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Blonde, Brunette and Black – Drawing Hair Colours

August 15, 2010

I recently got an e-mail from a reader asking me how to draw dark hair. Drawing different coloured hair has more to do with the pencils you use than using different techniques. Here are the guidelines I use when drawing blonde, brunette, and black hair.

To learn more about the specific techniques for drawing realistic hair, read my hair drawing tips and check out my step-by-step tutorial.

Blonde Hair


Here I have used only two pencils: a 2H and a B. I started with the 2H as the bottom layer, pulling each stroke towards the highlight in the centre. It’s important to let a few pencil strokes go all the way through the highlight. Then I used the B to darken the shadows, also pulling a few strokes all the way across the highlight.

With blonde hair, the shadows aren’t as dark and the highlight area is usually larger and brighter.

Brown or Brunette Hair


Brunette hair requires more layers than blonde hair to create the darker values. I used exactly the same method and technique as I did for blonde hair, but I also used a 2B pencil to create the darker shadows.

You’ll notice that the highlighted area is smaller and looks more like individual hairs are reflecting light. For brunette hair, you will want to draw more pencil strokes through the highlight.

Black Hair


Again, I started with a 2H pencil, then a B pencil, then a 2B pencil. For black hair, I use an even darker pencil to create the rich, dark shadows. Here I’ve used a 4B and a 6B pencil. It’s all about creating layers to simulate the texture of the hair.

I’ve also made sure to continue the dark pencil lines throughout the highlight. At the very end, I used a kneaded eraser to pick up a few bright highlights.


As you can see, it’s not really a matter of using different techniques. Drawing darker hair requires more layers and softer pencils. Light hair has a big, broad highlight and dark hair has highlights on just a few hairs.

As always, use a good reference image and pay close attention to the value. When working with pencil, it’s the value that will communicate the hair colour!

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