Braids may appear challenging to draw, but they’re actually quite easy! In this tutorial, I’ll show you three simple ways to sketch a basic braid, a fishtail braid, and a braided hairstyle using Procreate. Don’t worry if you don’t have an iPad; you can still follow along with these steps. Let’s dive into what we’ll cover in this tutorial:
Tools I’ll be using
To create these sketches, I’ll be using:
- iPad Pro
- Apple Pencil
- Procreate app
I’ll also be utilizing brushes from my Perfect Portrait Brush Bundle for Procreate, which includes graphite and hair brushes. However, feel free to use any brushes of your choice. If you’d like to try out these brushes, I’ve provided a free sample for you. Without further ado, let’s get started!
How to sketch a basic braid
Step 1 – Draw two lines
Begin by gently sketching two inward-pointing lines. I recommend using the “main pencil” brush from the graphite set for the entire sketch. These lines will define the braid’s spatial boundaries.
Step 2 – Divide it in half
Add a straight line in the center of the previous two lines. This line will serve as the braid’s middle point.
Step 3 – Create a zig-zag pattern
Create a new layer. On this layer, draw a zig-zag line on top of the central line. Remember that the zig-zag should be larger at the top and smaller at the bottom of the braid.
Step 4 – Add curved lines
Extend the lines from the zig-zag to create longer curved lines that intersect with the line above them.
Step 5 – Complete both sides
Repeat step 4 for all the lines stemming from the zig-zag.
Step 6 – Add the end of the braid
Using curvy lines resembling an “S” shape, depict the loose hairs protruding from the tied end of the braid. Include a few soft lines to represent the hair tie.
Step 7 – Join the braid to the head
Extend the lines on top of the braid to connect it with the head, using four straight lines. Add additional lines that fan out at their center. Disable the guideline layer to reveal the base sketch of a regular braid.
Step 8 – Start adding shadows
Create a new layer. Begin adding shadows to the braid’s center and edges, using the “detail blunt” brush from the hair brushes in Procreate. This step is simply for mapping out the shadow placement, so don’t worry about making it look like hair just yet.
Step 9 – Emphasize the hair strands
For this step, create a new layer. Use a Procreate hair brush on this layer to add hair strands, further emphasizing the braid’s texture. Draw additional hairs along the edges and in the middle of the braid, leaving space within each strand for highlights. I recommend the “medium” brush from the hair brushes for this.
Step 10 – Enhance with shadows and details
Create another new layer. Darken some hair strands at the edges to enhance the dimension of the braid. Extend these darker strands throughout the entire braid. Draw a few lines to represent the hair tie where the braid ends.
Step 11 – Add highlights
Merge all the layers. Using an eraser brush, carefully add highlights to the center of each hair strand. Continue this process until you’re satisfied with the braid’s appearance.
Step 12 – Refine with more shadows, highlights, and loose hairs
To give the braid a realistic touch, create shadows in the darker areas. Continue adding shadows and highlights until you’re content with the overall look. For added authenticity, include small hairs protruding from each section of the braid. The “lone strand detail” brush from the hair brushes for Procreate works well for this purpose. Scatter light hairs throughout the braid to complete the effect.
Step 13 – Finalize the details
Use an eraser brush to add some final hairs and highlights. Continue until you’re satisfied with the overall appearance. Congratulations! You’ve successfully drawn a braid!
How to sketch a fishtail braid
For this tutorial, reference images can be very helpful, so I recommend finding some to assist you. It’s always beneficial to examine pictures of what you’re drawing to better understand shapes and simplify the sketching process. In the case of a fishtail braid, you’ll notice that the sections of hair used are smaller compared to a basic braid. The technique for drawing a fishtail braid closely resembles that of a regular braid, with the main difference being the size of the zig-zags in the sketch. Let’s begin!
Step 1 – Draw two lines
Start by lightly sketching two vertical lines that slightly slope inward. Throughout this sketch, I suggest using the “trusty pencil” from the graphite and charcoal set. These lines will establish the area the braid will cover.
Step 2 – Add a centerline
Gently add a line that bisects the two previously drawn lines. This line will serve as the braid’s center.
Step 3 – Sketch a small zig-zag line
Create a new layer. On this layer, draw a zig-zag line to indicate the braid’s center. The gaps between the zig-zag should be small to convey the appearance of a fishtail braid.
Step 4 – Incorporate curved lines
Begin extending the lines of the zig-zag with upwardly curved lines. These lines should reach the two lines sketched at the start of the tutorial. Repeat this process for both sides of the braid.
Step 5 – Add a tail to the fishtail
Once both sides are complete, you can add loose hairs extending from the end of the braid. Use soft, curving lines to create the tail. To complete the braid’s appearance, include soft, curved lines at the junction of the braid and the previously sketched lines to represent the hair tie.
Step 6 – Connect the braid to the head
You’re almost finished with the braid sketch! To complete it, extend the topmost lines to form a sort of “folding fan” shape. Within this shape’s center, add more soft lines following its contours. And voila! That’s the primary sketch of a fishtail braid.
Step 7 – Begin adding shadows
In this step, you’ll gently start mapping out the shadow placements. Create a new layer, and while referring to your reference image, subtly add shadows to the edges of the braid and the central area encompassing the zig-zag. Feel free to add shadows where the braid meets the head and the braid’s tail. For this, use the “detail soft” brush from the hair brushes.
