In this article, I’ll guide you on how to draw Wavy Hair using the Indentation technique with the entire process, from understanding the fundamental principles of Wavy hair to applying the Indentation Technique effectively.

This article about drawing wavy hair easily will cover the topics such as observing hair patterns, controlling line thickness, creating volume, and adding texture to enhance the realism of your wavy hair drawing.

For the Complete Wavy hair Video Tutorial, Click here


The “Indentation Technique” is a method used to create the illusion of wavy hair in drawings. By carefully using varying indentations or lines, artists can depict Wavy hair’s flowing and dynamic nature.

This technique involves creating parallel lines that follow the direction of the waves, gradually tapering them to create a realistic effect.

By adjusting the spacing and thickness of the lines, artists can achieve different levels of detail and texture in their drawings. The indentation technique requires observation and practice to master, but it can be a valuable tool for artists looking to depict wavy hair with depth and realism in their artwork.


  • Derwent graphite Pencil 4b,6b & 9B
  • Mechanical Pencil 2.0mm by Faber-Castell
  • Tombow Mono Zero Eraser
  • Blending stump/ Tissue paper
  • Posca Uni-Ball Pen
  • Indenting tool ( Nailart tool, the wooden embossing tool can be used)
  • Kneaded Eraser
  • Black Coloured Pencil by Faber-Castell
  • Bristol Paper 130 gsm A4


For our wavy hair female drawing reference, we will be using an image of a female as her hair provides us with a unique challenge. The curls of her hair have various tonal values that sit on the tonal spectrum between dark and light. With all our materials ready we can now begin our hair drawing process.


The Process of drawing Hair can feel overwhelming due to its complex nature. It is difficult to identify where to begin because there are so many strands of hair to take into consideration. In contrast to that, I will explain an easy approach to drawing hair that consists of four steps in the following tutorial. By following these guidelines, you will be able to create realistic Wavy hair without experiencing any stress or confusion.


The bulk of the Hair consists of thousands of individual strands. Even if we could see all the strands, they would be very time-consuming to draw. 

The key to drawing hair is to break it down into simple shapes. So that’s why I’m using a lighter pencil, such as a 2H Mechanical Pencil, to sketch out an initial outline of the overall contour of the Wavy hair. This should be done very lightly.


After the Basic contour sketch. I’m going to enhance it a bit more by sketching the forms that represent the individual clumps of hair by giving it depth so that’s how you can modify your basic sketch which is ready for further details.

Take your time and draw the fundamental forms that you can make out of the photograph that you are using as a reference. Imagine each of the sub-sections as a separate piece of a puzzle that must be assembled.


A “Modified contour line drawing” allows you to look at your paper and pick up your pen, using multiple lines instead of one. Although not completely blind, the artist should only look at the paper 10% of the time, and at the object 90% of the time.


So before going into the further details I’m using a kneaded eraser to lighten up the sketch cause when you go further into the shading these harsh lines must be invisible to get a realistic subtle shading.


Use a kneaded eraser to soften the place where the hairs emerge from the skin to “embed” them and a more realistic impression.


Now I’m using the Technique which is properly termed as ‘indenting’ or ‘impressing’.

The outcome of this technique is a Pristine white, parallel-sided line, with a sharpness that erasing cannot obtain.

I’m using the Indenting tool which is a wooden one. You can grab the Nail Art tool for this. Only make sure that you’re Following the hair direction using a reference image. And perhaps a few hairs here and there that go against it to make it look more natural. You can also use a Tombow mono zero eraser to lighten and create a stronger highlight.


Firstly, I’m going to Shade the base layer with directional shading using the reference image

Here you can see that I’m trying to build each clump of the hair individually with the Eraser, Stump, and Graphite together rather than going all in the whole hair.

You can draw shapes for the highlights (where the light hits the hair directly).

Leave these areas blank so the white of the paper comes through.

Next, find the mid-tones and dark areas of the hair to shade using a 4B/6B Pencil.


