How to draw the face of a cartoon or manga character

How to draw the face of a cartoon or manga character
How to draw the face of a cartoon or manga character

Manga and anime are Japanese comics and cartoons with a very distinct style. If you want to draw your favorite character or make one up, start with their head and face to get a feel for their appearance. First, outline the outline and basic shapes of the head so that you can position the facial features correctly. After drawing the eyes, mouth, nose and ears, you can erase your construction lines and create the hair. With a little patience and practice, you'll be drawing professional-looking anime faces in no time!


Part 1 of 3: Trace the basic shape of the head

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 1

Step 1. Draw a circle

Draw a circle with a central vertical line. Use a pencil so you can erase any mistakes. Draw the shape with light strokes in the center of your sheet to have room to add elements on the outside. Find the centerline and draw a straight vertical line from the top of the circle to the bottom of the sheet so that you can locate the middle of the face.

Draw a large circle so that you have enough room to draw the facial features. Otherwise, it is possible that your strokes are not clean and you have difficulty drawing correctly

advice: If you have trouble making a freehand circle, you can use a compass or trace the outlines of a round object.

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 2

Step 2. Locate the eye level

They should be about a third of the way up the circle from the bottom. Measure a third of the shape's height from the bottom and mark it with a pencil. Use a ruler to draw a horizontal line that comes out from both sides of the circle so that you can position the eyes of the character. Do not press too hard to prevent the line from being difficult to erase.

The measurement does not need to be precise. If you don't have a ruler, estimate the distance using your pencil

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 3

Step 3. Make a landmark for the nose

Draw another horizontal line at the bottom of the circle. Find the lowest point of the circle and put a ruler horizontally over it. Draw a line without pressing the pencil. It should be long enough to extend past the wider points of the circle to the sides.

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 4

Step 4. Determine the position of the chin

Measure the distance from the center of the circle to the mark for the nose. Measure the same distance going down from the bottom of the circle (i.e. nose level) and draw a small horizontal mark on the central vertical axis. When you have finished drawing, the bottom of the chin will be at this level.

If you are drawing a female character, the distance from the bottom of the circle to the chin should be about a third of the diameter of the circle, since women and girls in anime have rounder faces than men

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 5

Step 5. Draw the sides of the face

Start on the right or left side of the circle at its widest level. Draw a line that goes down slightly diagonally to the center vertical line. Go to the nose marker. When you reach this level, continue to the chin mark. Repeat the process on the other side of the circle to connect the 2 sides of the chin at the bottom.

  • In anime and manga, female characters generally have rounder faces and sharper chins than male characters. If you are drawing a girl or a woman, make strokes more curved than for a man or a boy.
  • In general, adult characters have longer, slender faces than younger ones. Curl your features further to draw the sides of a child's face.
Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 6

Step 6. Add the neck

Bring it down from the chin. Its width depends on the sex of the character. If you are drawing a man, position the sides of the neck close enough to the sides of the face to give the impression that this part is quite muscular. To draw a woman, bring the sides of the neck closer to the chin so that it is thinner. Draw straight vertical lines that go down both sides of the chin to represent the neck.

  • In anime and manga, young characters have slender necks, as they are less muscular and defined than on adults. To draw a boy or a girl, draw the sides of the neck closer to the chin.
  • Step away from the design to determine if the neck looks too long or too short when you draw it. Erase or extend the lines according to the desired result.

Part 2 of 3: Add facial features

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 7

Step 1. Draw the ears

Position them on the sides of the head, between eye and nose levels. The top and bottom of each ear should line up with the eye and nose line respectively. Draw elongated C shapes between these guides. Their ends should meet the sides of the circle and the bottom of the face. You can leave them as is to get a very simple style or add curved lines inside to make more detailed ears.

  • Look at your own ears or at pictures to get an idea of ​​what they look like.
  • The ears can have various shapes. Choose the one that best suits your character.
Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 8

Step 2. Position the tip of the nose

Draw it at the point of intersection between the central vertical axis and the horizontal line passing through the bottom of the circle. In manga and anime, the nose is less visible from the front than from the profile. If you want to give it a simple shape, just draw a small dot where the nose marker intersects the vertical line. To do something a little more complex, draw 2 short curved lines on either side of the vertical axis to represent nostrils.

