Anime drawing ideas: What you need to know!

When considering anime drawing ideas it is important to understand that idea generation as a concept is something universal. Whether you are considering character design, environment design, product design or Anime it doesn’t matter as once you can use a method you feel comfortable with it becomes a skill you keep. Idea generation is more often than not a similar process. In this article I will be giving you the tools to design your own anime and start coming up with ideas.

Anime is something I personally have always been passionate about. My favourites being Sword art online, attack on titan, seven deadly sins, fairy tail and most importantly Sinbad. I like these, not just because of the awesome artwork, but the way in which each anime delivered great ideas to its audience. By learning idea generation you can take the first steps from just redrawing your favourite anime to creating something different

Key starting points:

It is important before you keep reading to understand a few things. Firstly don’t get distracted drawing the exact anime style you want, the more you learn your style will become evident in your work. Instead start by looking at fundamental rules in manga/anime design: anatomy, proportion, colouring and expression. Beginner artists become overly focused on the final render. Instead focus on design and work to create Anime drawing ideas that stand out and that demonstrate good fundamentals

Secondly, it is important to remember that practice makes progress. Putting in the effort to practice the skills set out in this article will help your designs and ideas improve. Now I have explained some key starting points lets get started

Anime drawing idea generation: Clustering

One method I love to use when drawing anything is clustering. Clustering works as a form of word association. It is a great way to come up with a range of ideas in a short space of time. It works in the following way. You choose a word to place in the center of a page, (you might put Anime drawing ideas). From there draw a line and write the first word that comes into your head, for me it might be swords. Then when I think of swords I think medieval England, then Knights, then the moon, then space, then alien. This might go on for some time, remember when you do it no word is to silly or abstract and it doesn’t have to make sense. Once you have done this you can look at your collection of words and begin to make an idea.

Considering the words listed above. Characters for this anime are then designed based on the idea, “Knights are abducted into space”. Flashforward 200 years our main character would be a Knight in space with cool laser weapons fighting giant alien monsters. Using clustering we have come up with a cool idea to get us started.

Anime drawing idea generation: Life

Drawing from life is important, it is what gives anime such interesting and different ideas. Create a Pinterest – whilst there consider the things you enjoy. I look at birds, fish and abandoned places. This encourages thought and ideas when I come up with an idea.

Anime drawing idea reference images on pinterest
A selection of images used as a reference point for idea generation.

Looking at the image above you can see the wide range of reference image boards created for drawing ideas. Do the same, create boards and get collecting. This will help you to design awesome characters.

Anime drawing ideas: Still stuck?

This final part if the two ideas didn’t work is here to give you some jumping off points. Drawing anything from your imagination can be a daunting task. When considering what to draw there are some of the do’s and do not’s.

The do’s:

  1. Draw complete characters. This means hands, feet, body, head and expression. This will help you practice proportion and anatomy.
  2. Be adventurous. Don’t be afraid to try something no one else has done.
  3. Switch between character and environment regularly. You will learn tips and tricks from one to the other.
  4. Reflect. Ensure you reflect on everything you create, drawing ideas don’t improve if you don’t decide what went well and how the design can be better.
  5. Watch tutorials.

The don’t’s

  1. Avoid like for like fan art (a straight up copy). You don’t learn from this. Some awesome fan art is found online. The best however is created in an artists original style.
  2. Avoid practicing one thing too much. An example from me would be eyes. I was obsessed with drawing eyes, so much so that it affected how well I could draw everything else in a negative way.
  3. Contradicting of the first point, practice what you are bad at, if you find that when drawing you are great at everything excluding say hands, then take some time out to practice hands (Basically don’t focus on the things you are already good at).

If you found this article on Anime drawing ideas helpful, or maybe you want to know more. Drop a comment or send me an email your feedback helps me to deliver more insightful content!

My obsession with drawings ideas and thier origins

So where do I get my drawings ideas? why am I always drawing animals? What’s the obsession and why am I always trying to convert these animals into some kind of crazy creature? These are some of the questions I get when I started to teach concept art to teenagers. They don’t often ask questions but when they do I always seem to get these three big ones.

Why I do it and how it started:

I grew up watching a lot of nature documentaries and I loved to draw using my own drawings ideas as a way to relax. What I always struggled with when I first started out was combining the two.

When I started my art GCSE I found myself being asked to draw “natural forms and structures” although I now see the relevance in this to practice line-work and using various media. I didn’t when I was starting out and so I neglected my artwork becoming frustrated with the fact I had to draw yet another stick but this one was in ink where the one I drew before was in pencil. This focus on objects I didn’t find interesting prevented me from doing an A level in art and I actually didn’t pick up a pencil (or in this case a graphics tablet) again until I started university.


I remember the first project we did we were encouraged drawing ideas to be unique and different in university, this was for games design. Designing my own creations for a game! I was ecstatic. I had no idea what I wanted to draw and I remember discussing it with lecturers at the time. They asked me what I was interested in and I said nature, wildlife and documentaries. So I was told to research and design and just enjoy drawing with a focus on this area. I came up with a flat, awful drawing but what I found was that everyone loved it. Not for the artistic skill (At this point there was none) but instead for its design!

I have been taking this on more and more, not just in my freelance work but when I teach, because I slowly realised at university and now in my career that fantasy, not just in video games but legends, folklore and myths far back in history comes from the natural world and its a great place to design what I call a mental gallery.

The idea behind it:

I can explain this theory best with my favourite example I use for my students. We all know the legend of the Cyclops. The cyclops were big, one eyed men with tusks. They were giant with a huge lidless eye in the centre of their skulls. Its hard to understand where the idea came from. I can’t imagine it being conjured from thin air virtually nothing is!

However if we consider the fact that the ancient Greeks probably didn’t know what the anatomy of an elephant was as an example and that travellers and merchants coming across an elephant corpse would see a large pile of huge bones and a skull with a huge circle area in the centre (The area where the trunk protrudes). The travelling merchants could invent wonderful stories about giant one eyed human without ever having to see one. The world was therefore gifted with the legend of the Cyclops. This is the same process artists use to come up with drawings ideas.

So with this wonderful story I began to investigate in my own work Myths, Legends and Folklore. After reading about them I tried to come up with a series of designs based on what we see in the areas they originate. This is why I draw animals, by knowing how they work anatomically, how they hunt, stand, sleep and move. We can better design fantasy creatures when we work on commissions. This blog post on my drawings ideas has been more of a story than a lesson. I felt it was important to explain why I draw, what I draw and when I produce work what do I aim to achieve. Everyone starts somewhere and It’s important to know that, whatever the level you begin at is.