Improve Anime & Manga Anatomy: Tips & Techniques
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Use reference materials
  2. Practice drawing basic anime shapes
  3. Focus on body proportions
  4. Learn to draw faces and expressions
  5. Master drawing hands and feet
  6. Study clothing and textures
  7. Work on shading and coloring
  8. Draw from different angles

Are you an anime and manga enthusiast who wants to level up your drawing skills? You've come to the right place. This blog post is all about how to improve anatomy in anime/manga. We're going to dive right into the tips and techniques you need to make your characters come alive on the page!

Use reference materials

Let's start with a simple but effective method: using reference materials. These can be photos, anatomy books, or examples from your favorite anime/manga artists. When you're drawing, keep these references close by. They will be your guide to understanding and accurately depicting the human form.

  • Photos: These are great for studying real-life anatomy. Pay attention to how muscles and joints look in various poses. You don't have to copy the photos exactly, but use them to gain a better understanding of how the body works.
  • Anatomy Books: These can be a great tool to understand the underlying structure of the body. Look for books that focus specifically on drawing anatomy for artists. They break down complex structures into simpler shapes that are easier to draw.
  • Anime/Manga Artist Examples: This is where you learn the stylized forms of anime/manga anatomy. Study how your favorite artists depict their characters. Are the bodies elongated? Are the eyes bigger? How do they simplify complex body parts? Noting these details will help you develop your own unique style.

Remember, the goal of using reference materials is not to copy or trace, but to learn. As you draw more and more, you'll begin to internalize these shapes, and drawing anime/manga anatomy will become second nature to you. So grab your sketchbook and pencil, and let's start improving your anime and manga anatomy!

Practice drawing basic anime shapes

After studying from your references, it's time to get your hands moving. The key to mastering how to improve anatomy in anime/manga lies in practice, particularly drawing basic anime shapes. Think of it as the skeleton for your characters.

Most anime characters can be broken down into simple geometric shapes. For instance, the head is often a circle or oval, the body can be simplified to rectangles, and limbs can be drawn as cylinders. By practicing these basic shapes, you're building a foundation that will make drawing complex anatomy easier.

  • Heads: Start by drawing circles or ovals. Once you're comfortable with that, try adding in the chin and jawline. Remember, in anime and manga, faces can be more elongated or rounded depending on the character's personality and the artist's style.
  • Bodies: Rectangles and triangles can be your best friends here. Practice drawing these shapes in various sizes and proportions. This will help you when it comes to drawing different body types and postures.
  • Limbs: Limbs can be tricky, but think of them as cylinders. Practice drawing cylinders at different angles and lengths. This will give you a basic understanding of how limbs look in different positions.

It might seem like you're back in your elementary school art class, but trust me, these exercises are powerful. You'll be surprised how much your drawing skills can improve with just a bit of practice with these basic shapes. So, keep those pencils moving!

Focus on body proportions

Once you've got a handle on basic anime shapes, the next step on your journey to improve anime/manga anatomy is to focus on body proportions. As you might have noticed, anime and manga characters don't always adhere to real-world proportions — but that doesn't mean anything goes. There's still a method to the madness.

Typically, an anime character's height is about seven to eight heads tall. This might be different from the real-world average of about six heads tall, but it’s this exaggeration that gives anime its distinctive style.

Consider the following when you're working on body proportions:

  • Heads: Measure your character's height in heads. Remember, this isn't about copying reality, but creating a consistent and believable world within your drawings.
  • Limbs: Pay attention to the length of arms and legs. A common rule is that the hand should reach mid-thigh and the elbow should line up with the waistline when the arm is down.
  • Torso: The chest and hips are usually about two heads wide. Again, anime characters often have exaggerated proportions, but consistency is key to making your characters believable.

It's important to remember that these are just guidelines and not hard rules. The beauty of anime and manga is its diversity in style. Don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. After all, the best way to improve anatomy in anime/manga is by finding and developing your unique style.

Learn to draw faces and expressions

Let's be honest, one of the main reasons we love anime and manga is the wide range of facial expressions, right? From the classic joy-filled eyes to the sweat drop of embarrassment, these expressions add depth to the characters and make them more relatable. So, how can you improve your ability to draw these faces and expressions in anime/manga?

Firstly, start with a simple base in the shape of a circle or oval for the head. Add guidelines to help you place the facial features correctly. Generally, the eyes sit on the middle line of the circle, while the bottom of the nose lines up with the bottom of the ears. The mouth lies halfway between the nose and the chin. Remember, these are guidelines, not rules. You can always adjust according to your character's specific features or the style you're aiming for.

Next, let's talk about the eyes. Anime eyes are usually larger than in real life — this gives you more room to express emotions. Don't forget about the eyebrows. They have a huge role in showing emotions. For example, a raised eyebrow can suggest surprise or disbelief.

