An abstract of a male anime character
Anime drawings for beginners can be tougher as compared to other drawings. If you want to learn how to draw anime, there is no better place to find a tutor than Superprof! (Source: Unsplash)

So, you are one of the millions of anime fans around the world. You've seen the classics like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop. You've been inspired by the manga of Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, and Dragon Ball. And you love the work of Studio Ghibli, Toei Animation, and Kyoto Animation.

Yet, you feel as though your love for anime and manga needs to find a new outlet. You've exhausted nearly everything that Crunchyroll or Funimation has to offer – and your parents have told you off for watching too much Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. You want to get a bit more creative.

That's easy enough.

Japanese animation – the thing we know as anime – is one of the most distinctive styles on the planet, recognizable at all times. And to replicate this style – and to add elements of your own creativity – is merely a case of breaking down its elements. And, ultimately, practicing hard.

If you can imagine yourself as a character designer for Gainax, creating some of the most popular anime characters of the future, or producing a new anime series all by yourself, it's that last point that's going to matter. You ain't gonna get anywhere without putting a lot of time into it.

If you're not this serious, then you have it easier. If you have just watched Death Note, Code Geass, and Mobile Suit Gundam and want to try to replicate these images yourself, then let's get going.

Let's see how to begin to draw like a Japanese anime master. But you can read all about anime here - or about our favorite characters in anime!

Cartoon Network logo
Cartoon Network shows a lot of anime in the US. (Source: Wikipedia)
The best Japanese tutors available
Akemi
5
5 (28 reviews)
Akemi
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akari
5
5 (9 reviews)
Akari
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akira
5
5 (5 reviews)
Akira
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kassandra
5
5 (3 reviews)
Kassandra
$20
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Isoko
5
5 (1 reviews)
Isoko
$25
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Rie
5
5 (1 reviews)
Rie
$16
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Sora
5
5 (1 reviews)
Sora
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akemi
5
5 (28 reviews)
Akemi
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akari
5
5 (9 reviews)
Akari
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akira
5
5 (5 reviews)
Akira
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kassandra
5
5 (3 reviews)
Kassandra
$20
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Isoko
5
5 (1 reviews)
Isoko
$25
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Rie
5
5 (1 reviews)
Rie
$16
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Sora
5
5 (1 reviews)
Sora
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Let's go

The Anime Art Style

We've said that the Japanese animes have one of the most distinctive styles in global pop culture. You'd know almost immediately that any of the characters from a manga series or from any anime shows are from this particular style.

 

This applies right across the board – from Hayao Miyazaki to Osamu Tezuka, from Yoshiyuki Tomino to Akira Toriyama. Whilst all of these artists have very different styles, many of the features of their work are similar. And it is these features that you'll need to get to grips with if you are going to be an anime or manga artist yourself.

But what is it that defines these artworks? Let's take a look.

Find out about some of the most popular anime series!

The Big Hair

Now, you'll find very few anime characters that do not have incredible hair. This will usually be big, unconventionally colored, and will change quite dramatically from scene to scene.

Apparently, the 'wow' factor of anime hair comes from the importance of the cover illustration in marketing manga books to kids. The most eye-catching, intriguing, and dramatic were the comics most likely to sell.

As a result, the whole anime industry started competing in terms of hair – just for the sake of making a striking cover.

The Important Features

All good, but the thing you are asking is how to best render this yourself in your own drawing.

In short, you're aiming for spikes, primarily, and you're aiming for any style that will make the character look cool, interesting, or exciting.

And then you have to think about how this hair is going to move from frame to frame. Because anime hair moves a lot – and it expresses a lot through its movements.

Finally, you need to consider seriously the color that you are giving to your character's hair. Different colors have different symbolic meanings related to the nature of the character.

In this way, blue is the color of peace and calm – or of coldness. Red is the color of passion and aggression. So, think about this before you give your character's hair color. It's not just random!

The Large Eyes

Perhaps the major characteristic of Japanese manga and anime is in the eyes. You'll have noticed this well enough yourself.

In anime, all of the character action takes place in the eyes, which are usually oversized (although, with Miyazaki, they are not so much). They are given an emotional range and depth that is really quite striking for a single aspect of the cartoon face.

