This tutorial explains how to draw anime and manga style arms with a breakdown of the proportions and examples of drawing them in different positions.
This tutorial will focus on the more common and more realistic style of anime arms. The examples are those of a young female character but you can draw the arms of young male in pretty much the same way (simply change the body).
Please note that this tutorial does not go into much detail on drawing hands. For that you can see:
For drawing the entire body of a female anime character see the following:
You may also want to see the tutorial on drawing the neck and collar bones:
How to Draw Anime Arms Step by Step (With Proportions)
Before you draw arms it’s a good idea to first analyze their basic proportions. Though these can vary slightly from person to person (and style to style) generally they are close to the above example.
The the distance from the shoulder down to the elbow and from the elbow down to the wrist is roughly the same. The fingers and palm are also close to one another in length.
When drawing just about anything (arms included) start with a simplified, light sketch and go over it with darker lines after you are sure you have the correct proportions.
Though it can get a little tricky it’s also important to try and maintain these proportions when drawing arms in different poses.
How to Draw Anime Arms With Different Bends
When the arms bend the main change that takes place is the elbow sticking out more and more the sharper the bend. When the arm is help straight the elbow area actually tends to be slight indented.
When the arm is bent far enough there will tend to be a sort of “fold” on the side opposite the elbow.
How to Draw Anime Arms in Different Twists
When looking at the arm from the same view but with different twists of the wrist it will appear narrower or wider in different places.
Using an outstretched arm with the palm facing directly towards the viewer as a basis you can see the slight variations below as the arm twists.
When drawing the arm with the palm up draw the entire portions of the arm past the elbow narrower.
When drawing the arm with the palm facing down draw the wrist “thinner” as the viewer will be looking at it from the side.
Drawing the arm with the palm facing away form the viewer the “below elbow” area should be narrower but draw the wrist will the same as the base example.
How to Draw Anime Arms in Different Positions
When drawing anime arms in different positions such as the examples below again be sure to maintain the proportions mentioned earlier.
Drawing Flexed Anime Arms
As this particular set of flexed arms is not very muscular draw the biceps popping up very slightly on top. Afterwards give just a hint of their bottoms with a pair of slightly curved lines.
Drawing Raised Anime Arms
For raised arms you can pretty much draw them the same as the outstretched arms in the earlier examples. The main difference will be that the bottom parts of the shoulder muscles will be more stretched out.
Drawing Anime Arms to Sides of the Body
When drawing the arms held to sides of the body sort of like the character is standing at attention the arms will not be perfectly straight. Draw them bent slightly away from the body past the elbows.
Drawing Anime Arms Where Parts of the Arm Are Hidden
When drawing anime arms where parts of one or both arms are hidden you can use the technique below to help you out.
Drawing Crossed Anime Arms
To draw crossed anime arms like in the example above it’s a good idea to think of the drawing as “see through”.
Being able to look at the arms as “see through” allows you to know if the visible parts of the arms are correctly placed. For example the fingers on the left arm.
You don’t need to draw every hidden detail like the individual fingers in the previous example. Instead do sketch like the above example to help you estimate their general size and position.
After confirming that it all looks right simply erase the parts that are supposed to be hidden, add the smaller details and go over your sketch with darker more solid lines.
Drawing Anime Arms Behind Head
As arms behind the head is a fairly pose. You can draw the shoulders similar to the “raised arms” pose showed earlier. Unlike the folded arms you don’t really need a see though drawing, however, try and to somewhat estimate where the hidden parts of the arms are located. Make sure that there is enough room left for the hands that are hidden behind the head.
Drawing Anime Arms Behind Back
To draw the arms held behind the back you can again estimate the position of the parts that are hidden. Keep in mind that the arms will usually be slightly bent when in this pose so make sure that they are angled in a way where there is enough room to for them to meet behind the back.
Arms can be a very challenging area of the body to draw due to their ability to do so many combinations of twists and bends. To avoid mistakes when drawing always try and keep proportions in mind and compare of the different parts of each arm to one another.
If you like the types of guides on drawing anime and manga also be sure to look at the links below.
For more general tips and advice see:
For more on drawing anime bodies check out: