There’s no mistaking anime characters. With their exaggerated eyes and distinct facial features, anime characters are unique and fun to draw. If you’re new to anime, there are a few things you need to know about how to draw anime for beginners

Below, we walk through five steps to drawing anime, including tips for getting the proportions right, options for different styles of anime hair, and instructions for drawing iconic anime eyes. 

anime lady
Skillshare student Alisa Alexeeva’s digital anime drawing showcases the character’s large, exaggerated eyes. 

5 Simple Steps to Drawing Anime

Interested in creating your first anime drawing? Learn how to draw an anime girl step by step for beginners below. 

Step 1: Create the Basic Structure of the Face

First, you will create the general composition of the character’s face. While artists have varying preferences about how to structure an anime character’s head and face, they all start with the same basic principle: First draw a circle, and then draw a horizontal line and vertical line directly through the center of the circle. 

Generally, you will draw the eyes on or just below the horizontal line and the mouth at the bottom of the circle, with the nose placed between the eyes and the mouth. The chin will extend down below the circle. 

faces
The basic anatomy of an anime face starts with a circle with a vertical line and horizontal line directly through the center. 

Step 2: Add Facial Features 

Now that you understand the general placement of the facial features, you can draw them in detail. 

Eyes

Anime characters are known for their eyes, so here’s how to draw anime girl eyes step by step for beginners. Start by sketching a curved upper eyelid, then draw a short line extending down from the outer corner of the eye. Leave the inner corner of the eye open for a softer look. Then, add a circle in the middle of the eye as the iris. Draw a smaller circle—the pupil—in the middle of the iris. 

To create primary and secondary light reflections, add in one or two additional circles within the iris. When you fill in the pupil, shade the top portion darker, creating a gradient as you move down through the shape. Make sure to leave the light reflections white. Finally, add eyelashes to the top and bottom lid. Of course, there are many alternative ways to draw anime eyes, so make sure to experiment and find your unique style. 

anime eye
This classic style of anime eyes shows two points of reflection. 

Nose and Mouth

The character’s nose and mouth will typically be much smaller and simpler than the eyes. The nose, for instance, may just be two small lines that represent the nostrils. Similarly, the mouth may be a simple curved line. 

anime man and lady
When drawing anime characters, the eyes are typically a focal point, while the nose and mouth remain simple. 

Step 3: Draw the Hair 

When learning to draw anime for beginners, there are a couple of options for how to draw the hair. Some artists opt to use dramatic, angular styles, while others prefer a more flowy, free-form style. 

To create the flowing style in the example below, start by using quick, light-handed lines to draw bangs down to the eyes. Then, begin drawing the rest of the hair to frame the face. At the top of the head, make sure the hair extends above the initial circle you drew. In other words, the hair shouldn’t lay flat on the scalp, but have volume above the character’s head. 

As you draw more characters, experiment with other types of anime hairstyles for both male and female characters. 

anime girl sketch
This flowy, free-form style of hair is created with quick, light pencil strokes. 

Step 4: Add the Body 

Next, we’ll explore how to draw anime girl body step by step for beginners. The body anatomy starts with a few simple shapes: a rectangle for the chest, an oval for the hips, and small circles for the shoulders and leg joints. 

body under drawing
When learning how to draw anime for beginners step by step bodies begin with a few simple shapes. 

From there, fill in the shape of the upper body, connecting the rib cage down to the hips, creating a waist. Next, you will draw the legs, which should be approximately the same length as the character’s entire upper body, from the top of the head to the waist. 

anime woman
The legs of an anime character should be approximately as long as the top half of the character, from the top of the head to the waist. 

Finally, add in the arms. A good rule of thumb is to align the elbow with the character’s waist, and then extend the rest of the arm (including the hand) to about mid-thigh. 

anime woman
When drawing an anime character’s body, the arms should reach approximately mid-thigh. 

No matter what kind of body style you’re drawing, following these guidelines will ensure that you create proportional anatomy. 

Step 5: Add Details and Ink the Drawing 

At this point, you will have a full-body sketch of your anime character. Now, you can add details such as clothes and shoes. When you’re satisfied with the drawing, finalize it by going over the lines in ink. While you will mostly ink with a black pen, it can also be helpful to have a white jelly pen on hand—you can use this to add highlights, like the reflection points in the character’s eyes. You may also choose to add additional colors with colored pencils or medium of your choice. 

anime lady head
The last step in learning how to draw anime is to finalize the drawing with black ink. 

Once you learn the basics of how to draw anime characters, continue to build on that foundation. For example, learn how to draw characters in different poses and from different angles, and try experimenting with new hairstyles, clothing options, and facial expressions. With practice and persistence, you can create iconic anime art in a style that’s uniquely yours. 

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