What is an anime drawing style? Is it something that differentiates one artwork from another? Could it be something so simple?
In this article, I will share some of my thoughts on how you can find or develop your own anime drawing style. Keep on reading!
- Find inspirational artists and mimic their style until you find what you like and don’t like about the style.
- Draw in one style for a long period of time to get the feeling of whether that style is for you or not.
- Draw one image in multiple styles to see which style resonates most with you.
- By experimenting with drawing styles, you are finding the one style that inspires you the most, ultimately leading you to develop your own drawing style.
- Let time take care of the rest. Time and practice will show you a lot, and in time you will see how your drawing style has shaped to become yours over the years.
Table of Contents
What Is A Drawing Style?
A drawing style is a unique and distinctive way for an artist to create and present their artwork and drawings. It’s the way how you use lines, shapes, colors, shading, and composition, among others.
Your cultural background, personal experiences, artistic influences, and the medium you use can all affect your drawing style and the way you create artwork.
Some artists may have a more realistic style, striving to create detailed and accurate drawings of the subject, while others may have a more abstract or stylized approach, using simplified forms and shapes.
Drawing style, in its essence, is a reflection of you and your unique vision and creative expression. Your drawing style can define your artistic identity and even create a recognizable brand for your work.
How To Develop Your Anime Drawing Style
Finding and developing your drawing and art style go hand in hand. While you are drawing, you are at the same time finding. You are experimenting and trying out new techniques, and by doing that, you are developing your drawing style.
Developing a drawing style is as much as finding it and experimenting with it as it is failing at it. Time and practice eventually show you your drawing style.
Find Inspirational Drawing Styles
The best way for you to find your anime drawing style is to draw the things you like the most. By doing that, you focus on style, not the ‘how-to-draw’ part of the drawing.
Whether it’s characters or environment, search for an artist with a style you like and start drawing like him/her.
First, you will mimic the style, and in time, you will develop your own style by drawing in a certain style consistently year after year.
If you look at all the awesome art online, every piece is done in a certain way. With a certain style, and when that style is honed for years, it will start to look like his/her style —a unique style for that artist.
Every artwork is different in content but more so in style. Usually, a drawing style can be linked to one person. It can also be said that the style is his/her own way of drawing. Something that makes it his/her own.
It is always interesting to scroll through DeviantArt, Artstation, Behance, Pixiv, and other known art sites to find awesome new anime art from new and old artists.
Of course, I have my own watchlists and am always excited to see what other artists have created. Seeing new anime and manga drawings and artworks from people always inspires me greatly.
Seeing other artists grow and improve their drawing and art style is always awesome to watch. Especially when you see these draw-this-again-works, those are just awesome. These drawings really show the evolution of an artist and the evolution of a drawing style.
If you haven’t drawn those yet, please do and see the difference. I bet you will be surprised.
Usually, doing those once every year is a good starting point. You will notice how differently you approach the drawing process and see the evolution of your drawing style.
Study Anime Artists You Admire
If we consider all the mentioned digital art sites, Behance, Pixiv, Artstation, etc. You see some artwork on the front page, and if it’s from someone you are following, I believe you can immediately say who made that artwork even before seeing the artist’s name.
I think that is the core essence of having a unique drawing style. It is a style in which one can associate with a specific person.
I think Stanley Lau, a.k.a Artgerm, is a fine example of someone having a truly unique and recognizable drawing style.
When you see Artgerms artwork on different sites, you most likely instantly recognize that there’s Stanley’s new drawing.
I mean, the drawings just kind of pops out. Your eyes are used to noticing those drawings. You are kind of used to seeing those drawings.
That is because you have been following a certain artist for a while and know how they draw and how the drawings usually look alike.
In the same way, you also develop and find a certain anime style in time just by drawing and learning new techniques along the way, constantly drawing year after year, honing that drawing style that you are currently accustomed to.
With time, you will see what you like and what you don’t like, what kind of line art you like, what kind of color palette you like, and what shapes and forms.
All these things will shape the way you draw anime and manga art, creating a style that is yours. It’s your preferences for drawing and how you like to draw. That is the way you develop a style.
Creating and Keeping A Drawing Style
If you think about it, your drawing style is usually a combination of coloring, line art, shading, lighting, and rendering style.
You draw eyes in a certain way. You use a certain set of colors (saturation & values) in mind. Render materials, hair, and skin in a way that you have developed over the years.
Many artists, more than often, draw images the same way, always. That is because they have developed a style, and it is the style they like the most.
