how to draw anime characters

How to Draw Anime Characters – Sketching Anime Characters

Anime characters are really fun to draw but to create unique anime character drawings, we need to first learn the fundamentals of female and male anime characters. Having a foundational knowledge of both female and male anime character faces will give you a more accurate framework for creating your unique anime characters. Learning how to draw anime characters is also a great way to gain more awareness of the subtle combination of features that can distinguish between male and female characters. There is a lot to gain from this tutorial on sketching anime characters, which can be utilized in your work in various ways.



How to Draw Anime Characters for Beginners

In this anime drawing outline, we will learn how to assemble both female and male characters through a set of a few simple steps. Anime characters are quite similar in process for both male and female characters, as they often have similar faces due to their androgynous features. This tutorial will demonstrate how you can create a distinction between the two with subtle nuanced differences within the features of the face. We will find that the process of creating anime characters is quite simple and easily adjustable when shifting between male and female characters by changing simple details.


Necessary Materials

This tutorial will require only a few simple tools, as it is intended to give you the basic process for sketching anime characters. This tutorial will be done within a digital medium, however, all drawing processes seen within this tutorial are easily transferable between mediums. If you do not have a digital drawing tool, all materials necessary can be found through the links below:

  • Ballpoint pen
  • Micron pens
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Paper



A Guide on How to Draw Anime Characters 

In this tutorial, we will be going through the process of creating both a male and female anime character. We will break the process up into a few simple steps that help you to establish guidelines for feature placement. This process will be the same for both the female and male characters, showing you how simple it is to create both characters utilizing the same method. We will learn how there are subtle differences and little tricks in anime drawing that can help to create both female and male characters.


How to Draw a Female Anime Character

Anime can be drawn in various styles, and once you understand the basic drawing process, you can then tweak and change your character to suit your interests. Anime characters are really simple to draw and this set of steps will provide you with the necessary fundamentals for constructing a female anime drawing.


Step 1: Shaping the Face

We want to start by creating a basic shape, we can do this by drawing a circle and adding a sharp jawline beneath the circle. Keeping the jawline sharp and small is a great way to give the face a feminine shape. We can also add some guidelines that will provide segments for the different features.

anime drawing

Step 2: Drawing the Eyes

Once we have the general face shape, working on the eyes first is a great way to start with the features. There are many ways to draw the eyes, but making them slightly larger is a little hack that gives a feminine touch to the face. you want to start by drawing the basic shape, on which you will sketch a more refined eye shape.

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From here, a good suggestion would be to start with the eyelashes. Anime eyelashes tend to be a dark lining along the upper and lower areas of the eyelids. In the case of female anime characters, we can make these features slightly darker and thicker.


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We can also make each eyelash slightly elongated and extend outward from the eyes. There is little difference between male and female characters. The eyes will have pupils, but again, we want to make sure that they are slightly large.


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At this point, you can also play around with the positioning of the eyebrows. eyebrows are also quite simple in shape; however, you can play around with positioning to suggest different expressions on the face.


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When you fill in the pupils you can leave some moments of negative space as this will give the impression of reflection in the eye, and it is a unique feature of anime style. We can also add shading along the upper eyelid to suggest a shadowing in the eye.

Some anime eyes are very detailed and others not so much, it is more a matter of preference and how far you would like to lean toward the realistic side of anime. Again, explore different eye and eyebrow shapes to see how the facial expression changes.


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Step 3: Drawing the Nose and Mouth

Another way of feminizing the character is by making the nose more subtle and having less of a ridge. We can also make the upper lip more voluptuous by giving it more volume and curvature.

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Step 4: Drawing the Hair

The best way to start with hair for anime character drawings is by drawing in the hairline. drawing the hairline is going to establish the structure of the hair, and where it will be placed along the forehead.

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From here, you have the freedom to explore variations of hairstyles to see how they complement the character. you can play around with different hairstyles and how they form along the face.

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You can play around with bob-haircuts, fringes, bangs, and various other styles. Hair is one of the most contextualizing features of anime characters and can give your anime character drawing a unique trait.

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We also want to make sure that when we draw hair along the top of the head, moving towards the back of the head, it sits a little above the skull. This is a more realistic and accurate representation of hair and how it forms on the head because of its volume.

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But again, playing around with different hairstyles is going to affect the character and their character traits. however, make sure you start with establishing a hairline first.

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From there it is a matter of preference and playing around with how you style your anime character drawing.

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You want to make sure that you also work with linework around the hairline to give the anime character a realistic hairline. adding strokes of lines that flow into the hair makes the character more interesting as opposed to a block placed on their head.

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Another way to enhance the hair is to work with highlighting in the hair. In anime character drawing, the best way to do this is to create moments of negative zig-zagged shapes in the hair to suggest highlights.

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Step 5: Tweaking the Features

At this point, we have the basic features established within the anime character drawing. From here you can play around with proportions and scales of different features.

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Step 6: Adding Contextualizing Features

We can also begin to add some shading to emphasize the features, this is a step further that can enhance the character. We can also draw in the neck, which is usually thinner for female characters. otherwise, that’s it! the basic steps for drawing a female anime character.

sketching anime characters


How to Draw a Male Anime Character

The process of creating male anime characters is the same, however, to give the male character more masculine features we will be changing some aspects of the face. We will find that it is just as simple but each feature has a subtle alteration to create a distinction between the female and male anime character drawings.


Step 1: Shaping the Face

We start with the same process of forming the face by drawing a circle and adding a jawline beneath the circle. This time we can make the jawline slightly longer and elongated as this will give a more masculine touch.

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We can also add different guidelines to establish the areas in which the various facial features will be drawn. We want to make sure we then give our drawing a light erasing before adding in features.

