When you draw color illustrations, you can use hair color to describe a person’s characteristics, but in black-and-white manga, you have to use black, white, or gray to describe everyone.
“For those of you who can draw in color, but don’t know how to express it in a manga manuscript, we’ve collected some of the most commonly used hair expressions in black and white!
Let’s try to find one that suits your taste.

☆ Pure black fill

As you can see, the entire image is filled in black with no light.
At first glance, it looks monotonous, but many people like to use it because it gives the image a stylish look.
The monotony can be broken up by adding movement to the hair with thin lines.
As an application, I recommend adding a little light around the face and on the top of the head using the airbrush tool, kakeami, or hand-drawn lines.


☆ Glossy Betta

This is a classic technique that has been used for many years.
Use a pen to draw shading along the flow of the hair.
In analog manuscripts, brush pens were often used.
In digital, you can use a brush tool.

It is important to note that depending on how the shading is applied, the picture may look slightly outdated.

Adding lots of fine shine was the trend of a generation ago.
It can express delicate and beautiful hair, and is a technique often used in shoujo manga.
There is nothing wrong with this, of course!
However, it is far from the so-called “modern” expression.

The trick is to make it look modern.
1) Add a large amount of white.
2) Devise a shape for the highlights.

Rather than adding a thin layer of shine, match the shape of your head and leave a large amount of white in the lighted areas to create a three-dimensional effect.
You can also accentuate your hair by adding highlights such as circles or lines to give it a more modern look.


☆ How to combine with tones

If you think that the black and white shiny goo is not what you want, or you are not that silky haired… you can change the impression by applying a tone to the white part.
Also, for characters with flashy hair such as red or blue, a larger amount of tone or gray can be used to express the character well in a monochrome manga.

As a small technique, I recommend applying gradation tones or shaving off a little bit with a transparency brush to create a sense of relaxation.

The impression will also change depending on whether you use net tones or gray.
Please do your research according to your preferred style.


☆ Techniques using Kakeyami and diagonal lines

I’ve seen this method used a lot, especially lately!
Add a slanted line in the white area by hand or with Kakeyami.
It has a nice analog look and a rough impression.


☆The technique for blonde and light-colored hair

For blonde or light colored hair, black is rarely used.
I often add a bit of hair flow and shadows in light gray or tone.
As with shiny betas, the latest trend is to not put in too many details.

What do you think?
This is just one example, but there are endless ways to express your hair!
So please try out different methods that suit your taste!

(Text and pictures by Naoko Hara)

NAO Manga Production Room