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Anime originated as both hand-drawn and computer animated characters in Japan around the 1960s, and now its cartoon and comic style is famous all over the world. 

Learning how to draw anime is simple, whether you’re looking to sketch by hand or draw using a computer or tablet. Even better? There are plenty of styles to choose from to get started.

How to Draw an Anime Character

Learn how to draw anime characters in this step-by-step guide.
Learn how to draw anime characters in this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Draw the Head

To get started with your anime drawing, sketch a circle using an upside-down cup or freehand. This will form the face of your anime character. Find the midpoint of your circle and mark this with a small pencil mark.

Circles and lines help to guide you as you draw.
Circles and lines help to guide you as you draw.

Section out your circle from the halfway line down to the bottom of the circle with evenly spaced horizontal lines. When you’re learning how to draw anime, these guidelines will help you to correctly place the eyes, nose and mouth.

Extra guidelines help to keep facial features within the correct proportions.
Extra guidelines help to keep facial features within the correct proportions.

Step 2: Draw Anime Eyes

Start by mapping in the eyebrows of your anime drawing as small arches across the top of the second horizontal line. Then, between lines three and four, draw two vertical arches with a line across the top and bottom. These will create the outlines of your anime eyes drawing.

The guidelines help to map out eyes and eyebrows on your character.
The guidelines help to map out eyes and eyebrows on your character.

There are many different ways of drawing anime eyes, but one of the easiest for beginners is to draw a semi-circle on the upper right corner of the eye circle and leave this white, while shading in the rest of the eye circle. This creates a wide-eyed look that anime drawings are known for.

Choose an eye style that fits best with the look you’re after.
Choose an eye style that fits best with the look you’re after.

Step 3: Draw Anime Mouth

Next, place a small curve or line, depending on the style you’re going for, along the bottom edge of the circle to create a small nose. Using your guidelines, you can begin working on your anime mouth drawing. Most anime mouths are simply a small curve about three-quarters of the way down the face. Your face is starting to take shape!

Add extra guidelines around the circle to map out the nose and mouth..
Add extra guidelines around the circle to map out the nose and mouth..

Step 4: Add the Final Touches

Your anime drawing is almost complete! Sketch two vertical lines directly under the face for the neck, making these as close together as you’d like depending on how skinny or wide the neck should be. 

Finish up the facial features before adding in the final touches.
Finish up the facial features before adding in the final touches.

Anime hair will be the biggest difference in your drawing, depending on if you’re working on an anime girl drawing or an anime boy drawing.

For boy hair, draw a small dot about one inch from the top of the face circle. From here, you’ll draw curved lines down to create a floppy hairstyle that’s common for male characters. You’ll frame these out by looping the lines up on the other side of your first lines to create shapes that look like a palm tree.

Hair on anime characters is typically messy so don’t worry about it looking perfect.
Hair on anime characters is typically messy so don’t worry about it looking perfect.

For girl characters, you’ll start with those same curved lines that you would on a boy character, but keep these to only one or two lines. You’ll then draw bigger curved lines around the outside of the face to create longer hair. Shade the outer edges of the hair to make it stand out and add any additional lines you’d like to give it some more shape.

Once your drawing is complete, erase the guidelines before coloring or going over in ink.
Once your drawing is complete, erase the guidelines before coloring or going over in ink.

Once you’ve added in the hair, you can erase your original guidelines and your drawing is finished!

Want to Draw More Anime Characters?

Step by Step Guide to Draw the Profile Face / Anime and Manga.

Drawing Anime Girls

Female anime characters are straightforward to draw by following these steps.
Female anime characters are straightforward to draw by following these steps.

Step 1: Outline the Face

Start your anime girl drawing with two vertical lines of the same length at the width you’d like the face to be. From here, you’ll draw two lines sloping toward the center, leaving a small gap between them to draw a horizontal line for the chin.

Draw your face outline lightly so that any mistakes can be easily corrected.
Draw your face outline lightly so that any mistakes can be easily corrected.

Step 2: Add the Facial Features

Draw two circles on the center guideline but leave a small opening at the bottom of each; these will be your eyes. When you’re drawing anime, the eyes are one of the most important features and are usually much bigger than the other facial features. Sketch in an arch over the top of each circle and a curved line around the far side of each to frame the eyes. 

From here you can also add in a small V shape on the center guideline for the nose, a slightly curved line for a smiling mouth, and a couple of short and light pencil strokes underneath the eyes for a blushing effect.

Adding the facial features starts to bring your character to life.
Adding the facial features starts to bring your character to life.

Step 3: Finish With the Hair

There are so many different styles when you’re working on anime hair. To keep this simple, draw sloping lines above the eyes along the top of the face. You can have most of these going in one direction and a couple in the other direction with a small gap in between to create bangs (which is very common in anime drawings). 

Across the top of the head, draw lines down and around the face, bringing these up toward the face from the bottom with shorter lines. This will give you a short hairstyle for your female character.

