Anime hair is a profoundly important part of Japanese Anime. You will notice that for an anime artist or manga, that facial structures are usually very similar throughout all their characters. In order to truly differentiate characters, their hairstyles are the defining factors.
Create a general structure
Before you can start drawing the hair and adding layering, you need to define the facial structure. Pick a certain angle. Plot out the facial frame by sketching out the general size of the head. Cross face the head. That means to draw a vertical line for the center of the face and a horizontal line for the general area of where the eyes will be drawn. The neck is also very important. Sketch out the neck and shoulder portion of the character.
What type of Anime hairstyle?
Now plot out the type of hairstyle Will it have bangs? How long will the hair be? Will it be stiff or flow in the wind? This is where you will draw on the side.
Even though Anime is 2d, the drawings also need depth. With the general structure of the head, the hair will lay on top. Now, do not draw hair directly from the sketch of the head. You must give the hair depth so you need to draw around the head sketch. Imagine you are drawing a helmet. Draw a general “helmet” shape over the head shape to get a frame for the hair depth. From the front you will start to draw the bangs.
Anime bangs will usually be angled and have different layers and lengths. To draw one bang, it will require 2 lines. Start from the top and draw a line sweeping across the face in an angled fashion. Then create a 2nd line from a different angle and meet the end of the 1st line. With practice, you will create flowing bangs. With different lengths and different angles, you can cover the forehead with a variation of bangs. For different kind of bangs, practice copying different pictures of Anime characters.
Once you determine the desired hair length, long strands of hair need to be defined. Much like the bangs, the longer hairs need to be drawn in different angles and lengths. From the “helmet” shape of the hair, add longer strands of the style you chose to draw in.
This will help with the general depth of the hair. From the strands of longer hair, you will add texture to the hair. Most anime hairs do not need every single strand to be detailed. However, layering for anime hair is important. This requires simply adding lines to each of the strands. Darker lines will give deeper depth while shallow thinner lines will give greater detail. Both are needed for good anime hair.
Like everything else, practice makes perfect. The best way to start is simply copying anime images. Though creating the facial structure is the most difficult part, drawing the hair is quite fun. Once you have a general sense of how to draw anime characters, you will find yourself doodling your own anime characters.