How to Draw Hair and Make it Shine

Written by jennifer claerr
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Drawing shiny hair can seem intimidating and even impossible to new artists. However, if you follow some fairly simple guidelines, the procedure is accessible to both the experienced artist and the beginner.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Block out the general contours of the face and hair. You'll want to map out the most important features--such as the shape of the face, the eyes, the nose and the mouth--in a flat outline. Then map out the most important contours of the hair. Note which areas within the hair are dark and which are light.

  2. 2

    Begin to flesh out the darkest areas of the hair. Gradually begin at the top of the head and make slender strokes downward, in the direction of the growth of the hair. Avoid making hash marks back and forth, as this will only detract from the hair's natural appearance.

  3. 3

    Continue making downward hairline strokes, darkening the dark areas of the hair. If you're working with a graphite pencil, it will take some work to get the dark areas coloured in properly. Leave the light areas untouched until you have the darkest areas completely filled in.

  4. 4

    Look carefully at your model. If you are working from a photograph, changing the image to greyscale and increasing the brightness and contrast can help you to find the areas of light and dark more easily. Begin to slowly and gradually add in any shading in the light areas of the hair. Pay very close attention to any streaks in these light areas, and any areas of gradual shading. These fine gradations are extremely important to the finished drawing. They are what causes the appearance of a "shine" on the hair. If the end result doesn't look right, use an eraser to remove what you've drawn and simply begin again. An eraser can also be a useful tool for creating the desired amount of shading.

  5. 5

    Fill in the other details, such as the eyes, nose and mouth. Make sure that these match the model as closely as possible, and are in proper proportion to the rest of the picture.

    How to Draw Hair and Make it Shine

Tips and warnings

  • Use an art projector or trace the outline of the photograph to get a more accurate drawing of your subject.
  • Spray a fixative over your finished picture to prevent smudging.
  • For best results, work with an acid-free drawing paper with a high rag content.

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