The Complete Idiot's Guide to Drawing Anime Characters in 13 Easy Steps

  1. 1

    Create a four-part oval by drawing a line down the middle. Your anime character's head design will largely adhere to these guidelines. You don't have to be precise, but the chin should take up a smaller portion of the oval. A horizontal line should be drawn down the middle of the oval after it has been drawn. Then, connect its center with the horizontal line by drawing a vertical line. The facial features can then be drawn following these guidelines. [1]
    • Making the bottom of the oval just a little bit wider than the top will give your character a wider face. Alternately, you can make the bottom of the oval even narrower than the top if you'd like your character to have a slim profile. Since there is no standard for anime character heads, you are free to try out a variety of different styles until you find one you like.
  2. 2

    Place the pupils under the horizontal line. The eyes in anime are typically between a quarter and a fifth of the face's total height due to their size and exaggeration. The first step in drawing one is to make a thick upper lash line underneath the horizontal line and to one side of the vertical line. Then, create a black pupil in the center of a semicircle that descends from the upper lash line. Underneath the circle, sketch a thin horizontal line for the lower lash line. To finish off your character's eyes, shade in the circle around the pupil while leaving some white space. Repeat the process on the obverse of the vertical line to create the mirror image of the first eye. [2]

    Advice: Whether drawing a male or female anime character, change the eye shape and size accordingly. Make the eyes bigger and rounder, and add some thick lashes at the upper lash line for a more feminine look. Male characters benefit from smaller, shorter eyes.

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  3. 3

    Eyebrows drawn on top of the horizontal For each eyebrow, sketch a long, sloping line downward. Draw them so that they are just a hair longer than the upper lash line you made for the eyes. Then, make the brows that frame your eyes and nose even thicker. [3]
    • Thin eyebrows are appropriate for female anime characters. Make the eyebrows thicker and set them higher for a more masculine look.
  4. 4

    Draw a horizontal line halfway between the eyes and the chin, then add the nose. Noses in anime are often unobtrusive and only become noticeable when viewed from an angle. Draw a short, simple vertical line in the middle of your character's face, halfway between the horizontal line and the chin. This will serve as the nose. If you want your character to have a large nose, extend the line. [4]
    • The nose should be the smallest facial feature.
    • If you draw a vertical line, the nose will go over it. To make it more visible, either make it darker than the vertical line or remove the line from around the nose.
    • Male anime characters may have larger noses than female ones, but this is not always the case. Draw a short horizontal line under the vertical line to represent the bottom of the nose if you want it to stand out. In addition, make it look like light is striking your character from the side by drawing a triangle-shaped shadow on the side of the nose.
    • Noseless characters are perfectly acceptable in chibi and other noseless anime styles.
  5. 5

    Carve out a smile that sits about in the middle of your face, between your nose and chin. Cartoonish and understated, anime mouths are similar to the noses they share a universe with. Draw a horizontal line about the same length as the distance between the eyes to represent the mouth of your character. Those lips can be drawn without any stress. Make the mouth smaller than both the eyes and the nose on your character's face. [5]
    • You can make your character happy by drawing a swooping upward line, or sad by drawing a swooping downward one.
    • To make it look like your character is smiling and baring their teeth, draw a curved line up and under the horizontal line that serves as their mouth. About as much height as the mouth width should be left in white between the curved and horizontal lines. The teeth of your character will go there.
  6. 6

    You can't have a side profile without the ears. Don't draw the ears if the character's long hair is supposed to hide them. If the character's hair is going to be short, however, draw a skinny oval on either side of the head. Arrange the ears so that the tops meet the horizontal center line of the face and the bottoms meet the tip of the nose. Next, sketch the ear's folds inside each oval. [6]

    • Try different ear sizes to see what works best for your character.
  7. 7

    Fill in your character's head with hair. Your character's hairstyle can be whatever you like, but typical anime hair has sharp bangs and choppy sections. Hair can be drawn in a variety of lengths, from short and buzzed to medium and long. No matter what you do, don't draw individual hairs. Use large sections of hair to draw 4 or 5 spikes at the ends. [7]
    • Long-haired characters can benefit from two spiky pigtails drawn on either side of the head. An alternative would be to draw their hair pulled back into a bun. You could also give your character bangs by sketching three or four separate strands of hair that fall over their forehead.
    • A shorter cut could be represented by drawing three or four swoops of hair to one side of the forehead. You could also make it look like their hair is combed back by drawing a style that doesn't include bangs and instead features a series of lines that extend from the front to the back of the head. As an alternative, you could sketch a bob that ends just above the chin and is divided into several thick sections.
  8. 8

    Get rid of the drawn lines, both horizontal and vertical. Be cautious when erasing them, though, or you might end up with a faceless image. You can reduce the likelihood of making mistakes by using a miniature eraser.

