Learn how to draw cartoon hair - step by step for beginners. This easy tutorial was made using Procreate. Learn how to draw cartoon hair digitally.

How to Draw Cartoon Hair – A Super Easy Guide for Beginnners

I’ve been illustrating for over five years now, and it’s been a fun journey.

Transitioning from traditional art to digital art wasn’t easy mainly because I had no clue about human anatomy or figure drawing.

And I got better only by practicing every day.

But one of the most challenging things I’ve had to learn was how to draw cartoon hair.

Luckily for you, I’m going to shorten your learning curve with this easy tutorial so you’ll learn how to draw cartoon hair.

I will show you how to draw cartoon hair of both types – straight hair and curly hair.

The process is very straightforward, and if you practice a little bit, you’ll get the hang of drawing hair in no time.

I am entirely self-taught and what I’m going to teach you is my method of drawing cartoon hair.

Now, I don’t draw many men, so I will teach you how to draw cartoon girl hair for this tutorial and I will create another post for drawing cartoon hair for men later.

Okay, let’s begin with the basics.

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Tools I’m using to draw my illustrations and the cartoon hair

Okay, before I begin the tutorial, I need you to know what I’m using to make my illustrations.

I’m currently using:

And I’m using the Procreate software.

It’s a one-time fee of $10. And that’s it.

You can draw on it forever for free after that.

You can use any software because everything I’m going to explain below can be done with Photoshop and a graphic tablet as well.

How to Draw Cartoon hair – Straight Hair

Okay, I’m going to start with straight hair first because drawing curly hair (contrary to popular belief) is much easier, so we can save that for later.

Step 1: Start with an outline of the head

I always start with a nice outline of the head.

I use the Dry Ink brush (it’s free on Procreate), which is on a completely new layer.

You want to draw a cartoon head because you need the shape of the head to draw the hair. It makes the overall shape of the hair more realistic.

Draw the head because it's easier to draw the cartoon hair after that

Step 2: Draw simple strokes of straight hair

Okay, next, I’m going to begin by drawing her hair over her scalp, and I’m going to pull it into a ponytail.

I already have a detailed post on drawing multiple types of ponytails here.

When you’re drawing the hair, make sure you’re using a new layer so that it becomes super easy to erase the mistakes.

You want the strokes to be in the direction of the hair growth. I’m going to draw it in pink so you can see it clearly.

Notice the green arrows.

So, if she were pulling her hair into a ponytail, that would be the direction of her hair strands.

Start drawing the ponytail by drawing simple strokes backward

Now that her hair is pulled up, we’re going to draw the ponytail.

Remember, straight hair is very fluid and actually adheres to gravity (unlike curly hair), so move your hand in long-flowy strokes.

Don’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t come naturally to you at first. It takes practice.

Now draw the straight hair ponytail by drawing downwards.

Step 3: Once you’re happy with the outline of your hair strokes, draw over the sketch

Okay, I’m pretty happy with the outline, so I’m going to create a new layer (working on a 3rd layer now) and draw the hair outline in dark brown.

I’m going to lighten the head layer so you can see how the hair looks over the scalp.

Notice how the ponytail isn’t too tight because the hair is extremely loose at the sides and nearly flat at the top.

Draw the outline of the ponytail.

Now, I’m going to erase the scalp that is underneath the hair so we can perfect the outline.

To make things easier, I’m going to merge both layers.

Merge both the layers and erase the rough lines.

And congratulations, we’re done with the outline of the cartoon head and the cartoon hair!

Now, all that’s left is to color the hair. Coloring is super easy, and I’m going to show you how to do that!

Step 4: Add the base colors

This is super easy to do. Just make sure you’re adding a new layer for every base color.

This means one new layer for the eyes, another new layer for the skin, and another for the base hair color. I use the dry ink brush for coloring the base layers as well.

Add the base colors

Step 5: Draw the hair strands

Okay, this is great, but we want to add more details to the hair. And the best way to do that is to add a few individual strands.

Now, to draw the hair strands, we’re going to pick a color on the color palette by choosing a color that’s darker and more saturated.

Whenever I say saturated, I mean brighter – which means moving to the right on the color palette.

See the diagram below for more information.

Choose a color for the darker strands

When choosing a color for the hair strands, we’re moving down on the color palette and a little bit to the right to pick a color that stands out in the hair.

Create a new layer over the purple color hair layer and click on it to select “clipping mask.”

So now, when we draw the hair strands, we can only draw over the layer that is underneath. You don’t have to worry about coloring outside the area.

Following the direction of the outline, we draw the hair strands with the same ink brush.

Draw the dark hair strands over the base color

We’re now going to add some highlighted strands to give the hair more color and texture.

Choose a color that’s lighter than the base color. I’m going to decrease the width of the brush so that the highlighted hair strands are really fine before drawing a few strands.

Draw the highlights of the hair

Step 6: Adding the highlights and shadows

Okay, so straight hair is pretty glossy and reflects light more easily than curly hair.

So, we’re going to add a new layer over the other hair layers.

And choose a nice turquoise blue and just add a few shapes over the hair. Adjust the layer property to “Add” and decrease the opacity to 10-15%.

