Do you want to learn how to draw curly hair using Procreate?
Then, you’ve come to the right place
In this tutorial, I’ll guide you through the curly hair drawing process, step-by-step.
Let’s have a quick look at what we will be going through here –
- What will you need for this tutorial?
- How to draw curly hair for beginners
2.1 - The wavy road method
2.2 - The staircase method
2.3 - The “S” method
- A few extra tips
So, without any further delays, let’s dive right in!
What will you need for this tutorial?
You just need a few things.
- iPad Pro
- Apple Pencil
- Procreate App
However, all these tips and tricks for drawing curly hair carry over to every drawing medium.
So, whether you use your pencil, photoshop, or procreate, feel free to follow along.
Aside from that, you’ll need a reference image.
I’ve put together a group of reference photos for you, so you don’t have to waste any time and can get right into learning how to draw curly hair!
If you’re using Procreate like me, I recommend you using brushes made to draw hair, since this will make the whole process so much faster and easier.
I’ll be using my 25 hair brushes for every hairstyle, but feel free to use any brush set you want.
If you want to try out the brushes I’ll be using, here’s a free sample.
Let’s start drawing curly hair!
How to draw curly hair for beginners
When drawing hair the most common mistake is to forget that when you see someone, you don’t notice every single hair on their head.
Individual hairs form together to create sections or hair strands.
So, when we’re drawing, we have to focus first on the volume of the hair, on finding those sections and shapes and not on individual hairs.
There are different ways of drawing curly hair, here are the three I use the most:
1. The Wavy Road Method
Step 1 - Draw a wavy line.
Drawing hair may seem hard, but you’ll see it’s pretty easy to do.
For the wavy road method, let’s start by drawing a wavy line.
Step 2 - Turn the wavy line into a wavy road.
Now, let’s draw another wavy line next to the first one we drew to create your wavy road.
Try that this second line is not exactly following the waves of the first one.
So make sure that you have thicker and thinner areas between the two lines.
And there you have the base of your wavy hair strand.
I’ll call this layer “Wavy Road” to keep everything organised.
Step 3 - Start with the shadow areas.
Create a new layer and let’s start filling this wavy and hairy road!
Start with the darkest areas, you can find them where the two lines are closer to each other.
Using a “c” like movement, start creating short, sketchy lines in the darkest areas.
It doesn’t need to be perfect from the start.
Now create longer lines that join the lines you created before.
Now let’s blend that a little bit to make it softer.
And continue to layer on.
I would recommend creating a new layer every time after you blend one area.
When you’re happy with how it’s looking, merge all the layers except the one we called "Wavy Road", where you have the sketch.
To do this, just pinch your fingers on top of all the layers you want to merge.
Now let’s duplicate this layer and turn the view off.
This way we can always return to this stage if we make a mistake.
Step 4 - Bring in the light.
On the layer that is on, let’s create more light.
For this, let’s use the eraser.
Start softly and delicately erasing using the same “c” like movement where the two original lines are farther apart from each other.
Keep doing this and blending when you think necessary until you’re happy with how it’s looking.
Step 5 - Finishing touches.
Once you’re happy let’s add some final details and call it a hair!
Go back to the “Wavy Road” layer and turn it off.
Create a new layer and start adding extra hairs on the sides so the illustration looks more natural and real.
Once I do that, I like to merge my layers and delicately create some extra hairs that go through the whole thing both with the eraser and the pencil for the same reason as before.
And there you have the Wavy Road Method!
2. The Staircase Method
Step 1 - Draw two vertical lines.
For this method, let’s create two vertical lines that are slightly going inward.
Keep in mind that these two lines will determine how thick the hair strand is.
Step 2 - Add some diagonals to create that “staircase”.
Once you have that, let’s create two diagonal lines.
The angle on these lines will determine how curly the hair will be.
So, if you want to draw a loose curl, create the lines in an angle that’s more pointing down.
But if you want to create more coily hair, then make these lines more pointing to the side.
Keep doing lines with the angle you choose until you reach the end of the vertical lines.
After this, create a second pair of lines that touch the ends of the first two you drew.
So, the top line with the top line and bottom line with the bottom.
Keep doing this until you reach the end of the vertical lines.
Step 3 - Determine what side will be closer to you.
Now, let’s determine which of these sections will be at the front and which in the background.
Here you can choose what you prefer.
What you have to do is choose one of the sections and erase the excess lines to have a more clear overview of which side of the hair will be closer to us.
Once you’ve done that, you have finished the basic sketch that will become your hair strand.
I’m going to name this layer “Sketch”.
Step 4 - Make it hairy.
Let’s start drawing some hairs now!
Make a new layer.
Start creating short, sketchy lines on the outer sides of the sections that are closer to you, following the angles of the sketch.
These lines shouldn’t touch in the middle because there is where the light will go.
Keep doing this until you’ve done all the sections that are in the front.
After you’re done with the sections that are closer, start with the ones that are further from you.
The side that is closer to you will be the side with more light and the other one will be in the shadows.
So make the hairs, in the sections that are further, darker.
Extra Tip: After you’re done with all the areas that are in the shadows, take a soft brush and create a light shadow where the front and the back sections meet.
Step 5 - Smudge it out a bit!
Pick the smudging tool with a low opacity and start softly smoothing out the areas that are closer to the center of each section.
Repeat this in all the sections.
Step 6 - Add some light and shadows.
Now with the eraser, create clean lines that go from the center towards the edges of each section.
Be sure to use short lines that don’t go from side to side to help your illustration seem more realistic.
Now with the pencil, let’s softly create more lines and shadows.
