How to draw a braid

Drawing a braid may seem easy and intimidating at the same time—this object has a relatively simple repeating pattern, but the question is how to make it look realistic and three-dimensional.

How to draw a braid

We’ll create two drawings that illustrate different foreshortenings, using just a couple of graphite pencils. Let’s accomplish a complex artistic task and have fun!

Bringing your portraits to life is much easier when you can give them a realistic head of hair.

Braids can be a great hairstyle to start out with, as although you might struggle with them to start with, once you’ve found and followed our step-by-step instructions for braids drawing, they’re easy to add to your artwork as a way to provide those final finishing touches.

In fact, you could even argue that doing this braids drawing is easier than braiding real hair!

To help you learn how to create braids that look like they’ve been styled at the salon, keep reading this article to discover our simple step-by-step tutorial on how to draw braids.

Before you begin, it’s worth reading this next section as it will walk you through the structure of a braid so you can understand exactly what it is that you’re attempting to recreate on the page or the piece of paper in front of you.

Easy steps for drawing braids.

Simplify your braid into basic shapes to streamline the process of drawing hair. While there are infinite ways to make this process your own, you can use these four steps as a framework to help you nail a great braid drawing, from outline to finishing details.

A hairstyle can have many functions in a portrait drawing. It can be drawn very simply to complete a portrait without drawing too much attention to itself, as it does in this portrait shading tutorial. It can be one of the main features of a portrait, as it is in this hair drawing tutorial, or it can be the focal point of your drawing (or even the sole subject matter, as it is in my braid drawing here). However you choose to include hair in your portrait drawings, it is an exciting subject matter to challenge yourself with.

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Sketch a vague outline of where you want the braid to go.
 Braided hair will be wider on top and narrower towards the bottom. Sketching some quick guidelines will help you keep your place.

  • Even if the person has straight hair, the braid doesn’t need to fall straight down. Curved lines make it more interesting and lifelike.

Step 1. Boxes

  • Draw boxes that  connect at adjacent angles to create a zig-zag pattern in the middle
  • Use light lines in this step because these will be the guidelines for the next step in the process.
  • Pay attention to the proportions of these boxes, you can keep them all the same size or you can slowly make them smaller to give the braids a tapered shape.
  • These boxes can be thought of as upside-down hearts that are stacked on top of each other.

Step 2. Folds

  • Now draw the curved lines that fold underneath each of the braids, this is the most challenging step of the process because you have to visualize how these strands of hairs fold over and under each other.
  • Don’t be shy about erasing and trying this many times over, it takes lots of practice to get this to feel natural.

Step 3. Corners

  • Darken in the corners where the hairs fold into each other, these regions receive less light than the top portions of the strands. 

Step 4. Shading Lines

  • Yay we made it to the fun and easy part, add lines that follow the direction of the strands. Add more lines towards the ends (where the hairs fold under) and fewer lines over the top.

Step 5. Practice

  • Repeat the process of drawing braids until you have gotten comfortable. Once it starts to feel easier, start drawing them bending and curving.
  • Use guidelines when possible, simplifying down the process will make everything much easier.
  • Get the first few steps down right before jumping to shading, the structure of the drawing is the most important part.

Some braid Drawing pictures:

Finally, when you’re done with your drawing, it’s time to go over it in ink. Using your favorite pen, slowly trace over the pencil lines. To ensure that you don’t accidentally smear any ink as you go, place a scrap piece of paper underneath your drawing hand. Then, after waiting ample time for the ink to dry, erase any remaining pencil marks.

Congrats! You’ve successfully drawn a fishtail braid.

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