How to Draw a Realistic Anime Face Step by Step

This step by step tutorial shows how to draw a semi-realistic looking female anime face that differs from the more traditional anime styles.

Realistic anime face drawing step by step
Realistic anime face drawing step by step

Drawing a realistic looking anime face is a little more challenging than drawing a “standard” anime or manga style face. While the actual drawing process itself is not much more difficult the challenge comes in balancing between semi-realistic facial features and maintaining an anime look.

To help with that challenge this tutorial provides a detailed breakdown of the drawing process. It includes an explanation of how to draw the head and each of the major facial features to achieve a more “realistic” look.

Be sure to make light lines for the initial stages of the drawing so that you can easily erase parts of them later. The lines in the examples are dark simply so that you can see them. You can go over your drawing with darker lines after you are sure everything is in the right place and after you erase all o the guide lines and parts of the face that will be hidden by the hair.

Step 1 – Drawing a Semi-Realistic Looking Anime Head

Realistic anime head drawing
Realistic anime head drawing

Anime characters generally have fairly round faces. The bottom portion of an anime face is commonly drawn with two major sets of lines, one going down from the top of the head to around the mouth area and one more from there to the chin. The chin itself tends to be drawn either completely pointy or with a tiny curve.

For a more realistic looking anime face draw the head in almost the same way but with a flatter and wider chin (closer to a real chin). You can also optionally make the head a little “taller” (longer vertically).

Start the drawing with a vertical line to help you make sure both halves of the face are even. Next you can draw the rounded shape for the top of the head and project the lines of the bottom portion of the head as been described.

For different styles of anime heads you can see:

How to Draw Different Styles of Anime Heads & Faces

For examples of various styles of eyes check:

How to Draw Different Types of Anime and Manga Eyes

Step 2 – Drawing the Eyes

Realistic anime eyes drawing
Realistic anime eyes drawing

Position the eyes the same as you would for more traditional looking anime characters (as suggested in other tutorials here on AnimeOutline). To do this by draw a horizontal line through the middle of the face and draw the eyes below that line. Space the eyes so that you can fit another eye between them.

Draw the eyes vertically narrower than common anime eyes but larger than real eyes.  Make the irises round (anime irises and pupils are often vertically stretched).

You can leave the smaller details of the eyes such as the pupils reflections and eyelashes for later after you insure that all of the other facial features are correctly placed. For an explanation of why you want to draw this way as well as other anime related drawing advice see:

Beginner Guide to Drawing Anime & Manga

Step 3 – Drawing a Semi-Realistic Nose

Realistic anime nose drawing
Realistic anime nose drawing

While traditional anime noses are often just draw with a dot (in the front view) for a more realistic looking style you can draw a nose that is a lot closer in shape and proportions to a real one.

Position the nose as you would for a traditional looking anime character with the bottom of the nose being between the chin and the horizontal halfway point through the face. (again same as other tutorials here on AnimeOutline).

The entire drawing of the more realistic looking nose can pretty much be broken down into various curves. Draw two small curves for the nostrils, two more curves to give a hint of the sides of the nose. Ad the tip of the nose with one small curve and finally show the bridge of the nose with one fairly long curved line. Be sure to only draw the last line on one side of the nose. your drawing will look odd if you add it on both sides.

For more variations of anime noses see:

How to Draw Anime and Manga Noses

Step 4 – Drawing the Ears

Realistic anime ears drawing
Realistic anime ears drawing

Draw the ears pretty much as you would with most other anime styles. Draw the top of the ears to align with the top of the eyes and the bottom of the ears to align with the bottom of the nose.

For detailed examples of drawing anime ears check:

How to Draw Anime and Manga Ears

Please note that the ears in this tutorial will eventually be fully covered by the hair and erased for the final steps so drawing them is optional.

Step 5 – Drawing the Mouth & Lips

Realistic anime mouth drawing
Realistic anime mouth drawing

Anime mouths are usually drawn without lips but you can add them if you want a more realistic looking mouth.

Position the mouth with the bottom lip halfway between the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin.

Draw the mouth itself as a curve with a break in the middle where the lines curve slightly downwards. You can also draw it wider than more traditional anime mouths.

For a very detailed explanation of drawing the lips you can see the tutorial below:

How to Draw Anime Lips Tutorial

Step 6 – Drawing Semi-Realistic Anime Hair

Traditional vs realistic anime hair clumps
Traditional vs realistic anime hair clumps

Anime hair is generally drawn in pointy clumps. For more realistic looking hair you can still view it as a set of clumps but without the pointy ends. Instead leave the end of the clump “open” and draw some lines into these openings to give an appearance of hair strands. This will create a hair that is still fairly easy to draw but looks more realistic.

Realistic anime hair drawing breakdown
Realistic anime hair drawing breakdown

To better understand how to draw the hair it can also be very helpful to think of it as being split into tree parts (as shown in the example above):

  • Red – Front Hair
  • Green – Side Hair
  • Blue – Back/Top Hair

For drawing different types of more traditional anime hairstyles using this approach see:

How to Draw Anime and Manga Hair – Female

Realistic anime hair basic line drawing
Realistic anime hair basic line drawing

Keeping the above in mind start the actual drawing of the hair by outlining it’s overall shape and adding the open ended clumps as described above. Don’t add the smaller splits just yet.

Realistic anime hair clumps drawing
Realistic anime hair clumps drawing

Once you finish drawing the major shapes of the hair you can then go ahead and add the smaller splits in between the larger clumps to give it a little more detail.

Realistic anime hair drawing
Realistic anime hair drawing

When you are finished you should have a drawing similar to the example above.

For more on drawing anime hair you can also check out:

How to Draw Anime Hair Blowing in Different Directions

Step 7 – Cleaning up the Drawing

Realistic anime face line drawing
Realistic anime face line drawing

For this short step you can simply erase the parts of the head and face that are covered by the hair. Once you are done you should have a clean line with all of the facial features in their places.

Step 8 – Drawing the Small Details of the Eyes

Realistic anime face drawing
Realistic anime face drawing

After you have the basic line drawing of the face you can go ahead and add in the small details of the eyes.

For a step by step breakdown of drawing anime eyes see:

How to Draw Female Anime Eyes Tutorial

While the eyes in that tutorial are slightly different from those in this example pretty much the same drawing steps still apply. Simply tweak them to look more like the the ones in the example above.

It was also suggested at the start of this tutorial that you should make light lines for it’s initial steps. Once you’ve reached this point you can go over your drawing with darker lines.

Step 9 – Finishing the Drawing by Applying Shading

Realistic anime face drawing shaded drawing
Realistic anime face drawing shaded drawing

To finish the drawing you can add some very basic shading.

For very generalized shading with no one clear light source shade the areas most likely to have shadows. These shadows will usually be:

  • Cast by the hair on the forehead area
  • Around the eyelids
  • Bottom of the nose
  • Upper area of the neck (cast by the head)
  • Inner/Background area of the hair

For shading an anime character’s face in different lighting conditions see:

How to Shade an Anime Face in Different Lighting

Be sure to leave the area of the highlights in the hair white as well as a small highlight area on the lips.

For examples of various kinds of hair highlight see:

Different Ways to Draw Anime Hair Highlights


It can be a little bit tricky to find the right balance between anime and realism when trying to draw a semi-realistic looking anime character. While this tutorial offers some guide lines there is no one set way to draw these types of characters. You can experiment for yourself by adding more realistic or more stylized facial features and see what kind of a results you come up with.

For drawing more “traditional” looking female anime faces see: