Portrait art tutorial - lesson on how to draw hair (for portrait drawing).

How to Draw Hair

Hair sketch - how to draw hair

There are three things to pay attention to when you are drawing hair: the hair strands, the tones of hair, and the structure of the head that the hair is on.

Hair is shiny - it has highlights, and dark areas. The first thing you should do when you draw hair is to lay in the shadows and highlights with a broad loose pencil stroke. Don't put in any "dark dark" tones yet, just indicate the shadows and highlights. Draw the areas of light and dark as "strips" of tone. (An illustration showing the "strips" of tone highlighted.)

Then, go in and draw in individual "hair strands" (but you don't have to draw in every hair!). Draw dark, sharp pencil strokes, to give the hair some crispness. But, still leave the highlights and mid-tone areas intact. Don't let them get too dark, or blend in too much with each other. These distinct variations of tone are what keeps the hair looking shiny.

For darker hair, you'll have more areas of "dark dark" (but still have the mid-tones and highlights). For light colored hair, you'll have very few "dark dark" tones. The darkest tone may be a medium gray.

This illustration (click to see larger version) shows a head of hair "half done." The section of hair closer to the face is completed, the area near the back of the head isn't finished yet. You can still see the "strips" of tone in the unfinished area of the hair.

Close-up on hair(Click on image to see larger version)

The larger version of this hair sketch is oversized - about double the size (or more) of the original sketch. This allows you to see in detail how the illusion of hair is created with simple pencil strokes.

In this sketch, the hair is styled in layers. Each "layer" was drawn in first, and was given its own area of shadow and highlight. When one layer of hair overlaps another layer of hair, it casts a shadow on the layer of hair underneath. Don't forget to draw this shadow onto the lower layer of hair.

(See the concept of "layers" illustrated - each "layer" of hair is highlighted in a different color.)

Short hairFor shorter hair, shorter pencil strokes are drawn. You can still lay in the basic areas of light and shadow with broad strokes, but the darker, "detail" strokes that indicate hair strands should be short.

Also, it's good to keep a sharp pencil when drawing in the details of hair.

(Click on thumbnail image to see larger version of picture.)

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