How to draw curly hair

A step by step guide for a rough hairstyle sketch


Let's draw eye-catching curly hair today!

The amazing hair of these 2 ladies has a lot of tiny little curls, that are absolutely challenging to draw, if you focus on every strand of hair.

In today's post I am showing you therefore a completely different way to draw this hairstyle: a rough ball-point sketch based on the cross-hatching method.

#1 - rough outlines

One of the typical characteristics of this hairstyle is its volume - its shape, that makes it instantly recognizable. We therefore have a closer look at the outlines of the hair.

I am capturing the contours of the hair without considering the details and single strands of the hair too much. The lines that I am using for this drawing are unsteady and wonky in order to indicate the tiny curls that are visible on the contour.

#2 - cross-hatching

The next step is about cross-hatching the darker areas. With “darker parts” I am meaning the hair that is not directly exposed to the light. Usually – when the source of light comes from above – these dark parts are around the face and near the neck.

I am cross-hatching with straight dynamic lines without adapting them to the shape of the hairstyle - by only focusing here on the dark areas.

The lines are straight on these specific dark areas, but the lines of the main curly waves are as shaky as the outlines.

This gives me an orientation where to stop the cross-hatching. On the other side of these shaky lines are bright strands of hair that are more exposed to the light. They shouldn't be colored therefore.

#3 - different shades

Step number 3 is focused on different shades of this cross-hatching style in order to define a graduation of the shadow in the hair. The upper part of the hair is bright – without any shading. The next layer below contains strands that are a bit darker.

I applied the cross-hatching method in about 2 or 3 different angles in these slightly darker areas. The lower part of the hair, that is close to the neck, is now really dark.

All strands of hair have at least one layer of hatching in order to achieve a certain darkness of the hair, that is less exposed the light. I am therefore hatching over this entire part of the hair before defining the strands with unsteady lines and the shades with even more hatching and cross-hatching.

Feel free to experiment.

The message I want to convey with this rough ball-point sketch: there are many ways to draw hair and to illustrate a specific hairstyle without the need to draw every single hair. 

Feel open to try out many different styles of hairdrawing - and you might discover your absolute favorite drawing style this way!


And ... by the way: the contrary of this sketching style, that I have shown you in this post, is amazing as well: you can draw every single hair, which is also a wonderful way of drawing (you'll find the link for the tutorial at the bottom of this page).

Share your own sketches.

Feel free to draw your own hairstyle or other portraits based on the tips that I have shown you here and share your sketches with us on Instagram. If you tag me (@baumann_illustration ) and use the hashtag #drawinggang, I'll give you a feature in my stories.  

I'd love to see what you are up to! ‍  

Want to learn more about drawing? I am happy to keep you updated about new tips, tricks and exercises in my monthly Newsletter: Subscribe here to be part of the drawing gang:  

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In the mood for drawing more detailed hairstyles?

Learn how to draw a braid in 3 simple STEPS:

I am sharing my drawing experiences with you by giving you lots of precious tips and tricks for being able to draw a braid with a ball-point pen. I made a simple 3-step worksheet out of it, that will enable you to draw realistic hair easily.

You can apply this knowledge for all kind of hairstyles with different tools.

Get your Free Hair Drawing Guide
Barbara Baumann Illustration

About the Author

Hallo, I'm an illustrator and Skillshare teacher from Austria. After great experiences in the Marketing and Database sector, I finally realised that I simply need to follow my enthusiasm and fascination for drawing and illustrating.  

What fascinates me most, is this way to communicate without using any words. So expressive, so global. And this leads me to my second fascination about drawing: the exchange with others, with you! In my drawing courses I simply love to see the enormous developments of each participant - initiated by exchange and practice. That's what I like to do here, too. 

The idea for this blog comes from the bottom of my heart: to get you close to drawing and to show you that you too can draw #drawinggang  

It's all about learning to feel the drawing!

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