The history of anime owes this particular characteristic to Osamu Tezuka, often referred to as the 'god' of anime. His series back in the sixties – most famously Astro Boy – shaped the way that artists have drawn their characters ever since.

This is consequently where you will need to pay the most attention when you are drawing your own anime characters.

Read about the Japanese culture of anime whilst you are here!

Gender

But remember that what is important here is that female characters often have different shaped eyes to the male ones. Compare Sakura, from Cardcaptor Sakura to Goku from Dragon Ball.

Whilst the female characters usually have wide, round eyes, the males get something of a more aggressive look through the use of straight lines. These convey something of determination, focus, and aggression.

However, in moments of confusion, naivety, or surprise, regardless of gender, the eyes open wide.

Emotion

The animators of the best anime series pay a lot of attention to the emotional range and depth with which they endow their characters. Anime characters should not just be empty shells that speak – as they often are in western films. Rather, they should have a realistic and engaging development, as well as an incredibly likable side.

When drawing your anime characters then, you need to be able to give them a range of different emotions. And you're going to be doing this through the eyes, through the movements of the hair, and through a series of recognizable tropes from which you will be borrowing.

The eyes, as we have said, are the important bit – and some psychologists have argued that this is because, in Japan, the eyes are, outside of anime, the center of emotional expression. Across the range of emotions, you'll need to create a different eye.

Emotional Tropes

Yet, the eyes work in tandem with the wide range of tropes used through anime to express different emotions. There is one for pretty much everything, from embarrassment to arousal, from intensity to confusion.

In a panic, characters often lift off the floor, and their facial features disappear. When angry, the characters are drawn surrounded by black lines. And when in pain, parts of a character's body will swell or will have a crossed plaster.

For more of these tropes, check out Morisaki Norimi's 'How to Draw Manga' series.

You'll have to get used to these. But, ultimately, you will be able to use them with surprising and hilarious effects.

Moe

There's one final thing to consider in relation to the emotional capacity of the character. That's moe, a Japanese slang term referring to the feeling of affection – or attraction – to a particular character.

You'll have noticed that many of the characters from anime – particularly the 'magical girl' category of character – are unbelievably cute.

This is deliberate, and this is what is known in Japan as moe.

It's deliberate because it is a useful tool in making anime popular. Cuteness sells. Think of Pikachu's shape and smile – this is moe. Or the large eyes of many female anime characters.

One of your characters from your own anime will benefit from sharing some of these features.

Note: You can learn Japanese in the USA on Superprof.

Animating Your Anime Character

All of the above holds well enough for manga characters. But whilst manga is still a page-based version of this most famous of Japanese artistic styles, anime requires some movement. It is animated, after all.

For any of you that have tried to produce animations yourself in the past, this complicates things a little. Obviously!

Yet, you've chosen a great style with which to practice your animation because anime uses one of the simplest styles of animation around.

Back in the day, in the earliest moments of anime, animators such as Tezuka were looking for cheap and quick ways to animate their characters. This, apparently, was due to his working with a group of inexperienced staff – on a tight schedule.

However, the animation technique stuck. And this, again, has become one of the most characteristic features of anime.

A neon sign reads 'manga'
You can't create anime if you can't draw manga! (Source: Unsplash)

'Limited Animation'

In comparison to Disney's 'full animation' techniques, anime has traditionally done something a little bit different. And this is all down to the things called 'cels.'

Cels, used up until the beginning of this century, are transparent sheets – or celluloid – upon which a frame of the animation is drawn—these need to be pretty much unique, as they are things that tell the story.

Whilst' full animation' would use something like eighteen different cels a second in their animations, limited animation used much fewer – say eight, or even less.

Whilst the animations themselves were consequently not as fluid; this didn't really matter. Because the idea went: if you suggest that movement is happening, the audience will receive that impression. And more cels just mean more work.

Consequently, Japanese animation was much more cost-effective. Because whilst Disney would produce, say, twenty thousand cels per half an hour episode, limited animation cut that to about two thousand.

So, sit yourself down.  Just another 1999 frames to draw!

NEW CONTENT

A Guide To Anime Drawings For Beginners

A black and white sketch of an anime character
A lot of individuals are interested in sketching and drawing. One of the best ways to excel at drawing is to learn how to draw anime characters. Learning a unique style will help you develop your own (Source: Piaxabay)

These anime drawings for beginners guidelines will teach you the fundamentals of how to draw anime with an emphasis on the Japanese anime culture.