    • When you've erased both lines, the head and face of your character are complete.

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  1. 1

    Put your character's body on paper as a stick figure. The arms, the body, and the legs should all be drawn using straight lines. Scale the legs about a third longer while keeping the arms and torso at a similar length. Then, sketch out some triangles or ovals to represent the hands and feet. Carve out hands that are about a fifth of the length of the arm and feet that are about a sixth of the length of the legs. [8]
    • Stick figure outlines should be about 7 times as tall as the character's head to be proportional.
    • Place the beginning of the arm lines one fifth of the way down the line you drew for the torso.
    • Put your character in whatever position you like by having the outline of their stick figure strike that pose. If your character is supposed to be sitting, draw their legs in a seated position. Another option is to draw a bent arm for your character if you want them to wave.
  2. 2

    Draw out the major proportions of your character's body. Over the stick figure sketch, add a rough outline of the character's torso, arms, hips, and legs. If the outline isn't perfect, don't stress about it. Right now, you can get away with using simple shapes to represent the various body parts.

    • Create upper and lower arm and leg ovals, as well as knee and elbow circles at the joints. Make the upper and lower arms of your character the same length and size for a balanced look. Heighten the difference in thickness between their upper and lower legs.
    • A quadrilateral (a shape with four sides) that tapers at the bottom will do for the torso. In time, those top corners can develop into your protagonist's broad shoulders.
    • Draw an oval over the intersection of the torso and upper legs to define the hips.
    • Characters in anime are typically tall and slender, but other dimensions are fair game.
  3. 3

    Bring the shapes you drew together and make them more precise. You can make a clean outline of your character by tracing around its perimeter. Beginning with the hands, shoulders, hips, and neck, begin detailing each part of the body so that it appears more realistic. When you're done, the more general shapes you drew earlier will be surrounded by a complete, detailed outline of your character's body. [9]

    • For the next step, connect and refine the legs by drawing around the perimeters of each shape that makes up the legs (the ovals for the upper and lower legs, the circles for the knees, and the shapes you drew for the feet). Leave no voids in the outline, and the legs will look more realistic.
    • Arms and the midsection follow the same pattern for the upper body. For the shoulders, round off the upper body's squared-off corners, and for the neck, draw two sloping lines outward from the body's midline. Join the hip outline to the upper body and lower legs as well.

    Draw a wider chest, waist, and shoulders for a more masculine look when drawing male anime characters. Shoulders should be narrowed, hips should be widened, and breasts should be outlined if you're drawing a female anime character. You should also have the waist narrowed.

  4. 4

    The stick figures and shapes you drew should be erased. Carefully erase so that you don't erase any of your carefully crafted final outlines. When you're done, the body outline shouldn't have any traces of the guidelines you used to sketch it. [10]

  5. 5

    Embellish your anime character with clothes. Rather than drawing the garments separately, you should lay them out over your character's sketched outline. If your character is wearing a shirt, you would draw the sleeves over their arms and the body of the shirt over their torso. Next, erase the insides of the garments where the lines are, as these will never be seen. If your character is wearing shorts, for instance, you should erase the outline of their upper legs that is inside the shorts because it is irrelevant. [11]

    • Consider how the garments would naturally crease and fold while the person was wearing them as you draw them. Next, sketch in the folds and creases to give the garments a more lifelike appearance. Images of garments on the Internet allow you to observe creases in advance.
    • Outfitting your anime character is as flexible as it gets. School uniforms, formal dresses and suits, and traditional Japanese clothing are all good examples of the kinds of clothes often seen in anime.
    • Find a qualified instructor if you wish to advance your artistic abilities.
    • Draw a lot and study the art of drawing. [12]
    • Try to train your eyes to think like an artist.

