Learn how to draw chibi characters, the Mark Crilley way!
An Introduction to Chibis
The Japanese word chibi is really just an all-purpose slang word meaning “short person,” and in Japan its usage is by no means confined to cartooning. But outside of Japan, the word is mostly used to describe a particular Japanese cartooning style: one in which characters are drawn with large heads, tiny bodies and–very often–greatly exaggerated facial expressions.
Within the world of manga storytelling, characters are often drawn in two different ways within the same story. Most of the time they are seen in their standard form with fairly believable body proportions. But at key moments, for comical effect, they may briefly morph into their giant-headed chibi form. These sudden transformations allow manga artists to make a moment of anger, for example, much cuter and more lighthearted than it would be if standard body proportions were maintained.
Altering Chibi Proportions for Different Characters
The approach to drawing body proportions doesn’t really change when you go from drawing a female chibi to drawing a male. If you’ve made a female character two and one half heads tall, you can make your male character exactly the same height.
You may use quite a different approach to drawing the body shape. In this lesson from Mark Crilley’s new book Chibi, you’ll learn how to draw a basic chibi boy with a body shape that reads as male rather than female, even at a glance.
How to Draw a Chibi Boy
Step 1: Draw the Head Shape and Eyes
The head shape is taller than wide, rounded at the top, and has contour lines that straighten out as they descend to the cheeks. I made the eyes a little smaller than I did for the female version–a common method of conveying masculinity. Add a short line for the mouth.
Step 2: Add the Hair Contour and the Eye Details
Place the hair contour just above the line of the scalp, adding a loose strange or two. The ears are simple C-shaped lines, down near the cheeks. Give a mischievous tilt to the eyebrows, then add eyelash lines that are much less bold than in the female version. Draw ovals on on side of each iris for highlights, and U-shaped lines for the pupils.
Step 3: Add Hair and Facial Details
For the hairstyle, part the hair on the left side of the head, dividing the hair into two large sections. The strands of hair are curving V shapes, and many of them sweep diagonally across the forehead. Add short diagonal lines to convey the structure of each ear, and little horizontal lines above each eyelash for the folds of the eyelids.
Build Up the Figure
Step 4: Draw the Torso
Draw two short lines for the neck, then draw the shoulders. Note that the shoulders are much wider than in the female version, and they angle more sharply at the edges. When drawing the waist, pay attention to the subtle angle of the contour lines in that area. The arms are roughly as long shoulder to wrist as the head is from side to side.
Step 5: Draw the Legs
Now draw lines for the contours of the legs. Compared to the female version, the contours of the thighs are straighter with considerably less width between the lines. Draw the feet the same as in the female version with just a small notch to delineate the big toe.
Step 6: Add Clothing Details, Hands and Kneecaps
Have fun designing your own clothing choices. Horizontal lines at the waist can help to convey wrinkles in that area. When drawing the hands, feel free to simplify things. Many artists drawing chibis make no effort to separate the fingers. I’ve add little vertical dashes on each leg to convey the kneecaps.
Step 7: Ink the Drawing
Get your pen and ink all the lines. Allow time for the ink to dry, then erase all the pencil work. Nicely done! You’ve learned the key elements of drawing a chibi boy character. Just add a little color and he’s ready to jump off the page.
You can find this tutorial and even more about drawing a chibi boy, chibi girl and all kinds of expressive and cute chibi characters in Mark Crilley’s new IMPACT book, Chibi!
For more manga drawing check out these other free tutorials on our site:
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