Drawing Realistic Hair

Drawing Realistic Hair with Pencil Part One

This will be an introduction on how i draw hair and the tools that i use. I will split this tutorial into sections because i want you to have time to practice and for you to understand the technique. In this tutorial i will explain how understanding hair and fur will help in developing realistic textures and hair. After you understand it, you will see how easy it becomes to draw hair. I don’t want to rush this topic and i want to make sure i explain it well so you can understand it and so you can start to see improvement in your drawings. Most people have a difficult time drawing animal hair. In my opinion its much more difficult than drawing a persons hair. The simple reason for this is that with an animal they are covered in hair. Animals have bone and muscle structure and the hair over these muscles and bones look different depending on angle. So it makes it much more difficult to to make the drawing more realistic.

Like ive mentioned before drawing hair/fur is not about actually drawing each and every hair. Its about fooling the eye into thinking its hair. How do we do this? Well the main things that jump out at you when you look at hair are the highlights and shadows. These 2 things combined make up hair. If you look at a up close photograph of some hair/fur you will see hair strands, but you will also notice that they are not all visible as single strands. Strands of hair clump up, these clumps depending where the light is hitting will cause shadows. Understanding light and shadows in hair will improve drawing hair dramatically.

Something else that you will notice is that hair is not all pointing in the same direction. Hair flows in different directions, even with short hair. Most people when they draw hair straight down which ends up looking like spaghetti, it has no flow.

So how do i draw hair. Well, the idea of giving the illusion of hair with lights and shadows hasn’t changed from when i started drawing. What has changed are the tools that i use to get that effect. I’m always looking for ways to fool the eye into seeing realism. The process that i take to draw hair is to first look at the type of hair that ill be drawing. Drawing short hair is totally different from the steps taken to draw long hair.

Negative Drawing is a big part of drawing hair and i recommend that you first understand what im talking about before going on. You can read the article here. The way i draw hair is a combination of negative drawing and scratch board. Scratchboard or scraperboard is a technique where drawings are created using sharp knives and tools for etching into a thin layer of white China clay that is coated with black India ink. Instead of a board i use paper and instead of knives i use an empty pen and needle. It sounds simple but its not just about scratching/indenting on paper. That’s why i said it is important to understand hair or else you’ll end up with realistic looking spaghetti hair with this technique :D

The tools that use are a pen with no ink and a pen with a needle inserted on the tip. You can see them here . Make sure that the pen has absolutely no ink, you don’t want to be halfway through your drawing and accidentally make a pen mark, trust me its not a good feeling :D. Also, make sure that the needle that you use on your other pen should not be too pointy. You can file it down using some sandpaper, but don’t make it flat or it will make a sharp edge. If its too pointy it will eat through the paper. The needle is a bit more dangerous to use because if you use too often on a single area it can start to shred the paper. I use the needle mostly for fine hair specially around the tips.

Ok, you now have your pen and your needle, now were ready to test it out. I recommend using a thicker drawing paper such a bristol. Not only because they work well with pencil but because the indenting stylus works great on it. I use bristol vellum and bristol smooth for my drawings. Vellum has a bit of texture to it. Ok, take your pen and draw three parallel lines, youwont be able to see them but they’re there. Now take some pencil and run over the lines. When revealing lines don’t use a mechanical pencil because the lead tip is real thin and will be able to go between the lines. I use a progresso pencil which is ticker and will easily go over the lines without going in them, just don’t press too hard. Voila, magically the lines appear.

Drawing realistic fur and hair

Now take the pen and do the same but this time cross hatch them. Make lots of lines. Now run the pencil only over the top. This will outline the tips of the lines. These lines could easily be the top of some fine hairs. If you read the negative space article you will clearly notice that these lines are done using negative drawing.

drawing realistic hair and fur

Now what else can we do for more realism, well we can shade them to give the much more depth and give the effect of shadows covering some hairs. Taking your color blender, blend from the top down. This will pull the graphite from the dark area down. After you have done this, lightly run some pencil over some parts of the bottom area with your progesso pencil. This will outline some the indented lines The areas that are covered with pencil could represent space behind the the hair or darker hair that is below the lighter ones. Youre beginning to see what can be done with this technique.

drawing realistit hair and fur

Remember i mentioned that hair clumps up. Well we can get that effect by just erasing some dark lines between two strands using your kneaded eraser. This will give the effect of more than one hair together. Small details like these will give your pencil drawing much more realism. I suggest you play around and see what you can come up with.

drawing realistic hair and fur

Well this should be a good introduction and the basics on how i draw hair and fur. Next tutorial i will give an example on how you can use it on different types of hairs. We will draw the area around the nose of a cat,including whiskers. If you have any questions please contact me or leave a comment. I don’t want to continue on because i want to take my time with this topic since it can be pretty long and i want you to understand it really well. Ill leave you with a little homework :) Look at the image below and draw it using what i just showed you. There is no better way to improve than to practice and this should be a good start. Part 2

drawing realistic hair and fur