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Free Drawing Lessons and Advice: How to draw hair using shading and erasers

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Using blending techniques and erasers

Use a kneaded rubber eraser to bring out the large areas that will appear the lightest. Don't go too rough with the eraser or the paper will get too rubbed. If you look closely at the person or the reference photograph, you will see there is a curved band of light on the hair - you want to portray this so the hair will look more realistic and the head shape will become apparent. Some artists call this the 'halo of light.' Blend to soften, using facial tissue (the kind without lotion added), or chamois.

Then use a Pentel Clik Eraser (I either cut or break off the tip of it to create a fine edge of eraser I can use). Use this fine edge for the fine highlights in the hair, drawing down and away from the light area made with the kneaded rubber eraser previously.

I use the erasers in a similar fashion as I use the pencil...use soft flowing movements, don't be too straight or apply too much pressure...use a very light touch. Now try drawing out the hair effects with the stick/click eraser. Do a little bit at a time and be careful...it sometimes is so fun it's hard to stop - but a small amount goes a long way here.

After all this erasing, this seems nuts, but I then spend time putting the hairs back in! If you notice the areas where you have erased, there will still be a hint of hair lines. Go over that (gently now) with a sharp F or H hardness pencil, or a mechanical pencil. Most of the time, I prefer using a mechanical pencil for this, but the F/H grades of hardness are wonderful for gray or blonde hair.

Let a few 'stray' hairs fly...to add to realism. Think about it...how often is real hair perfect? You don't want it to look like helmet hair, you want it to look realistic. Remember that real hair will also cause shadows. Double check to make sure you have added in some shading for shadows.

Most importantly, keep working at this and don't give up!

Every artist will develop his or her own style, but these are just some ideas on how you can realistically draw hair using pencil.

See also:

How to draw hair in pencil, the basics   How to draw gray or blonde hair  How to draw a baby's fine hair

Darla Dixon, Artist

Darla Dixon Portrait Art & Illustration


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