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Harvey Bunda

Definitive Guide to Drawing Manga Hair

Learn to Draw Manga Hair Like a Pro


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One of the most iconic features of manga and anime is by far the character’s hair. Typically not drawn as individual strands, manga hair is usually composed of large segments or “chunks”. While this is ultimately easier and less time consuming, you can run into some trouble if you don’t know the basics.

Manga Hair

To make things a bit simpler, here are some tips and tricks you can use to get moving in the right direction.

Note: If you haven’t read our tutorial on How to Draw Manga, it would be a good place for any Manga artist to start.


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Where to Start

Assuming you have a pretty good grasp on other manga character features by now, you’re going to want to start by lightly drawing a head.

“But wait, how do I draw a complete head without hair?”

Simple – your character will start out bald. This is why you’re using very light pressure; when it’s time to add the hair, you can remove any unnecessary lines that show the scalp.

Once you have your head drawn and looking the way you like, you can get started with whatever hairstyle you decide on.

Males

To make things a little easier, lets start with a short, male’s hairstyle. These can also be fairly complex depending on the route you want to take, but we’ll go with something fairly standard for now.

Male hair

How about… short and spikey?

Start by lightly sketching the rough shape of the hair. The point of this is to help you work out things like placement, where any parts will lie, and how big the hair should be.

It’s perfectly fine if this doesn’t look good yet. You’re not going for quality or detail at this point – just a guide to follow.

Once a simple sketch is in place, you can begin adding details.

For spikey hair, you’re obviously going to want each strand to go upwards. But remember - with manga and anime you don’t actually draw each hair individually. You’ll want to clump them together in larger, thicker segments.


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Within these clumps, add a few additional lines representing strands and areas where the hair naturally parts or falls. Once things look begin looking how you like, go over what you’ve just drawn with fine, darker lines and erase any other marks that don’t belong. After some shading and color, your hair should look complete.

Females

Typically, female manga characters have longer, wavier hair, so let’s try out one of these styles next

Female hair

Start out by lightly drawing your character’s head in the size and position you like. Now, imagine a hairstyle you like and how it would lay on a human head. For this tutorial, let’s draw fairly long hair with bangs pushed to one side.

Lightly sketch out the rough shape of the hair, paying close attention to where parts should be and how the hair will fall. Since this is a longer hairdo, strands (large segments) of hair will flow downward – thanks gravity!

Since this style will have bangs, it’s a good idea to lightly draw the hairline so you can see where the forehead and ends and the hair begins. This just makes things a bit easier when trying to figure out the way bangs should rest against the head.

Like before, when the basic layout of the hair looks good, go back and add darker, smooth lines where the final product will be and add various details and shading throughout. When everything looks the way you like, erase the earlier sketch lines that don’t belong.

Additional Details


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There are countless variations you can use when drawing anime and manga hair, but the basic premise remains the same. No matter the style you use, it’s good to keep the following in mind:

  • Hair should be drawn in large segments, with a few internal lines for detail.
  • It’s okay to get creative. A lot of characters in popular manga have hairstyles that wouldn’t be possible in real life, so it’s alright to break some rules.
  • Don’t forget the basic shape of the head. By lightly drawing the scalp, you’ll be able to add hair in the right places without making things look weird.
  • Shading adds a ton of depth to your drawing. Since the line details are fairly minimal, shading and color in the right places can make things pop.
Female hair

That’s really all there is to it if you want to get started. By playing around with different styles, you’ll find ways that work best for you to get the look you want. Remember, practice is the most important part of becoming good at anything.

If you are interested, check out this list of 10 tips for Drawing Manga before you leave…


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