Big eyes, exaggerated expressions and cute chibi characters are only some of the appeal of drawing anime. But before you launch into a drawing tutorial, it helps to have a few words of wisdom from a manga pro. To be a better artist, here are some essential, actionable tips — and some pointers on avoiding beginner mistakes.
1. Study Real Anatomy
Just like with any figure drawing, knowing a body’s anatomy is vital. You need to know how a real body is put together and how it functions — even though the shapes and proportions of manga characters are often exaggerated.
2. Find Reference Images
It’s tempting to skip this time-consuming step, but if there’s something you don’t know how to draw, go online and find a reference image. Look up poses, props, environments — your art will look so much better for it. Don’t try to draw something purely from memory, because you’ll miss important details.
3. Use Guidelines
Though some artists balk at them, guidelines are super useful. They help you quickly draw a pose, compare body shapes and sizes and avoid anatomy errors. Every professional — every professional — starts with basic shapes before drawing a character.
4. Don’t Copy
Studying your favorite artist shouldn’t turn into copying that artist — if you start copying as a beginner, you can easily end up mimicking the artist’s flaws. Instead, examine their art closely to figure out what parts you like, and why.
5. Be Open to Criticism
This is tough advice to follow because criticism can feel like a scolding. You don’t have to accept every critique as legit, but you do need to keep an open mind. The other person may have a valid point.
6. Be Skeptical of Praise from Family and Friends
People who love you will always say your artwork is perfect, but here’s the thing: they’re not being totally truthful. Sometimes, artists end up buying into all that praise and stop trying to improve. Always seek out people who’ll give you honest feedback and constructive criticism. It’s the only way you’ll grow as an artist!
7. Avoid Shortcuts
If you hate drawing hands, keep practicing! It’s too easy to hide ’em or just draw your characters from the waist up. It’s better to draw terrible hands and keep improving than to give up. With practice, you’ll get better.
8. Draw Different Kinds of Characters
We all have a certain “type” of character we like to draw and it can be easy to fall back on those drawings, whether it be a chibi, a pretty girl or a pretty boy. As you practice your anime drawings, it’s important to branch out and draw all kinds of people and characters. It’ll vastly improve your drawings overall.
9. Don’t Get Discouraged
It’s easy to start feeling down when you see other artists who are oh-so-talented. Before you start comparing yourself to others, remember: everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t let your peers make you feel bad about your skills; let them inspire you to improve.
10. Have Fun!
Improving art skills can be frustrating, but try not to let it get to you. Drawing should be fun. Just relax, do your best, and keep up with your practice.