Hair can add a remarkable amount of life and personality to your drawings. Just think of how different a character would look with long, curly hair compared to a short, spiky style. (And the same goes for animals—a shaggy, long-haired dog looks much different than one with sleek fur!)
However, because there are so many different types and styles, hair and fur can be challenging to draw. To help you spruce up your characters’ locks, we explore how to draw hair and fur for humans, cartoons, and animals below.
How to Draw Hair
Hair is one of the most dynamic (and fun!) features to illustrate—but it can also be detailed and complex. To convincingly draw hair and fur, you need a good grasp of the general shapes and unique textures of hair. Below, learn how to draw hair of all types, from realistic to cartoon.
How to Draw Realistic Hair
When first learning the art of drawing hair, many artists focus too heavily on the hair’s texture without analyzing its overall shape. This isn’t only time-consuming, but the end product usually doesn’t end up looking realistic or believable.
When drawing realistic hair, don’t think about drawing thousands of individual strands. Instead, try grouping large chunks of hair into simple shapes, and then work your way down to the refined details.
Start by drawing the overall shape of the hair, ignoring any texture or loose strands. From there, block in slightly smaller areas with the most noticeable changes in hair direction. In a long hairstyle, for example, the bangs may flow to the side, while the underlying hair hangs vertically. You can draw each of these sections as separate shapes. Now, repeat the process, sketching in smaller and smaller areas where the hair changes direction.
Once you have the overall shape of the hair, fill it in with short strokes to represent the individual strands. You can use this approach whether you want to learn how to draw woman hair or how to draw man hair—it works for all styles and lengths.
How to Draw Men’s Hair
If you want to learn how to draw men’s hair, you’re probably more specifically looking for guidance on how to draw short hair—otherwise, there aren’t any significant differences between men’s and women’s hair.
In some ways, drawing men’s hair (or short hair) is simpler than sketching women’s hair because you don’t have to account for how it drapes around the ears or shoulders. However, you do have to pay particular attention to the hairline. While everyone’s hairline is different, it generally juts out near the temple and then snips back down to create the sideburn.
Once you establish the hairline, draw the shape of the rest of the hair. Make sure to give it appropriate volume by extending that shape above the skull—hair generally doesn’t lay flat against the head. From there, you can add in more texture and individual strands.
How to Draw Women’s Hair
Drawing women’s hair—or long hair, for the purposes of this article—is a bit more challenging than short hair because it must contend with gravity. The longer hair gets, the more structural components it comes into contact with, such as the ears, shoulders, neck, and back. When drawing women’s hair, it’s important to take into consideration how those structures alter the flow of the hair. You must also account for the shape of the skull, especially when you think of how the hair flows over the top of the head.
Keeping those concepts in mind, follow the process outlined above for drawing realistic hair: First, block out the overall shape of the hair, then add in smaller areas where the hair changes direction, and finally, add in individual strands and texture.
Draw Photo-Like Hair
Simple Realistic Drawing For Beginners
How to Draw Cartoon Hair
The key to drawing cartoon hair is to keep it as simple as possible. With just a few lines and basic shapes, you can create all types of interesting hairstyles.
Begin with the outline of the cartoon character’s head. If you want to draw cartoon hair with bangs, that section of hair should extend all the way down to about the top of the figure’s ears and eyebrows. The top of the hair should extend above the character’s head, giving the appearance of volume. From there, draw simple curved lines to indicate the general shape of the hair. When drawing cartoon hair, you don’t have to worry about drawing individual strands.
How to Draw Animal Hair and Fur
Just like human hair can come in all different shapes and textures, animals can have a wide range of fur types—long, shaggy, short, fluffy, or even curled. Want to learn how to draw dog hair, cat fur, wolf fur, and rabbit fur? Get tips for drawing animal hair and fur in the tutorials below.
How to Draw Dog Fur
To draw dog fur, start with a sketch of the dog’s general outline. At this point, it can be helpful to notice—and indicate in your initial drawing—how the fur flows. For example, the fur on the nose may be short and neat, while the hair by the ears may be longer and less uniform.
From there, begin filling in the fur by using fine strokes of a pencil. Generally, it’s best to start with light pencil strokes. Then, you can layer in additional detail and shading. Make sure your pencil strokes are an appropriate length for the type of dog you’re illustrating: short strokes for a short-haired dog and long strokes for a long-haired pup.
How to Draw Cat Fur
While you can use the same general process to draw cat fur, that’s not the only approach for how to draw cat hair. To draw cat fur with colored pencils, start with an outline of a cat and fill in the cat with a smooth, uniform application of a light base color. Then, take a slightly darker color and, using short, flicking strokes, add in stripes, spots, or other markings.
Continue adding layers of short pencil strokes with increasingly darker colors until you’ve reached the level of detail you’re happy with. By focusing your pencil strokes on the areas of detail, you can realistically draw cat fur without drawing every individual hair.
How to Draw Wolf Fur
Wolves generally have longer fur than dogs or cats, so learning how to draw wolf hair requires a slightly different approach. When drawing wolf fur, pay particular attention to how the fur clumps and flows. It can be helpful to use a few different grades of pencil, so you can begin with lighter tones and establish the different individual structures, or clumps, of fur. Then, go in with a darker pencil to create shadows and additional detail.
Also make sure to blend—preferably with a blending stick rather than your finger—as you add layers to the fur.
How to Draw Rabbit Fur
Rabbits have soft, fluffy fur, with shorter fur on their face and nose and longer hair on their bodies. To start, create an outline of the rabbit and use dark pencil marks to create a few orientation points, like the nose and eyes.
From the nose, the fur extends in a circular pattern. Use short, fine pencil strokes to create the darkest areas of the fur—around the nose and along the edge of the ear, for example. Then, use a blending stick to buff out those dark areas a bit and create the base of the rabbit’s fluffy texture. Then, add in more short pencil strokes to fill in the rest of the fur, working in layers to achieve highlights and shadows.
The Finishing Touch
Learning how to draw hair and fur can give your character drawings the ultimate finishing touch, adding believability, personality, and movement. By learning the skill of drawing hair, you can unlock a powerful tool in your character design toolkit.
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