Skip to Content

What Do You Need to Get Started Drawing Anime with Digital Art: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re interested in learning how to draw anime or manga with digital art you’ve come to the right place. In this post we breakdown everything from free digital art tools for beginners to the basic digital art process, as well as setting up your workspace and getting started with your first anime drawing.

To get started with drawing anime or manga you need a drawing tablet and art program. So lets take a look at some good, beginner friendly options.

Key Takeaways

  • Again, to draw anime you need:
    • an art program
    • a drawing tablet (or even your mobile phone)
  • Some good options for free* beginner art programs are:
    • Ibisx Paint (can be used on your mobile phone or iPad)
    • Krita (for drawing on your computer)
    • We recommend avoiding more advanced art programs since they may discourage you with all of their advanced options*
  • Good beginner and affordable drawing tablets are: (these you will have to connect to your computer)
  • A good starting place is by drawing simple anime faces and figures from references (some good options for characters to draw are Luffy, Saitama, Naruto)
  • Lastly, try not to worry about mimicking a specific anime style initially. The best anime artists have a strong foundation in drawing so try to learn some basics of art including drawing figures, faces, proportion, spacing, and shading

Our Affordable Recommendation for Drawing Anime and Manga:

VEIKK A30 Drawing Tablet and then use Krita drawing application

A More Expensive Option for Drawing Anime and Manga:

HUION Kamvas 22 Plus and Clip studio (which may sometimes have quarterly sales*)

One of my very first digital art that I made on Ibisx Paint

Choosing Your Digital Art Tools

Just like traditional drawing, digital art requires tools. Some are paid and some are free. If you’re a beginner, I highly recommend using free tools. Even though they may be limited compared to paid tools, they have enough of what you need to get started.

Plus more premium digital art apps may be frustrating to use as a beginner since they can be pretty complex and offer so many features

Again, the most important tools that you should start with when it comes to digital art before worrying about anything else are a drawing tablet and an art program.

Drawing Tablets

You should start with more affordable drawing tables (we strongly recommend avoiding an iPad as your first drawing tablet).

Just choose one that is inexpensive and easy to carry around.

Before getting a tablet, I was mostly drawing on my phone using my finger. It was fine for practice but the process was a lot harder than when I started using a tablet.

Some good options for beginner drawing tablets are:

  • Veikk A30
  • HUION Inspiroy H1060P
  • Wacom Intuos Tablet

Veikk A30

My first tablet was the Veikk A30, a light and sleek tablet with a 10 x 6 inches drawing area.

My Veikk A30

Our Overall Review: The Veikk A30 is a good entry-level tablet for beginners due to its affordability and large drawing area. Its sleek design and portability make it a great choice for artists who need to work in different locations. However, since its cheaper and not as popular as the other brands there may sometimes be driver issues.

Affordable and budget-friendlyLess well-known brand may affect support
Sleek and portable designPotential driver stability and compatibility issues
Large 10 x 6 inches active drawing areaBuild quality may not be as high as more expensive tablets
Customizable shortcut keys

HUION Inspiroy H1060P

Our Overall Review: The HUION Inspiroy H1060P is a pretty feature-rich platform for beginners with its high pressure sensitivity and expansive workspace. The customizable keys are a nice touch for workflow efficiency, though they may take time to master. The pen’s charging requirement is a minor drawback, but overall, the tablet is a decent tool for people starting with digital art.

High pressure sensitivity (8192 levels)Pen requires charging
Large 10 x 6.25 inches working areaLearning curve for customizable keys
Numerous customizable keys (12 press, 16 soft)Slightly heavier, affecting portability
Good compatibility with various software

Wacom Intuos Tablet

Our Overall Review: The Wacom Intuos Tablet is a somewhat premium option for beginners who want a reliable and long-lasting tool. It is smaller but does include some great easy to use software. While it may a little be more expensive, the investment is pretty justified by Wacom’s reputation for quality and customer support.

Reputable brand with industry standard qualityHigher price point than some beginner tablets
Comes with creative software bundle
Durable build quality
Compact and portable

Digital Art Programs

Getting a program that is expensive and has a high learning curve has a chance of demotivating you and causing you to resent or even abandon the learning process.

I suggest programs that are free and open source.

