In this step-by-step tutorial, I’ll show you how to draw curls in 7 easy steps! Grab a pencil, paper, and eraser, and follow along with me :)
Here are the tools I’m using, but you can use a regular school pencil (HB pencil) and any eraser of your choice.
Tools I Used:
- 3B Pencil
- Blending Stump
- Kneaded Eraser
- Soft Tissue Paper
- Canson Drawing Paper (If you want smooth drawings, look for paper labeled as “fine tooth” or smooth, but make sure it’s thick so you can work it)
Step 1: Draw Boundary Lines For Your Curls
Start by drawing a pair of vertical lines that taper at the bottom. These will serve as boundary lines for the hair. The tightness of each curl ring depends on how far apart these two lines are. You can experiment with that.
Step 2: Draw the Front Sections of Your Curl
Let’s shape the curl while keeping our strokes within the boundary lines. Draw thick sections of hair that are spaced well apart. Slant them all in one direction. At the bottom, draw the end of your lock of hair by tapering the hair to a point.
Step 3: Draw the Back Sections of Your Curl
To draw the back part of your curl, draw similar-looking sections of hair that are connected to the ends of the ones you just drew. The dotted lines in my example above show you the part where the hair is hidden from view (erase these before you shade).
Before we move on to the shading portion, make sure your curl has rounded corners instead of sharp corners like the example below:
Also, make sure to lighten your construction lines before shading so they don’t show through in the end.
Step 4: Add a Light Layer of Shading
You can erase the two vertical boundary lines before shading.
Grab your pencil and lightly shade one section of hair at a time, working from the outside in. Use the flat side of your pencil to avoid scratchy shading. We want to make the area going down the center of the curl appear lighter in value so it will look 3D. When you approach this lighter area of hair, flick your pencil up quickly to create a gradual change in value.
Once you’re done, you can blend your shading so it’s smooth, using any blending tool of your choice, such as a soft tissue or blending stump. Blend in the same direction you shaded.
Step 5: Add Strands of Hair to the Front Sections of Your Curl
Now we’re going to draw individual strands of hair over the top of our shading. Sharpen your pencil, using the tip to draw this time, and use more pressure to create darker lines. In each section of hair, start your stroke along the outside and flick your pencil in toward the middle.
Now that my drawing is darker, you can more clearly see the pattern of light and shadow – each section of hair is lightest down the center. The transition between light and dark values should be gradual unless you’re drawing wet or extremely shiny hair.
Step 6: Add Strands of Hair to the Back Sections of Your Curl
Let’s work on the back sections of our curl in the same way we did in step 5, using the tip of our pencil to create many individual strands of hair. To make our drawing look 3D, try to darken this section more than the front section.
Step 7: Add Final Details to Your Curl!
Once you’re done, check to see if you’d like to make any tweaks to your drawing. I added some stray hairs so my drawing looks more natural instead of rigid and predictable.
If you’d like to learn more about how to draw long curls, such as how to draw loose curls, changing the curl direction, or how to layer many curls on a head of hair for your character drawings, plus many more tips, please refer to my video tutorial below!
Video Tutorial: How to Draw Curls
Thanks for drawing with me! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on drawing realistic curly hair and hope you share it with your friends :)
Leave a comment down below if you have any questions!
Darlene created RFA In 2013 with the goal of sharing simple yet detailed drawing tutorials with other artists on the world wide web. She is a self taught pencil portrait artist and Youtuber.