Step 8 – Bring the braid to life
Create a new layer. In this stage, you’ll add realistic hair texture using a hair brush. Although not necessary, using a hair brush makes the process easier. If interested, you can try out the brushes I’m using in this tutorial with the free sample provided. I recommend using the “medium” brush from the hair brushes. Begin by adding hairs to the areas where you’ve applied shadows, and gradually work your way through the entire braid. Once completed, you can turn off the sketch layer.
Step 9 – Refine with additional shadows and details
Begin incorporating darker hair strands in areas with shadows, such as the center and edges of the braid. This will help define the edges of your drawing. Add a few soft, curved lines at the end of the braid to represent the hair tie.
Step 10 – Introduce highlights
Merge all the layers except the sketch layer. Using the hair brush as an eraser, add subtle highlights to the center of each hair strand. Carefully enhance the highlights, avoiding excessive erasing. This will create various line values, resulting in a more realistic drawing.
Step 11 – Continue refining with shadows, highlights, and details
Create a new layer to further refine the dark areas’ values. Once you’re satisfied, merge all the layers and continue adding finishing highlights using the eraser. Continue this process until you’re content with the braid’s appearance. Congratulations! You’ve successfully drawn a fishtail braid!
How to sketch a braided hairstyle
For this tutorial, I’ll be using a reference image. Let’s break down the steps involved:
Step 1 – Visualize with geometric shapes
Begin by outlining the area the hairstyle covers. Sketch rough lines to determine the braids’ space. Throughout the sketch, use the “trusty pencil” from the graphite and charcoal brushes. Don’t worry about achieving perfection in this step.
Step 2 – Divide the head and create braid sections
Create a new layer. Divide the head into sections where the braids will be. Draw horizontal lines to split the head into sections, followed by curved lines perpendicular to the horizontal ones to create small squares. Now, it’s time to start shaping the braids. Draw two lines from the center of each square to create a “tube” for each braid in the hairstyle. Repeat this process for all the hair, referring to your reference image for guidance. Add additional tubes for any missing braids, such as those behind the head or in the bun. Your reference image will help you understand the braids’ placement, though you can deviate from it as desired.
Step 3 – Divide each tube
Within each tube, draw a line dividing it into two parts. Remember, the line doesn’t have to be precisely centered. Repeat this step for all the tubes.
Step 4 – Add a zig-zag pattern
Create a new layer. On one of the centerlines of a tube, draw a zig-zag line. The size of the zig-zag should decrease as you move down the braid. This detail represents the interweaving of the hair strands in each braid. Continue this process, adding zig-zag patterns throughout the illustration. To achieve the side view appearance for braids facing in different directions, incorporate small “C” shapes into some of the tubes.
Step 5 – Enhance with curved lines
Begin elongating the lines on the zig-zag with curved lines to transform the tubes into braids. Repeat this for every tube.
Step 6 – Add ends and connect to the head
A braided hairstyle can conclude with either beads or the remaining loose hair. In this case, draw small circles at the end of each braid to signify beads. You can add multiple beads or vary their shape to enhance visual interest. To connect the braids to the head, extend lines from the top of the braids to fill the square space on the base sketch. Once completed, turn off the base layer and merge all other layers, renaming them “sketch” for organization.
Step 7 – Introduce shading
Create a new layer and softly add shadows by referencing your reference image. For this step, I recommend using the “soft graphite pastel” brush from the graphite and charcoal brushes. This helps map out the shadow placement, so don’t worry about making it look like hair just yet. Have fun exploring the shadow placements.
Step 8 – Add hair texture
Create a new layer. Use a brush suitable for drawing hair to add texture and depth. In this tutorial, I’m using the “medium” brush from the Procreate hair brushes. Take your time and enjoy this step. It’s only the base layer, so perfection isn’t necessary.
Step 9 – Highlight the braids
Using the same brush you used earlier as an eraser, gradually create highlights on each braid. I recommend utilizing the “medium” brush from the hair brushes as an eraser brush. Remember, braids in shadow areas should have softer highlights compared to those in more illuminated sections. Vary the line values accordingly.
Step 10 – Refine with shadows, lights, and loose hairs
Continue to refine your illustration by adding shadows and highlights until you’re satisfied with the overall look. To create a more realistic appearance, incorporate small hairs protruding from the braids. The “lone strand detail” brush from the hair brushes works well for this purpose. Scatter loose hairs throughout the braids to achieve a messy, authentic look.
Step 11 – Finalize with details and baby hairs
Merge all the layers except the sketch layer. Add some final hairs and highlights using an eraser brush, continuing until you’re happy with the overall appearance. Congratulations! You’ve successfully sketched a braided hairstyle.
Here are a few additional tips to enhance your braid sketches:
- Remember to make the top part of braids slightly thicker than the bottom for a more realistic appearance.
- Gradually build up the hair and shadows, ensuring you have different line values to create texture and depth.
- Adding small hairs throughout the braids will make your illustrations more complete and lifelike. Take your time and gradually incorporate them to achieve a realistic braid illustration.
That concludes our tutorial on creating braids, even for beginners! I hope you found these techniques helpful. Which of these tutorials was your favorite? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to reach out with any questions or feedback. Until next time, stay awesome!