How to Color an Anime Character Step by Step

This easy tutorial for beginners will show how to color characters in the style of anime with clear steps-by-step examples and explanations.


Anime girl coloring step by step

The color style utilized in anime is referred to as “Cel Shading”. Cel shading can be described as a process commonly used in animations and manga and comic book style art, as well as 3D renderings that do not have gradients between normal and shaded areas.

To make this tutorial simple, it will concentrate on the minimum amount of shading used in anime in the majority of normal lighting conditions.

It is also possible to use the techniques in this guide to draw other characters from anime. It is possible to add additional steps if you’d like to draw a more complicated character.

If you need help choosing the color combination you want for your character, look up:

Beginner Guide to Picking Colors When Drawing Anime & Manga

Coloring & Shading Order

When coloring or shading your drawing, you need to begin with the biggest parts of the drawing before moving on to the tiny areas. Also, you will want to shade throughout your drawing before applying shadows.

If you’re planning to draw on paper, be sure to make sure that the highlighted areas remain white. If you’re going to color digitally, you can include the highlights once you have colored your entire sketch.

You might be interested in:


Should You Buy a Pen Tablet for Drawing Anime and Manga?

Step 1 – Outline Drawing

Anime girl waving outline drawing

Before you color your drawing, you need to draw a clear and neat line sketch of your character from anime.

If you need assistance in drawing an anime character, look up our tutorials section on the website.

Step 2 – Black Areas

Anime girl drawing black fill

The first areas you’ll be filling with are black, or roughly identical to the lines drawn in your line drawings.

If you’re creating an animation character, such as the one shown in the previous illustration, the black areas would generally be the eyelashes as well as the pupils of the eyes. Be sure to keep all reflections uncolored when drawing the pupils, if you’re working on paper.

Step 3 – Body Color

Coloring anime girl body

Since the body is the largest region of the drawing, we will color it in first. This is the time to complete the entire area using one solid color.

Step 4 – Clothes Color

Coloring anime girl clothes

In this instance, the clothing is simply the shirt. Make sure to fill it with one solid color, just like the body.

For anime-inspired clothing, see:

How to Draw Anime & Manga Clothes

Step 5 – Hair Color

Coloring anime girl hair

After coloring your hair, you should leave the highlight white if you are drawing on paper. If you draw digitally, you can apply the highlight over the top of the color.


For drawing anime hair, see:

How to Draw Anime & Manga Male & Female Hair

Step 6 – Eye Color

Coloring anime girl eyes

The pupils are black, they will simply hues will appear in the iris of the eyes.

For drawing anime eyes, refer to:

  • How to Draw Anime Eyes and Eye Expressions
  • How to Draw Different Types of Anime and Manga Eyes
  • 4 Ways to Draw Crying Anime Eyes
  • How to Draw Anime & Manga Eyes – Side View

Step 7 – Mouth Color

Coloring an anime girl’s mouth

Coloration in the mouth that is not confined to the teeth.

To draw anime mouths, see:

  • How to Draw Anime and Manga Mouth Expressions
  • How to Draw Anime & Manga Mouths – Side View

Step 8 – Body Shading

Shading anime girl body

To keep the tutorial as simple as possible, we will apply only minimal shadows to the body, shading the areas that are most frequently shaded. In this instance, we’ll include:

  • Shadows on the hairline from the hair
  • A shadow on one side of the nose
  • A few tiny shadows on the eyelids
  • A neck shadow is cast by the head.
  • Shadows to highlight the collar bones

Step 9 – Clothes Shading

Shading anime girl clothes

Since the clothing for this image is very compact and has no folds, just create a shadow just below your chest.

To shade more complicated anime clothing, you can look at:

How to Draw an Anime School Girl in 6 Steps

How to Draw Anime Cat Girl Ears Step by Step


Step 10 – Hair Shading

Shading anime girl hair

To keep the shading to a minimum hair, simply shade the area around the hair’s back.

Step 11 – Eye Shading

Shading anime girl eyes

The shadow is located on the upper irises because there is typically a shadow or reflection there that is reflected through the eyelashes.

Step 12 – Mouth Shading

Anime girl waving the color drawing

Then, darken the mouth region by excluding the tongue. You are done.


Cell shading can on the other side be more straightforward since it’s an extremely basic shading method, however, it’s difficult to identify the proper locations to shade. As we’ve mentioned, the areas of shading suggested in this guide will typically be those that are generally darker however you are able to experiment with various lighting types.

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