At this point, To create depth in the hair, we need to shade light, middle, and dark tonal values. So for that, I’m going in first with the outline of the dark areas of the strand.

And then, Add the blended base layer of the graphite.


For the Bow,  I’m using a mechanical pencil for shading the base layer of the bow. I’m blocking in with the lighter shade and slowly building the darker values using the 6B Pencil to make it stand out.


Moving back to Shading by working on the Strands so I’m overlaying the texture of hair by using a Mechanical Pencil for Sharped lines on the top of the base layer using a darker pencil in such a way that it looks natural and realistic.


I’m now establishing some highlights and just pulling up some of the graphite from the

highlighted areas and to do this I’m using a Tombow mono eraser, it’s really helpful to get a lot of details.

It’s really important when you’re doing hair that you vary your shadows and highlights as well because you don’t want it to look too structured, you want it to have a lot of flow to it.

Our goal is to add in the values by using simple shapes that show white highlights, the gray middle areas, and really dark areas as shapes.


If you are working from a photo, hype up the contrast until the dark and light parts are separated. If working from a model, try squinting to get the same effect.


As I’m just working in layers that’s why I’m deepening up the shadows to adjust the contrast.

So I’m going in with that dark pencil along with the Blender to establish the shadow.

I’m just making sure that I’m going in the direction of the hair. So I’m only working on each clump of the hair because hair is such a large mass that you’ve got to draw. There’s got lots of different areas that you need to focus on. You must break it into sections rather than just doing it all in one go and doing the whole thing. It’ll be a bit overwhelming.

I’m slowly building up the layers by just applying a lot of pressure onto the pencil and this will help you avoid the shine. This is why you won’t get as much shine if you don’t press hard, so there are a variety of ways you can draw hair.


Once we have depth in the hair, then we can think about the Overlay texture. So for that, use the POSCA uni-ball pen along with the blender to add the bright highlighted strands.

Redefine each of the locks of hair by just making sure that each lock of hair has enough details to work on.

So again here I’m using the darker pencil to adjust the dark areas to have a subtle contrast also I’m using a mechanical pencil to Fine texture of the Bow fabric along with the help of a posca pen.

Then I’m using the Black Coloured pencil and Tombow eraser to adjust the darks and lights.

Now moving down to the Ribbon just tweaking up some more details of the fabric.

Last but not least well using the posca pen add some overlayered flyaway strands and then smudge them with the blending stump to get a realistic look.


So this is it for today’s tutorial, I hope this tutorial has shown you that drawing hair doesn’t have to be an intimidating process! The steps are essentially the same.

However, the shapes and the tonal values will vary.

Checkout the Full Video Tutorial Here,

The Dos:

  • Look for the large shapes first and mass them in with simple values as a tone.
  • Follow the big pattern of light and shadow by squinting to see the simple value shapes.
  • Sketch the values you see, not what you think you see. For instance, blond hair may look darker in the shadows. If it appears dark, then sketch it dark.
  • Look for the suggestion of detail, not a precise description. Focus on suggesting details in the lights of the hair, not in the shadows.
  • Use a variety of mark-making techniques to develop the surface effects of hair, whether curly, kinky, wavy, or straight. Carve and sculpt the background edges of the hair, and use small descriptive marks during refinement to give the hair character.
  • Use a variety of edge qualities to sharpen and soften the transitions where hair meets skin, clothing, and background. For instance, hair grows softly out of the skin at the hairline but appears harder when it overlaps the face.

🛑 The Don’ts:

  • Don’t focus on the details first, suggest them later.
  • Don’t focus on the surface texture of hair at the expense of the masses.
  • Don’t paint every hair, create the illusion of details instead.
  • Don’t get fooled by the color of your hair, just follow the light and shadow values.
  • Don’t use the same edges around the hair, instead make sure there is a variety of edge qualities throughout.
  • Don’t add lots of detail to your shadows, keep them quiet and build up details in the lights.
Categories: How to Draw


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