Beginner Guide to Drawing Anime & Manga

This guide provides an introduction to the fundamentals of drawing with a focus on manga and anime styles. It gives tips on how to approach drawing in the right manner and offers an exercise for beginners to get you started.


To find a list of additional ways to learn things that can help you draw manga and anime, you can look up:

Tips on How to Learn How to Draw Anime & Manga

This guide focuses on the first portion of the list (The Fundamentals of the drawing).

1. Make Light Line Drawings First

Sketch to clean drawing anime eye

Start drawing with light lines and then trace them using darker lines after you’re certain that everything is in the correct position. This is especially useful for larger or more complicated drawings.

Light lines are simpler to erase when you make an error and they are also easy to draw (you do not have to press the pencil as your hand won’t get as exhausted).

If you draw digitally, it’s still an excellent idea, to begin with, an outline and then revise it later with more precise lines.

Drawing your own lines could be a great exercise to strengthen your hand.

Draw as few lines as you can. If you do make a mistake on your first line, it’s okay to draw additional lines until you find the right one, But don’t scribble or add lines to make it look better. If you make a lot of mistakes, erase that portion of your drawing and begin again.


2. Use Guide/Construction Lines

Constructions lines when drawing anime

Utilize guidelines to assist you in the drawing. For instance, if you wish to draw a symmetrical face and head from the front, it is first possible to trace a line horizontally through the middle of the place you’d like to draw the face. This line can help you ensure that both sides of your face appear equal in size. Then, draw horizontal lines (or multiple lines) to ensure that both eyes, as well as ears, are at exactly the same height.

To draw various types of heads for anime, see:

How to Draw Different Styles of Anime Heads & Faces

3. Plan Out Your Drawing & Draw Larger to Smaller

Large to small shape drawing order

Calculate your proportions before you begin drawing. It is evident that in this example, the model is 6 1/2 head high (as anime characters generally have larger heads in relation to their bodies than actual people). If you can compare the size of the different objects or parts on your drawing to each other, you’ll more likely not miss a step.

No matter what you’re creating, you should start by drawing the largest shapes first. It is not necessary to start with the biggest shape, but you shouldn’t begin with the small elements.

If you’re drawing a person, start at the head and begin to draw the body. Do not draw the smaller parts like facial features until you’ve got the overall shape of the body.

Drawing this way can make it much easier to repair mistakes. For example, if you sketch out the face with every detail of facial features, it is possible that the face doesn’t meet the drawing space. It is then necessary to begin again and draw the entire face.

Certain mistakes may be fixed easily by drawing digitally. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be taught to draw in the proper way.

For more details on drawing anime characters, read:

  • How to Draw an Anime School Girl in 6 Steps
  • How to Draw Anime Muscular Male Body Step by Step
  • How to Draw an Anime Guy Body Step By Step Tutorial
  • How to Draw an Anime Boy Full Body Step by Step

4. Keep Different Parts of Your Drawing in the Same Stages of Completion

Drawing consistency example with anime eyes

Make sure that you keep all objects you draw at a similar level of completeness. For instance, if you’re drawing eyes, draw the outline of each eye. Then sketch the outline of the eye’s iris. In this way, you’ll have a greater chance to see when the first drawing is not in the right place, and you’ll only have to do a bit of reverse tracking in case you do make a mistake (similar to the previous illustration).


For more information on drawing eyes for anime, see:

  • How to Draw Anime Eyes and Eye Expressions
  • How to Draw Female Anime Eyes Tutorial
  • How to Draw Male Anime & Manga Eyes

5. Draw Things That Are Hidden

Sketch out hidden parts of a drawing

It’s often a good concept to illustrate things concealed by another.

In the above illustration, some areas of the head and face are hidden by the hair when you draw the final image however you might still wish to draw the basic designs and erase them later. The reason behind this is to ensure that you have the right positioning of the parts which are clearly visible. For instance, by drawing an outline of the second eye, you will be able to check the distance between the eyes, which will allow you to ensure that the eye that is visible is properly placed. It is also possible to sketch the outline of the ear to determine the amount of hair needed to cover the eyes.

For drawing anime-style faces lookup:

  • How to Draw an Anime Girl’s Head and Face
  • How to Draw Anime Characters Tutorial
  • How to Draw a Cute Anime Girl Step by Step
  • 8-Step Anime Boy’s Head & Face Drawing Tutorial
  • 8-Step Anime Woman’s Head & Face Drawing Tutorial

6. Do Drawing Exercises

As a novice artist, you’ll benefit from a few basic exercises for drawing lines and geometric shapes. These exercises can aid in stabilizing your hand and teach you to recognize (and avoid) the most common mistakes.

It is possible to do these for around 15 minutes each time.

Straight Lines Drawing Exercises

Straight-line drawing exercises

The most basic exercise involves drawing straight lines in various directions. Draw horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, without rotating your drawing space (paper tablet, paper, etc. …).

Curved Lines Drawing Exercises

Curved line drawing exercises

Alongside straight lines try drawing curve lines in various directions. Try to create an elegant and smooth curve, without sharp or jittery turns. Similar to straight lines, you should not turn your drawing surface.

Basic Shapes Drawing Exercises

Basic shape drawing exercises

Draw basic shapes like triangles, squares, circles Ovals, and rectangles…

Make sure to draw each shape using only one stroke on each side. Draw the ovals and the circle using a single solid line from beginning to end.


Don’t be concerned if your designs do not look right Try to enhance your next design.

Mixed Drawing Exercises

Shape and line drawing exercises

You could also combine drawing exercises. You can, for instance, draw a square and inside draw lines across the square from one side to the other then draw two lines that cross the intersection of those lines. Then draw circles inside the original square. However, unlike the previous example, draw this circle one quarter at each time.

In addition to the benefits previously mentioned, this exercise is also great for teaching drawing patterns that are symmetrical.

Anime head from basic shapes structure

In the example above, you will observe how an anime-style head can be reduced into three basic forms. This can also be done for other body parts and other things. It isn’t necessary to draw them all out each time you wish to draw something, but it’s an excellent example of why drawing basic designs can be very useful.

7. Study the Anime Style

Understanding the anime style

To create art that looks like manga or anime, it is important to know their fundamental features. There are many tutorials on AnimeOutline to assist you in understanding these styles. Just go to the Manga Drawing and Anime Manga Tutorials for Drawing section, and then select what you’re looking to draw.

8. Check for Mistakes

Flipping drawing to see mistakes

If you’re having difficulty finding your mistakes, flip your drawing upside down, or place it in the mirror. This will provide you with an entirely new “perspective” making it easier to notice the errors.

For the mistakes that beginners often create when they draw anime (and solutions to these) lookup:

Common Mistakes When Drawing Anime & Manga


Applying the guidelines above will aid you in understanding the drawing basics. When you’ve got an adequate hand that is steady and has excellent control of the pencil or pen you can begin to master more advanced drawing techniques. This includes things like perspective, shading, and color. For a basic understanding of all of these, refer to this tutorial:

  • Perspective Drawing Tutorial for Beginners and How it Relates to Anime
  • Beginner Guide to Picking Colors When Drawing Anime & Manga
  • How to Shade an Anime Face in Different Lighting

For suggestions on the things to aid you in learning how to draw anime, check out:

Tips on How to Learn How to Draw Anime & Manga

Beginner Guide to Picking Colors When Drawing Anime & Manga

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