Hello! In this guide, I will be going over two separate but interconnected concepts:
1) How I tackle sketching hair by simplifying it into parts.
2) A trick to draw easy and fast hair lineart using some features available in Clip Studio Paint.
Despite the clickbait title, these are some tried-and-true methods that I use for everyday drawing so hopefully something in here will be of use to you as well! This tutorial should be very beginner-friendly; I only used default CSP brushes and I don’t think I fiddled with the settings much but I will be providing screenshots of my brush settings when applicable along with the canvas for your reference. As a drawback, that means this tutorial will get a little long and repetitive, please feel free to skip any sections that you already understand. Thank you so much!
Drawing Hair Pt. I: The Hairline
First, we start with the head! I've pre-drawn two head bases, and I'll be sketching the hair on these. Having the full (bald) head shape makes it easier to form the hair around the shape of the skull.
I've drawn the hairline in blue on a separate layer as a guideline. There are a number of different hairline types, but for the sake of simplicity I'll only be using this one for today. The hairline is very important! If nothing else, I'd say this is the most important takeaway in this tutorial, because it serves as a baseline for where the hair begins from the scalp.
We'll get to why that's so vital in a sec.
Feel free to save or screenshot the above image to work with the head bases alongside the tutorial! Make sure to work on a separate layer for the hair – it'll make it easier to go back and fix or adjust anything if needed.
Let's get started!
I usually start with the front part of the hair.
In red, I've roughly sketched out the bangs – see how all the red lines begin AT the blue line? It's because that's where the hair starts growing on the scalp. By default, I tend to draw characters with a prominent fringe to cover up the forehead so I don't need to worry about their hairline. But even though it's covered, it's important to note that the hairline still determines where the hair starts.
(These are all just rough guidelines, so feel free to use any brushes or colours at this point! Just make sure that the lines are on a separate layer from the face. As pictured, I usually work with the CSP default Real G-Pen.)
Below are a few different additional hairstyles for your reference! You'll notice that the rules for hair starting from the hairline holds true even if hair is slicked back or parted differently.
Drawing Hair Pt. II: Shaping the Hair
Now that we've established that hair always follows the hairline, how DO we go about drawing the hair? For straight hair like in this tutorial, you'll notice that nothing actually lies completely flat and straight! In fact, all the lines are slightly curved and wavy.
I tend to approach hair as "chunks", almost like ribbons. I let the shape of the hair roughly follow the curve of the head, especially for bangs because they lie against the forehead. Above is a diagram of a few ways I tend to draw these hair "chunks". As a rule of thumb, the ends of the hair form a curved shape, with thinner and thicker strands to give some depth.
This method should become more clear once we start adding more to the hair that isn't just bangs! Let's do that.
In green, you'll notice I've started adding more hair.
Long hair will roughly follows the shape of the head, like you're draping a ribbon over a ball – remember there's some volume to hair so it's not going to stick perfectly flat against the edge of the head. Additionally, I like to draw the hair draping over where it touches the shoulders, so that's where it curves in the above examples.
For shorter hair, it's not as important for the individual hair pieces to follow the head shape. I tend to draw the hair sticking out in smaller chunks. I still use the same curved lines, but they're just cut short!
For slicked back hair, you'll notice that – just like the bangs from earlier – the hairline becomes relevant again! Hair that is swept back starts from the visible hairline, and drapes over the top of the head.
Now, let's finish these up!
Drawing Hair Pt. III: Hair Part and Finalizing
In blue, I drew the rest of the hair along with the part of the hair, if applicable! If you establish where the hair parts, then it's easy to draw the strands from the top of the head. Just like how bangs start from the hairline, the hair along the hair part starts there as well.
For drawing a center part, the strands will split evenly toward either side. Hair on the left will drape left of the head and downward, and hair on the right will drape right and downward. Don't worry too much about the hair distribution for a side part! I tend to draw the same because anime hair logic.
After this, the volume of the hair compared to the head shape is more noticeable.
Now that you have a rough sketch of the hair, you can finalize it by lining on top on a new layer. I usually follow the sketch while making it neater, which means redrawing the lines over and over again until I'm satisfied. This method can be quite time-consuming and tedious.
What if there was a technique to line the hair faster? Let's move on to finalizing one of these sketches with a handy CSP hack!
CSP Hair Hack Pt I: Canvas Set-Up
But how do you get from this...to that?
Drawing all those individual strands must be a lot of work! But what if I told you that you DON'T have to draw all the individual strands? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to very quickly finalize your hair lineart while making it look high-effort.
We'll be using one of the sketches from earlier. I'll be working with my default go-to hairstyle of long hair and straight-cut bangs, but this technique is transferable to most lengths and styles of hair.
First, you want to change your background to something darker. This is because we'll be drawing the hair using white – I'll explain later – so the contrast will make it easier to work with. I chose a dark grey-ish colour, but anything is ok!
You might also want to make your sketch layer a colour that stands out on both your background colour and against white. I chose turquoise because it is very bright, but again any colour is ok! If your sketch is tri-coloured like mine and you're not sure how to change the lineart colour I have a mini visual on the right that explains it – just bucket-tool and clip a new layer with the colour you want onto the sketch layer and you should be good to go!