It offers advice on the approach that you can follow to create your artistic vision accurately:

The best Japanese tutors available
Akemi
5
5 (28 reviews)
Akemi
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akari
5
5 (9 reviews)
Akari
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akira
5
5 (5 reviews)
Akira
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kassandra
5
5 (3 reviews)
Kassandra
$20
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Isoko
5
5 (1 reviews)
Isoko
$25
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Rie
5
5 (1 reviews)
Rie
$16
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Sora
5
5 (1 reviews)
Sora
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akemi
5
5 (28 reviews)
Akemi
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akari
5
5 (9 reviews)
Akari
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Akira
5
5 (5 reviews)
Akira
$45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kassandra
5
5 (3 reviews)
Kassandra
$20
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Isoko
5
5 (1 reviews)
Isoko
$25
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Rie
5
5 (1 reviews)
Rie
$16
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Sora
5
5 (1 reviews)
Sora
$15
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Let's go

Guidelines for Anime Drawing For Beginners

Of course, learning to draw like an artist will take years of hard work, but we'll tell you exactly where that effort should go:

Make Lighter Lines First

Draw lighter lines to begin with, and continue layering it with dark lines until you're confident that you've got the line trajectory in place. This is especially useful for designs that are vast or intricate.

You can erase lighter lines if you've made any mistakes, and they are also easier to draw (you are not required to press the pencil hardly, hence your hand isn't as tired).

If you are drawing digitally, it's always a great idea to sketch first and then make cleaner lines over it. Another practice that will help you keep your hand stable is making specific lines.

And finally, try to make your drawing as simple as possible. It's alright to scribble or draw extra lines if you have made a mistake; however, don't sketch or scribble more lines to correct your error.

If your drawing is irredeemable, you can erase the section and begin over again.

Use Guidelines

Use guidelines as training wheels to draw. For instance, if you wish to create a balanced head from the forward-facing view, you will begin with drawing a straight line in the center of the area where you want to include the face.

These guidelines will assist you in ensuring that the breadth of spanning either side of the face is equal. After that, you can draw a straight line (or numerous lines) to ensure that both ears and eyes are leveled.

Plan Your Drawing

Make a rough estimate of your proportions before you begin drawing. For example, popular anime characters usually have bigger heads than the people in reality.

The chances of making a mistake are minimized if you compare the sizes of different components or items in your picture.

How to draw anime characters? Here are some tips:

  • Begin drawing with the upper body
  • Move towards the lower body if you're drawing a human
  • Only draw the minor elements once you've completed the overall body design (e.g., facial characteristics)

It will be much easier to correct problems if you keep these things in mind.

Otherwise, if you finish drawing the head combined with the nuances of facial features, you may discover that the rest of the body does not fit in the drawing area.

At every juncture of creating a facial feature, make sure that you take proportions into account. Therefore, if you're drawing eyes, draw the exterior contour of both eyes first, followed by each iris.

Draw The Setting

Sometimes, it is better to draw around your potential end-product to understand scaling and context. The groundwork for doing this is ensuring that the visible pieces are placed correctly.

For example, you can check the spacing between both eyes by producing a lighter drawing of the other eye. Doing this will ensure that the noticeable eye is appropriately situated.

Besides, you can design the outside contour of both ears to get an idea of how much hair you'll need to cover them.

Attempt Drawing Exercises

As a novice artist, finding easy ways to practice sketching simple geometric shapes and lines can be really beneficial.

Such exercises help you keep your hand stable and teach you how to spot (and avoid) typical blunders.

The sketching exercises can also be combined. For example:

  • Create a square
  • Draw lines from corner to corner inside it
  • Draw two additional lines through the crossing point of the original lines
  • Draw a circle in the first square

This will help you visualize how the process of drawing an anime character's head can be fragmented into simple shapes.

Other portions of the upper body and numerous other objects can often be created in the same way.

You don't have to draw the entire structure every time, but it's a great example of why starting with learning to sketch fundamental shapes is so important.

Study Anime Characters' Style

To create art that resembles popular anime characters, you must first comprehend their distinguishing qualities. There are also several online tutorials to assist you in learning these techniques.