Continue doing this until you’re happy with how it’s looking.
Step 7 - Finishing touches.
To finish up, go to the sketch layer and turn it off.
Go again with the pencil tool and deepen the shadows a bit.
Create some extra hairs on the sides to add some finishing touches.
And there you have your curly hair!
3. The “S” Method
Step 1 - Draw the vertical guidelines.
Let’s start this method by creating two vertical lines that go a little bit inwards.
These lines will be the guides for your lock of hair.
Remember that the thickness of these two lines will determine how thick your hair drawing will be.
Step 2 - Draw a sleepy “S”.
At the top of the guidelines, draw an “S” that just got home tired from work.
Create a second tired “S” to create a shape that’s thinner on the tips and ticker in the middle.
Continue to do this all through the guidelines you created before.
Once you’re done with that, join these shapes using inverted “S” like shapes.
This will make the sketch behave a bit like a ribbon.
Just a quick note, if you want your hair to be curlier or to have a tighter curl, just make these shapes closer together.
Step 3 - Determine the side that will be in the front.
Choose which side you want to be in the front and which you will like in the shadow areas.
Once you decide, delete the extra lines.
And there you have the lazy “S” sketch for your curly hair!
Rename this layer “sketch” to keep things organised.
Step 4 - Where’s the hair?
Once the sketch is done, let’s start drawing some curly hair!
We’ll begin with the shadows.
Create a new layer for the hairs that will be closer to you.
On this layer, start creating soft, sketchy lines in the outer sides of the sections that are closer to you.
Make lines that follow the “S” like shape of the section.
These lines shouldn't go all the way from one side to the other.
This is because the middle of these sections will be where the light is, so it’s important to keep it clean.
Keep doing this in all the sections that are closer to you.
Step 5 - What about the areas that are in the shadows?
Now that you finished with all the sections that are closer to you, let’s work on the areas that are not.
Create a new layer for the hairs in the back.
On this layer, create curved lines on the areas that are in the shadows.
Remember to follow the shape of the section you’re working on.
For the areas that are farther from you, the lines can go from one end to the other.
Do this for all the areas that are in the shadows.
After you’re done with all the areas in the shadows, make sure that the lines don’t go out of the sections you were just working on.
If they are, erase the excess.
Extra Tip: Use a soft brush to add more darkness in the areas of the hair that are in the shadows.
Put extra attention to the area where the section in the back meets the section in the front.
Step 6 - Smudge it out!
Let’s start by smudging the areas of hair that are closer to you.
Take the smudge tool with a low opacity and start carefully smudging from the center toward the edges of the sections of hair that are in the front.
Once you’re done, go to the layer where you have the hairs that are in the shadows and do the same.
It will be easier to work on both sections separately.
Once you’re done with smudging the shadow areas, make sure to clean any excess hair that might have gotten into the light area of your drawing.
Step 7 - Add some light with the eraser tool.
Use the eraser with a small size and start erasing to create some more light in your illustration.
Do this carefully and softly.
Step 8 - Let’s define a bit more.
Take the pencil tool and in a new layer, create soft curved lines similar to the ones you created on step 4.
The only difference is that now these lines can be longer and they should be a bit softer since the idea is that they help you define your drawing more.
Do this for all the areas of the hair.
When you’re done, use the eraser tool with a small size to define the light more.
Keep switching between the two until you’re happy with how it’s looking.
Step 9 - Wild it up!
To finish your illustration, turn off the sketch layer.
Use the pencil to softly define the edges of the hair if necessary.
Add some extra wild hairs on a new layer to add realism to your drawing.
Keep doing this using black and white to add more and more wild hairs to make your drawing more realistic.
Continue to add wild hairs until you’re happy with how it’s looking.
And you’re all done :D
A Few extra tips to help you when drawing curly hair.
Now that we’re done with the main part of this tutorial, I just want to share some extra easy tips that will help you when you’re drawing curly hair.
Mix and match the 3 methods.
When you’re drawing curly hair in a portrait, it’s always a good idea to mix and match the 3 methods I showed before.
This is because not one curl of hair is the same as another.
So by combining methods of drawing, you’ll be able to make a more realistic looking hair.
Another thing is that everyone’s hair is different, so what might work for drawing one person’s curly hair, could not work for another.
Let me share an example.
For this, I’ll take this reference image from the reference image folder I created for this tutorial.
Now, let’s duplicate the reference image and blur it on top.
To blur it, go to adjustments and choose Gaussian Blur, slide your finger on the screen to adjust and blur the reference image.
After you blur the image, lower the opacity of the layer.
When I’m drawing hair I always do this because it allows me to focus on the big shapes instead of on the individual hairs.
Start tracing on top with all the methods you find.
For some reference images, using only one of the methods might work, I still like to change it up a bit so the illustration feels more natural.
The more variety, the better!
Another good tip for when you’re learning to draw curly hair is to change the direction, the thickness and length of the hair strands.
What do I mean when I say change the directions?
An example for this will be using The “S” Method.
When you’re deciding which hair strands are closer to you like we did on step 3, don’t choose the same side to be closer to you on all the hair strands.
Mix it up!
This will make your curly hair drawing feel more natural.
Well there you have it friends!
This is how you can easily draw curly hair with Procreate.
The most important thing to do if you want to improve is to practice consciously and consistently.
The first few times you draw hair, it might feel a bit uncomfortable.
But I promise you that will go away with practice!
I would love to hear from you.
Which of these methods for drawing curly hair you liked the most?
Let me know in the comments.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment or send me an email.
Until next time!