Quick tips on drawing manga hair

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By Sazazezer
More notes for myself while i improve on me art. I'm sure they'll help others if people care to read. These are notes i made on creating hairstyles. The goal is to be able to make new and unique hairstyles using a base set of rules for new hairstyles to sprout out of.

Start from a centre point, but don't adhere to it.

    Marking a little dot at the top of the scalp usually gives me a good focal point to start the flow of the hair from. No matter how far the hair flows or if it changes direction mid way or even if the person's laying on the ground and the hair is splattered everywhere, the dot will keep everything flowing natural.

    Because it's just a single point though, don't adhere to it. It's not like all your hair sprouts from just one point on your head. It doesn't have to be right in the centre either. A little off to either side is usually fine.

    You can also work from a centre line, essentially a parting. As long as it's allowed to grow far enough, anyone's hair can be set into either a centre or side parting which directs the floe of the hair. The would essentially be an improved version of the centre point, but some manga styles (especially spiky) won't like it at all.

Remember that your hair is on your head.

   Gee whizz that sure sounds obvious, but the problem occurs from half head syndrome (it may have a fancier name than that, but even Van Gogh screwed up with it from time to time (or purposely used it, i don't know)). To test whether you may potentially be affected by this, answer the following question without using your hands: Where are your ears positioned on your skull? If you find yourself wanting to answer ' somewhere at the back' or anything besides 'precisely halfway on the diameter between my face and the back of my skull' and you may find yourself a victim of drawing only half a head.

Your hair has a roughly spherical and quite bumpy dome to work around. Make sure it doesn't drop off any steep cliffs at the back there (which is what half-head syndrome essentially is. It's where people drawing a profile shot as if their skull slopes down immediately after the ears), whether they're bigger or smaller than the intended head should be.

Also, on a similar note: draw the head first! I'm guilty of not doing this. My brain seems to think the head doesn't need to be there on the paper first, and that this floating wig can just keep things going  until somebody gets in under there. The problem with getting the head under there is that the hair was supposed to have fallen on it. Hair that has fallen onto nothing may continue to do so even after a skull has been shoved under it, hanging as unnaturally as a floating wig.

Stroke down, then stroke down again.

   This is definitely a personal preference but it gets goods results more times than my other methods. For each stroke of hair i draw, starting from  the top (or at least using  the centre point as a rough guide) and stroking down, i always prefer to start another stroke going down to meet the first stroke's tip. This is opposed to stroking down from the top and then, from the tip, stroking upwards to come back to the centre area.

   The reason for this is that an upward stroke threatens to break the natural flow of the hair by accidentally coming in at the wrong angle (and away from the centre area). While hair can curl and spike away from the centre point, it is still best to start from where the hair grows naturally and lead it to its destination, rather than start from the end and try to describe how you got there (i hope that metaphor makes sense. Basically: No return trips).

Each stroke is a multi-stroke.

   Even if the hair you're drawing is but one stand sticking out from the side for the express point of quirkiness, it pays to go over your hair strokes at least more than once. This adds weight to them, which will further add to the style and, probably more importantly, will negate any crappy looking lines when it comes to scanning.This is especially true of inking hair and lineart in general, where your scanner can have a horrible tendency of picking up where your inks have been absorbed into the paper at a near microscopic level (usually above 300dpi). This can easily turn what was once a great pencil sketch into a shaky mess that look like it shouldn't be shaky at all...and yet is.

Hair styles are rarely symmetrical.

Though the majority of your body is symmetrical, your hair's flow will never want to follow this rule. Characters with symmetrical hairstyles are usually serious types (with exceptions like Bobobo). Drawing a symmetrical hairstyle is fine, but the standard style of hair usually shows little differences here and there and it's also better t have variety than cope out and just mirror the side you've already done.

Hope that helps. Leave a comment if it did. If it didn't, also leave a comment, but please don't be too mean about it. A little mean is okay.
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