Tips on How to Learn How to Draw Anime & Manga

If you are a fan of anime or manga and would like to learn how to draw in the style but have no idea where to start this article will provide you with a list of things you should learn as well as some links to relevant tutorials.

Illustration on how to learn to draw anime
How to learn to draw anime

The above illustration shows some of the things you will need to know to be able too draw anime and manga. These include:

  1. The Fundamentals of Drawing
  2. Perspective Drawing
  3. Basic Anatomy
  4. Shading
  5. Color Theory
  6. Reference Material
  7. Patience & Practice

If you are looking for advice on making your own manga you may also be interested in:

10 Steps to Make Your Own Manga or Comic Book

1. Learn the Basics of Drawing

Drawing Basic Shapes
Drawing basic shapes

It’s fun to draw anime characters but if you are a total beginner you should also learn the fundamentals. Practice drawing simple things, these can include straight lines and basic shapes like circles and squares. While this can be boring at times it can help you improve as an artist. At the same time continue drawing anime or anything else you might like. Do some exercises and then draw what you find fun or interesting afterwards.

For a detailed guide on the basics of drawing as well as tips on a good approach to the drawing process see:

Beginner Guide to Drawing Anime & Manga

2. Learn Perspective Drawing

Cubes drawn in perspective
Perspective drawing example

Perspective is objects getting smaller as they go farther off into the distance. A basic example of this can be seen by looking at a cube. Though all sides of one are even in length the sides that are further away from the viewer will appear smaller. The larger the object the more noticeable this will be.

Perspective drawing is taking the effect described above into account and portraying it in a correct and realistic way. You can practice by drawing basic three dimensional objects such as cubes and cylinders from different angles. Later on this can help you draw more complex shapes and even anime character.

To learn about some of the basics of perspective drawing you can check:

3. Learn Some Basic Anatomy

Anime proportions
Anime proportions

You don’t need to be a doctor to draw people but some basic anatomical knowledge will definitely help. Knowing the proportions and placement of different body parts will help you avoid making mistakes when drawing. In anime certain proportions may be exaggerated but overall anime and manga characters are generally based on real anatomy.

For tutorials on drawing anime character bodies check:

4. Learn How to Shade

Shading when drawing
Shading objects when drawing

Properly shading in a drawing can give otherwise two dimensional objects a three dimensional appearance. To be able to shade an object in a proper and realistic way you need to study how light reflects off of different shapes and surfaces. Generally the side of an object that is facing towards the main light source will be the lightest and the one facing away from the light will be the darkest.

Correct shading can help indicate the lighting conditions of an environment, the time of day, and even the weather. For example if you are drawing a character or an object that is outside on a bright sunny day the shadow they cast should be fairly sharp. If you want to show rainy or foggy weather the shadow should be less noticeable and more blurry.

The shading technique used in anime is highly simplified but is still based on the study of real settings, objects and people.

For some basic examples of anime style shading see:

How to Shade an Anime Face in Different Lighting

5. Learn How to Use Color

Colour wheel
The color wheel

To be able to use color effectively you should learn at least some of the basics of the color theory such as warm, cool and complimentary colors. You can look at a color wheel like the one shown above if you need some help remembering which colors are which. The ones across from each other are the complimentary colors. An example of a warm color would be yellow while an example of a cool color one would be blue.

Using the right combination of colors you can create more interesting and attractive looking anime and manga style characters.

For more on color and anime see:

6. Use Reference Material When Drawing

Drawing anime
Drawing anime

When drawing something it can be very helpful to have the appropriate reference material, especially if you are a beginner. For example a photograph of a person in a particular pose or of an object from a particular angle. You can also use real objects you might have around the hose (when appropriate). You can also study the work of other artists to see how anime and manga are drawn to help you learn the style.

For tips on making your own manga or designing your own anime character see:

For help with catching and fixing mistakes check:

Common Mistakes When Drawing Anime & Manga

7. Be Patient and Don’t Give Up

Anime style drawing of a girl
Girl drawn in anime style

Learning to draw is not easy. It takes time, effort and patience, at the same time it can also be very rewarding to see yourself improve.

If at times it seems like your drawings don’t come out the way you want them to or that you are not making much progress, don’t let it get you down, take a break and try again later. With practice you should eventually get better.

Of course don’t forget to check the many guides that are available here on AnimeOutline that can help you learn to draw in the anime and manga style. Just check the Anime & Manga Drawing Tutorials section.