A key element of the Face Profile is the Hair. However, it appears that shading curly hair with pencil is even MORE challenging than drawing curly hair step by step because It requires a lot of details and an understanding of the Shadow and highlights.  Shading gives the definition to the drawing.

For that, You have to use the structured approach to Shade Curly hair with Pencil which we’ll cover in this post How to Shade Curly hair with Pencil So this will be an Ultimate Shading Guide

Curly Hair is complex and is therefore complex to draw. But by breaking down the steps, we can simplify the process a bit. If you know how to see hair in terms of volume, flow, Value, and texture then it becomes just like drawing anything else. Before going to draw Shade curls of various densities, we shall first examine the fundamental “structure” or flow of a curl.

Supplies you’ll need:

➨Derwent graphite Pencil 4b,6b & 9B

➨Mechanical Pencil 2.0mm by Fabercastell

➨Derwent Electric Eraser/Tombow Mono Zero Eraser

➨Blending stump/ Tissue paper

➨ Bristol Paper 130 gsm A4 Size


I’m going to Break down this Shading Guide into Four simple steps.

To learn how to shade curly hair realistically, these steps that are given below can be used for drawing any type of hairstyle, be it short, long, straight, or curly hair. So without any further delay, let’s jump right into the lesson! So how do you shade realistic curls? When it comes to shading realistic curly hair, there are four factors you absolutely must keep in mind:

  • Volume
  • Flow
  • Value (Midtones,Highlights & shadow)
  • Texture


First I’m drawing base hair by using the blending stump. Adding volume is helpful to draw the head in rough strokes. This will help to create the impression of softness as a basic foundation. If you draw hair without considering the Hair’s three-dimensional shape of the head, it won’t have enough volume, and you face the risk of breaking off a part of the head.

For Each layer of graphite that we apply, we’ll use a blending stump to work the medium as a texture on the paper. This will help to create the impression of softness and smooth any inconsistencies produced by the softer graphite tool.


Look for Patterns of DIRECTIONAL STROKES in the hair in a chunks and follow the flow where the hair is going in or out. If you are starting out I would suggest using a bigger brush too (for smooth transition). Make it thinner as it goes into the light. Make it thicker as it goes into shadow. This will help to bring depth to the Curl.

You can see how I add the directed strokes in the image that is located above. The hair that is located on the crown of the head appears to have a more distinctive flow. You can improve your ability to visualize the flow by including arrows in the image you’re using as a reference.
If you have an image to use as a reference, you can determine the general direction that the majority of the hair is flowing by looking for patterns in the curl of the hair.


So what is Value? Value is the darkness or lightness of a color. Which consist of 3 parts to make any object two-dimensional. Midtones, Highlights, and shadow.

The placement of Dark and light values on a subject informs us of the intensity of light and the nature of the form.

We must consider the values and tones that are observed within the hair

This indicates that we have a good chance of discovering the darkest darks, the lightest lights, and the medium values all within a single head of hair.

I find that it makes a huge difference to soften individual lines and transitions between values (lights, mid tones, and darks), as well as to smooth out the transitions between values.
For the whole of the method, I prefer to work with a paper blending stump; however, you could alternatively get the same result with a cotton swab or some tissue paper.


Hair Is Soft. Smooth transitions between values with even gradations often lead to the illusion of a smoother surface texture so adding mid-tones helps the hair looks subtle and very natural.

the mid-tones can be seen in the corner; the strokes follow a single direction to maintain the harmony of the shape, and the illuminated areas are left blank.


How to draw hair highlights? Paying attention to the Highlighted areas of the Curls defines so much of the hair realism. Because it gives depth to the object when pulling out highlights by using an eraser. For this, Tombow mono zero eraser is Perfect because it provides a lot of precision and you can even erase individual hairs. 

The Highlight is the lightest area on the form because it is perpendicular to the light source. It is actually a reflection of the light source, so it moves to depend on where you are in relation to it. This is why the highlight is an important element that you must concern in your drawing.


Shadows are formed by the object itself blocking the light. Shadow is important, it is the darkest part of the hair. Be sure to have a background value in mind. Adjusting the darker tones by adding additional applications of graphite will make your curly hair stand out.

There will be always shadows whether you are drawing straight hair, curly hair, wavy hair, short hair, spiked hair, or dreadlocks

So I would like to begin by using basic graphic forms to create shadows. Before starting to render or shade, it’s crucial to have an appealing, well-balanced separation of light and dark.


Hair is soft, but there should be some indication of linear texture. Textures make unique sensations and enrich your curly hair drawing rather than just drawing flat.

For Drawing curly hair texture. I’m going To create the impression of linear texture, use each pencil stroke by flicking your wrist, pulling from the darkest area of each chunk to the highlight. The pencil lines should fade off as you add more layers to the darkest places. Pull a few strokes through the highlight as well. Additionally, it’s crucial to make sure that each pencil stroke curves in the direction of the curl.

t may be intimidating to consider hair textures, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to working only with lines. Instead, we should be open to utilizing additional tools that can make chores less difficult while still producing amazing results

Thanakyou for reading! Also if you want to Checkout the Tutorial Video. Click here to go to the expanded version of this Tutorial.

I really hope that it covers everything.
Please let me know if you would like to see other tutorials that are similar to this one.
Additionally, please remember to spread the joy by using the share buttons located below:)
Do you cringe at the prospect of having to draw hair on yourself?
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

keep Learn & Grow!!



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