How to Draw Hair in Adobe Illustrator

Written by andrew dewitt
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How to Draw Hair in Adobe Illustrator
(Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt)

Drawing hair is complicated in any medium. Artists struggle with it while using pencils, charcoal, or even paint brushes. Drawing hair in the digital medium may seem overly complicated. In reality, drawing hair using digital tools is one of the easiest ways to create realistic hair in a matter of minutes. Adobe Illustrator has some great and easy to use tools that can be applied immediately to your project. For the example in this article, you will be drawing brunette hair with the paint brush, blur and smudge tools as well as using different opacity levels. This technique can be applied to all your digital illustrations.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Computer
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Mouse or Digital Tablet (Tablet preferred)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Start with a base coat of one solid colour. Select brown for the colour and click on the brush tool. Make sure the opacity is set to 100%. Set the pixel size to 25. Brush on the fringe and top of the head with semicircle shapes on the upper left and right corners of the head. Add the lower portions of hair with two triangular shapes coming out of the bottom left and right corners of the head.

    How to Draw Hair in Adobe Illustrator
  2. 2

    Click on a light brown colour, and set the opacity of the brush down to 20%. Add streaks of this colour to the front of the fringe, top of the head, side of the hair and a couple small strokes in the top middle of the head. Leave plenty of the original brown showing.

    How to Draw Hair in Adobe Illustrator
  3. 3

    Set the pixel size of the brush down to 5 pixels. Click on a red colour and add thin strokes of red to the middle top section of hair. These strokes should be slightly curved, start pointing towards the upper left-hand corner, and end pointing towards the lower right-hand corner. Add two long strokes of red to the sides of the hair.

    How to Draw Hair in Adobe Illustrator
  4. 4

    Click on dark brown and set the brush pixel size to 20. Add dark lines to the middle scalp and under the bottom left and right corners of the face.

    How to Draw Hair in Adobe Illustrator
  5. 5

    Click on the blur tool and blur all of the hair. Click on the smudge tool and set the pixel size to 5. Click in the darkest regions of hair and use light repetitive strokes to add individual lines of hair. Flick the tool out slightly at the edges of the hair to create clusters of hair poking out in a realistic manner. Add errant hairs to the fringe by flicking some dark hair down across the face.

    How to Draw Hair in Adobe Illustrator

Tips and warnings

  • Use Ctrl+Z to undo any mistakes you have made. This can prevent you from having to reload old files and start from scratch when you make mistakes.
  • Be sure to save your work often, or a power outage on your computer could cost you hours of work.

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