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How to Draw Anime for Beginners – In 6 Easy Steps (Full Guide)

Interested in how to draw anime for beginners? Well, we’ve compiled simple-to-follow steps to draw anime along with drawing anime tips.

Anime characters have exaggerated eyes, distinct features, and proportions. There are a few unmistakable traits of well-drawn anime characters, and we intend to give you some beginner steps to learning how to draw anime.

If you’re just starting out and curious about how long it takes to learn how to draw, whether it be anime or realism, check out our post here.

This guide is meant to be straightforward to help you draw anime faces and features!

Hopefully, you can follow along with these steps!

Link: How Long Does It Take to Learn to Draw Anime

How to Draw Anime Girl

Step 1. Outline the Girl’s Head, Neck & Shoulders

The head of anime characters is usually a bit bigger than that of a realistic head, but not too big that it becomes a caricature (Although, in some cases, anime characters are drawn with a head larger than the rest of their body. These are called “Chibis“, which is a smaller and more adorable version of an anime character.)

Link: If you are interested in learning what tools you need to draw anime or manga check out our post here.

First, draw a circle then create a vertical line in the middle of the circle. Right below the circle, draw a horizontal line. This will be the basis for the chin. Unlike a realistic head, the shape of an anime character is more easily defined. The chin is a lot sharper and the forehead is a bit bigger.

Now that you have your guide, connect the circle to the line, and from there create two slopes that’ll interconnect to make the chin. Like this:

Once you have a head, create the neck and shoulder.

Step 2.  Draw the Eyes/Brows

The next step is to draw the eyes and eyebrows. Anime girls tend to have larger eyes than anime boys (This isn’t exclusive of course. Some anime girls have smaller eyes and some anime boys have larger eyes, in general, anime girls are drawn to have larger eyes)

The placement is simple. Divide the head into two equal parts, you can do this by separating the head with a horizontal line. Below that line (which should sit at the very middle of the head), draw the eyes.

Step 3. Draw the Nose

Anime noses are simple. They’re simply a tiny upright check that is placed below the eyes.

Step 4. Draw the Mouth

A simple mouth can be drawn by only one line. Some artists add a small space in between that line (for whatever reason). If you want an open-mouthed smile, draw an upturned D. Inside that D, draw a curve for the tongue. If you want to add teeth, simply add a small line at the top and bottom.

Step 5.  Draw the Hair

The hair is the most important part of an anime character, if not the eyes. In some cases, the hair is what defines the character. Anime hair is usually made up of chunks of hair with pointed tips (unless the character has even bangs). Sometimes they even stick out and defy the forces of gravity.

The most simple type of anime hair on a girl is often one with bangs.

Step 6.  Add in Facial Details

By this, we mean shadows and highlights. Add shadows to the eyes and to the hair. To really make it pop, also add highlights. If you don’t know how shading works, have a look at our other article here: Why is Shading So Difficult?

How to Draw Anime Boy 

Step 1. Outline the Boy’s Head, Neck & Shoulders

Same with drawing an anime girl, you gotta start with the outline of their head, neck, and shoulder. Unlike realistic faces where there are small differences in the features of a female face and a male face, in anime, they are more or less the same.

Step 2.  Draw the Eyes/Brows

As I said earlier, the eyes are usually drawn smaller than an anime girl but there are cases where the eyes of a male anime character are drawn big (Killua, Gon, etc.)

Step 3. Draw the Nose

Step 4. Draw the Mouth

Step 5.  Draw the Hair

Similar to the hair of anime girls, the hair of anime boys is often drawn in gravity-defying pointy chunks. (Goku, Gon, Dr. Stone, etc.) Either that or they use a ton of hair gel.

Step 6.  Add in Facial Details (shadows/highlights/etc)

How to Draw Anime Eyes

To draw anime eyes, all you have to do is recognize its basic shape.

Anime eyes come in different shapes. Usually, the shape of an anime character’s eyes will be drawn from their personality.

