If you have watched a lot of anime shows, you may notice that manga characters have very distinctive hair. What would Edward Elric be without his blond braid hanging down his back? Can you imagine Inuyasha with anything but that long white mane of his? Hair adds a lot to how you perceive a character.
The style and color you choose for your character will tell your readers a lot about the character when they see them. Long, straight hair of black or brown is for a character that is traditional, down to earth and “normal.” Spiky hair, like you see on Naruto, is energetic and youthful.
Ponytails usually denote a character that may be a bit ditzy, yet cute and energetic, while hair that hangs over the face may mean the character has something to hide.
Blond hair can mean a character is someone who stands out or is youthful, naïve or a bit ditzy. White or silver hair is usually given to a character that is magical, dignified or very powerful. Pink hair goes on someone who is innocent, bubbly or obnoxiously cute.
Think of Rini in Sailor Moon. Red hair belongs to a character that is outspoken, stubborn and strong-willed. Blue hair may be someone who is cool and introverted. Bald heads are usually reserved for someone who is religious or elderly. As you can see, you can learn a lot just be looking at the hair’s style and color.
Hair also changes depending on whether you are drawing a male or female. Male characters usually have hair that is either spiky or wavy. You want a style that looks like it belongs with the face you’ve drawn. Female hair can be short or long. You have a lot of choices.
Depending on the style of manga you want to draw, hair can be very simple or very complex. Before you get overwhelmed, try breaking the hair down into basic components. Instead of drawing individual strands, think of locks or clumps.
Take a look at the examples and see how they can be put together. As you practice, you can begin putting them together to form the hair on your character. Hair uses similar shapes throughout.
To make it look more realistic, go ahead and have a stray hair or two stick out to make the hair look slightly mussed.
More complex hair designs will have some thick locks and some thin. They may be curved or spiky. The more detail you add, the more complex the hairstyle. Notice how the hair overlaps or nests together depending on its shape. Practice this for a while.
Now it is important to know about hair placement. Hair grows from the same place on the head no matter what hairstyle you choose. If you are drawing short hair or hair that has been drawn up in a bun or ponytail, you need to know where the hairline is.
Hair grows from the hairline on the forehead all the way across the back of the head to the nape of the neck. Be sure to remember that your character has a skull beneath all that hair, too. This will help your character maintain the right proportions.
Experiment with short styles and long styles. Practice ponytails, braids and buns. You will get better each time you work on this aspect of your drawing.