How to Draw Anime Hair

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Hair is a very complex subject to draw, because it’s like a substance that can take many shapes and forms. Because of this, manga artists have developed a special method of simplifying hair. In manga or anime, you draw hair as a mass or a cloth. This way it can be drawn quickly, with exaggerated shading that conceals the lack of detail.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw various manga hairstyles: straight hair, wavy hair, pigtails, and short hair. I will also explain the method behind it, so that you can draw your own anime hairstyles from scratch. Before you start, you may want to take a look at our previous tutorials on How to Draw Anime:

You can draw your own head base for this tutorial, or download my template.

1. How to Draw Anime Hair

Let’s take a look at the method behind drawing anime hair first. Once you understand it, you’ll be able to create your own anime hairstyles with no help!

Step 1

Hair doesn’t lie flat on the skull. Always start by defining some distance right above the head, drawing a simple helmet like this:

how to draw hair volume
Photo credit: young woman in dress stock photo on Envato Elements

Step 2

Next, sketch a simple outline of the hairstyle. How long is it? What is its general shape? This will help you see the effect of the hair on the composition before actually drawing it.

how to draw hair shape

Step 3

Hair needs to reveal the face in some way. Draw the outline of the bangs, or move the hair to the sides.

how to draw bangs

Step 4

Now sketch the inner outline of the hair. Imagine the hair as a single mass, and mark its edges.

how to draw hairstyle

Step 5

Next, find the secondary rhythm in the hair. Mark it with lines and curves. The fewer of them, the better.

how to draw hair rhythm

Step 6

Outline the rhythm lines, creating strands of hair.

how to draw hair strands

Step 7

Finally, draw additional lines repeating the rhythm, simulating the spaces between thinner strands.

how to draw hair detail

2. How to Draw Straight Anime Hair

Let’s see how to use this method in practice to draw straight anime hair step by step!

Step 1

Draw the “helmet” to mark the distance from the head. Straight hair usually is not very voluminous, so you don’t have to add a lot of distance.

hair skull distance

Step 2

Draw the basic shape of the hairstyle. Straight hair goes smoothly down. The only curve appears where the hair falls on the shoulders.

define hair length

Step 3

Draw the bangs. Our character will look cute and innocent with them!

define bangs shape

Step 4

Draw the inner outline of the hairstyle now.

define hair shape

Step 5

Draw some secondary rhythm lines inside the main outline.

define hair rhythm

Step 6

“Close” the shape of the strands by drawing a line from the tip of one rhythm line to just below the tip of the other.

define hair tips

Step 7

Add some rhythm lines to the bangs, too.

draw shape of bangs

Step 8

If you draw additional lines between them, you’ll create nice, thick strands.

draw bangs strands

Step 9

Separate the strands of the long hair the same way.

draw hair strands

Step 10

The guide lines are done, so let’s get to the main drawing now! Copy the rhythm lines along the strands to make them more detailed.

draw hair detail

Step 11

Outline the whole shape of the hair.

finish straight hair outline

Step 12

Outline the bangs. Keep your lines clean and confident!

outline straight hair

Step 13

Outline the inner side of the hairstyle.

draw anime straight hair

Step 14

Outline the tips of the hair. Avoid sharp ends.

finsih straight hair drawing

Step 15

Copy some rhythm lines randomly inside the main outline.

add detail to straight hair

Step 16

Accentuate the edges to create some contrast between the outline of the hair and the detailing lines.

draw ling straight hair

Step 17

Add more detail lines, if necessary.

darken the outline

Step 18

It’s done! Of course, there are many manga styles, and not all of them require the same level of detail. Feel free to modify this method to achieve the style you prefer. There are a lot of shortcuts you can use to simplify this style even more!

how to draw manga straight hair

3. How to Draw Wavy Anime Hair

You know how to draw straight hair. Now let’s learn how to draw wavy anime hair step by step!