  • If you’re using your mobile phone, you can use apps like Ibisx Paint, which is a free easy-to-use drawing app.
  • If you’re looking to draw on your PC, programs like Krita will be a big help as not only is it free, but it also has a pretty intuitive user interface.

I used to draw on Ibisx Paint until I got my first drawing tablet. Although the results were not that pretty, it still gave me the opportunity to practice and learn digital art.

Here’s some quick pros and cons for our recommended apps:

Ibis Paint X

Intuitive user-friendly interfaceAds in the free version can be distracting
Strong community and social media integrationLimited advanced features for professional use
Free version available with many featuresIn-app purchases for additional features
Recording feature to capture the drawing process


Completely free and open sourceCan be resource-intensive on some systems
Professional-grade advanced featuresSomewhat steep learning curve for beginners
Highly customizable interface and brushesLess optimized for touch input compared to other apps
Supportive community and frequent updates

Clip Studio Paint

Tailored for comics and manga with specialized toolsNot free; the full version is relatively expensive
Advanced brush engine for detailed artworkComplex interface with a learning curve
Supports the use of 3D models
Basic animation features included

Other Digital Art Tools

Once you’ve chosen your tablet and program, you can then think about other digital art tools like:

  • Styluses: One must ensure they have a comfortable grip and pressure sensitivity that matches their drawing style (these often come with tablets)
  • Gloves: Drawing gloves can help reduce friction between the hand and the tablet.
  • Monitor Stands: For those using display tablets, adjustable stands can help maintain a comfortable drawing posture.
  • Desk Setup: A well-arranged workspace can prevent strain and support long hours of work (an organized desk space can do wonders for your productivity…coming from a messy desk person*)

Digital Drawing Process

It’s always good to have a process when making an artwork. It makes drawing a lot smoother and easier.

First, you gotta come up with what you want to draw.

Personally, I get inspiration from things I like. I love to make fan art so if I want to draw and I have nothing in mind, I look to my favorite shows and movies to get ideas.

This is a fan art I made of Kurapika, my favorite anime character from the show Hunter x Hunter. I got this idea after I watched that scene of him being angsty in a river.

If you want to draw and have no idea, I suggest pulling up your favorite show or anime and picking a scene that you can recreate with your own interpretation.

Next, I do a quick sketch of my idea. It’s usually messy and most lines overlap, but that’s the point of the sketch. To get a quick visual of your idea. If you’re new at this, you can make your sketches look even messier. Don’t be afraid if it looks nothing like what you actually wanna draw. You’ll be polishing it later. Some artists draw only stick figures as sketches.

After the sketch, I clean it up by outlining. The outline does not have to follow the sketch 100%. You’re still free to change and tweak things at this stage. You can also make your outline more detailed than your sketch.

I usually follow my sketches but sometimes I experiment and my outlines end up looking better than my sketches.

Once I’ve finished outlining, I then add the flat colors. Colors can be tricky as they can make or break your art. Luckily for me, this is a fan art. Which means the colors are already there, I just have to pick them.

If you’re a beginner and are looking to practice with your colors, doing fan art will be a great help.

But don’t just draw and copy what you see, make sure you understand why the artist picks those colors and how you can learn from them.

When I’m done with the flat colors, I move onto shading and highlights! You don’t actually have to do this, especially if you’re making simple fan art, but shading and highlights can make your drawings pop so I recommend you add them.

If you don’t know how to shade, we have an article discussing how to shade and the different shading methods. You can read that here: Why is Shading So Difficult?

After shading and a couple more tweaks, I add the background. In this case, it’s simply a flat red color since red is often associated with the character I drew.

If you’re looking to practice and not just create fan art, I highly recommend adding a background that isn’t just a flat color or simple shapes. One of the struggles of digital art (or art in general) is the background, so learning to draw background early on in your learning process will make things a lot easier for you.

Setting Up Your Workspace

If you plan to draw a lot then you must have a space where you can go to and draw. It doesn’t have a be another room of the house (although if you can you should) it can just be a table where you can set up your computer and tablet to draw.

My workspace was a small study table. It was pretty crowded but it worked for me as I was able to draw just fine. As long as there is space for your arm, your tablet, and your computer, it should be enough.

That said, it’s important that your space is clean and your environment is peaceful. Being in a noisy environment can be distracting, which may take away your ability to come up with a creative idea.