If you want to further define the nose, you can draw a long straight or curved line that goes up towards the eyes

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 9

Step 3. Add the eyes

Position them under the mark you have drawn. If you are drawing a male figure, draw a horizontal line below the guide. It should stop near the side of the head. For a female character, draw a curved line that goes up to the side of the head under the guide. Position the bottom of the eye anywhere above the tip of the nose. Draw the other eye on the other side of the face so that it looks like the first one.

  • Anime characters can have eyes of various shapes. Look at your favorites to find ideas for your character.
  • If you want to make the character feel like a particular emotion, practice using different facial expressions. For example, anger can be represented by narrowed eyes and surprise will be represented by wide eyes.
Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 10

Step 4. Draw the eyebrows

Place them above the eyes. Start above the corner of one eye and slightly above the line that you used as a guide. Draw a slightly curved or oblique line following the shape of the top of the eye. The eyebrow can be a single stroke or you can make small strokes that go up at the ends to make it into a rectangle. Draw another eyebrow above the other eye when you have finished the first one.

  • Eyebrows in manga can have many shapes. They can be triangular or even round.
  • If you want to make the character's gaze more expressive, play with the angle of the eyebrows. For example, if they go down diagonally towards the nose, the character will look angry, but if they go down towards the ears, you will get a sad or scared expression.
Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 11

Step 5. Place the mouth

Draw it halfway between the nose and the chin. Find the point that is halfway between these 2 parts. If you want to draw a simple mouth, draw a slightly curved horizontal line to represent a smile or pout. Draw a slightly shorter line under the first to represent the lower lip.

  • Search for anime characters online, and watch different mouths and expressions to learn how to portray different emotions.
  • If you want the character to smile with your mouth open, you don't need to draw each individual tooth. Simply draw the line between the top and bottom teeth to separate them.

advice: The size of the mouth depends on the expression you want to give to the character. If you want him to look a little silly or happy, give him a big mouth. To make it look more serious or calm, give it a small mouth.

Part 3 of 3: erase the construction lines and finish the drawing

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 12

Step 1. Erase the construction lines

Use the eraser at the end of your pencil or a classic eraser to erase any lines that are not part of the drawing. Carefully go around the facial features to avoid erasing them too much. Clear all of the guides until all you have left is your head and face.

  • If the construction lines are too dark, you may not be able to erase them completely.
  • Use a thin eraser to wrap around small areas like the ears or eyes.
Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 13

Step 2. Draw an original hairstyle

Anime and manga characters can have different types of hairstyles. Pick one that will look good on your character. Do not draw each individual hair. Simply trace the general shape of the hair. Gently press down on your pencil so you can erase parts and modify them as needed. Once you have drawn a simple shape, erase the parts of the head, which are under the hair so that they cannot be seen.

Most often, manga characters have hair that is divided into large strands that end in a point. Look at the hairstyles of various characters to find ideas for your own

advice: practice drawing different hairstyles on a sheet of tracing paper placed on your drawing. This way, if you don't like the hair you draw the first time around, you won't need to erase it.

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 14

Step 3. Add details

Draw small elements like wrinkles or freckles. When you have drawn the hairstyle and erased all the construction lines, add details to make the character unique. You can give it freckles on the cheeks, moles or wrinkles to make it look more interesting. Draw jewelry or accessories with a pencil so that you can erase them if you don't like them.

If you don't feel like adding detail, you don't have to

Draw Anime or Manga Faces Step 15

Step 4. Shade the design

This will give it more relief. Use the lead side of your pencil to make light shadows under the chin, lower lip, and hair. Make all the strokes for each shadow in the same direction so as to obtain cohesion. Apply more pressure to the pencil for darker shadows.

Be careful not to make shadows that are too dark, as they will be too distinct and you will have a hard time erasing them


  • Watch anime or read manga to observe different characters. Practice drawing them to assimilate several styles.
  • Practice a little every day to make progress in drawing.
  • Try drawing normal faces to work on anatomy and improve your drawing skills.
  • Always keep a sketchbook and pencil with you so you can draw wherever you are.

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