How To Draw Hair: Trichology for Illustrators - Draw Central

How To Draw Hair: Trichology for Illustrators

How To Draw Hair: Trichology for Illustrators

This lesson is designed to teach you about the fundamental nature of hair and how you can effectively use this knowledge to draw beautiful hair in any style. Let’s begin!

(a) apex. (b) parietal ridge. (c) occipital. (d) nape.

1. Understanding the head and hairline shape

First I am going to cover a few basic terms to describe the head shape. The apex is the highest point on the head. The parietal ridge is the area where the head curves between the top and sides. The occipital is a bone in the skull just above the neck. The nape is the area on the neck where the head and neck meet.
The hairline is the shape of the area of the scalp in which head hair grows naturally. All hair should start from this shaded area and not extend into the neck or face. Although hairline shapes vary, most people have some variation on this shape (shaded area). Most hairlines recede in the parietal ridge area, and do not extend past the nape of the neck. They always extend in front of the ears (with the exception of alopecia), and do not extend to the eyebrows. Some hairlines show more dramatic curves while others are far less drastic.  And some people like to shave their hairline into a certain shape, a practice which is most common with short haircuts.

2. Fringe or Bangs

Some people have fringe, otherwise known as bangs, incorporated in their haircut to frame their face. Usually, the ideal section of hair to be cut for this purpose is a few cm from the edge of the hairline, or the area where the head begins to slope down into the forehead, as well as the area in front of the ears. To draw a nice looking fringe, keep space (volume) between the hair and the forehead/face, and follow the curve of the head.

3. Long straight hair

Drape hair as though you were draping fabric over the head. Long hair toward the apex of the head will generally have less volume, without the aid of certain styling techniques or products. It’s important to always follow the curve of the head, so that your character’s skull doesn’t look crushed. Under the occipital, rather than follow the shape of the head, most long, straight hairstyles will hang straight behind the nape.

4. Short hair

 Hair that is cut closer to the scalp generally shows the shape of the hairline. Some haircuts compensate for exaggerated hairlines, being kept longer in areas that are receding, such as the parietal ridge. Women’s short haircuts usually leave the sideburns natural or pointed, while men generally cut them off square or else blend them into their beard. Women’s short hair is usually cut with a rounded outline in the nape, while men’s can be either rounded or square.

5. Ponytails

 If a fringe is cut, that hair is usually left out of the ponytail, and curves forward following the shape of the head as usual. All the rest of the hair is pulled back to one point, following the shape of the head. Even when it is pulled back tight, there should still be a small space between the head and the hair. The hair tie squeezes the hair, causing it to appear voluminous on the free-flowing side of the ponytail. The ponytail itself will hang down naturally.

6. Combination haircuts

Sometime hair is cut in two contrasting lengths to create a certain shape. On the left image, the hair is cut close to the scalp on one side to create asymmetry. On the right image, the hair is cut closer on and below the occipital to create a certain silhouette. Other combination haircuts include mohawks and flat tops.

(a) straight follicle. (b) wavy follicle. (c) curly follicle.

7. Understanding curly and wavy hair

Natural hair textures (straight, wavy or curly) are determined by the shape of the hair follicle. Straight hair follicles are round and allow the hair to grow straight up. Wavy hair follicles are slightly squished, so the hair grows out with a slight curve. Curly hair follicles are oblong, or very squished. This pushes the hair into a tight curl as it grows.

When you draw naturally wavy hair, you will keep more volume between the hair and the head than you would with straight hair. Think of it like a jar full of marbles: because of their shape, marbles take up more space in a jar than the actual amount of matter. Same thing goes for wavy and curly hair; because of their shape, they are pushed out farther from the head, so the person’s hair has more volume, even if the person has the exact same number of hair follicles as someone with straight hair. You will still follow the curves of the head, however the shape of these hairs will be more ribbon-like.

 8. Types of curly hair

Ringlets are made when hair is curled very tightly using a curling iron, a flat iron, or rollers. Like wavy hair, ringlets create a lot of volume. Since long hair is required for ringlets, like most long hairstyles you will have less volume at the top (without the aid of other styling techniques or products). When I draw ringlets I think of them as rings stacked on top of each other, with a little ribbon tail.

Naturally curly hair, on the other hand, looks fluffier or even woolier. Rather than draw tons of tiny little curls and lines, I like to think of it like a puffy little cloud of hair, only detailing where necessary. It should be noted that tightly curled hair like this reflects light differently than straight, wavy or ringlet hair – it appears much less reflective and shiny due to the textured surface.

9. Twintails and Braids

 In anime and cartoon styles, twintails or pigtails are generally exaggerated. Normally, after removing the fringe and parting the remaining hair into two tails, they would be somewhat thin, without the aid of other styling techniques. However many people like to draw big, poofy ponytails the size of one normal ponytail.

There are many types of braids or plaits. However the simplest and most common type of plait uses three sections of hair. The outcome is similar to drawing a chain-like shape with the hair. Plaits that are separated from the head will always taper at the end.

10. Light Reflection (easy hair shading tips)

Unless the hair is very textured or badly damaged, hair reflects a lot of light. In order to get a shiny look, you want to create contrast. Following my light source, I created a curved line across the hair at the (low- and high-, respectively) parietal ridge, where used my darkest shade and gradually lightened toward the ends. I use the darkest shade here to not only create contrast and make the hair look shiny, but also to show the curved shape of the head.

 11. Easy Hair Shading (step 2)

Next I take my darkest shade and create contrast in the lighter parts of the hair.

 12. Easy Hair shading (step 3)

Next I add darker shadows to the dark part of the hair, and add in bright highlights.

13. Easy hair shading (final step)

Finally, remember that hair casts a shadow onto the face.

This is a very basic way to shade hair. I even use a similar technique when shading realistic hair, but I will save that for another tutorial. Have fun playing hairdresser!