How to

How to draw short hair (very detailed)


Are you looking for a highly detailed tutorial on how to draw short hair? Look no further! In this extensive tutorial, we will explore step by step techniques and provide valuable insights to help you master the art of drawing short hair. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this tutorial will equip you with the knowledge and skills to create realistic and captivating short hair drawings.


Before we dive into the tutorial, let’s make sure we have the necessary tools at hand. You will need:

  • HB, 2B, 4B, 6B Derwent Pencils
  • Mechanical Pencil with HB and 4B 0.5mm Pentel (Ain) Lead
  • Kneaded Rubber Eraser

Grouping Hair

Grouping is a fantastic approach to drawing an entire head of hair, especially if you find the sheer amount of hair intimidating. By simplifying the hair into manageable groups, you can draw faster and create a sense of complexity effortlessly.

To start, use light outlines to define the hair groups. These groups will later be broken down into smaller, more detailed sections of hair. When grouping, focus on the length, overall design, and flow of the hair. You can identify hair groups by zooming out of a reference image or observing patterns in the hair. Group hairs that flow in the same direction or are close together.

Layering Hair

The order in which you draw each group of hair is crucial. For hairstyles with a prominent side part, begin with the first layer near the part and work your way outward. Conversely, if the hair is brushed from the back to the front, start with the back of the head where the swirl or whorl is located. If the hair is brushed from front to back, begin from the front. This approach ensures a natural and realistic representation of the hair’s flow.

Hair Flow and Direction

An important aspect of drawing short hair is understanding its flow and direction. By studying reference images, you can identify patterns in the hair and determine the general direction in which the majority of the hair is flowing. Note that while the hair may follow a specific direction, it can still have variations and subtle changes in flow.

To add visual interest to your drawing, avoid drawing hairs that strictly follow the exact direction indicated by arrows. Instead, incorporate hairs that point in several different directions while maintaining a general flow.

Creating Dark Spaces

When drawing hair, remember that it’s not just about adding as many lines as possible. Dark spaces between the hairs are crucial for creating depth and volume. These dark spaces add visual interest and make the hair look more natural.

Identify areas where dark shadows naturally occur, such as behind the head’s swirl, spaces between large groups of hair, or where overlapping, curly, or unruly hair appears. Introducing these dark shadows will enhance the overall appearance of the hair.

Detailing Short Hair

When drawing short hair, it’s unnecessary to meticulously replicate every strand from a reference image. Instead, focus on understanding the overall structure and flow of the hair. By familiarizing yourself with the concepts shared in this tutorial, you’ll gain the confidence to interpret and capture the essence of short hair in your drawings.

Experiment with various techniques to detail the hair and make it unique. You can incorporate different formulas, such as varying line thicknesses, highlighting specific areas, or introducing subtle textures.

Lighting and Consistency

Achieving proper lighting and consistency is vital for creating realistic hair drawings. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Overall Lighting:

To ensure consistent lighting throughout your drawing, plan ahead. Outline or shadow specific areas of the hair where you want the light to fall or areas where you want more shadow. Shade these areas before grouping and layering the hair.

Lighting Across Particular Sections:

When drawing individual hairs, it’s easy to lose track and end up with inconsistent lighting within small groups of hair. To rectify this, use a kneaded eraser to gently erase graphite from areas you want to highlight and create more uniform lighting.

Mini Tutorial: Drawing a Small Section of Hair

Step 1: Light Planning

Have a clear vision of where you want the hair to be lightest and darkest. Use a soft but sharp pencil to shade the darkest areas of the hair, following its flow. Adjust the darkness according to your preference by using a harder or softer pencil.

Step 2: Add Individual Hairs

Now it’s time to add individual hairs. If you’re comfortable, start drawing the strands directly. However, if you prefer more guidance, refer to the mini tutorial from the original hair article. You can use multiple pencils for this step, creating varied thicknesses and values to add depth and dimension to the hair.

Step 3: Directional Strokes

When drawing each hair strand, pay attention to its direction and shape. To create a more natural look, draw each hair with two strokes in opposite directions, focusing on fading or thinning out the ends. This technique mimics the tapered appearance of real hair.

Step 4: Touch-ups

If the highlights or overall lighting in your drawing appear off, use a kneaded eraser to refine and redefine them. You can also use the eraser to brighten specific strands of hair, adding depth and realism. Be creative and experiment with different shading techniques to achieve the desired effect.

Full Tutorial: How to Draw Short Hair From the Side

Step 1: Head Outline

Start by drawing the overall shape of the head from a side view. Use a pencil to outline the head, ear, and neck. This preliminary sketch will serve as the foundation for your hair drawing.

Step 2: Hair Length

Determine the desired length of the hair. In our example, the hair is shortest around the back and sides, while the top of the head features longer hair. Use a blunt pencil to create the outline of the hair, ensuring consistent distance between the hair and the head.

Step 3: Separating Top From Side Hair

Erase any unnecessary outlines from the head and use a softer pencil to create a clear separation between the hair on the side of the head and the hair on top. This step establishes the distinct sections of hair.

Step 4: Overall Lighting

To maintain consistent lighting in your drawing, use an HB pencil to shadow areas where you want the light to fall, and shade around those highlights. You can choose to use a single tone or add darker tones for added depth. A blunt 4B pencil works well for this step.

Step 5: Grouping, Layering, Flow, and Shading

Start layering the hair, working with one section at a time. Use a 4B pencil for the first layer, beginning from the swirl at the back of the head and following the overall direction and flow of the hair. Darken the areas that require more shadow before transitioning into individual hair strands. For individual hairs, use a 0.5mm 4B mechanical pencil, adding varying pressures to create different line thicknesses and values.

Step 6: Repeat

Continue working around the highlighted areas, gradually moving towards the nape of the neck. Pay attention to the direction and curl of the hairs as they approach the neck. For areas that receive less light, focus on mid-tones and darker tones to create depth and dimension.

Step 7: Grouping, Layering, Flow, and Shading

Work in small sections at a time, layering and shaping the hair to follow its natural flow. Shade around major groups to enhance depth. Use an HB 0.5mm mechanical pencil and a 2B pencil to draw individual hair strands, creating texture and adding intricate details.

Step 8: Fixing/Adding Highlights

If needed, use a kneaded eraser to redefine highlights or add more emphasis to them. Erase gently to avoid damaging the paper or smudging the surrounding areas. Adjusting the highlights can significantly impact the overall appearance of the hair.

Step 9: Grouping and Layering

In areas where the hair transitions from the side to the top, pay attention to the length disparity. The first layer should feature the longest hairs, gradually shortening as subsequent layers overlap. Maintain consistency in the direction and flow of the hair.

Step 10: Adding Dark Spaces and Individual Hairs

Add shadowed areas to create depth and interest. In spaces where it feels natural to leave out individual hair strands, use your creativity to define shadows and create a more realistic effect. Gradually break down larger groups into smaller strands, experimenting with overlapping, unruly hair, and unique patterns.

In Conclusion
With these comprehensive instructions and techniques, you now have the knowledge and skills to draw stunning short hair. Remember to practice, experiment, and have fun with your drawings. If you found this tutorial helpful, let us know and share your suggestions for future tutorials. Happy drawing!

Other Tutorials:

  • Hair
  • Eyebrows
  • Eyelashes

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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