How to Draw Hair with Colored Pencils

May 10, 2022
Drawing Hair

In this blog post, we’re going to learn how to draw different types of long hair. You’ll learn how to choose the right colors to go along with the different hair types and how to layer the colors. To achieve that final realistic hair look you will also learn how to use a craft knife.

Choosing colors

In order to choose your colors, you need to look at your reference photo and take some time to observe all of the different colors. For drawing blonde hair you will need quite a few different colors, each blonde is also slightly different.

Some reference photos have a lighter or a darker blonde and some may have warmer tones or cooler tones. The lighting in the picture can also change the color quite a bit.

Take your time to observe the reference photo and swatch the colors you see to help you choose the correct color pencils. 


After you’ve chosen your colors you can start layering. Start with the lighter colors and build up the layers color by color.

Use your reference photo to help you decide which parts to color with each color. You don’t need to make smooth layers or color the entire area because you want to create texture for the hair.

Make quick back and forth pencil strokes in the direction of the hairs. Remember to also pay attention to value as well as the right colors.

Using a craft knife

To create highlights and fly-away hairs, I use a craft knife. The one in the picture is by Slice and it has a ceramic blade.

This blade is thicker than a regular craft knife so you can create thinner or thicker lines with it depending on the angle you hold the knife.

If it’s your first time using a craft knife for this technique it’s best to practice this on another piece of paper first.

You’re not going to use the craft knife like you're going to cut the paper but you're going to hold it at an angle (I hold it the same as I hold a pencil) and then use the side of the tip of the blade to scrape off a bit of the colored pencil pigment. 

You don’t want to press too hard but just gently scrape over your colored pencil layer to remove some of the pigment and create a highlight.

This technique requires some practice but as with everything, the more you practice the better you will get at it. This technique is perfect for creating those fine thin details and will give your drawing a more realistic look. 

The same technique is used for all the different hairstyles. Draw layer by layer to create a more realistic look. With each layer, use the craft knife where needed. 

Color Examples

Take a look at the examples of the different hairstyles, I have listed the colors used for each reference photo. In each photo, you can see how I built up the different layers. 

Blonde hair

When looking at Blonde hair the first thing that comes to mind is, the colors yellow and orange but we are not just going to use those colors.

See below the list of all the colors used to draw Blonde hair. 

Colors Blonde Hair:

Buff Titanium
Brown Ochre 10%
Brown Ochre 50%
Brown Ochre
Raw Umber 10%
Raw Umber 50%
Raw Umber

The colored pencils I use are Caran d'ache Luminance.

Brown Hair

Colors Brown hair:

Burnt Ochre 10%
Burnt Ochre 50%
Burnt Ochre 
Burnt Sienna
Sepia 50%

Dark Brown hair

Colors Dark Brown Hair:

Burnt Sienna
Sepia 10%
Sepia 50%

Black Curly Hair

Colors Black Curly Hair:

Sepia 10%
Sepia 50%

Drawing hair can seem really difficult at first. But once you know the right technique and practice this technique a lot you will be able to draw any type of hair.

Remember it all comes down to practice. 

If you want to learn more about drawing with colored pencils you can have a look at the step-by-step video lessons in the membership covering everything from basics to portraits…

Read more details about the Artistic Journey membership here and join us today so you can start practicing.

Hope to see you there!



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