How to Draw Realistic Hair With a Mechanical Pencil

Written by sasha maggio Google
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How to Draw Realistic Hair With a Mechanical Pencil
Draw realistic hair with a mechanical pencil with 2B lead. (portrait drawing image by PinkShot from

Drawing realistic portraits takes practice, even for someone with natural drawing skill. Using mechanical pencils to draw realistic hair is possible, but using a softer lead in the mechanical pencil--or changing leads while drawing--can help add to the realistic appearance of the hair. Most mechanical pencils come with an HB lead, but artist and author Lee Hammond recommends replacing the HB lead with 2B lead for drawing realistic portraits of people or animals.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mechanical pencil with 2B lead
  • Drawing paper
  • Blending tools
  • Kneaded eraser

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  1. 1

    Look carefully at the picture or model being drawn and determine the overall shape of the hair. Lightly sketch the outline of this shape. The sketch does not have to be perfect, and the lines should be very light since detail will be added in layers as the realistic hair is built up in the drawing.

  2. 2

    Note areas on the picture or model where the light is reflected off the hair, and the darker areas where the light is not reflected, or at least not reflected as much. With smooth strokes of the mechanical pencil, begin at the edge of the hairline along the darker areas and make strokes with the pencil toward the centre of the hair or toward the lighter areas. Lift up on the pencil as it approaches these lighter areas, allowing the lines to thin out.

  3. 3

    Blend the darker areas with a blending tool to smooth the lines and even the tone. Blend in the direction of the lines to keep the hair more realistic. It is OK to smooth the darker lines into the light-reflecting area of the hair; the kneaded eraser is used later to lift the tone from areas that have become too dark.

  4. 4

    Add more hair lines with the mechanical pencil, following the darker areas into the light area as before. Then blend again into the light areas with the blending tools. Repeat this process, building the hair up from only a few lines to a full, realistic portrait. The building of the hair in layers provides a natural, three-dimensional look as opposed to a flat, single-layered appearance.

  5. 5

    Knead the kneaded eraser to prepare it for use, then press onto the lighter areas of the hair and lift off, pulling the tone from the mechanical pencil with it. This lifts the colour, providing a natural, light-reflecting appearance to the hair.

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