ShapeWhat They Usually Mean
Large, round Optimistic, innocent, young, playful
Square, rectangularSerious, mature, aloof
Small, sharp, triangularUninterested, been through hardships, emotionless
Anime eyes often add to the portrayal of the character’s personality.

If you look at popular anime characters, you’ll see that this is mostly the case. For instance, Gon, the main protagonist of Hunter x Hunter who is young and innocent, is drawn with large round eyes. However, SPOILER ALERT when he eventually goes through a traumatic event and is portrayed to have grown much older, the shape of his eyes changes.

To draw anime eyes, first, figure out the basic shapes. Once you have that down, start with the outline. Then draw an oblong or a circle. In the middle of that, add a black circle for the pupil. To give the eyes life, add two little white spots at the corner of the pupil.

If you plan to add color to the eye, the simplest way to do this is to first create a gradient inside the eye (from black to whatever color you want the eye to be). After the gradient, add the pupil and the two white dots (make sure these dots aren’t the same size).

On the color of the eye, add a color lighter than the original color.

How to Draw Naruto

Naruto is probably one of the most, if not the most, recognizable anime character ever. So it would make sense for you to start your practice with him.

To draw Naruto, simply follow the steps I laid out earlier. Start with a circle and a line beneath it as a guide for the chin. However, notice that Naruto’s chin isn’t as sharp as most anime characters. Because Naruto’s face is a bit rounded, his chin is flat.

Tip: When drawing an anime character, always draw from a reference! Even if you know the character by heart, you’re still bound to get some details wrong.

Once you have the shape of his face down, time to draw the hair. Before you draw the hair, make sure to draw his headband first. To do this, draw two curved lines then connect them on the side with wavy lines to represent the folds of the headbands.

Then, inside the headband, draw a rectangle with rounded corners. This will be where the Leaf Village symbol will sit.

Like this:

Once you have that, you can proceed with his hair. Naruto’s hair is sort of made up of jagged spikes. Of course, you can’t just draw jagged spikes on his head with no direction. Draw first a curved line that will guide where you draw the spikes of his hair. Then draw the spikes by creating jagged shapes.

Next, draw the eyes. The shape of Naruto’s eyes is something similar to a circle. Sketch the shapes first on each side of the face. Remember, the length between the eyes is approximately the same length of an eye.

Once you have the shapes down, start sketching. Draw the upper part of the eyes first with the outer line thicker than the inner line. Next, draw the lower part of the eyes which is just two slightly curved lines.

The inside of the eye is made up of a slightly elongated circle (not exactly an oblong but it’s on its way), a small pupil in the middle, and a half circle in the upper right corner that’s meant to be the white spot.

After you’re done with the eyes, add his eyebrows, which are just two thick lines pointing toward the middle of his face beginning from his headband. After that, add the rest of Naruto’s facial features, his nose, his mouth, and most importantly, his whiskers.

When you have the facial features out of the way, draw the ears, which are in line with his eyes and nose.

Lastly, draw his neck and his clothes. His neck is in line with the pupil of his eyes. Then add two smaller lines on the inside of his neck going on opposite directions. For his clothes, start with two rectangular shapes with a small space between them just below his neck.

Connect these shapes with a curved line going upwards (stop when it’s in line with his ears). Then, draw the rest of the collar using curved lines. you can even add an illusion of texture by drawing smaller lines inside of the collar.

Differences between Realistic Drawings and Anime Drawings

The difference between realistic drawings and anime drawings is that anime drawings tend to have more exaggerated features than realistic drawings. For instance, the eyes and head might be bigger, the noses might be smaller, and their hair might be immune to gravity.

All that cannot be seen in realistic drawings. Realistic drawings follow specific measures for certain features. They’re meant to replicate what’s observable in reality, and while anime drawings do take inspiration from reality, they are still based on fiction.

For anime, similar to cartoons, suspension of belief is required. But unlike cartoons, anime features aren’t overly exaggerated.

