How to Draw Manga Tutorial

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In this How to Draw Manga Tutorial you learn to draw Manga Heads from different angles and in different positions.

This is an important skill for all Manga artists, since it is essential for the creation of dynamic pictures.
You want to show your characters in a lot of interesting action.
Choosing a good posture for their heads and drawing them in a fitting angle will also make them interesting to look at.

Step by Step Drawing of Manga Head

So let's master this basic skill of Manga Drawing.

Table of Contents:

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 1: Rotating a Sphere
1.0: Drawing a Sphere with Reference Lines
1.1: Rotating the Head
1.2: Lifting or Lowering the Head
1.3: Leaning the Head Sidewards
1.4: Dynamic Head Postures

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 2: Facial Shape
We draw the outer shape of the face, which consists of three parts:
1. Cheek Bone
2. Chin
3. Jaw Angle

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 3: Sketching in the Organs
Here we consider how to place the organs into the face:
1. Eyes
2. Mouth
3. Nose
4. Ears

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 4: Cleaning Up and Fine Tuning
In this final step we clean up the sketch and perfect it, until we arrive at the finished drawing.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 1:
Rotating a Sphere

Spheres with Reference Lines
The best way to start drawing a Manga head is to sketch a sphere.
On this sphere you draw lines that indicate the direction into which the character's face is looking.
Think of it as a skull, to which the cheek bones and the jaw still have to be added.

Let's first take a look how to draw the sphere for a head that is looking straight at the reader.
Then we figure out how to rotate this sphere.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 1.0:
Drawing a Sphere with Reference Lines

Start by drawing a circle.
Interpret it as a sphere which you see from the side.

Circle with Reference Lines
Split the sphere in half with a straight, vertical line.
Then add two horizontal lines into its lower half.

Facial Template
We'll call these lower lines the eye-lines, because the eyes will be placed in between them, each on one side of the middle line.
And since the nose will sit in the middle just below the eye-lines, you can probably already imagine what the finished head would look like.
Here is a very rough sketch:

Sketch of Manga Head
So this is the way to draw reference lines on the sphere for a head looking straight at the reader.
Now let's see how we can rotate the head through changing the reference lines.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 1.1:
Turning the Head Left or Right

Sphere turned rightSphere turned left
To make the head turn to the left or the right, you just have to replace the straight middle line with a curve. The more you let the curve bulge towards the edge of the circle, the stronger the head will be turned aside.
For example, the curve on the left sphere is a bit stronger than the curve on the right one.
(You can see this clearly by looking at the arrows. Both have the same length, but only one of them touches the circle's side.)

The eye-lines are not changed at all, because the eyes' height remains the same.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 1.2:
Lifting or Lowering the Head

Head looking upwardsHead looking downwards
When the head is lifted or lowered, this changes the eye-lines, while the middle line remains the same.
Draw the eye-lines curving upwards, to make the head look upwards.
Let them bulge downwards, if your character is supposed to look to the ground.
Again, the stronger you make these curves, the more the head will be lifted or lowered.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 1.3:
Leaning to the Side

Head leaned sidewards
Draw the middle line into the circle tilted, if you want to lean the head sidewards.
Since the eye-lines have to be drawn in a straight angle to the middle line, they'll run diagonally, too.
The head continues to look straight at the reader, however.

With this last way to change the reference lines, we now have everything we need to create all possible head positions.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 1.4:
Dynamic Head Postures

For really interesting head postures you have to combine all the three methods shown above.
Rotate the head, lift or lower it, and also lean it sidewards a bit to get a good positioning.

Let's look at two examples:

Example of Dynamic Head Posture
First of all, this head has been rotated, so that it leans slightly aside.
Through an additional bending of the middle line towards the left, it has also been rotated.
And since the eye-lines are bulging downwards, the character is looking to the ground.

Example of Dynamic Head Posture
This head was rotated in the opposite direction and is looking upwards.
The middle line is very close to the edge of the circle, so that you'll almost see the face in profile.

Spheres with Reference Lines
Now you know how to create a sphere as the basis for the head, and how to make it look in different directions.
In the next steps of this How to Draw Manga Tutorial, we are going to turn these spheres into complete heads.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 2:
Facial Shape

Manga Head Sketches
After you have drawn the sphere as the basis of the skull, the next step is to add the shape of the face.
It consists of three important elements:

1: Cheek Bone
2: Chin
3: Jaw Angle

Start with the cheekbone, when drawing the face.
It begins at the height of the eye-lines and bulges out slightly below them.
Draw a steep line after the cheek bone, going down towards the chin.

Place the chin in such a position, that you can draw a straight extension of the sphere's middle lines towards it. If it helps you, start with drawing this straight extension, and then add the shape of the face around it afterwards.

The line connecting chin and jaw angle should be drawn in a rather plane angle, in comparison to the line connecting cheek bone and chin.
Let it bend up into the circle at the end.

And with that your character's facial shape is finished.
Since this shape strongly influences the look of your character, subtle differences are important here.
Below I point out what makes each of these three heads special.

