How To Draw Curly Hair?

Looking to master the art of drawing curly hair? Look no further! In this article, I’ll provide you with clear and concise instructions on how to tackle this challenging but rewarding task. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, I’ve got you covered. So grab your pencil and let’s get started on unraveling the secrets of drawing those beautiful curls!

How to Draw Curly Hair?

Curly hair can be a beautiful and unique feature to incorporate into your drawings. Whether you’re creating a portrait or a character design, capturing the texture and shape of curly hair can add depth and personality to your art. In this article, I will guide you through the process of drawing curly hair, from understanding its characteristics to adding the finishing touches. So, let’s get started!

Understanding Curly Hair

What makes curly hair different?

Curly hair is characterized by its distinct shape and texture. Unlike straight hair, which flows smoothly in a uniform direction, curly hair forms tight, spiral-like curls. Each curl bounces and springs in different directions, giving curly hair its playful and voluminous appearance.

Types of curly hair

Curly hair can vary in texture and curl pattern, and it’s important to identify the specific type of curls you want to draw. There are generally three main types of curly hair:

  1. Loose curls: These curls are larger and have more space between them. They flow gently and often have a wavy appearance.

  2. Medium curls: This type of curl is tighter and more defined. The curls are closer together and create a more textured look.

  3. Tight curls: These curls are the most compact and densely packed. They create a coiled and spring-like effect, adding a lot of volume and intensity to the hair.

By understanding the different types of curls, you can better portray the specific look and style you want to achieve in your drawings.

Preparing to Draw Curly Hair

Gathering the necessary tools

Before you start drawing, it’s essential to gather the right tools. You’ll need:

  1. Pencils: Invest in a set of quality pencils with different lead grades. This will allow you to create various line weights and shading effects.

  2. Sketchbook or drawing paper: Choose a sketchbook or paper that is suitable for your preferred drawing medium. Make sure the paper has a good texture to capture the details of the curly hair.

  3. Eraser: An eraser will come in handy for correcting mistakes or lightening areas of your drawing.

  4. Reference images: Having reference images of curly hair will greatly assist you in capturing its unique characteristics. Choose images that showcase the specific type of curls you want to draw.

Choosing a reference

To draw curly hair realistically, studying and observing real-life examples is crucial. Utilize reference images that highlight the specific curl pattern, texture, and volume you’re aiming for. Observing photos, studying the way the hair falls, and examining the overall shape will help inform your drawing.

Keep in mind that while references are valuable, it’s essential to add your own artistic touch and interpretation to make your drawing unique.

Mastering Curly Hair Texture

Understanding the basics of curly hair texture

Curly hair texture can be complex, and capturing its essence requires attention to detail. Curly hair has a tendency to clump together in individual strands, creating a tangled appearance. It’s important to understand how these strands interact with each other to achieve a convincing representation.

Start by observing the flow of the curls and their overall direction. Curly hair tends to have a natural “S” shape, with the strands curving and winding in different directions. This characteristic is key to replicating the texture and movement of curly hair in your drawing.

Creating an outline for the hair

To begin drawing curly hair, create a general outline of the head. This will act as the foundation for the hair and help ensure that the proportions are accurate. Remember to consider the size and position of the curls in relation to the head shape.

Next, lightly sketch in the basic shape of the hair, following the flow and direction you observed earlier. Keep your strokes loose and fluid, as this will make it easier to add details and volume later on.

Adding volume to the curls

Curly hair is known for its volume and depth. To capture this in your drawing, focus on creating the illusion of three-dimensional curls.

Start by shading the areas where the shadows would naturally fall. Pay attention to the curvature of the curls and where they overlap. This will give your drawing a sense of depth and realism. Gradually build up the shading, using different pencil pressures to create variation in value.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shading techniques, such as cross-hatching or blending with a tortillon, to enhance the texture and volume of the curls.

Drawing Curly Hair Step by Step

Step 1: Drawing the general shape of the head

Begin by lightly sketching the overall shape of the head. Consider the proportions and angles that are specific to your subject. Remember to leave enough space for the volume and length of the curly hair.