Adjust the highlight layer.

Now, for the shadows, I will choose a medium purple and then use the “Bonobo chalk” brush and go over a few sections of the hair to create the shadows.

I’m going to change the properties of the layer by tapping on the layer and setting it to “Multiply” and then decrease the opacity to 25-35%.

Convert the layer to add to add the gloss to the cartoon hair

Step 7: Add the finishing touches

I’m going to choose a light pink for the blush and use the same bonobo chalk brush to add some blush to her cheeks. And with the dry ink brush, I’m going to add some purple lipstick in another new layer.

And we’re done.

Voila, you’ve just learned how to draw cartoon hair that is straight.

Let’s move on to drawing curly cartoon hair.

If you’re using Procreate, here are some fantastic resources:

How to draw cartoon hair – Curly Hair

Okay, I’m not going to elaborate on drawing the head, because we already went through that, so I’m going to go ahead and dive into drawing the outline of the hair straight up.

Step 1: Draw the outline of the hair

Draw the outline of the curls

As you can see, curly hair can have any shape.

And it’s totally fine because curly hair doesn’t follow any rules – including gravity.

So, when drawing the outline of curly hair, you want to make sure that you add some small lumps and some big lumps so that it looks slightly more realistic.

Step 2: Add the base color

I’m going to draw the hairline because I forgot to do that and then go in with a nice warm chocolate base color for the hair.

Add the base color

Step 3: Draw the strands

Okay, just like we drew the darker strands in the straight hair, we will pick a slightly darker brown color for the dark curly hair strands and add that in. Drawing curly hair is a lot of fun because you can go whacky with the lines.

Remember, curly hair grows outward, so when drawing your strands, the lines should radiate outward – okay?

Draw the darker strands

Now it’s time to draw the lighter strands.

To choose this color, we’re going to move up the color palette and then move right a little so that we get a lighter, saturated color. And increase the thickness of the brush a bit before you draw the lighter strands.

Draw the lighter strands

Wow, we’re nearly done!

Step 4: Add the shadows and highlights

Now, just like we did earlier, we’re going to select the purple color and then draw the shadows.

I’m not going to use the Bonobo Chalk brush though because curly hair is so much thicker and denser and I like the shadows to be a little heavier. So, I’m going to stick with the ink brush.

Draw the shadows

And now we’re just going to change the properties of the layer to Multiply and decrease the opacity to our liking and we’re done with the shadows.

Let’s move onto the highlights.

Using the same turquoise blue as before, I’m going to carefully draw along a few of the edges on her curls because the light is hitting her from behind and the top.

Draw the highlights of the hair

And I’m going to click the layer and change the layer properties to “Add,” and decrease the opacity to 10-15%.

And we have learned how to draw curly hair.

And we’re done. You’ve just learned how to draw curly cartoon hair as well.

You can see this video to understand how I drew the curly hair:

Conclusion

Drawing isn’t easy especially at the beginning because there is a huge learning curve.

So, don’t feel disappointed if you don’t like your drawing.

Remember, all of this comes with practice. Keep drawing different hairstyles till you get the knack of drawing hair.

Once you start drawing cartoon hair, you can experiment with different hairstyles.

I draw a lot of hairstyles for my characters on a daily basis and I love experimenting with hair.

I hope this in-depth tutorial was helpful to you, and you were able to learn how to draw cartoon hair.

And you can always bookmark this post if you want to use these cartoon hair drawing references for studying later.

One of the best parts about drawing hair in a cartoon style is that you don’t need to complicate things by adding too much texture. You just have to get the shape right and draw a few lines in the direction of hair growth.

I have a post that you can read on how to find your art style if you are keen on developing your own style of drawing cartoons.

You can make things easier by picking up this Character Drawing Toolkit.

If you want to see more tutorials on hair and people, just leave a comment down below. You can check out my other posts on drawing hair over here.

I will be adding more hair drawing tutorials to this blog, so keep a lookout!

If you are looking for books on how to draw anime or how to draw anime bangs and anime hair, take a look at these:

If you’re looking to improve your drawings faster and want to really draw as a hobby or even pick up drawing professionally, I highly recommend picking up this beautiful online course that teaches you how to draw female cartoon characters.

Use code STRAYCURLS-10 to get a 10% discount!

If you are just getting started with ProCreate, I highly recommend this course: Procreate for Beginners: Digital Illustration 101

If you enjoyed this drawing tutorial, you might enjoy these other hair drawing tutorials:

Before I wind up, I want to cover some resources that helped me grow as an Illustrator and shorten my learning curve.

Resources to help you draw better:

Courses for Artists

I highly recommend checking out Domestika’s Courses because they have courses on almost anything you want to learn and they’re structured beautifully.

It’s very well organized and their website is super fast. Their app is lovely too.

You can download the classes and watch them offline, and the best part? Once you buy the course, you own it forever!

Use STRAYCURLS-10 during checkout to get an additional 10% off!

Domestika has a lot of art courses for anyone looking to improve their art.

And if you’re using Procreate, here are some fantastic tools: