Drawing hair is a most complex feature of the portrait. But it seems that curly hair is even more complicated to draw than straight hair. Not quite.

In this post, I will share with you how to draw curly hair realistic with pencil by following these simplified steps.


In order to draw curly hair, first, you need to look at the shape of the head and draw a basic shape line, then a definite shape of hair by looking at the reference photo. After that, define guidelines for each curl as you start to achieve basic curly structure. Focus on each curl, and give its particular definition such as light, dark or thick and render it with the help of these tools.


  • Mechanical Pencil
  • Derwent Graphite Pencils (3b,4b,6b)
  • Eraser
  • Faber Castell Black Colored Pencil
  • Blending stump
  • Craft knife
  • A4 Smooth Paper

Step 1.

Start with the Head Shape: 

  • Start by drawing a head. That’s why it’s very important to Look at the Head Shape first and then go further drawing the basic shape of hair structure after that.
how to draw curly hair

Step 2.

Draw the Definite Shape of the Hair: 

Once you draw the basic head shape, it’s time to go further and draw the definite shape of hair just by looking at the reference photo of curly hair drawing.

So when you draw curly or wavy hair, you are not drawing the strands of hair.

Draw Curls as ribbons overlapped with the other one.

You can check out my tutorial or article on how you can easily draw a single curl of hair

But while drawing Curly hair you must understand the following steps: 

• Shape must be definite 

• You must define each curl 

• You must have one mass equally divided on both sides 

draw curly hair easy

Step 3.

Define the Guidelines of Each Curl: 

Draw guidelines shapes indicating the direction of the flow of the hair.

You can do this step in your mind and not draw it down if you have some experience drawing hair but I always try to at least put down some light lines.

So this will help you to understand you to draw each curl more precisely but if you don’t use the guideline.

You’ll get stuck in the complexity of curls.so use guidelines of each curl for better results. 

draw individual-curls

Step 4. 

Work on Each Curl to Give it Definition: 

Here’s where you start to bring the curls to life. While all hair is different, there are some general rules for defining curls: 

  • Hair is layered, to draw them you need to twist the single curl over onto themselves, so you’ll have front and back sections that will look more realistic. 
  • Focus on several Curls and apply a wavy texture behind them.   
  • The length of curls needs more layer count. 
  • Adding more strands or curls by filling out the guidelines may help you to achieve mastery in drawing curls. 
  • Try to add some loose flyaway curls to your curly hair study. 
  • Longer hair is curlier at the tips. Mostly Hair is straighter near the top of the head because the length of the curls weighs the strands down. 
draw curl hair by pencil

Step 5.


Rendering curls is one of the most important parts of giving depth to your curly hair drawing, 

This will give your drawing form and depth and give your study a more 3-dimensional structure. So, darken around the curl’s ringlets and the underside of the curls.

To make them more realistic you need to indicate individual hair to give the curly hair structure and flow. 


One more thing to get better at rendering is to determine the light source cause the light reflection of the individual curl is an essential factor.

for this, you need to decide on a direction from which the light should reach the hair. Then Shade all the curls according to the direction of the light. 

Some more tips: 

  1. Determine the direction of the light source 
  1. Prime the hair according to the light reflection 
  1. Blend the first layer of graphite with a blending stump 
  1. Increase the contrast with the 2B and 4B pencil 
  1. Draw individual protruding hairs to make the curl look more realistic 


Highlights are as important as the shadows so try to pull out some highlights using an eraser or any craft knife by using a scratching technique to scratch the fine thin hair.

This will make your curly hair look more natural and realistic. 

If you want more help with this stage, feel free to Check out the Hair Drawing Playlist on my YouTube Channel. 

how to draw curly hair

How To Draw Curly Hair Tips? 

  • Where the hair recedes, the values will be darker. 
  • Every color of hair will have lighter and darker values so adjust the tonal values according to the light source. 
  • Hair and curls that protrude will be lighter. 
  • Hair closer to the light source will be lighter, and hair that is farther away from the light source will be darker. 
  • Draw the contour lines with a 2H pencil and start adding value with a 2H pencil. 
  • Gradually add layers to make darker values. 
  • Blend the graphite from dark to light in the direction of the curls. 
  • Remove highlights gradually with a kneaded eraser. 
  • Repeat the steps until you are satisfied with the way the hair looks. 


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