How to Draw an Anime Boy (Shounen)

Updated on May 9, 2019
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Mamerto Adan is a feature writer back in college for a school paper. Science is one of his many interests, and his favorite topic.

A lot of us grew up watching shounen anime. You know, those wild and sometimes violent shows with crazy fight scenes, unique stories, crazy competitive sports (model car racing, spinning tops, etc.) and a kid in funny outfit and spiky hair. Admit it, we love them. The West grew up with '80s action-adventure cartoons, and the arrival of shounen anime offered a unique twist. The anime boys of the '90s appealed to a broad audience, from kids to young adults. They vary from nice guys with earth-shaking furies (Son Goku) to hotblooded competitors (Ash Ketchum), from hyperactive ninja (Naruto) to space cowboys (Spike). Even today, shounen anime never lose their spark, and they will continue to charm future anime geeks for years to come.

And yes, they are fun to draw.

Shoujo characters might be the first anime figures I learned to draw, but once I got the hang of it I “upgraded” to doing shounens. They seem to reflect a hotblooded side of me, and I have fun sketching them with oversized weapons (sometimes posing near their mechas). With that said, let’s do shounen characters this time. I will draw my character based on my preferences (hence you might find their outfits to be more realistic and less colorful).

The sausages and eggs method.
The sausages and eggs method.

Yes, Sausages and Eggs Also Apply

We showed in our earlier article how Neil Buchanan’s sausages and eggs methods worked so well. It allows the figure to do intricate poses—though the anime girl we made only did simple reclining pose. As an added twist, we added the wire frame method, my own way of starting a sketch.

And now we will do the same to our shounen figure.

The great thing about anime boys are, male silhouettes are simpler than women. There are fewer curves, hence less chance of getting things off-proportioned. In short, male figures are easier to draw since they require fewer sausages and eggs.

As a Bonus, We Will Ink Our Drawing

All my anime art tutorials are done in simple pencil sketch. Back then, when I started the anime eye, I never inked my sketch because I thought it wasn’t necessary. It’s just an eye.

Now, I decided to ink my work once and for all.

For one thing, it saves time, as smudging and shading could take some efforts to get it right. For another, an inked drawing can be clearly seen when taken with a cellphone camera.

And I have to admit that it looks better.

For our anime boy, we won’t get a smudged pencil sketch, but an inked drawing.

1. Begin the Wire Frame

What works for the shojo will work for our shounen. We will first come up with a pose and we will try doing it as a wire frame sketch. Here’s what I forgot to add when I did the anime girl article: you may start sketching wire frame posts on a scratch paper until you come up with a final pose. What’s so good about wire frame skeletons is that you can control the height and proportion of your character. Again, start with faint lines.

2. Add the Sausages and Eggs

The Neil Buchanan class is the very reason I got hooked to Art Attack! We know how the eggs are for rounder body parts, and the sausages are for limbs. All we need to do now is to use the wire frames as guides, like a skeleton.

After we get our sausages and eggs in place, we may get rid of the wire frames.

3. Add More Sausages and Eggs

But then, this is a male figure we are doing. Guys would be upset if they have too many curves. Hence our shounen character here will have fewer sausages and eggs. Remember that men strive for the V-shaped look.

4. Defining the Rough Line

We will simply trace the outline of the figure we made from sausages and eggs until we get a more human-like appearance. I will say it again, depending on your style, you may not erase some of the rough lines.

5. Give Him His Eyes and Face

He is a human figure after all, so he will need his face. We will begin with his eyes, and we could revisit how we could draw one by giving my previous article a quick scan. But first draw a cross guidelines on the face, to guide us where we will put the eyes, nose and mouth. For better result, start with the eyes before the rest of the face. It will be up to you on how big the eyes are, if it won’t make our shounen effeminate.

6. The Hair

When we did the anime girl, the hair started as collection of lines. It’s still a collection of lines for our anime boy, only it will form a wilder and spikier shapes. Our shounen character here will receive the same messy hairstyle, and how spiky it will be depends on you.

7. Add the Costume

Shounen characters are known for their outlandish wardrobes, and somehow many of them prefer shirts and jackets. Think of Naruto and the rest, though Goku will sport a sleeveless gi when stepping into the arena. Our character here will have his jacket, and that’s it. He won’t have those colorful costumes other shounens wear. In my case I prefer things to be real, so our boy here will wear ordinary hooded jacket.

8. The Inking

Like what I bragged in the start of the article, I will ink my work this time. My style of inking varies, and once I will to thicker lines since it hides the rough lines better. The use of thicker lines also made my work cleaner, and it requires less erasure to clean the rough lines. We may brush ink to darken certain areas. But I have my own style for that.

9. Finalize

Now here’s the final output of our work. As you can see, I apply hatches instead of brushing ink. For me, hatches will bring depth to my two-dimensional art. But if hatches are not your thing—well, so be it. Art will depend on personal preferences.

Questions & Answers

  • How and where do you come up pictures like this?

    Actually, I drew them. I did it step by step.


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