What is an anime drawing style? Is it something that differentiates one artwork from another? Could it be so? Something so simple.
What I am after here is an anime drawing style that is noticeably different from one another, a style that is different from the next one.
The best way for you to find your anime drawing style and the art style is to draw the things you like the most. Whether it’s characters or environment, search for an artist that has 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. In my opinion, 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. Let’s talk more about this and see if we can come to a solution here.
Find inspirational drawing styles
It is always interesting to scroll through DeviantArt, Artstation, Behance, Pixiv, and other known art sites, just 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 gives me so much inspiration.
Seeing other artists grow and improve their drawing and art style is always awesome to watch. Especially when you see these draw-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 you can also see the evolution of your drawing style.
Study anime artist you admire
Suppose we think about all the mentioned 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.
If you are still wondering and don’t know what I am talking about. I think Stanley Lau, a.k.a Artgerm, is a fine example of someone having a truly unique and recognizable drawing style.
Always when you see Artgerms artwork on different sites, you most likely instantly recognize that oh, there’s Stanley’s new drawing.
I mean, the drawings just kind of pops out. Your eyes are used to notice those drawings. You are kind of used to see 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 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 progress, with continuous drawing and experimenting with different drawing techniques, you will slowly but steadily create your own drawing style.
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 shapes and forms.
All these things will shape the way you draw anime and manga art, creating yourself a style that is yours. It’s your preferences for drawing, how you like to draw. That is the way you develop a style.
Study combinations in a drawing style
If you think about it, your drawing style is usually a combination of coloring, line art, shading, lighting, and rendering style.
Think about it. 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. You see 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 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 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.
It is up to you how you want to create art and also how you want to represent yourself through art.
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 guys’ artwork was astonishing. Every piece was so full of details and so much raw strength, and I don’t know. They were just super awesome, 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 my mind there. Below are some examples I created with the “Luvisi” style.
So as you can see, the process starts with you finding an artist or a bunch of artists and then mimic them to find and feel what kind of drawing style suits you.
Let time evolve your style
Going further in time, I realized that cel shade as a style is something that always resonated with me more than other styles, 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 the style for me.
This 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.
After that one artwork (mentioned above), I have been creating cel shaded art and never given up on that style (though I’ve had many times when I was almost giving 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 being 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 the anime style creation starts by searching and watching the artists that you truly idolize. Trying to search the feeling inside you if that is also the drawing style you would like 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.