling I was after. Down to earth, chilled, calm, and overall just gentle. You should make sure that the details are correctly placed and make sense. Adding details everywhere does not help.

Create details wisely and efficiently. Only place them in spots that add interest to the drawing.

Careful with the details

This is all related to the canvas size, resolution, the thing you are drawing, elements you have, etc. When you zoom in and draw those details to the hair or anywhere in the drawing, you should now and then zoom out quite far and see if that detail is visible from a distance.

I have had this habit of drawing some awesome details in, just to notice that you can’t even notice the subtle detail you’ve drawn for 10-15 minutes when zoomed out. Be careful of these.

Always keep in mind the big picture and only add details that are visible from a distance. There is no benefit in drawing something super awesome that is only visible when you zoom in.

I usually zoom in and out quite often to see if something is visible or not. Quite soon, you will notice what the right size for detail is.

Coloring the Hair

Ultimately the last thing is to color the hair. I would say that the most important thing here is to think about the volume of the hair. Create shadows that support the volume of the hair. The hair I drew was rather chunky, so the shadow also had to be quite thick. Do think about the volume of the hair when shading.

Also, choose colors that support the character, vibe, mood, and feeling you want to express with the hair. Green, non-saturated, moss-like color supports the idea of a down-to-earth type of character, so in my mind, the color suits the character nicely.

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Okuha

Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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