More often than not, anime features characteristics like exaggerated eyes, overemphasized movement of hair, stylistic and stand-out character designs, and elongated limbs.
It is these characteristics that people think of, whether they realize it or not when they think about a manga or anime like Dragon Ball or Attack on Titan.
If you’re a fan of anime or interested in getting into the genre as an art-form, you may be wondering how exactly to draw this: perhaps you’ve already tried and failed, or you don’t understand how mangakas and animators manage these visual spectacles.
Read below to learn more on how to get better at drawing anime.
Fundamentals are Key
Regardless of anime possessing a distinct, unique style, the fundamentals of drawing are still key and will serve you well no matter what kind of unique style you pursue or eventually work in.
These are concepts and rules like color, composition (more on that below), form, perspective, value, and brushwork.
These rules tend to carry across different kinds of mediums and styles, no matter the style or even the age of the work that you’re viewing.
While people in different periods and cultures used different styles, even when examining or comparing older or ancient work to more contemporary pieces, some of the rules clearly remain and are visible to even a novice.
Why fundamentals are so important: they are the backbone of your skill as an artist and will help you in terms of being able to illustrate something in whatever style or medium you want.
When it comes to anime, of course, every aspect of fundamentals has its place, but in particular, it’s arguable that composition, form, and perspective are particularly important due to the way that anime tends to be depicted.
Many beginner artists struggle with properly depicting the body, for example, in a style that matches anime and isn’t a clumpy mess of shapes that don’t fit well together.
Consider simply practicing and reading from your local library or online instead about these grounded art concepts. Practice and sketch and improve until you begin to get a grasp on these things. You’ll be surprised by how fast you improve.
Learn and Study the Style
If you want to draw or illustrate something in a particular style, it may help to specifically study that art style in depth.
This could be as simple as watching a lot of anime, trying to sketch your favorite characters, and understand how the animators or mangakas managed those particular images–to as deep as buying or renting guides, reading in-depth art collections and books, hiring tutors or learning from artists experienced in the style, and more.
The point is that you’ll have to devote a lot of time to delving deep into that specific style and understanding how it works and why it does if you want to be able to do the same.
It’s not mimicking the style, either–copying doesn’t really work. It may teach your brain how to recreate a very specific, but the point of this article is to help you draw the style, not the specific image of Son Goku turning into a Super Saiyan, for example.
So don’t mimic. Instead, learn the rules and ways that anime functions from a behind-the-pen perspective instead of a viewer perspective, and you’ll probably find out a few things that you didn’t know about anime.
That the industry is extremely competitive and exhausting on artists, for one–and that animators tend to have low salaries in Japan and work incredibly long hours, despite their incredible art skill, for example.
And these are experienced, professional animators and artists! You may have a long way to go, but don’t get discouraged.
If you focus hard on learning the style, you will find it far easier in no time to make the kinds of images you have in your head come out the way you want them to. Dedicated learning and practice are necessary to get there, however.
Shapes and Composition are Important
Because of the traits of anime, it’s arguable certain aspects of art fundamentals are more important than others.
Shapes and composition seem particularly key compared to others, even if they all remain incredibly important.
You need the practice and skill in terms of understanding the human body and anatomy in order to be able to twist that into the exaggerated and deformed portions that an anime character has.
Any professional mangaka can probably make a very, very enjoyable realistic drawing of someone, complete with color. It will have incredibly realistic proportions and look like a person from real life.
They then use that skill of understanding how to draw a person like that and carry it over to anime–where they exaggerate certain parts of the body, particularly the head, eyes, limbs, and hair–in order to highlight certain aspects of a character that they think are entertaining, enjoyable, or fit the narrative of the story for whatever reason.
You’ll have to do the same if you want to be good, or even great, at drawing anime. Start from the ground up and focus specifically on the shape, composition (and perspective).
The better you are at drawing in general, the more easily and smoothly these skills will carry over into drawing anime.
Learning to draw something as complex and culturally loved as anime can be exhausting, but it can be rewarding when you succeed!
Practice your fundamentals and really perfect how to draw, first, while you study the style itself.
Then switch over to practicing drawing anime in specific, directly. If you do this, you’ll be surprised by how fast (and how much) you really improve at drawing this style.
It won’t happen all at once, either. Most professional artists, involved in anime or not, usually have at least a decade of experience behind their belt before they even got involved in professional art, if not more.
Then they have years of professional industry experience after that. Of course, they’re good–they’ve been doing it for twenty years.
You’ll have to do the same as well. If you practice, however, the results will come.