5 Ways to Get Better at Drawing Anime – Improve Your Art


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Whether you are an anime fan dreaming of drawing your favorite characters or you want to create your manga, this article will give you new ways you can improve your anime and manga art.

This post aims to help you understand how to illustrate these unique anime and manga features, such as emotionally exaggerated expressions, extraordinary hairdos, and extra-wide eyes. Keep on reading!

Study Other Anime and Manga Artists

Before you even try drawing anime or manga art (there’s a difference between anime and manga art), it’s crucial to study and get inspiration from well-known, favorite, or professional manga and anime artists. Search for the exquisite components and elements in different art styles of Japanese artists.

Study the poses, props, and backgrounds of the characters and the unique factors that set manga and anime art apart from other art types. You have to notice even the smallest details if you want to improve your drawing skills.

Often, the eyes are the focal point of the character’s face, while the rest of the features are simple and don’t grab your attention.

However, even a few straight lines on the cheeks can change the emotion that the manga personage exhibits.

Look closely at the work of famous artists that are already considered icons in the world of manga and anime, such as Takeshi Obata, Ken Sugimori, and Akira Toriyama.

You can also study contemporary and modern artists such as Stanley Lau, Ross Tran, Ilya Kuvshinov, Linnea Kataja, Rose Benjamin, and Toni Infante. It all depends on what motivates you and what kind of anime or manga style you want to show in your drawings.

Find Your Anime and Manga Art Style

Image showing the evolution in drawing style and how I found my drawing style.

There are many art styles and categories in manga and anime. Look at the art techniques that stand out, find the one that you love, and start practicing.

Related article: Popular Anime Art Styles

The manga and anime art forms usually involve black and white, slick, sharp, and clear outlines, colored painterly elements, and the traditional ways of halftone, airbrushing, and cel shading.

The typical manga and anime characters are realistically proportioned, well, apart from their facial features, and follow the accurate anatomy of body shapes (while sometimes being exaggerated).

The backgrounds are usually very detailed and intricate to help transport the reader into the manga and anime environment.

Focus On Environment Or Character Design

Being able to draw characters, props, and background is a rare occurrence in the art world. Start by picking the manga and anime element that interests you.

If you prefer to draw characters such as Naruto or your own original characters, you must first understand the character’s personality traits, history, and background. If you are designing a new character from scratch, consider his story first.

If the environment and background art interest you, try to envision the world where the characters of your story live. Is it a busy city or wild nature?

You have to consider every small element of that world, from a plant and a fallen leaf to the smoke and weather conditions of the background.

Some great background examples that you can learn from and get better at drawing manga and anime are the Ghibli-style environments and Makoto Shinkai’s background.

Both are realistic yet magical in their ways. Ghibli’s designs have a more nostalgic touch to them with the beautiful nature and countryside, while in Shinkai’s world, we can see such details as the stunning sky and sun rays breaking through the buildings in the background.

These lively and breathtaking elements set the tone for the whole manga or anime story.

Choose Your Colors and Color Palette

It’s crucial to learn the basics of color theory which includes knowing the right color combinations, color intensity, and various color themes.

Using warm and bright colors like yellow, red, and orange will create a more cheerful character and background, while cool and muted colors such as blue, green, and purple are great for grave or gloomy anime and manga depictions.

Colors are affected by tints, shades, and tones, so it’s vital to understand how you can use these techniques to your advantage.

Look at the saturated color theme in Fate/Stay Night and how it provides action and a modern feel to the anime. Meanwhile, the use of muddy and earthy colors in studio Ghibli’s designs creates a more vintage-looking environment and characters.

You can mix and play with colors to create various effects. For example, using an intense color in a tinted and muted colored character can fabricate a glowing optical illusion.

This coloring method is significant when you need to accentuate and bring attention to a specific weapon or object in the drawing.

Drawing Mature vs. Teen Characters

On the left side, you see a more mature character and on the right side, you see a teen character. Notice the difference in design.

Anime and manga aimed at teens are one thing, but anime for the older crowd is another story altogether.

There are more nudity, violence, and sex involved in the mature characters, so drawing the proportions and anatomy of human bodies is an even more intricate process.

We can see some great examples of adult heroes in Shigurui: Death Frenzy, Berserk, or the Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

Teen and Kodomo (children) characters usually have bigger eyes to show innocence and purity. The artists depict older and more mature characters with narrow eyes, smaller pupils, and more elongated faces.

Meanwhile, they often portray the antiheroes and villains with glowing eyes in dark and gloomy colors.



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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