Step 2: Sketching the outline of the curls

Using reference images, sketch the outline of the curls, following the natural flow and direction. Start with larger, defining curls and gradually add smaller curls and spirals within them.

Don’t worry about adding too much detail at this stage; focus on capturing the general shape and structure of the curls.

Step 3: Adding details and definition to the curls

Once you have the basic outline, begin adding details to the individual curls. Observe the varying thickness and texture of the strands within each curl. Add lines and curves to indicate the movement and shape of the curls.

Be mindful of areas where the curls may overlap or intertwine. These areas often have more defined lines and shadows, contributing to the overall depth and realism.

Enhancing Realism and Depth

Creating realistic texture and highlights

To make your drawing even more realistic, pay attention to the texture and highlights that are unique to curly hair.

Use short, overlapping strokes to create the appearance of individual strands within each curl. Vary the length and thickness of the strokes to add depth and dimension.

To create highlights, leave small areas of the paper untouched or lightly shade them. This will mimic the way light reflects off the curves and bends of the curls, adding a sparkling effect to your drawing.

Shading for volume and dimension

Shading is crucial for giving your drawing volume and dimension. Observe the areas where the curls cast shadows and gradually darken those regions. Use softer shading techniques in the shadowed areas and lighter strokes in the highlighted areas to create contrast and depth.

Experiment with different shading techniques to find the one that best captures the texture and volume of curly hair.

Adding Finishing Touches

Refining the drawing

Once you have completed the basic structure and shading of the curly hair, take the time to refine the details. Pay attention to any areas that may need fine-tuning, adding more definition or adjusting the curves and shapes of the curls.

Refining your drawing will help to bring out the intricate beauty of curly hair and make it more visually appealing.

Evaluating and adjusting the composition

Before finalizing your drawing, take a step back and evaluate the overall composition. Look for any areas that may need adjustment or improvement. Consider whether the placement and density of the curls are balanced and visually pleasing.

Make any necessary adjustments to ensure that the composition complements the subject and showcases the unique characteristics of curly hair.

Tips and Tricks for Drawing Curly Hair

Observing real-life examples

One of the best ways to improve your ability to draw curly hair is to observe and study real-life examples. Pay attention to the unique characteristics, such as curl patterns, volume, and texture. Practice sketching from observation to enhance your understanding of curly hair and develop your skills.

Experimenting with different curl patterns

Curly hair comes in a variety of curl patterns, from loose waves to tight coils. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of curls in your drawings. By exploring various curl patterns, you’ll expand your artistic range and create diverse and interesting characters with curly hair.

Practicing with different hair lengths

The length of the hair greatly influences the overall appearance of curly hair. Practice drawing curly hair at various lengths, from short and cropped to long and flowing. Understanding how the curl pattern changes with different hair lengths will help you create more realistic and dynamic drawings.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Over-exaggerating or under-representing curls

When drawing curly hair, it’s important to strike a balance between capturing the essence of the curls and avoiding over-exaggeration or under-representation. Pay close attention to the reference images and replicate the curl patterns and volume accurately. Avoid making the curls too stiff or too loose, as this may detract from the realism of your drawing.

Neglecting to add variation in curl size

Curly hair is rarely uniform in curl size and shape. Each curl has a unique character and varies in size and tightness. Be sure to add variation in curl size and spacing to create a more natural and dynamic look.

Neglecting to consider the direction of the curls

The direction and flow of the curls contribute greatly to the overall appearance of curly hair. Neglecting to consider the direction of the curls can result in a flat and unrealistic drawing. Always observe the reference images and ensure that your curls follow the natural flow and movement of curly hair.


Drawing curly hair can be both challenging and rewarding. By understanding the characteristics and textures unique to curly hair, gathering the necessary tools, and following a step-by-step process, you can create beautiful and realistic drawings of curly hair.

Remember to observe real-life examples, experiment with different curl patterns, and practice drawing curly hair at different lengths to refine your skills. Avoid common mistakes such as over-exaggerating or under-representing curls, neglecting variation in curl size, and failing to consider the direction of the curls.

With patience, practice, and attention to detail, you’ll be able to create stunning drawings that capture the beauty and essence of curly hair. So grab your pencils, embrace the uniqueness of curly hair, and let your creativity flow!

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