Anime Art Drawing Tutorial – Mind Iteration


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When creating the sketch, I usually try to mimic pencil-like strokes, light, hard, grey lines (while having a black color for the brush), and not too definitive. Trying to get the flow running and trying to nail the main elements in place. The sketch phase is usually a pretty loose phase where you just draw the main shapes and get the flow for your drawing.

I don’t include the sketch as part of my drawing, so it’s ok if it’s messy and does not have clarity. The main shapes and ideas should be easily read through.

In Clip Studio Paint software, I use custom-made anime art brushes. Brushes I’ve made myself for my drawing style and needs. Some brushes took more than 5 hours to make, but then again, now they are perfect and deliver precisely the results I’m after.

Clip Studio Paint is the chosen art software for my drawings, and Cintiq 24 Pro is the drawing tablet to get the best possible results:

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Drawing The Line Art

Skipping the old image and version, I change to the newer vision of the same image. The old drawing was boring, and it was enough reason to skip it. I decided to draw the whole thing again, and this time with added dynamism to the image.

Changing perspective (in Adobe Photoshop: Edit – Transform – Perspective) a little and getting new elements to the drawing and the eyes closer to the viewer was a good call as it added that dynamic look I was missing. At this point, I was also struggling with the art style.

Perspective change

I went with loose line art as I knew the coloring style would correct line art mistakes and so on.

Fast forward to the future and to the time when I realized the coloring style wasn’t truly meant for me. I yet again had to draw the whole piece again.

This time with a drawing style I indeed owned and loved. The line art was created with a slightly modified G-pen, 8px brush size. Notice that the canvas I used here was around 16 000 x 12 000px in size and 600PPI.

How the line art looks on the canvas is connected to the resolution you are drawing in.

Clip Studio Paint has many benefits compared to Adobe Photoshop. One of the best feature of CLip Studio Paint is that you can use the stabilization setting, which gives you these nice straight lines, correcting the possible ‘handshaking’ effect.

Photoshop doesn’t have this to the same extent (it has smoothing, but it’s not nearly as good as Clip Studio Paint’s stabilization setting), and it was the sole purpose I moved away from Photoshop and currently do my art now entirely with Clip Studio Paint.


Line Art Tip!

If you are drawing or coloring in some other way than with cel shade in your mind, I believe your line art can be looser because you can correct the shapes and lines when you are coloring the piece.

In cel shading, the line art is usually very definitive, and thus letting it loose might not be beneficial, but then again, that is a matter of style and preference.

Base Colors

When the line art phase is complete, and you see that the shapes are readable for the viewer and the drawing looks nice, you can start the coloring phase. I usually fill the picture with one color to see the silhouette and see if something doesn’t work.

For the coloring, I use the bucket tool (Fill) as it is the fastest way to color different areas and sections in your drawing. Just make sure every line is connected. If there are gaps in the line, it could be that paint will overflow and fill your canvas. If that’s the case, you must find the disconnection and fill the gap.

I usually don’t pay too much attention to the colors at this phase, as I can easily modify them later on.

Cel Shading

As with many things, there are various ways of shading. I start the process by filling the object with a single color because adding shadows that way becomes more comfortable. The color is irrelevant, but I usually use quite light colors. Adding shadows is easier when you only see the line art, as you can then focus on the shapes and volume instead of color.

I use more than often cold shadow colors as the object’s base colors are usually warm.

The shadow layer is switched to multiply layer mode. I have sometimes used normal layer mode also, as that is extremely useful when you want to nail down some specific color for the shadows. So that is also one way to shade and not a bad one at all.

Shading Tip!

The benefit of using multiply layer mode for shadows is that you can more easily experiment with base color changes. The cons of using multiply layer mode are that you might not get the exact shadow color you want. It can be achieved but not as easily as you could by color-picking the shadow on normal layer mode.



Drawing the lighting is something I leave as a last step before the final refinement. Drawing the lighting needs a bit more thought as it can easily distort the drawing’s flow and shapes. I also use light only lightly (pun intended), but I feel they should be added only here and there. The light spots add that extra feeling and depth to the image. It is also an excellent way to bring different colors to the image.

Lighting also gives away the object’s material, e.g., if you have rubber as a material, it would be good to place almost white-like light speckles to it and lots of them, but if you think about stone as a material, you won’t put so many speckles in it.

I tend to use ‘screen’ as the layer mode for the lighting. Experiment with different layer modes and find the correct one for your taste, or then use the normal layer mode, as it is also extremely useful for this phase. I reduced the opacity to 79% to let the color beneath come through a little bit more.

Adjust Colors

It could very well be the most enjoyable part of the drawing as I get to experiment with different color schemes and shadow colors. Create a color palette by making the main image as small as needed. Then copy and paste them next to each other. Just change the base color to whatever and see what works and whatnot.


The green moss-like color wasn’t the one I had in mind when I started the painting; however, that was the one that pleased my eyes. So by experimenting, you can get to places you didn’t first understand to go.

The end process is just refining the shadows and ensuring the colors are just how you like them.

Tweak the shadow colors if necessary and ensure the lighting is correctly thought out. Leave it for a couple of days in your folder and come back to it and see if there is anything to fix and if not, the drawing is complete.

There is a fine line on whether to tweak the drawing more or not. I recommend accepting the fact that perfection is not something you should pursue; more like letting go of it. I know it won’t be easy, but it is something that gave me more space and more creativity.

So from that viewpoint, I can recommend the ‘letting go of’ approach.



Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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