How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils

Written by sandra petersen
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How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils
The hair is done; ready for facial features.

Artists who do portraits in coloured pencil can make their work look so realistic the character almost seems to be alive. What makes this possible is the amount of attention the artist pays to rendering the subject's hair with the right tones and texture.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Photo or person willing to model for you
  • Graphite No. 2 pencil
  • Artist's sketch pad
  • Coloured pencils in at least 36 colours
  • Kneadable eraser and/or tortillon

Show MoreHide


    How to Draw Hair with Colored Pencils

  1. 1

    Select a photo of a person you want to render in coloured pencil. An alternative is to ask a model to sit for a period of time while you work on her portrait.

    How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils
    Select a photo or model.
  2. 2

    Sketch the general outline of the model's face and hair lightly with the graphite No. 2 pencil on the artist's sketch pad. Pay attention to the proportions of the face to the hair length. Do not go into detail at this point.

    How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils
    Use light lines.
  3. 3

    Sketch in the major dark and highlight areas of the hair.

  4. 4

    Select coloured pencils which match the tones of your model's hair.

  5. 5

    Colour in the dark areas first by using the side of the darkest pencil lead to make soft thick lines. Draw the lines in the direction the hair normally grows.

    How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils
    Work the darkest sections first.
  6. 6

    Colour in the other sections of hair with a light yellow ochre.

  7. 7

    Add more tones to the hair by applying tints over the top of the light yellow ochre, going from lightest to darkest. Remember to fill in the sections with lines going in the direction of the hair. Transition from dark to light. Avoid blocks of colour.

    How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils
    Almost done.
  8. 8

    Draw a few flyaway wisps in lighter shades to give a natural look.

    How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils
    A few wisps were added.
  9. 9

    Soften harsh lines or edges in the hair by lightly using a kneadable eraser to blend the colours. Rubbing the lines firmly with the end of a tortillon will also soften any harsh places in the hair.

    How to Draw Hair With Colored Pencils
    Use the tortillon to blend colours.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice making realistic-looking hair by using subjects with straight hair until you have mastered the technique. Then you may proceed to models with curly hair or unusual hair styles.
  • A model's clothing or the background she is standing in front of can add different tints to the hair.
  • Avoid making the hair a solid mass of one colour.
  • Do not colour in sections by using an up-and-down motion with the coloured pencils.
  • Do not try to make the hair look exactly like that of the photo or model.
  • Do not try to draw every single hair on the head.

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