It is also the most productive way of drawing. If you always change your way of drawing with every piece. It quickly becomes exhausting and even irritating to draw.
Soon the biggest struggle is to complete even one artwork. It feels like you don’t know which way to go, what to draw, and, more than anything, how to draw.
Drawing style lets you go deep into the flow state because when you have a drawing style, you don’t need to think about how to draw but what to draw—making your imagination run wild and free.
Choose One Art Style and Stick to It For A While
What I noticed during the many years of finding and developing my own anime art style was that it was crucial to kind of go through one style at a time.
At the very beginning, you first learn one style and draw a while with that style of yours.
While you do this, you learn new things, and the drawing style is not the one creating a block to your progress. If you constantly change your style, you kind of start all over again.
In the very beginning, don’t do that. Don’t switch between styles with every drawing, except if it’s intentional and you like to experiment.
Focus on one style and learn to draw in that one style. After you know a thing or two, you can try a new anime and manga art style if you are not happy with the current one and the results it gives you.
However, having a certain art style does not mean that you have to create drawings always using just that style you have honed over the years. You can change the style, or you can have multiple styles.
Gather Different Resources
In the beginning, I was inspired by everyone I saw online. Dan Luvisi was the first artist that truly opened my eyes, and I was like, “I got to learn how to draw like that guy.”
I mean, that guy’s artwork was astonishing (this was in 2012-2013). Every piece was so full of details and so much raw strength. They were just super awesome, with cool character designs and all.
Exciting stuff. That was also the time I found ImagineFX magazine, which had a tutorial written by Dan Luvisi.
Of course, I bought the magazine and downloaded all the brushes. I mimicked everything and finally produced some quite good pieces of art myself.
I liked the style, the possibilities, and the semi-realism it offered. I, too, wanted to create awesome characters. Guess that was inspiration working in my mind there.
So as you can see, the process starts with you finding an artist or a bunch of artists and then mimicking them to find and feel what kind of drawing style suits you.
Let Time Evolve Your Drawing Style
Going further in time, I realized that cel shading as a style is something that always resonated with me more than any other style, also at a deeper level than the semi-realistic style that I was following and trying to produce.
I think I had some inner battle going on, and it actually lasted a few years until I created this one artwork, a character with a yellow coat and a hat.
It was heavily inspired by Guilty Gear Xrd’s Ramlethal. It was the last touch of including the gradient-like effect to the shadows, making it slightly cel-shaded in style. That one thing clicked inside me, and cel shade was my style.
This (yellow coat character) piece was done in 2014. That gradient effect was the turning point. So small. Yet so powerful. Just by adding that one gradient, I got this light bulb above my head, and everything was clear. Cel-shaded art was my thing, and I needed to get good at it.
Even though using gradients is off from cel shading, it made me realize how I could expand the cel shade as a style.
One way of finding your art style is to draw an image in multiple styles, in styles that you pick from online and refer to—trying to see what is coming naturally and what process you like the most.
Finding your anime and manga style is not easy, but it can be fun.
Just try different techniques on the same drawing. Soon you will see what pleases your eye the most and what does not.
After that one artwork, I have been creating cel-shaded art and have never given up on that style (though I’ve had many times when I almost gave up on it). Cel shading is definitely the style that just pleases my eyes.
That is also the style I will try to improve and master over time, even though cel shade as an art style is one of the easiest to produce.
It can also be seen as somewhat limiting, and those limits I am trying to break. One limit is the gradual rendering of the shadows.
Yes, you can always use a gradient, but that is not real cel shading. Cel shading gives you plenty of challenges. Don’t doubt that. Mastering something is always different than being just good at something.
Time is your guide in the search for your style. Time told and showed me the things that I liked. With time I was able to experience different emotions when drawing, and the ones that gave me the best feelings were the things that I kept in my style.
I believe anime-style creation starts by searching and watching the artists you truly idolize —trying to search the feeling inside you if that is also the drawing style you want to master.
Truly think about what kind of art you would like to make. What style honestly pleases your eyes the most?
I think the more you draw, the more you will see what things you like. How you draw things and also the way you start your drawings. All those affect the outcome and will eventually become one with you.
Time and drawing(s) will show you the way, showed me the way, at least. It took a long time, but I found my inner artistic voice, and now I’m able to improve from there.
Could it be that you can truly progress in art when you have finally found your artistic voice?
I believe so!
Start finding your anime and manga style, it will come to you, but it might take time.