Friday, June 15, 2012

How to Draw Manga Hair - Drawing Manga People: Part 1

Some people approach drawing manga hair by drawing each individual strand on the head. But that method is so time consuming that it makes my brain hurt. And usually, it doesn’t look great for all the effort. Here’s why: In a color drawing, all those black hair lines tend to dim the look of the colors, or make them look dirty or smudged. To draw the flowing hair of a ponytail, you would need dozens of flowing lines, all of them parallel to each other, as they curve this way and that. I know – now your brain hurts, too. Usually, such precision is tough to maintain, and the lines of individual hairs, separated by only a 16th of an inch or so, begin to touch, or overlap, and then the look just devolves.

Alternatively, some people draw too little detail, and the hair ends up looking like some freak helmet. So what should you do? See a shrink, and pour your hair-drawing guts out to him? What if the shrink is bald? Then your story will just depress him, and he’ll start spilling his bald headed-guts out to you. And believe me, you don’t want that.

Instead when you think about how to draw manga hair, aim for a middle ground: draw general groupings of strands, but not the actual strands themselves. Here are some hints to remember:

Indicate a part, which breaks up the monotony, and prevents that “I’m wearing an upside-down cereal bowl” look. The exception is female characters with bangs, where no part may be apparent.

Also, give the hair some direction. Choose whether it will predominantly go toward the left, the right, forward or back. Hair that shows gentle motion results in a character with more eye-appeal. This is especially important when drawing dramatic & romantic characters.

The hair often falls just above the eyebrows. If you make it too short, it’ll look as if the barber was directed by the character’s mother to get him ready for his Bar mitzvah.

In a 3/4 pose, sometimes it’s possible to indicate a touch of the hair on the far side of the head. This really adds depth, because it creates the effect of layering: Foreground hair, head, background hair.

These are only suggestions. Use them if you find them helpful.

Was this tutorial on how to draw manga hair helpful? Check out my new book: 

Manga for the Beginner Kawaii: How to Draw the Supercute Characters of Japanese Comics

Buy this book at Barnes&

The book is all about “cuteness.” The cuteness so insanely intense, it hurts. You want to look away. But you can’t. Some of my readers have been staring at the adorable characters for days, forgetting to even eat or sleep. What can I do? The power of the cuteness runs deep.

See ya soon.

Your drawing colleague,


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  2. I love this picture so much. Did you color it yourself? I must say you are my FAVORITE artist ever! I own five of your books and hope to have a sixth one soon. Your pencilings are fabulous, and you make me want to become a better artists. Thanks so much for being a GREAT INSPIRATION!!!