How to draw curly hair

This tutorial will show you how to draw curly hair in a few easy steps and tune your fashion sketches with fresh, playful curls. Some outfits just don’t go well with straight hair – explore the steps and give amazing new looks to your fashion sketches!

Time, Tools and Difficulty:

Time to complete the tutorial: 12min
Tools you’ll need: drawing paper, a pencil, colored pencils, and an eraser
Difficulty level: 6/10

How to draw curly hair in 9 steps:

Step 1: Before you start

Draw the face of your model with all the features. Don’t forget to draw the ears too.
Pull a short vertical line to mark the middle of the head.

Step 2: Guidelines

Starting from the Centerline draw the outlines of the hair. Notice that the shape is indented at the top of the head. Then it follows the form of the head, expands and finishes as an arch at the bottom line.

Step 3: Layers of hair

When drawing fashion sketches you have to keep in mind that hair is not a flat surface. It has volume and layers.
Leave some space from the outline and draw a second line repeating the former. This upper layer should be longer, so the hair looks 3-dimensional.
Mark the middle part of the hair with several short, curved lines starting from the Centerline.

Step 4: Bottom layer

Erase the unnecessary lines and draw zig-zag lines covering the bottom layer of hair. Don’t be afraid to intersect the ears – doing so will make your drawing look more natural.
Erase the parts of the ears that stand behind the bottom line of curls already.

Keep the zig-zags relatively big for now. The bigger the zig-zag, the bigger (and more easy to draw) the curls.

Step 5: Upper layer

The zig-zag guidelines for this layer will be following the curve of the outline of the hair. Make at least one zig-zag in the inside of the upper layer.
Notice that the curls guidelines start from the middle part of the hair.

Step 6: A-side curls

As mentioned above, even in fashion sketches the hair has a certain dimension. So does every single curl. Using the zig-zag guide draw a parallel line with a curved end, as shown in the example illustration. Fill all the curls this way.

It is less likely to get confused which one is the A-side if you start from the bottom and draw up towards the Centerline.

Step 7: B-side curls

Once you have filled every left-to-right part of the curls it’s time to make the B-part. Use exactly the same technique and draw all the curls.
Draw the tips of the hair thinning at the end.

Step 8: Bottom line

Use a wavy line to fill the gaps between the curls ends. Remember to follow the guidelines from step 2. Hair has volume- show it, leaving the upper layer slightly longer than the one that goes behind.

Step 9: How to color curly hair?

Cover the whole hair with a flat layer in a color of your choice.
Then take a darker shade and render the whole A-part, except for its center.

For additional realism you can fill ONLY THE MIDDLE of the B-part with white to make the hair look shiny.

Darken slightly the part of the hair, since the hair is always darker in the roots.

Using the same technique, but changing the size of the zig-zags you can have very different hairstyles for your fashion illustrations. Try mini, regular and big curls!

You just learned how to draw beautiful curls in an easy way. It’s time to get creative and design some hair accessories and pieces of jewelry!

If you want to further enhance your skills and learn how to draw hundreds of hairstyles go check out my online course on “How to Draw Hair


It doesn’t look right! Common mistakes:

Mistake 1: The distance between the parallel lines is too little. Make it wider- at least 1/3 of the next zig-zag segment.


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