Drawing Different Hair Textures in Manga

Continuing this series of Manga tutorials on drawing hair, let’s talk about getting the shape and texture right of different hair types and styles!

Hair consists of many different textures, be it really curly, frizzy and fluffy, or sleek. Of course, some of these are more obvious and easy to draw, whilst others are much more time-consuming to get right, but that is no excuse for avoiding them and ending up with characters that all look too similar.

First up, the curliest hair of all: Afro-textured hair! This hair has very tight, small curls that aren’t individually defined or obvious face-to-face, only when you look very closely will you see the curls or spirals. So you have to treat it like you would drawing anything of a small, fine texture from a distance (similar to when you draw the leaves on trees or bushes in the background).

Hair texture 1a

Outline your hair style with a scribbley line. This can be a close crop, a big Afro, or dreadlocks, or cornrows etc. Make sure that the scribble you use stays at a consistent, fairly small size – don’t leap from a small scribble to large ones or the effect will be lost. Then fill in with a scribble pattern the shadowy areas of the hairstyle.

Hair texture 1b

Where any partings would be, or if the light is from above, fill in darker around the bottom of the style and gradually scribble less and less towards the top. If it’s dreadlocks, scribble along the bottom of each tube. This helps to reinforce the texture of the hair without you filling in the entire hairstyle.

Any form of curly or wavy hair that isn’t as tight as Afro-textured hair can be depicted with a little bit more definition in the lines by using plenty of parallel waves. Whether fairly small and tight, or big and bouncy, try to draw several wavy lines next to each other, but vary the distance between them to give a more natural appearance of irregular locks of hair.

Hair texture 2a

Hair texture 2b

Straight hair is the easiest and most commonly drawn in Anime and Manga these days because it is fairly quick to draw and to practice getting those irregular spikes. Again, vary the distance between the downward spikes and leave a few very thin or just draw a couple of loose strands as just lines. The main complication is that there is no room for error at the top of the head; you have to be very precise with the origin points, partings and direction the hair is going in, particularly once you start shading the hair. In all hairstyles, but straight hair most of all, please don’t draw the ends with blunt spikes unless it’s a stylistic choice – wherever possible, really make an effort to lift your pen from the paper (or stylus from your graphics tablet) so that you have sharp, tapered spikes and lines.

Hair texture 3a

Hair texture 3b

About Sonia Leong

Sonia Leong is a professional illustrator specialising in Anime and Manga. She first rose to fame with the 2005 Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga (UK & Ireland) competition. Since then her popular Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (SelfMadeHero) has had numerous global editions.Her work appears in DOMO: The Manga (Tokyopop), Comic Book Tattoo (Image) and the I, Hero series (Hachettes). She has worked for Walker, Barrington Stoke, Ilex and Quarto amongst many other publishers on various children's books and instructional art books. She's geekily proud of her art being part of the set of British TV sitcom, The I.T. Crowd (Channel 4). She is the company secretary of Sweatdrop Studios. She loves clothes, singing, food and weaponry! For more about Sonia, visit her website, http://fyredrake.net/

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2 Responses to Drawing Different Hair Textures in Manga

  1. Shi April 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    So very informative thank you I find colouring so diff

  2. Dona Ross June 30, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    Well written, a lot a of people would benefit from reading this article. Glad I found it

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