How to Draw Real People in Anime

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Anime girl
Anime girl (Image: manga styled samurai girl image by Anastasia Serdyukova from Fotolia.com)

Anime is the widely-used term for all Japanese animation. Unlike American cartoons, Japanese animation is designed for viewers of all ages. Due to its distinctive characterization and artful landscaping, many Western animators have adopted (and adapted) the anime style, although the original style has maintained a broad fan base amongst Western teenagers.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Black markers (fine and thick point)
  • Colored pencils

Draw Real People As Anime Characters

Study the anime style. Watch movies and read manga (Japanese comics and print cartooons) that is produced as anime. Look for the common techniques throughout all media. Find an example of anime that you admire. Note how facial features are portrayed. Large round eyes, thin noses, pointed chins and pursed lips are all customary in anime, regardless of a character's gender. Also, racial characteristics may be exaggerated, giving the piece the tone of a caricature.

Practice drawing the anime characters you have seen. Work on portraits as well as full-body poses. Try to mimic the style of the artist. Start your sketch by lightly drawing the outline in pencil. As you fill in detail, make your lines bolder and sharper. Your finished drawing should have a smooth outline.

Trace the outline with black marker. Erase the pencil lines. Use bright colors and heavy black lines to fill in the drawing. You may add shading to your piece; however, keep in mind that Japanese animation is a very graphic technique. Focus on turning fluid figures into angular shapes, not on having a "real" representation.

Practice translating photographs into anime drawings. Use personal photos or portraits from the Internet. As most anime characters have a common and distinct body structure, focus on making your drawing identifiable. Use accessories, scenery, pose, hairstyle, coloration and clothing to shape your character as an unique individual.

Practice drawing from live subjects once you are comfortable with photographs. Remember that real people cannot sit still for hours or avoid moving in small ways. Try to get as many ideas on paper as quickly as you can. This may mean you make a quick sketch now and turn it into a finished drawing later. Use all the techniques you have developed and refer back to the work of professionals for inspiration.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use felt tip markers and pens for crisp, black lines.
  • Invest in a high-quality sketch pad that can handle the pressure of multiple erasures.
  • Do not try to draw real people before you have a clear understanding of the style. You will not be able to produce your best work and may become discouraged.

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