Simply Google' Anime Drawing Tutorials' and choose whatever you want to draw. But, of course, this is not the best way to learn for those who want to draw like professionals.

Those individuals should look for private tutors instead!

Check For Errors

Hold your drawing in the opposite direction or in front of the mirror if you're having problems recognizing your flaws.

This will offer you a new 'perspective' on them, giving you a pseudo-second opinion.

An anime character in front of a green board
Some of the more famous anime characters are have dedicated fan followings all over the globe, and their drawings and sketches are can often be seen on online forums and Reddit pages (Source: Pixabay)

If you've never heard of perspective drawing before, this may appear to be a lot of knowledge to process, but don't be intimidated.

Drawing in perspective isn't difficult. You may have drawn things in perspective without even realizing it, especially if you've been sketching for a time.

To put it simply, objects farther away appear smaller than objects closer to the spectator. Therefore, the precise application of perspective in art is critical because it can provide depth and volume to a flat image.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how perspective works, you may use it to your advantage in your artwork.

But if you want even information on how perspective can be applied when drawing famous anime characters, read on:

Perspective Drawing's Use In Anime

Perspective drawing can be noticed in many mangas; it's even used to create some of the most famous anime characters.

However, to draw a good sketch of a room, you must have a strong understanding of perspective. Even if you aren't particularly fond of anime but simply enjoy sketching, this might be quite useful.

When rooms, furniture, towns, highways, buildings, and even people are portrayed in proper perspective, they look much nicer.

A straightforward example of perspective in anime would be a figure in the front shown to be larger than a character in the background.

You can use it to quickly get a general sense of how big a character should be when standing in the foreground versus standing in the background (or vice versa).

  • Draw a vertical line the same height as the character you want to project
  • Draw perspective lines from the vanishing point that touches the top and bottom of the height line
  • A second vertical line should be drawn between the identical perspective lines in the foreground and background of the initial character drawing
  • Draw your character between the horizontal lines drawn from the second height line to any point in the picture

Furthermore, suppose you want to estimate the size of a character in a position beside the one you're projecting from:

  • Make a rough outline of the character in the same place first
  • Draw them in a new position depending on the proportions of the initial location

Another example would be a punch that appears to be in your face. This can be accomplished by creating a fist that is substantially larger than the rest of the character's body parts.

Hold your palm up to your face if you want to see an accurate illustration of this. Due to perspective, it appears to be much larger than other objects.

A black-haired female anime character sitting on a chair
A significant percentage of people are inclined towards drawing anime characters and want to excel at this art. The internet has great samples of anime drawings for beginners; these can help you level up your skills (Source: Unsplash)

How many different color combinations are applied to an anime-style character? Here is a description of what you should consider:

  • Color Intensity: The brightness of a color is measured by its color intensity. Tints, hues, and tones have an impact on it
  • Achromatic: White, black, and grey are pure achromatic "colors." But these colors also consist of browns, tans, very pale, or darker colors
  • Monochromatic: Monochromatic refers to a single color. It is a mixture of blue and red with some black and white tones to create distinct variants of pink, in this case
  • Analogous: These are shades that are exactly opposite each other on the color wheel. Analogous colors produce a low-contrast, low-key effect
  • Triadic: On the color wheel, these colors will create a triangle. You can choose any three colors if the space between them remains the same
  • Warm: Red, yellow, and orange are examples of warm hues – colors that are linked with heat, such as the fire or sun. This color palette is very suitable for fantasy characters or science fiction characters
  • Cool: Purple, blue, and greenish colors are cool hues. They're the kinds of colors you'd expect to see in frigid things like snow and ice. A cold color combination also works well for science fiction and fantasy characters

Become An Expert At Drawing Anime Art With The Help Of A Professional

The guidelines and advice mentioned above will assist you in learning the fundamentals of anime art.

Remember, you can go to more sophisticated areas of drawing if you possess a pretty steady hand and decent control of your pen or pencil.

If you are on the lookout for the best guides and tutors to help you draw popular anime characters, look no further than Superprof!

Superprof connects instructors and students from all parts of the world. All you have to do is make a profile and add your details.

Look for an anime drawing instructor in your area and start your own series today!

>

The platform that connects tutors and students

First Lesson Free

Enjoyed this article? Leave a rating.

5.00 (1 rating(s))
Loading...

Jess