Male Head
This character is supposed to be a very masculine man.
For that reason I drew the borders of his face with straight lines that meet in rather pointy angles.
I also made the chin broad and flat.

Boy's Head
A young boy will be the owner of this head.
Since young people have rather smooth features, I took care to avoid angles and made all shapes rounded in this face.
His chin is fairly narrow and doesn't look as strong as that of the man.
Also note how the line bulges slightly inwards after the cheek, to make his features a bit more fragile.

Female Head
This head will belong to a woman.
To achieve a certain femininity, I let her cheek stand out clearly and made the curve of her jaw angle very smooth and flowing.

Yet what makes this head really special is that you see the chin from below. It is not a curve that goes downwards, but a curve pointing upwards in the direction of her gaze, and the middle line of the face is touching it at its highest point.
From this point of view, you also see both borders of the jaw.
The first one, on the left side, transitions downwards into the throat.
The one on the right side also goes slightly down first, before it arcs up into the circle.

Side Note:
For such rather complicated head positions, I recommend that you go to a mirror and take a quick look at your head from this angle.
Realize how the lines of your cheek and jaw are running, and imagine transferring them to your paper.
This will ease your drawing process a lot!

Reference Lines for Mouth and Nose
For some head positions it may also be helpful to draw in additional reference lines for mouth and nose.
In this case, I had problems to imagine in which angle to draw the later.
After several tries of drawing and erasing, I ended up with these reference lines.
Now you can already get a very clear idea how the finished face will look like, just by looking at the reference lines.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial - Part 3:
Sketching in the Organs

The head is ready, so that you can sketch in the organs: eyes, mouth, nose and ears.
Our goal is not to draw them in their final shape, however. We are just concerned about placing them correctly. So just sketch them in loosely, trying to find the right spot for them.

It may be necessary to slightly change the facial reference lines, because they aren't working at some point.
In my case, the woman got a new reference line for her mouth.

(I also added the throat for man and boy in this step of the how to draw manga tutorial, as you can see below.)

Sketched Faces

Of course you've got to place the eyes between the eye-lines, one on each side of the middle line.
When the head is seen from a side angle, it makes sense to place one eye much closer towards the middle line than the other. Look at the right two heads, for example.
On the side of the face, which is turned away from the reader, the eye is sitting very close to the middle line. On the other side, it has a rather large distance from it. This is a realistic approach.

The left head, however, is different. You can see that both eyes are very close to the middle line, and sit narrow together.
Yet this suits the character rather well, since it gives him a very piercing gaze, fitting to the man I wanted to create.
So you are free to divert from realism, if it fits your purpose.

One more thing about the eye that lies on the "escaping" side of the face:
Since this eye is farer away from the observer and also seen from a side angle, you should draw it slightly smaller and narrower than the other one.


The nose is fairly simple to draw in Manga Style.
It is usually just a little pointy shape.
Place it below the eyes on the middle line.

Small variations of the nose can still be useful to enhance the individuality of your characters.
The angle of the man's nose is rather plane in comparison to the pointy angle of the boy's nose.
And since the woman is looking upwards, you can see the bottom of her nose as a triangle.

Draw in the mouth, so that its center is lying on the facial middle line also.
In Manga, the mouth is often just one single line, which indicates where the lips are meeting.
I usually also draw another small line below, to define the bottom of the lower lip.

The woman has rather uncommon lips for Manga Style.
I wanted to give her the look of a royalty, so I thought full, rich lips are appropriate.

Put the ears just atop the jaw angle.
You may need to experiment a bit, to figure out how large to make them, and how high they should reach.
On real humans, the ears reach up to level of the eyebrows and line up with the nose at the bottom. But since this is a comic style, and the noses are so tiny, you can freely divert from this scheme.

How to Draw Manga Tutorial: Heads - Part 4: Cleaning Up and Fine Tuning

Now it is time to go into the details and finish the head.
Erase all reference lines and get ready to redraw the initial sketches of the facial organs into their clean, final version.

You will most likely still have to make a few small changes to their positioning, however. Because now, that the reference lines are gone, some things may look a bit awkward, which you didn't realize in that jungle of lines before.

Finished Heads
I already mentioned above that the eye, which is slightly turned away from the reader, should be drawn narrower and slightly smaller than the other one. Here you can see this best in the man's face, where one eye looks like a "squeezed" mirror version of the other.
Apply this also to the corners of the mouth, and make their lines a bit shorter on the "escaping" side of the face.
In the case of the woman, whose head you almost see in profile, you don't even see the other corner of the mouth any more.

Side Note:
I'll leave the heads bald for this How to Draw Manga Tutorial. The hairstyles would just distract. Once you are practiced in drawing Manga heads from different angles, you can easily add cool haircuts on top of them. I'll publish a lesson about that soon.

Probably this step is the most time consuming.
You may need a few attempts, until you get it perfect.
Persistence pays off however!
The more you practice, the quicker you will be able to draw good looking Manga heads. And in the end it will be a breeze for you.

It was my pleasure to bring you this How to Draw Manga Tutorial.
Stay tuned for more drawing tutorials to come soon!

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