Advice on learning Anime-Style illustration

Hi, everyone first post on this forum. Really enjoy the striving for animation YT channel!

I’m a complete beginner to drawing and I’d like to start learning anime-style illustration, in hopes I could possibly make it into a sizable career or side gig. I always wanted to do this but never had the courage to invest in it given my life complication. I’ve decided to start really devoting a large majority of my time to learn this craft. I’m planning to move to Japan in a year or two, where I could hopefully gain more networks in the anime-illustration department and further promote my work to the right audience. I take a lot of inspiration from this users illustrations (, which is just one of many. This is the level I hope to achieve some day.

I was wondering if anyone could give me some guidance/advice on where to begin. Since I’m not in a “art school” per say, I can’t follow a curriculum and a lot of the information online is overwhelming, some are very westernized which doesn’t interest me as much. I’ve done a few drawabox lessons and gesture drawing practices from proko, A lot of people mention studying anatomy books as well, which I have started doing but the level of detail presented in these books are a lot I feel in comparison to anime-stylized illustration. I’m finding myself not efficiently studying and all over the place. My goal is to improve in the most efficient manner possible, while avoiding certain traps

If you read up until here, thank you! I really do appreciate any sort of guidance on things I should be following, videos to watch, books to look into and etc as a beginner.

Thanks again and hope to hear from some of you down below :slight_smile:

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I am an animator so I’m going to approach this from that viewpoint…since anime illustration gets its source from the anime it represents or is inspired by. There are a lot of the same skills involved.

Drawing is often seen as part of “the arts”
and some kind of esoteric concept. But drawing FOR ANIMATION is very specific. You need to check off the list of requirements, like any other trade:

  • you need to be able to draw the character given, following the model sheet
  • you need to be able to keep your mass consistent between multiple drawings
  • you need to be able to draw long, smooth lines to outline a character
  • you need to be able to draw your character with APPEAL. Appeal doesn’t mean they are just conventionally attractive. It means the audience is DRAWN to them in some way. Think of Ryuk from Death Note. Not a pretty guy, but really interesting to the audience.

For illustration you need:

  • to understand color and light when painting
  • to understand composition, what works, what doesn’t and WHY

These are practical needs that can be practiced. For now, since you’re completely new, I would highly recommend just getting that drawing/painting mileage in. Draw a LOT. Draw every day. Here are some things you should be drawing as practice. Think of these like push-ups. They are not “fun” drawing, they are there to make your drawing muscles stronger.

  • blind contour drawing (watch this video! It’s an excellent explanation on this:
  • drawing lines over and over to make your hand steadier (good video on this here:
  • figure/life drawing: this means drawing a person, whether a model in a video or a life drawing class, or a person at a bus stop as you wait for the bus. Drawing animals or people you see while out and about is excellent practice - I used to draw on my bus ride to work, or while waiting on my food at a restaurant. (Croquis Cafe has lots of really good figure drawing videos if you can’t get to a class:
  • copying from your favorite artists (I used to pause my favorite animated movies and draw what I saw on the screen. NOT tracing, by the way, just looking at it and then drawing it for yourself - this is using the same skills as with figure drawing, it trains your hand-eye coordination).
  • still life studies - these will be especially important to you as an illustrator, and actually doing these as paintings will be even more helpful as you learn and study color and light. (check out this amazing process as a complete drawing/painting rookie took the steps to become a concept artist:

Draw for fun too! Draw your own concepts or characters. Go ahead and try doing some full illustrations. Don’t let anyone discourage you from anime as a style but also don’t reject non-anime drawing resources and practice. Everything feeds into each other. Learning to draw/paint is learning from the same sources - learning to paint a still life and understand why light hits the tablecloth behind the apple in that way is going to be necessary to understand why the glow through that magical girl’s skirt is SO convincing.

Good luck! It’s a long journey and incredibly frustrating and incredibly fun!


Appreciate that you took some time to read my post. Thank you so much for your kind words and advice!

One can’t simply follow KingCabbage very well written info, so I will simply just put these links here to help you apply the advice he gave:

  • Figure/Gesture Drawing:

I see you already know drawabox, so I would just advise making it a habit to start off your drawing session warming up using the straight and curved line exercises from drawabox (basically lesson 1).

Last piece of advice, as a fellow beginner, don’t overwhelm yourself. There is a lot to learn, but if you try to take it all at the same time, you’ll tire yourself out very easily, so I would say just start practicing your lines, practice gesture drawing and do fun sketches of stuff you like till you feel you’re comfortable taking on another topic to learn, at least, that’s what has been working for me. Oh, and yeah, draw every day, but also don’t fret on missing a day or two, it’s ok, you can still make it :smiley:

Good luck, you can do it :smiley:


Thank you for reading my post and taking the time to reply with advice!