Easy Step-By-Step Instructions for Drawing Curly Hair

Everyone has a defining physical feature. Maybe it’s striking eyes, full lips, or even ringlets of curls. This type of textured hairstyle might seem tricky to draw, but it doesn’t have to be.

Finished curly hair drawing

Learn step-by-step instructions for drawing curly hair!

For this tutorial, I’m using basic art supplies: my favorite drawing paper, pencils and eraser. I don’t have a reference photo so I can feel free to style any sort of curls I like.

Step 1: Start with the head and neck.

Outline of head

Because the focus of this drawing is the hair, I’m just starting out by drawing an oval for my head and then attaching a neck to it. I put some guidelines where the nose and eyes would be, too.

Step 2: Draw in the shape of the hair.

Outline of hair

Now, draw in a general shape of where the hair will lay. This is an important step in the process. Here, you determine the length and style of the hair based on its silhouette. You can see I went for a longer hairstyle that dips below the shoulders but feel free to make the hair any length you like.

Step 3: Set guidelines for the curls.

Guideline drawing for curls

This is as simple as drawing wavy lines to indicate where your curls will go. Since I’m drawing a longer hairstyle, my curls will be long and relaxed. If you’re going shorter, however, you’ll want to your lines shorter and more zigzag-like.

Step 4: Start defining the curls.

Defining the curls in curly hair

Here’s where the fun begins and you start to bring the curls to life. While all hair is different, there are some general guidelines when defining curls:

  • Think of curls like ribbons. They start at the part and hang from there. Imagine that you’re wrapping a package and curling ribbon. Think about that structure as you’re drawing the hair. The strands are going to twist over onto themselves, so you’ll have parts that are the “front” of the curl and the “back.” The front will overlap with the back, which will appear smaller and less curved.
  • Not every curl can be super curly. Hair is layered, and the pieces that are toward the sides and the back of the head generally aren’t as curly. Instead, they’ll probably be more of soft waves. So, to make your drawn head of hair appear natural, focus on several ringlets and imply a wavy texture behind them.
Curly hair detail
  • Vary curl length. If you, or you know someone that has curly hair, they’ll tell you that layers are an important part of their hairstyle — especially if the texture is ringlets. This keeps the hair from being one large poof. With this in mind, vary the length of your curls. One near the top of the head will be shorter than what’s at the bottom.
  • Longer curly hairstyles will be more curly at the tips. The top of the head will have straighter hair because the length of the curls will weight them down.

5. Shade the hair to give it definition.

detail of shading curly hair

Once you’ve spent time perfecting the curls, it’s time to shade them. This will give the hair form and depth. Since this is a sketch, you don’t have to do any intensive shading. But, do darken around the ringlets and the underside of the curls. You’ll be surprised just how much life it gives them!

Shading curly hair

Have you ever tried drawing curly hair before?

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