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  • Question

    If I want to draw hair, how do I make it look realistic?

    Community Answer

    Be aware that hairstyles don't always have hair hugging the skull. Make it look full by letting it hang down over the cheeks and earlobes. It's best to stick to broad strokes or "clumps" instead of trying to depict each individual hair. Finally, consider drawing the hair blowing slightly to one side to add visual interest.

  • Question

    How do I achieve a balanced appearance in the arms and eyes?

    Community Answer

    Instead of working on each side individually, draw them together. Before delving too deeply into individual elements of your drawing, it's a good idea to quickly sketch out all of the shapes to check for symmetry.

  • Question

    How can I get better at drawing anime?

    Community Answer

    Continuous practice is the surest path to competence. Anime is a great way to visualize what anime characters would look like. If you want to get better at drawing, getting feedback from your peers is a great way to do so.

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Professor and Portrait Artist

Renée Plevy and Kyle Hall, both of the wikiHow staff, wrote this article. Renée Plevy, a New Yorker currently residing in Palm Beach, is a renowned portraitist whose subjects have included the Palm Beach society's "Grand Dames" as well as other notable figures in the art world and local communities. Renée is an oil painter with over 50 years of experience who focuses on realism and capturing her subjects' essence. She has learned from the likes of John Howard Sanden, David Leffel, Robert Beverly Hale, Clyde Smith, and Leonid Gervits, all of whom are highly regarded in the field of portraiture. Including a solo exhibition at the Paterson Museum, Renée's work can be seen in over sixty-eight other exhibitions around the world. She's the recipient of several prestigious honors, including "Artist of the Year" from the Bloomfield Art League and "First Prize" from the Boca Raton Museum Artist's Guild. Renée has painted a portrait of Vanilla Ice, a famous musician. Now at the Boca Raton Museum Art School, she previously taught at Manhattan's School of Visual Arts. There have been 1,484,745 views of this article.

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Updated: On this date in 2023: January 6

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Categories: Anime Character Design

Executive SummaryX

Anime, short for Japanese animation, has seen massive international success since its inception in the 1950s and '60s. Anime can be found in a wide variety of styles. On the other hand, when most people think of anime, images of characters with cartoonishly large eyes and disproportionately large features come to mind. Begin by sketching an oval that is wider at the top and narrower at the bottom to represent the head and face of your anime character. Draw a vertical line down the center of the face, and another horizontal line halfway between the forehead and the chin. This will divide the face into four equal sections. Next, under the horizontal line, draw the eyes. Get the eyes as big as you can without making the face look weird. Firstly, sketch a thick, curved line for the upper lashes. Then, sketch a semicircle under the lash line to represent the iris. Put in a black pupil, darken the iris around it, but leave some white space to show how the eye reflects light. The lower lash line is then added, but it is thinner and placed directly under the eye. Raise the uppermost portion of the horizontal ruler and sketch in two eyebrows. Thin brows work well for female characters, but thicker brows work better for male characters. Then, halfway between the first horizontal and the chin, draw a second one. To represent the character's nose, draw a small vertical curve where the new horizontal guide intersects the vertical one. Even though small noses are typical for anime characters, you could try out various sizes and shapes to see what works best. To make the nose appear more three-dimensional, many artists recommend drawing a small triangle-shaped shadow on one side of the nose. Draw the mouth halfway between the first two horizontal lines, on the line that connects the nose and chin. Simple horizontal line work for the mouth is fine. Bend it upwards or downwards to create the desired expression for your character. Complete the portrait by adding the protagonist's hair. Simple is best; don't bother with making distinct strands. You should instead draw the hair in sections, and use spikes at the ends to indicate individual hairs. When you're done, just cross out the rules. Create a stick figure in the desired pose, and then sketch in the basic shapes of the head, torso, and limbs to complete your full figure drawing. When designing an anime character, it's best to err on the side of childlike proportions rather than those of an actual adult. Aim for a height of 5–7 heads instead of the more realistic 7–8 heads. After sketching out the guidelines and major shapes, you should join them together to form a continuous outline before proceeding to add in the finer details, like the character's clothing. When you're done, you can get rid of the rules. Read on for guidance on capturing your inspiration on paper.

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