Welcome! You are probably here to learn how to draw anime and manga art. Right! Well, you are in the right place, in this guide I will focus on how you can get started with anime art, few basic principles, and also provide you free resources to really jump start your anime art journey.
If you are totally new to digital art or don’t know anything about drawing digitally, I suggest you check out this post after you’ve gone through this guide.
Also check: Anime 101
In the above guide, I will go through things like art software, the difference between anime and manga art, and also talk about the hardware side of things, which means your computer.
But in this guide, I will show you how you can pretty quickly create awesome anime art with the free resources provided at the end of this article.
So let’s start with the most important thing that creates anime art in the first place — the eyes.
Drawing anime eyes
I will already admit that I could be better at understanding human eye anatomy; however, when we are talking about anime eyes, we can be a bit more creative. And that is precisely why I love anime art so much.
Anime eyes differ a LOT from the usual cartoon eyes, from realistic eyes, or from any eyes pretty much.
So next, we will define anime eyes a bit more:
- Continuos lines
- Non-continuous lines
- Between (mature/cute)
- Cute (Kawaii)
So there’s a lot of different anime eyes you can draw while still making them look anime.
Here are a few examples for each style in the mentioned order:
As you can see, they all look anime, but differ quite a lot, whether there are continuous lines or not. Whether the eyes are cute or not.
But before we go further, let’s draw some eyes.
The very first thing I start my drawing with is defining what kind of eyes I want to draw. What kind of character am I going for? Is the character young, old, teen, or something else?
The age of your character somewhat defines the shape of the eyes, but not always (a cute character can be old or young).
I love to draw eyes, so I usually just draw an eye, and if you have an art software like Clip Studio Paint, you can create a ruler, so that everything you draw on one side, will be mirrored to the other. So you are essentially drawing two eyes at once.
With this feature enabled, you can draw anime faces, eyes, etc. super quickly.
What you need to remember is that there’s a “light” rule that defines the gap should be the same length as the eyes are in width.
So while there is this small rule present when drawing eyes. I wouldn’t be too strict with it. You see, we are artists, and we have the freedom to draw as we like. And with anime art, there’s even more freedom as proportions can be broken and molded to new shapes.
Anime eyes are special, as they differ from every other art style, and they convey so much emotion with a single look.
The next thing we tackle is the face.
Drawing anime face and head
Now that you might or might not have drawn eyes. Next, we draw the face. As you and I both know, anime has some pretty interesting facial shapes.
If we think animes like Code Geass, Naruto, Studio Ghibli, My Hero Academia (Toshinori Yagi, All Might), etc., we can say that the shape of the faces differs a LOT.
So while I could go on and explain the structure of the face and how things are divided, I would say that the best way to approach is to keep your mind free from rules and restrictions.
As you can see from the image above, the eyes, mouth, nose, etc. are hardly in the right place. However, the image is still highly good looking ( at least I like Tan’s unique art style a lot).
If I draw a character facing front, I use a template (which you can get at the end of this guide). If I draw a face from another angle, I either use a 3D model or draw from a reference.
You can find this template from the FREE resources page.
Don’t be afraid to use reference images or other helpful resources. Digitalization in art has given us, artists, to make our drawing process more efficient, so why not use it to your advantage.
With anime faces, we have the option to create wicked-looking faces, pointy ears, a face without a nose, sharp chins, or even muscular jaws. We have so many options, and yet again, one of the many reasons why I love anime so much.
When we have eyes and face somewhat drawn, we can go and tackle the hair, which is another defining things in anime.
Drawing anime hair
Anime hair is special. It’s not just hair, but it’s a personality. Think about Dragon Ball Z. I mean, that hair is unique looking and shows how strong a character is.
Hair color is also another factor and different hair colors, and colors, in general, give away certain feelings and moods. So hair, combined with awesome coloring, truly ignites your anime characters to another dimension.
Also, check this: How to draw anime hair
As with anime eyes, the same thing applies to hair. What is the age of the character, mood, and what do you want to signal to the viewer with the hair.
I tend to draw flowy hair, as I like how the air has picked up the hair and make it flow along with the wind.
I always start with the main idea for the hair, kind of like drawing the overall shape of the hair. I tend to try out different hairstyles to a character before settling with one.
Hair truly gives a lot of personality to a character, so do keep in mind that.
Drawing anime body
I’m not yet too good at anatomy, or should I say that there’s a lot to improve on that area. However, I have time to learn, so where’s the hurry.
To aid myself with anatomy, I use Clip Studio Paints’ awesome 3D modeling tool to create different poses and finding those nice looking angles for my characters.
While some could still say that using 3D models is cheating, I would say that… I don’t care 🙂
The way I see art creation is the freedom to choose how you create it. And so drawing anime body is up to you, and it’s your decision how you approach it.
If you haven’t used Clip Studio Paint before, I strongly recommend that art software, and in my humble opinion, that is the no.1 art software for drawing anime.
But yeah, about the anatomy. I would start with the 3D models and slowly build the knowledge on muscle groups and how the bone structure works beneath the muscles.
Here’s a quick template to study the anime anatomy:
You can download a bigger version from the free resources.
If you feel like something got left behind. Well, worry not, there’s a lot of art tutorials, step-by-step guides, and more in this site.
One guide I recommend for you to check out is Anime 101, which has more of the very basics of drawing anime and manga.
Related: How to draw anime clothes
Related: How to draw a cute anime girl
The very best thing about anime and manga art is that there are no clear boundaries on how to draw anime art. Anime series like My Hero Academia and Code Geass already show that there’s no one way to draw anime faces or anime characters.
Keep your mind open, and when drawing your characters, let your mind be filled with new ideas and approaches to drawing. I more than often do not have a clear vision of the image; rather, the vision gets clarity when I progress with the drawing.
So when you start drawing anime, do not set yourself unneeded pressure. There’s no need to create your next masterpiece if you don’t feel that certain inner fire to do that.
Start slowly and progress steadily. One of the best ways I have improved my skills over the years is when I found my art style. When you’ve lightly settled on an art style, then you can start to improve your other areas, like line art drawing, understanding of anatomy, coloring techniques, etc.
Drawing anime is a lot of fun, so keep that mentality when you are drawing. Drawing with too high expectations towards your progress and results is only going to hinder your progress and results too.
I hope you enjoyed the content and continue to keep learning how to draw anime and manga art.
Keep it fun and light!
Related: Line Art And Line Drawing
Anime body template, face, and head template, and more from the free resources.