Have you ever wondered how to draw a braid realistically? In this comprehensive tutorial, we will guide you through the process of creating a stunning braid drawing. Whether you want to add a simple hairstyle to your portrait or make the braid the focal point of your artwork, this tutorial will provide you with all the tips and techniques you need to challenge yourself and create a captivating drawing.
Suggested Prerequisite Video Lessons
Before diving into this advanced drawing tutorial, we recommend watching a few prerequisite video lessons to ensure you get the most out of this tutorial. Here are our suggestions:
- Take our free Mini-Course to learn the essential concepts needed for realistic drawing.
- Learn how to sharpen a drawing pencil, as sharp pencils are crucial for shading the braid.
- Gain stability and control of your drawing pencil by practicing the techniques demonstrated in our video lesson.
- Explore three ways to use a kneaded eraser for realistic drawing, as you’ll be using it extensively in this braid drawing.
Lastly, don’t forget to download the reference photo of the braid at the bottom of this page to follow along with the tutorial or draw alongside us.
Materials Used in this Tutorial
To draw a braid, you’ll need the following materials:
- Drawing Board: A sturdy yet lightweight drawing board for added comfort during the drawing process.
- Bulldog Clips: Attach your paper securely to the drawing board.
- Eraser: A simple kneaded eraser will be your best friend throughout this tutorial.
- Drawing Pencils: We recommend Staedtler Mars Lumograph graphite pencils (H, HB, F, 2B, 4B, 6B) for this drawing. Keep them sharp for the final shading stages.
- Pencil Extenders: Use pencil extenders if your pencils become too short to hold comfortably.
- Drawing Paper: Opt for a smooth drawing paper like Strathmore Bristol paper.
- Inexpensive Paintbrush: Use a paintbrush to cover the white areas of the paper quickly (optional).
Step 1: Gesture and General Proportions
Before starting your drawing, consider where you want to place the braid on your page. This conscious decision will help you establish composition, which is crucial for creating a mood or conveying a story in your artwork. Begin by finding the gesture and general proportions of the braid. Look for major angle changes and indicate them with straight or slightly curved lines. Sketch your subject lightly using erasable lines and use measurements to check the accuracy of your proportions.
Step 2: Refining the Negative Space
To draw the negative space of the braid, begin working from the bottom, or the end of the braid. This allows you to define distinct sections and refine the negative space within the curls, which contributes to the overall gesture of the braid. Start by identifying the most obvious locks of hair and indicating major angle or value changes. Gradually shift from a general view of the negative space to a more specific one, focusing on the widest point and distinct angle changes within the space.
Step 3: Gesture Lines & Overlapping Lines
Drawing a braid convincingly requires an understanding of two essential drawing concepts: gesture and overlapping lines. Gesture refers to the flow of one line into another, which is particularly noticeable when drawing hair. Overlapping lines occur when one object is in front of or on top of another object. Since a braid consists of three locks of hair woven together or placed on top of each other, it consists of a series of overlapping lines and gestures. Pay attention to how each lock of hair flows into another and strive for interconnectivity and cohesiveness in your drawing.
Step 4: Drawing a Specific Block-In
Continue “drawing through” the braid to ensure that each line of every lock of hair is continued after it is overlapped or intersected. Observe the differences in each section of hair, such as varying widths and angles, which create unique shapes. Pay attention to the looseness of the lower part of the braid and the narrowing towards the top and bottom. Drawing a realistic braid requires careful attention to detail and capturing these specific characteristics.
Step 5: Drawing Through the Form
As you draw through the forms of the braid, make sure that each line flows seamlessly into another. Pay attention to the contour lines and how they continue after being overlapped by another lock of hair. By following the contours, you’ll create an interconnected and natural-looking drawing. Remember to step back from your drawing occasionally to view it as a whole and maintain the overall gesture of the subject.
Step 6: Finishing the Block-In
After erasing the gesture lines that linked the locks of hair, step back and evaluate the block-in. A good block-in resembles the subject convincingly, demonstrates accurate proportions and gestural movement, relates contour lines to the interior information of the subject, and contains all the necessary information to proceed with the drawing. Indicate the shadow or highlight shapes in the braid to establish the foundation for the shading process.
Step 7: Starting to Add Values
Before adding values to your drawing, lighten the lines of your block-in to avoid detracting from the realism of your shading. Squint at your subject to simplify the values into three groups: light, half-tone, and dark. Begin by covering up the white areas of your drawing with a light value, leaving only the highlight shapes untouched. Gradually darken the values, paying attention to the relationship between light and shadow.
Step 8: Building Up Values
As you add values to your drawing, view them as three simplified groups: light, half-tone, and dark. Squint at your subject to identify the patterns of these values and translate them onto your drawing. Incrementally darken the values to capture the subtle shifts in value within the braid. Focus on creating smooth transitions between values for a realistic appearance.
Step 9: Defining Value Extremes and Edges
Analyze the value extremes within the braid and evaluate how dark or light they actually are. Pay attention to the cast shadows and form shadows, understanding the distinction between the two. Notice the edge quality within a cast shadow and observe how the top edge is sharp while the bottom edge is softer. Utilize these observations to refine the value extremes and edges in your drawing.
Step 10: Starting the Second Pass of Shading
Begin the second pass of shading by refining the top of the braid, which has one of the darkest shadows. Use each segment of the braid as its own entity, focusing on the value extremes and edges within each section. Alternate between a specific vision for each segment and a general view of the entire braid to achieve a balanced and cohesive drawing.
Step 11: Shading the Middle of the Braid
Continue shading the braid by focusing on the middle sections. Look for the darkest and lightest values within each segment. Pay attention to the sections and divisions in the hair, and notice the convenient implied lines that bisect certain locks. Adjust your perception to see the level of detail you desire, and remember to use your kneaded eraser as much as your pencil for precision.
Step 12: Shading the Bottom of the Braid
Work your way down the braid, utilizing your kneaded eraser alongside your pencil. Shape the eraser into a pencil point for precise highlights or flatten it for creating or lightening lines of value. Pay attention to the unique characteristics of each section of hair, such as different widths and angles. Maintain focus and anchor your hand for stability as you work on more precise details.
Step 13: Rendering the End of the Braid
Focus on shading the “tail” of the braid, ensuring that it remains slightly softer and more general compared to the rest of the drawing. Use anchoring techniques to enhance stability and control over your pencil. This stage marks the completion of the second pass of shading, bringing the entire braid to the same level of detail.
Step 14: Completing the Second Pass of Shading
Conclude the second pass of shading by sharpening the sharpest edges and creating a distinct difference between sharp and soft edges. Darken the darkest accents and further define the smaller sections of value in your drawing. Use a sharp pencil to even out your values, making sure they accurately represent the subject. Feel free to refer to our Realistic Drawing 101 Video Course for a comprehensive demonstration of the shading process.
Step 15: Delving into the Details
In this stage, refine your drawing by sharpening edges, deepening accents, and creating even smaller sections of value. Add as much detail as you prefer, balancing simplicity and complexity in your drawing. Use a very sharp pencil to achieve precision and ensure that your values are harmonious. After refining the details, step back and admire your finished braid drawing. As always, trust your instincts when deciding if your drawing is complete.
We hope you thoroughly enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw a braid. Remember to download the reference photo below to practice your skills further. Happy drawing!