Is Drawing Anime Easier Than Realistic?

I’d like to think drawing anime is easier than drawing realism.

There’s a lot of detail that goes into realism, as well as a lot of accuracies needed. It only takes one small misstep in realism for your drawing to look off, but in anime, you can get away with a few small subtle mistakes.

When it comes to shading, realism is also a lot more complicated. Shading for realism requires highlights, mid-tones, and dark shades, all of which need to be blended flawlessly. For anime, shade is usually one solid color that’s darker than the original color that is being shaded.

Of course, there are some cases where blending is required, but most of the animes that you see on shows apply simple shading. So, personally, anime is a lot easier to learn and draw than realism.

That said, it all depends on which type of drawing you do more.

People who draw more realistic portraits will find that drawing anime can be a bit challenging, and people who only draw anime will struggle with realistic portraits. This is why, as an artist, it’s important to branch out and try different art styles, because no art style will come easy, especially if you’re doing it for the first time.

Is Drawing Anime Easy?

Drawing anime is definitely not easy.

Although earlier I said drawing anime is easier than drawing realism, drawing anime is definitely not an easy feat. Sure over time, with practice, it’ll eventually be easy, but when you’re just starting out and learning how to draw anime, it can be challenging.

Anime is drawn from fiction but that doesn’t mean it completely ignores reality. You will still have to apply proper anatomy, study perspectives, and even shading to get drawing anime right. Details in hair and character clothes are something you have to keep in mind as well.

So no, drawing anime is not a walk in the park. It’s still an obstacle course and there are many hurdles to get through. If you really want to get better at anime, I suggest, before jumping into drawing a character, to study anatomy first.

Once you understand basic anatomy, you’ll find the rest of the things you’ll have to learn a lot easier.

Drawing Anime Tips

Character: Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter

Here are a few tips I have for drawing anime:

  • Learn the basics of drawing first (anatomy, shading, lighting, etc.)
  • Use references. It isn’t cheating. It’ll help you improve.
  • Don’t get stuck with one drawing. It’s natural to erase and go back but if you find yourself doing that a little too often for one drawing, accept the mistakes and move on.
  • Develop a practice routine where you try to improve on a specific aspect of anime drawing each time.
  • Use only one or two pencils. Anime drawing doesn’t really require a lot of shades so simply get your normal drawing pencil and a pencil with a darker shade.
  • Be patient. You’re gonna think it looks awful in the beginning, but the more you draw, the more you’ll get better. Eventually, you will no longer need a reference. So don’t give up.

How can I teach myself to draw anime?

There are many resources online that can help you to draw anime. For example, this article! If you’re more of a visual learner, there are also many videos on YouTube that can help guide you.

Like this one:

How to Draw Anime

How to draw anime characters like a pro?

If you want to learn how to draw anime like a pro, first understand that every pro was once a beginner, just like you. With consistent practice, you’ll be just like your favorite manga artist someday.

Always practice with purpose. Don’t rush into things. The learning process is slow so if you start with learning how to draw anime facial shapes first, that’s fine. It’s important to not overwhelm yourself and focus on one thing.

Don’t be discouraged if you think your drawings are terrible. It won’t always be that way. You’re just starting out so it’s normal that you won’t get it correct right away.

In addition to that, try not to compare yourself to other artists. The easiest way to lose motivation is to look at a fellow artist’s work and judge your own work based on theirs. It’s always going to be different for each person so there’s no point in comparing yourself to another artist. Focus on your own drawing and your own progress and pay attention to nobody else.

Don’t take constructive criticism to heart. If someone offers you constructive criticism, know that it isn’t an attack on you as a person, it’s only an opinion on your drawing. Take their criticisms and learn from them.

No professional is born a master. Most, if not all of them, worked hard to get to the skill level they’re currently at. And if you want to be like them, then you gotta put in the work and practice. Soon enough, you’ll be considered a professional as well.

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