Different hairstyles work on your anime characters so experiment until you find one that works for you.
Different hairstyles work on your anime characters so experiment until you find one that works for you.

You’re now ready to complete your drawing by going over your pencil lines in ink!

Going over your drawing in an ink pen helps it to stand out.
Going over your drawing in an ink pen helps it to stand out.

Drawing Anime Boys

Adding color to your boy anime drawing can add an extra element to your sketch.
Adding color to your boy anime drawing can add an extra element to your sketch.

Step 1: Draw the Face and Neck

Working on an anime boy drawing is very similar to creating a girl character. Your first steps should be to draw the outline for the face and neck before you can add the fun facial features.

Lightly sketch a freehand circle with a vertical guideline going straight down the middle. You’ll want this to extend past the bottom of the circle as far as you’d like the chin to be. Then draw a slightly curved line down each side of the circle, sloping in more toward the bottom of the vertical line. Where these meet will be the bottom of the face.

Underneath the face, draw two vertical lines for the neck and a line off each side for the top of the shoulders.

Using guidelines helps to position all of your character’s features correctly.
Using guidelines helps to position all of your character’s features correctly.

Step 2: Add the Eyes, Nose, and Mouth

Draw two half ovals on either side of the face with small, curved lines inside for the ears. Moving inside the face circle, in line with the ears, you’ll start working on the biggest feature—the eyes! Anime eyes drawing can seem complicated but remember to break it down into shapes to make it easier.

Start with two curved lines on each side with the gap between them being the width you’d like the eyes to be. From here, draw in the curved lines of the eyeballs and a lighter curved line over the top for the eyebrows.

Add the eyes first, as these are the most important facial feature on anime characters.
Add the eyes first, as these are the most important facial feature on anime characters.

Shade in a small circle at the top of the eyeballs to create the pupils, adding in a few short lines on the curved lines underneath for eyelashes. 

Along the center guideline, add a small V shape or two short lines for the nose. Most anime mouth drawing is a simple line in the bottom third of the face, so add this in to complete the features.

As you make progress on your drawing, don’t forget to keep using your guidelines to help you.
As you make progress on your drawing, don’t forget to keep using your guidelines to help you.

Step 3: Add Hair

From the center point a little above the top of the face, start drawing curved lines around the edges of the face. Anime hair is usually a little messy so don’t worry about this looking perfect! You can even start drawing these down over the front of the face to give your anime boy drawing an even more classic look.

Hair being added in pencil to a male anime drawing.
Hair being added in pencil to a male anime drawing.

Finally, draw over the top of your pencil lines with a pen to make your drawing stand out more and get it ready for coloring if you’d like to add something extra!

Adding the finishing touches completes your boy anime drawing!
Adding the finishing touches completes your boy anime drawing!

Drawing Anime Clothes

Simple outfits are the best place to start when you’re learning how to draw anime clothes.
Simple outfits are the best place to start when you’re learning how to draw anime clothes.

Step 1: Start With a Simple Shirt

Anime clothes drawing will vary depending on how you’d like your character to be dressed. For beginners, a simple shirt design is the easiest starting point. 


Around the neck of your character, draw sloping lines downwards and around the neck, leaving a small gap in the middle, to create an open-collar shirt. 

Start with the shirt collar before working on the sleeves or details.
Start with the shirt collar before working on the sleeves or details.

Along the arms, add a light line in the middle where the elbow crease would be, with two slightly curved lines around the wrists for the ends of the sleeves. From here, you can draw a line straight down from the open collar to the waist, leaving an upside down V shape at the bottom. Draw two lines from either side of the hips in to meet the bottom of the V shape to form the ends of the shirt. A few dots up the centerline will give you the buttons.

Buttons and crease lines help to make your clothing appear more realistic.
Buttons and crease lines help to make your clothing appear more realistic.

Step 2: Add Long Pants or Jeans

Long pants or jeans are the simplest addition to your character when it comes to anime clothes drawing. Along the lines you already have for the legs, draw some slightly curved lines on the outside edge to give a baggy appearance (you’ll be erasing the leg lines once the pants are finished).

From here, draw curved lines around the ankles for a pooling effect and a couple of light lines around the knees for the natural crease of the pants.

Draw around the outside of the leg lines before erasing these to create a baggy pants look on your character.
Draw around the outside of the leg lines before erasing these to create a baggy pants look on your character.

Anime Drawing References

There are plenty of resources online to help you create your anime characters. Google Images and Pinterest are always good places to start to find different hairstyles, clothes, and poses for the body. 

Pinterest is a great place to look for inspiration for your anime drawing!
Pinterest is a great place to look for inspiration for your anime drawing!

There are also tons of Skillshare classes for drawing anime and Manga characters using pencil or digital techniques. You’ll be an expert in no time!

Learn to Draw Manga Characters!

Procreate: Manga Drawings Step by Step.