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How to Draw Female Anime Hair in Pencil: Bangs, Pigtails and Ponytails

Anime girl with pigtails

"How do you tell who the main character is? Probably their hair".

Today is the day you learn how to draw those oh-so expressive Hatsune Miku level pigtails. The type of pigtails that make you think "no actual human being has that much hair". The beauty of anime and manga are the fantastical worlds and limits that are broken within them, including hair count.

This step-by-step detailed tutorial is beginner friendly and will make you a master of the tails in no time!

If learning from an article isn't really your thing, check out my in-depth video explanation:

Step 1: Draw the hairline.

The placement of the hairline is crucial! If it's too high up, your character will look like it has a huge forehead, too low and it looks like your character is wearing a bad wig.

Drawing Tip: The sides of the hairline follow the shape of the number 5, just flip the bottom curved part!

Step 2: Mark where the hair will be parted.

I put my hair parting in the middle, you can put it on the side for side-swept bangs, or no parting at all! You can have all the hair snatched up in ponytail/pigtail.

Step 3: Use an upside down "V" to start the bangs.

Step 4: Draw curved guidelines to the top of the ears.

Most bangs cut off the top if not all of the eyebrows, any shorter and they may look like micro-bangs!

Step 5: Use little lines to mimic the bang hairs.

In an upwards motion, draw lines to mimic the bang hairs. Note that I put longer pieces of hair on the sides of the face to frame the face. I tucked the long piece of hair behind the left ear and left the right one in front of the ear.

Step 6: Indicate where the bangs are coming from.

Use two sharply curved lines to indicate that the bangs are coming from the point of reference we drew in step 2. The sharper the curve, the more voluminous the hair will look.

Step 7: Draw the hair parting and map out where the pigtails will be.

I used a small triangle in the middle of her head to indicate where her hair is parted, if you're drawing a single ponytail this isn't needed. Next, draw ovals where you want the ponytail or pigtails to be.

Step 8: Draw curved lines into the pigtails.

Draw curved lines into your tail, since I'm drawing pigtails I have 4 curved lines in total, but if you're drawing a. single ponytail then you should draw 2 curved lines. Erase your guidelines, you won't be needing them at this point.

Drawing Tip: Make sure these curved lines do not lay flat on the characters scalp, or the hair can look very flat. But if the ponytail or pigtails are extremely tight, then lay it flat on the scalp.

Step 9: Draw the hairbands and triangles.

I drew two circles as cherry charms on my hair ties. The triangle will act as a guiding shape for the ponytail or pigtails. You can draw one, or two, or however may you want! Note that the triangle is pointing directly up, this will help the tail look voluminous like Hatsune Miku's!

Step 10: Draw the pigtails.

Use free flowing lines to draw the tail(s). Draw some stray hairs for more visual interest.

Step 11: Draw triangular like shapes for highlights.

On the high points of the hair, draw triangular-like organic shapes to indicate where the light hits the hair. After, colour in the rest of the hair with your pencil.

Drawing Tip: The locations of these shapes will change depending on the light setting the character is in! Use reference images to get a better understanding of where the light hits the hair.

Step 12: Shade the pigtails!

Following the same instructions from Step 11, shade in your pigtails. If you want to be fancy, you can lessen the pressure on your pencil and create small, long triangles within the highlighted parts for a touch of depth.

And... Voila! Your ponytail or pigtails are done. This detailed step-by-step guide should have taught you the basics of drawing and shading female anime hair. Feel free to take this knowledge and experiment with different styles, such as curly, straight, spiky, long, or short hair. Manga and anime always has crazy hairstyles that defy the laws of physics, so have fun with it!

If you found this article helpful, check out some of my others:

How to Draw Female Anime Eyes

How to Draw Male Anime Eyes

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