Now, we want to make a new layer and select the border effect on the right side of Clip Studio Paint's interface! If you've never used the border effect before, above is a quick tutorial on where to access it, just click on that white-bordered black dot! Change the edge colour to BLACK. Change your brush colour to WHITE.
Make sure this layer is on top of the head base layer, but underneath the sketch layer because you'll be using the latter as a guideline.
CSP Hair Hack Pt II: Step-by-Step Guide
Using the mapping pen with default settings as shown above, I start following the lines of the bangs with short, curved strokes. I'm using a thinner brush at first, but I'll be adjusting brush size intermittently. Changing up the brush size is what will give the hair depth.
The lines are currently white with a black border. It looks kind of weird. This is intentional! Don't worry about it.
Thicker lines? Go for it! I'm very roughly following my sketch – it doesn't need to be perfect! The mapping pen has a pretty good stabilization so the lines are pretty smooth. You can turn up the stabilizer or make quicker strokes if it doesn't feel smooth enough.
More thicker lines. See how I'm starting to fill in the bangs. Wait, this isn't lineart...?
(It never was.)
Just like in the order of the sketch, now we move on to the next part of the hair. I'm still following the techniques from earlier, where the hair roughly follows the shape of the head as well as drapes over the shoulder. Lots of curved lines is key!
Also as mentioned before, you can treat hair like ribbons or chunks! Once you've gotten the rough shape down, feel free to use a bigger brush and just...make a really thick line. It's faster that way, and you can always add more strands later.
Add some thinner strands like this! Now we're getting into the fun part. Vary the size of your brush, and just keep adding curved strands. You can vary the shape of each curve slightly as well, giving the hair a more 3-D effect. See how it's all coming together on the right side? Leaving some small gaps is key, because the border effect fills it in with black and this gives the illusion of detailed hair strands.
You can fill in some of the larger gaps using a large brush, and start working on the shape of the hair on the other side. Personally, I like it better when the hair isn't exactly symmetrical.
The hair part is along the middle, so I use a thinner brush to start drawing lines that start from the part along the shape of the head. Notice how we are using the exact same techniques from the final step of sketching hair! Now it's more evident that the small gaps between the hair are intentional. Adding even more detail using an extra-thin brush for individual strands makes the hair appear silkier.
This is where I go wild adding individual hair strands for detail and depth! I actually changed my brush this time to the "For effect line" at 5 px, because this brush automatically makes the ends of the lines more tapered. This makes the individual strands look nicer and smoother.
For refining, I hide the sketch layer. We don't need it anymore!
This time, I switch to a 7 px hard eraser just to erase a few lines in the hair to add even more depth. Because this layer has the black border effect on, using a thin eraser effectively adds a black line. It's not very noticeable , but I've added a few curved lines along the hair. Once you're happy with the level of detail, then you're done!
Now that the front of the hair is done, we move on to the back.
Here, I've added colour just so it's easier to differentiate the back of the hair since it will also be drawn in white. All I did was drop a multiply layer on top of the hair layer. Later, I will show you two ways to colour the final hair, one of which is this!
The back of the hair is pretty straightforward! You want to draw this layer BEHIND the head base. Also remember to add a black border to the layer just like the one before.
Use a thick brush to block out everything between the two chunks of hair in the front and the face.
Using the eraser technique from earlier, I add a few strands in the back. Not symmetrical is key! It looks more natural that way.
And then use the multiply layer trick on the hair in the back, and you're pretty much done! I like to use a colour that's slightly shifted on the colour wheel.
If you want to add shading directly on the multiply layer, it's faster but a little tricky because you're limited to either colouring all on one layer or having to use additional blending layers. Keep reading if you'd like to see some shading tips and tricks!
CSP Hair Hack Pt III: Shading with Blending Modes
For shading on top of a multiply layer, you can take advantage of blending modes. I like using add and overlay, which will make the hair shiny and silky. I use the default "Opaque watercolour" brush and lightly brush the parts I want to add arbitrary lighting to. The direction of the shading follows the shape of the hair.
I also use the eraser tool to erase parts to keep everything even and neat.
Although I personally find that this method saves more time, you can always turn the finished hair into normal lineart for easier colouring!
CSP Hair Hack Pt IV: Convert to Lineart
First, you want to rasterize both of your hair layers. This removes the layer effect, allowing you to freely modify the finalized hair. Before rasterizing, you can still change the edge colour and the thickness of the border. I actually tend to duplicate the layer and rasterize the second one, just in case I want to go back to change anything.
After you rasterize the hair layer, now you want to click on "Convert brightness to opacity". This effectively turns your hair layer into lineart in one easy step! This is also the reason why I specified that we needed to work with white when drawing the hair when we first started. If we used any other colours, you would not be able to get perfectly transparent lineart. Similarly, if you don't rasterize the layer, this step would also not work.
Now that both hair layers have been converted to lineart, the rest is easy! Just use the selection tool to select the outside of the hair (using the border brush is convenient because there are no gaps in your lineart like mine usually does), invert your selection, and bucket-tool onto a new layer underneath your lineart.
After you fill it in with your desired colours, you have the base colours paired perfectly with finished lineart! Now you can use whatever techniques that work best for you to shade or paint the hair.
Thank you so much for reading this tutorial! I hope these tips help with visualizing how to draw hair, as well as give you some insight on time-saving CSP tricks to make hair look good without too much trouble. If you have any additional questions, feel free to drop a message and I will do my best to help!