Understanding Anime Art Style

Anime art style is characterized by its vibrant characters and vivid worlds, which can be captured effectively using digital art tools.

The key elements of anime art include:

  • Eyes: Anime characters typically have large, expressive eyes. Each character’s emotions are often conveyed through the eyes, making their design a crucial component.
  • Hair: From gravity-defying spikes to flowing locks, anime hair is diverse and creative, allowing artists to explore a wide range of styles and colors.
  • Proportions: While anime borrows from real-life proportions, it often exaggerates certain features, like big eyes or elongated limbs, to express character traits or emphasize certain emotions.
  • Line Work: Crisp and varying line weights play a significant role in defining the shape and depth of anime characters and objects.

When starting with digital anime art, artists should prioritize understanding these elements:

ProportionsForms the basic structure of characters and helps in maintaining consistency.
Line QualityDetermines the clarity and finish of the characters and scenes.
Color TheoryVital for setting the mood, defining character, and distinguishing between scenes.

Basic Drawing Skills and Techniques

Developing proficiency in basic drawing skills and techniques is critical for an artist aiming to produce compelling digital anime art. Mastery in areas such as anatomy, line work, and color greatly influence the quality of the final piece.

Proportions and Anatomy

Understanding proportions and anatomy is fundamental when drawing anime characters. Characters should maintain consistent proportions throughout their design which is generally more stylized than realistic drawings.

  • Head-to-Body Ratio: Anime characters typically have a head-to-body ratio of 1:6 to 1:8, unlike the realistic 1:7.5 to 1:8 ratio.
  • Facial Features Placement: Eyes are usually halfway down the head, with a smaller nose and mouth placed below them.

Line Art and Shading

Line art creates the clean edges and shapes that define anime illustrations. Mastery of line weight varies the visual impact.

  • Thick lines denote shadows and outer edges.
  • Thin lines suggest light sources and detailed features.

Shading adds depth:

  1. Identify a consistent light source.
  2. Apply shading opposite the light to depict volume and form.

Color Theory and Application

Color Theory is essential in choosing a palette that conveys mood and time of day.

  • Primary colors (red, blue, yellow) form the basis of all hues.
  • Complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) create dynamic effects.

When applying color:

  • Begin with base colors, typically mid-tones.
  • Layer shadows and highlights to build form.
  • Adjust saturation and brightness for harmonic or contrasting effects.

Character Design and Development

Expressing Emotion and Personality

Each anime character should embody distinct emotions and personality traits that are visually communicated through their design. Artists achieve this by:

  • Eyes: The window to a character’s soul, eyes in anime are often oversized and can exhibit a wide range of emotions. For a determined character, eyes might be drawn with sharp, angular lines, while a gentle character may have eyes with soft, rounded edges.
  • Facial Features: Subtle changes in the character’s mouth and eyebrows can convey different emotions. A slightly curved upward mouth can indicate happiness, and furrowed brows can show concern or anger.

Costuming and Accessories

A character’s outfit and accessories provide context about their background, role, and personality. They consist of:

  • Outfit: This is not only about style but also function. A warrior might have armor, while a magician could don robes with mystical symbols.
  • Accessories: These can include items like jewelry, weapons, or gadgets. A character’s accessories should have a purpose or signify an aspect of their personality, like a locket for a sentimental character or a futuristic gadget for an inventor.

Through these elements, artists develop engaging anime characters that connect with audiences.

Backgrounds and Environments

Drawing anime backgrounds and environments requires a fundamental understanding of perspective and how characters integrate into these spaces. These elements help create a cohesive and believable anime world.

Perspective Basics

One-Point Perspective:

  • Usage: Ideal for scenes where the viewer is directly facing the background, like a straight road or hallway.
  • Construction: A single vanishing point is placed on the horizon line.

Two-Point Perspective:

  • Usage: Effective for corner views, such as looking at the edge of a building.
  • Construction: Two vanishing points are placed on the horizon line, typically at the edges of the paper or canvas.

Three-Point Perspective:

  • Usage: Used for dramatic scenes, like high skyscrapers viewed from ground level or a bird’s eye view of a landscape.
  • Construction: Incorporates a third vanishing point either above or below the horizon line.

To practice, artists should:

  1. Sketch simple geometric shapes in perspective.
  2. Overlay a grid to understand how objects sit in space.
  3. Progress to more complex structures as confidence increases.