Step 1

Although a wavy hairstyle may look quite voluminous at first, it doesn’t add a lot of distance to the top (of course, feel free to modify it for an exaggerated effect!).

draw top of wavy hairstyle

Step 2

Draw the outline of the hairstyle. Wavy hair doesn’t give in to gravity so easily!

draw shape of wavy hair

Step 3

Part the hair in the front, revealing the face.

draw bangs wavy hair

Step 4

Draw wavy strands on the sides of the face.

sketch bangs of wavy hairstyle

Step 5

The upper part is usually straighter, because of the weight it holds.

sketch top of wavy hairstyle

Step 6

Draw the lower part with more curves.

sketch wavy strands

Step 7

Outline the strands, making them thicker on their way up.

finish strands

Step 8

Draw another wave on the side.

add other waves

Step 9

You can make the strands more detailed by spreading them:

add more rhythm
add split curls

Step 10

Once you have the main, clear strands, add some parts of them here and there. This will create a nice, overlapping look.

add rhythm of strands
add full strands
add more volume
wavy hairstyle step by step

Step 11

These were the guide lines. Now we can draw the final lines over them. Start with the top of the head.

draw manga wavy hair

Step 12

Outline the waves. Add a lot of overlapping!

how to draw wavy hair volume

Step 13

Accentuate the outline of the hair…

outline wavy hair

… and the inside.

draw anime wavy hair

Step 14

You can accentuate parts of the lines to simulate shadows where the strands cross.

simple wavy hair drawing

Step 15

If you want to make the hair more detailed, you can add lines following the rhythm.

wavy hair outline
wavy hair details

Be careful when drawing these lines inside the wavy strands, though—they may look too heavy with long lines inside. Instead, try to pick your pen/pencil up from time to time to make the lines less continuous.

wavy hair drawing tutorial
how to draw realistic wavy hair

Step 16

All done! Of course, you may want to simplify some steps. A wavy hairstyle can be successfully drawn with very few lines, if you shade it properly.

how to draw manga wavy hair

4. How to Draw Anime Pigtails

Pigtails are a very popular hairstyle for cute anime girls! Let’s see how to draw anime pigtails step by step.

Step 1

Because the pigtails pull the hair on two sides, you can mark two “humps” at this point already.

draw top of pigtails hairstyle

Step 2

Outline cute, long bangs surrounding the face.

draw heart shape bangs
draw anime bangs

Step 3

Mark the hair ties on the sides.

draw anime hair ties

Step 4

Mark the rhythm of the pigtails. In anime, they tend to be very springy, defying gravity in a way.

draw rhythm of pigtails

Step 5

Sketch the coils of the pigtails.

draw curly hair

Step 6

Turn this coiled wire into a coiled ribbon with a few outlines:

draw side of curly hair
draw 3d curls
draw cute hairstyle anime

Step 7

Add similar coils on the sides to add volume.

add more curls
finish curls

Step 8

Draw cute bows on the ties.

draw anime bows

Step 9

That would be the end of the guide lines! Time for the final lines now. Outline the main part of the hair.

finish the bangs
finish hair

Step 10

Outline the bows. Remember to keep them behind the head.

draw manga bows

Step 11

Outline the curls.

outline manga curls
outline pigtails hairstyle

Step 12

Add some detailing lines, if you want.

add detail to cute hair
how to draw cute manga hairstyle

Step 13

Accentuate the edges. Because this hairstyle is very exaggerated, it’s more suited to thick lines than the others were.

cute manga pigtails

Step 14

It’s finished! These curls, though not very realistic, fit the anime style perfectly.

how to draw cute pigtails anime

5. How to Draw Short Anime Hair

Finally, let’s take a look at classic short anime hair, suitable for both girls and boys. Follow me to learn how to draw short anime hair step by step!

Step 1

Short hair can be very voluminous on top, as it’s not pulled down by its own weight. Feel free to add a lot of distance here!

draw short hair on top

Step 2

Gently “close” the hairstyle behind the head.

draw bottom part of short hair

Step 3

Sketch the rhythm of the bangs.

draw rhyth of long bangs

Step 4

Sketch the rhythm of the strands on the sides. Keep them slightly random for a messy look.

draw rhythm of short haircut

Step 5

“Close” these strands.

finish strands of short hair

Step 6

We’re done with the guide lines already! Now draw the final outline of the hairstyle on top.

draw top of the hair

Step 7

Outline all the strands, adding some details on them as you go.

draw outline of hair
finish cute short hair

Step 8

You can add some detailing lines on the strands.

draw details of short hair

Step 9

Because this hairstyle is so stylized, don’t be afraid to use thick lines here.

draw outline of short hair male manga

Step 10

Our short anime hair is finished!

how to draw short male anime hair


Now you know how to draw anime hair in many variants! If you like your end result, feel free to post it in the comments!

If you want to keep learning about drawing in simple styles, you will like our series on How to Draw Like Disney:

And if you want to learn more about how to draw hair, we have more tutorials on this subject:

how to draw anime manga hair hairstyles

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