How to Draw 90s Anime Style: Step-by-Step Guide and Tips


The 90s anime style is recognized for its unique charm and nostalgic appeal. With its distinctive character designs, vibrant colors, and expressive emotions, it continues to captivate anime enthusiasts around the world. If you’re an aspiring artist looking to learn how to draw in the iconic 90s anime style, this comprehensive guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions and essential tips to get you started.

Understanding the 90s Anime Aesthetic

Before diving into the actual drawing process, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the 90s anime aesthetic. This style is characterized by exaggerated features, such as large eyes, colorful hair, and expressive facial expressions. It often portrays emotions in a dramatic and intense manner, allowing for impactful storytelling. Familiarizing yourself with classic 90s anime shows and movies will help you grasp the essence of this style.

Gathering the Right Tools

Having the appropriate tools is essential for any artist, and drawing 90s anime is no exception. Here are some of the must-have tools to get started:

  • A set of high-quality pencils ranging from 2H to 6B for sketching and shading.
  • Different sizes of drawing paper or sketchbooks to suit your preference.
  • A reliable eraser to make necessary corrections and adjustments.
  • Fine-tipped pens or markers for outlining and inking.
  • Colored pencils or markers for adding vibrant hues to your artwork.

Step 1: Sketching the Basic Structure

Begin by sketching the basic structure of your character using light pencil strokes. Start with a simple stick figure to establish the pose and proportions. Gradually add flesh to the figure by outlining the head, torso, limbs, and other distinctive features.

Step 2: Defining Facial Features

The eyes are a crucial element in 90s anime style. They are typically large, expressive, and convey a wide range of emotions. Draw the eyes slightly oversized and experiment with different shapes to achieve the desired effect. Pay attention to the eyebrows, which can greatly influence the character’s expression.

The nose is often simplified to a small curve or a mere suggestion of lines. The mouth can be drawn with a soft smile, pout, or any other expression that suits your character’s personality. Remember to keep the facial features in proportion to maintain the overall aesthetic.

Step 3: Adding Hairstyle and Accessories

The hairstyle plays a significant role in defining the character’s personality and the 90s anime style. Experiment with various hairstyles, including gravity-defying spikes, long flowing locks, or bold and asymmetrical cuts. Add accessories, such as ribbons, headbands, or funky hairpins, to enhance the overall look.

Step 4: Refining the Body and Clothing

Refine the body structure by adding muscle definition or gentle curves, depending on the character’s gender and build. Pay attention to the hands and feet, as they can be challenging to draw. Practice drawing different hand gestures to make them appear natural and expressive.

When it comes to clothing, 90s anime characters often sport unique and fashionable outfits. Experiment with various styles, such as oversized jackets, school uniforms, or bold streetwear. Don’t forget to add folds and creases to make the clothing appear more realistic and dynamic.

Step 5: Inking and Outlining

Once you’re satisfied with the pencil sketch, it’s time to outline your artwork using fine-tipped pens or markers. Start by outlining the main features, such as the eyes, nose, mouth, and hairstyle. Then, carefully trace the body, clothing, and accessories.

Pay attention to line weight variation to create depth and dimension. Thicker lines can be used for the main outlines, while thinner lines can be used for details and shadows. Take your time and be patient during this step, as it sets the foundation for the final artwork.

Step 6: Coloring and Shading

Coloring is where the 90s anime style truly comes to life. Begin by selecting a color palette that reflects the mood and personality of your character. Use colored pencils or markers to fill in the base colors, starting with the largest areas of the artwork.

Once the base colors are applied, it’s time to add shading and highlights. Study light and shadow principles to create depth and volume in your artwork. Focus on areas where light hits the character, such as the face, hair, and clothing folds. Experiment with different techniques, such as cross-hatching or blending, to achieve the desired effect.

Step 7: Adding Details and Final Touches

The final step is to add details and final touches to your artwork. Enhance the eyes with highlights to make them appear more vibrant and expressive. Add small details like freckles, moles, or scars to give your character additional personality.

Pay attention to the background, as it can greatly enhance the overall composition. Consider adding elements that complement the character’s story or environment. It could be a simple gradient background or a detailed scene, depending on your artistic vision.

Tips for Mastering the 90s Anime Style

Here are some additional tips to help you master the 90s anime style:

  • Study the works of renowned 90s anime artists for inspiration and guidance.
  • Practice drawing different facial expressions to convey a wide range of emotions.
  • Experiment with different angles and poses to add dynamism to your artwork.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. Drawing is a continuous learning process.
  • Join online communities or art groups to receive feedback and connect with fellow artists.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What are the key characteristics of 90s anime style?

    The key characteristics of 90s anime style include large expressive eyes, colorful hair, exaggerated features, intense emotions, and vibrant colors.

  2. Can I incorporate my own style into 90s anime?

    Absolutely! While it’s important to grasp the essence of the 90s anime style, you can always incorporate your own unique artistic flair and personal style into your artwork.

  3. Do I need to use traditional tools or can I draw digitally?

    Both traditional and digital tools can be used to draw in the 90s anime style. Choose the medium that you are most comfortable with and enjoy using.

  4. How long does it take to master the 90s anime style?

    Mastering any art style takes time and practice. The duration varies from person to person, but with consistent practice and dedication, you can see significant improvement over time.

  5. Where can I find resources to learn more about 90s anime style?

    There are numerous online tutorials, art books, and video courses available that specifically focus on teaching the 90s anime style. Explore these resources to enhance your skills and knowledge.

With this step-by-step guide and essential tips, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of drawing in the nostalgic and captivating 90s anime style. Remember to practice regularly, experiment with different techniques, and most importantly, have fun expressing your creativity through this iconic art form.

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