Lastly, the mouth. Anime mouths are often just a line when closed, but they can take on all kinds of shapes when open. From a small "o" for surprise to a wide open mouth for yelling, don't be afraid to get creative with it.

If you're wondering how to improve anatomy in anime/manga, mastering facial expressions is a great place to start. It can be the difference between a flat, one-dimensional character and one that viewers can connect with on a deeper level.

Master drawing hands and feet

Have you ever heard the phrase "if you want to know if someone can really draw, look at how they sketch hands and feet?" Sounds a bit daunting, doesn't it? But don't worry, we've got some tips to guide you on how to improve anatomy in anime/manga, specifically focusing on hands and feet.

Firstly, think of hands and feet as shapes, not just appendages. For hands, start with a rectangle for the palm and add cylinders for the fingers. Don't forget the thumb—it's positioned a bit differently than the other fingers and has its own unique shape. Feet, on the other hand (pun intended), can start with a triangle for the main part and smaller ovals for the toes.

Secondly, it's all about the details. Nails, knuckles, and even veins can add realism to your drawings. But remember, subtlety is key. You don't want your character's hands or feet to steal all the attention.

Finally, practice makes perfect. Hands and feet can bend in so many ways, and capturing all these different positions will improve your overall drawing skills. Try drawing them in different positions: clenched, relaxed, pointing, and even holding various objects.

Feeling better about drawing hands and feet now? Great! Remember, improving your anime/manga anatomy skills is a journey. Every sketch you make brings you one step closer to mastering this art form.

Study clothing and textures

Let's move on to the next step on your journey to improve anatomy in anime/manga. Ever noticed how the clothing in anime and manga can make characters come to life? It's not just about drawing cool outfits—it's about understanding how fabric moves, folds, and interacts with the body underneath it.

Begin by observing real clothes. Pay attention to how different fabrics drape and fold. Cotton behaves differently from silk, and a thick wool sweater has a texture that's quite different from a thin t-shirt. Try to capture these unique characteristics in your drawings.

Textures are all about the details. For example, the shine of leather, the fuzziness of a sweater, or the smoothness of silk. These small details can make a big difference. You can use hatching, cross-hatching, or stippling techniques to create these effects. Remember, practice is key here.

Also, don't forget about the clothes' interaction with the body. Clothes fit differently on different body types, and they move when the body moves. They can stretch, bunch up, or hang loosely, depending on the pose. Understanding this interaction will help you create more realistic drawings.

So, are you ready to take your anime/manga drawings to the next level? With these tips, you're well on your way to mastering how to improve anatomy in anime/manga. Happy sketching!

Work on shading and coloring

Now that we’ve talked about clothing and textures, let's move on to a topic that can really make your anime and manga drawings sparkle: shading and coloring. This step is a game-changer when it comes to improving anatomy in anime/manga. Here's why.

Shading gives depth and volume to your drawings. It helps illustrate the form of the body, making your characters look more three-dimensional. Start with basic shading: decide where your light source is and shade the opposite side. Keep in mind that the farther a body part is from the light source, the darker it should be.

Coloring, on the other hand, brings life to your characters. Start by choosing a color palette for your character. Consider their personality and the atmosphere you want to create. For example, warm colors like red and orange can express passion or energy, while cool colors like blue and green can give a calm or mysterious vibe. Try to keep your coloring consistent throughout your work to maintain a coherent style.

Remember, shading and coloring are more than just filling in the lines. They're tools to help you convey the form and mood of your characters. So, why not give it a try? Grab your favorite coloring tools, and let's see how they can transform your anime and manga drawings!

Draw from different angles

Ever wonder how to add a dynamic twist to your anime/manga drawings? Well, it's all about perspective. Drawing your characters from different angles gives them depth and makes your scenes more engaging. But how exactly can you improve your anatomy in anime/manga by mastering this technique?

First off, start simple. Practice drawing basic shapes from different angles. A cube, for example, can serve as a great starting point. Try sketching it from above, below, and at various side angles. This exercise will help you understand how shapes and forms change depending on the viewer's perspective.

Next, apply these concepts to your character drawings. Start by choosing a pose for your character. Then, imagine how this pose would look from different angles. You can even use a figurine or a 3D model as a reference. Remember, the goal here isn't to create a perfect drawing but to understand how forms and proportions change with perspective.

Don't shy away from experimenting with extreme angles, either. A bird's-eye view or a worm's-eye view can add a dramatic effect to your scenes. Sure, it might be challenging at first, but with practice, you'll see how this technique can take your anime/manga art to new heights.

So, are you ready to explore different perspectives in your drawings? Because once you master drawing from different angles, your characters will never look flat or dull again!

If you're looking to improve your anime and manga anatomy skills, don't miss out on the workshop 'Basic Animal Anatomy for Artists' by Viktoria. Although the workshop focuses on animal anatomy, the techniques and tips provided can be applied to create more authentic and detailed characters in your anime and manga projects. Expand your understanding of anatomy and elevate your art to the next level!