Incorporating Characters With Backgrounds

Scale and Placement:

  • Characters should be drawn to scale with their surroundings to maintain proportionality.
  • Placement is crucial; characters closer to the vanishing point will appear smaller.


  • Characters need to interact with the environment, such as sitting on chairs or casting shadows.
  • This interaction grounds the characters and adds realism to the scene.

When drawing both characters and backgrounds:

  • Consistency in light source, shading, and texturing must be maintained throughout the piece.
  • Use layers if working digitally to adjust elements independently.

Practice and Improvement

Mastering the art of drawing anime digitally hinges on consistent practice and the ability to apply constructive feedback to one’s work.

Regular Exercises

Daily Sketching: Commit to drawing something every day, even if it’s a simple sketch. This could range from replicating anime characters to creating unique expressions or poses.

  • Anatomy Studies: Spend time drawing different parts of the body to understand proportion and movement.
  • Expression Variation: Work on a variety of facial expressions to convey emotion effectively.
  • Pose Practice: Use reference images to capture challenging poses and ensure dynamic illustrations.

Drills and Repetition: Focus on repeating difficult elements until they become comfortable.

  • Hands and Feet: They are notoriously tricky, so dedicate sessions purely to these areas.
  • Eye Styles: The eyes are central to anime characters, practice various eye designs to find a preferred style.

Seeking Feedback and Critique

Community Engagement:

  • Join online forums or social media groups where artists share their work.
  • Actively seek critiques, not just praise, to identify areas for improvement.

Professional Input:

  • Consider online courses or workshops that offer personalized feedback.
  • Explore opportunities for portfolio reviews by experienced anime artists.

Iterative Process: Use the feedback received to rework pieces multiple times, focusing on improving one aspect at a time. This methodical approach solidifies learning and leads to visible progress.

Sharing Your Work

After creating digital anime art, an artist’s journey continues with showcasing their creations. Selecting the right online platforms and strategies for building an audience are crucial steps for exposure and networking.

Online Platforms

Artists can share their digital anime work on various online platforms designed to reach both general and niche audiences. DeviantArt and ArtStation are two prominent websites that cater to artists across multiple genres, offering community engagement and the potential for discovery. Instagram and Pinterest appeal to a broad audience and utilize visual-centric mechanisms which can boost visibility. For anime-specific content, platforms like Pixiv, a popular Japanese online community for artists, provide a more targeted audience.

  • DeviantArt
  • ArtStation
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Pixiv

Building an Audience

Building an audience starts with consistency and engagement. Artists should regularly post their work and interact with their followers to foster a community. Utilizing hashtags relevant to anime and digital art helps to increase visibility and attract viewers with similar interests.

Engagement Tips:

  • Regularly update your portfolio with new art.
  • Respond to comments and messages to build relationships.
  • Share behind-the-scenes content to give audiences insight into the creation process.
  • Collaborate with other artists to tap into different follower bases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best tools or software for beginners interested in drawing anime digitally?

For beginners, we recommend using affordable tools like the Veikk A30 drawing tablet and Krita, a free drawing software.

Could you recommend some fundamental techniques for drawing anime characters?

Beginners should focus on mastering facial features, such as the distinctive large eyes, small mouth, and expressive facial expressions typical in anime. Additionally, understanding the importance of hair in character design is crucial, as it often sets the tone for the character’s style and personality.

What resources are available online for learning to draw anime in a digital format?

A myriad of online resources are available, including step-by-step tutorials, drawing classes specifically tailored for anime art, and video guides that cover everything from character design to digital painting techniques.

How can someone practice and improve their digital anime-style art?

Constant practice is key; sketching regularly, studying from real life and other anime works, and soliciting feedback can significantly refine one’s skills. Digital artists often keep a portfolio of their progression to track improvement over time.

Are there any specific apps that are helpful for creating anime digital art?

Besides the software mentioned above, apps like Adobe Photoshop remain a staple for many digital artists. While they may be a bit too complex for beginners, they provide extensive tools and features that cater to the refined detail of anime drawings.

Is it possible to self-learn digital anime drawing, and if so, how?

Self-learning is entirely possible with the wealth of educational content available online. Beginners can self-teach by following online courses, engaging with community forums, and practicing the application of various digital art techniques learned through these platforms.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs. You can read our complete legal information for more details.