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Step 2: Drawing the Eyes

we can then start with the eyes once again; this time let’s try to give them a smaller and thin shape. We can do this by first establishing their basic shape, which can be hexagonal.

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From there we can slightly erase the basic shape and then start adding in a more refined eye shape by drawing the eyelashes to form the eye. With a male figure, we don’t need to accentuate the eyelashes too much, which is another aspect of giving a masculine effect to the eyes.

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We can also start playing around with eyebrow formation and how high or low we would like to place them near the eyes.

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Once we have the eyebrows in place we can start working on the features of the eyes, by drawing the pupils and iris. Again, we want to make sure that they are not too large and also that they flow behind the upper eyelid.


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as you fill in the pupils, make sure that you leave some negative spaces in the eye to suggest highlights. This gives the eyes more life and provides an interesting characteristic to the anime character drawing.

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Step 3: Drawing the Nose and Mouth

with the nose, we can make the length slightly longer and the nostrils slightly wider. These are subtle changes between the female nose but will make all the difference in giving the character a masculine quality. We will also work with shading to emphasize the ridge of the nose.

With the mouth, we draw in a slit that establishes the mouth area. However, this time we don’t draw in an accentuated upper lip, just another way of keeping the anime character drawing masculine.

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With the nose, we want to make the ridge quite strong by adding some shading along one side to emphasize its shape. This isn’t the case for all anime characters, but it is a great way to give a strong masculine quality when sketching anime characters’ faces. 


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Step 4: Using Shading for Shaping Features

we can extend the shading of the nose into the upper eyelids, and beneath the eyebrows, to suggest a shadowing cast by protruding features. we can add shading beneath the lower lip as well to better define the lips of the anime character drawing.

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We want to use shading as a means of defining the features a little more. Especially near the nose and mouth, shadowing is what will give the nose and mouth more structure.

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Step 5: Drawing the Hair

Again, the best way to draw the hair is to first establish the hairline, you can play around with how you would like the hairline of the character to look. This will have a significant effect on their overall aesthetic.

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Once you have established the hairline of the character you then can start to imagine different hairstyles, using the hairline as a starting point.

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From there you can play around with different hairstyles and see what will suit the character’s overall aesthetic. When drawing disheveled anime hair, you want to keep the lines spikey and zig-zagging.

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We can also play around with the crown or partitions in the hair, this is important to bear in mind for creating realistic hair qualities. We want to also make sure that the hair flows a little above the skull to suggest volume.

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You also want to consider if the hair flows behind the ears and flops onto the forehead of the character. try your best to consider how hair forms on the head of a real person.

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Once you have the hair structure drawn, you can then start to fill in the hair. However, you want to consider some highlight qualities within the hair which will give the hair a more realistic interaction with light.

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By creating moments of highlights in the hair we give more layer and depth to the hair, this just gives the hair a more realistic quality. We can do this by leaving negative spaces in the hair that function as highlights in the hair.

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Step 6: Drawing Contextualizing Features

Once we have the main features of the character drawn, we then can start to draw in contextualizing features such as the neck and shoulder areas. For male characters, you can make the neck slightly thicker.

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You can also make the shoulders slightly broader and then how you clothe your character will be up to you at this point.anime drawing outline

You can also tweak and change anything that you feel might need to be slightly different. otherwise, that is it!  This is the basic process of creating a male anime character drawing.



Tips to Remember

  • Make sure that the anime drawing outline is established. You want to make sure the facial outline is either feminine or masculine by the suggestions above before adding in features.
  • Take your time with the eyes. Eyes are perhaps the most iconic aspect of anime character drawings, so consider the suggestions for female and male characteristics in the eyes.
  • Use shading to enhance features. This is particularly true for male characters as they have stronger features in the face.
  • Establish the hairline for hair. Once you have done so, it makes it much easier to draw the hair onto the character.
  • Experiment with your anime drawings. Play around with different feature shapes and styles to create your unique anime character drawings.

how to draw anime characters

Anime character drawings are really fun because there is no right or wrong way to do them. All the steps and suggestions are merely just that, so you can experiment and deviate from these suggestions if you choose to. Allow yourself to take these guidelines and experiment with your anime drawings!


Take a look at our anime characters drawing webstory here!



Frequently Asked Questions


How Do You Draw and Shade Anime Hair?

With anime hair, the best way to start is to establish the hairline first. Once you have drawn the hairline, this will guide you in placing the hair on the head and how it flows around the face. Make sure you consider the length of the hair, especially near the back of the head. You want to make sure that the hair sits slightly above the skull to suggest volume if the hair is long. From there, you can fill in the hair as you please, however, play around with negative space as a means of creating highlights in the hair. This way the hair doesn’t look flat or completely two-dimensional.


How Do You Differentiate Female and Male Anime Eyes?

Male anime eyes and female anime eyes have a very androgynous aesthetic because they are cartoon representations of eyes, and often need to be contextualized by surrounding features. The best way to create a distinction, however, is to lean into the generalizations of common male and female eye features. This means we can add more lashes and rounded shapes to the eyes of a female anime character, whereas for the male character, we can make them a little narrower with fewer lashes. These are some effective ways to influence the identity of the eyes. 

Cite this Article

Matthew, Matthysen, “How to Draw Anime Characters – Sketching Anime Characters.” Art in Context. January 30, 2023. URL:

Matthysen, M. (2023, 30 January). How to Draw Anime Characters – Sketching Anime Characters. Art in Context.

Matthysen, Matthew. “How to Draw Anime Characters – Sketching Anime Characters.” Art in Context, January 30, 2023.

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