Saturday, February 1, 2014

How to draw a chibi, with Josephine Paige

Guest post by Josephine Paige

Hi everyone!
My name is Josephine Paige--Most people call me Josie--and I’m invading the blog with a guest post. I’ve actually never guest posted for anyone before, so this is quite a new experience. Bear with me--I’m here to talk about drawing.
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. (It’s more than a hobby, actually, it’s a bit of an obsession.) I’ve always loved dabbling in different styles and mediums, I love taking lessons when I can--Art is one of my passions. It was about two years ago that I discovered Manga--Japanese cartoons, and since then I’ve been doodling people and Chibis all over my math books. This post is leading up to a chibi tutorial, but before I begin, I’d like to say a few things.
First off: What exactly is a chibi? A chibi is basically a wildly disproportionate mini-person, with big heads and little bodies. (A lot of people I know refer to them as “Josie’s big-headed little people.”) They can be drawn many, many ways, but I’m only going to be going over one of them. So keep this in mind while you’re reading this: This is not the only way. This is just the way I happen to draw them. The way you might do it is not wrong. It’s art. Everyone draws differently.
Secondly: I am not a professional. As I said, I started Manga two years ago. This is also my first tutorial. So please don’t lynch me for offering this; it’s all I have to offer at the moment, and I’m just trying, however successfully, to be helpful. Also, this isn’t a tutorial for coloring or shading or anything--It’s simply focused on drawing the basic thing.
And on that confident note... Shall we begin?

Step One
I usually start with three circles--An abnormally large one for the head, a much smaller one a little beneath, and the third, a bit bigger than the second, at the bottom. Don’t stress if they aren’t perfect circles--You can fix them up later. The two little circles will make the chibi’s bean body--Abdomen. Leave a tiny space between the top two circles for the neck.

Step Two
Here we’re connecting the baby circles and forming the bean. Recently, I’ve been making my chibis kind of fat, or at least on the chubby side. Because of their weird proportions, this only seems to make them cuter. However, if you want a leaner chibi, simply connect the circles in a skinnier way.
Next, draw a line down the middle of the chibi’s head. If you’re using a pencil, and not a computer program, do this very, very lightly. You’ll be erasing it later.
After you’ve drawn the vertical line, lightly add a horizontal one, slightly below the middle of the head. These lines are to help position the features of the face.

Step Three

I’m trying not to do that annoying thing that most tutorials do, where they draw three or four circles and then get really complicated, really fast. That being said, what I’m doing here is a bit weird looking, but pretty easy.
Between the head and the bean, draw a tiny circle. In a few moments, this will become the neck. On either side of the bean, add two more tiny circles. These are basically shoulder joints--Where the arms will be coming off of.
What’s next is pretty much two curvy lines--Curving off the neck and the shoulders. (This is why pencils have erasers, folks--You don’t need to get it right the first time.) Since I don’t really know how to describe it, take a look at the picture above.
After you’ve finished indicating the neck, you’re going to, very lightly, draw two more circles at the bottom of your bean. These are the places where the legs will shortly be sprouting from. (Again, the picture is above and I have no idea how to explain it.)

Step Four

Don’t freak out. Yes, I did just do the legs and arms at once. I probably should have separated them into two steps. The thing about chibi legs and arms is that they’re usually creepily thin, and have incredibly simplified feet and hands. They’re not too bad, you just need a little patience.
If you’re having trouble, draw little mini circles where you want the knees and feet to go, and simply connect the dots like you did with the bean. Ditto with the arms. Remember, fat is cute, so if you “mess up,” it’s not a problem.
I make my chibi’s legs a little longer than most people do, so feel free to shorten them a bit if I’m cramping your style.

Step Five

I’ve kind of zoomed in on my misshapen head here, because I needed a close up to do the eyes. Eyes are some of my favorite parts, but they can also throw some people off. Think of it as a circle inside a squashed oval.
The thing about eyes is that there are hundreds of ways to draw them, and none of them are “right.” You can really have fun here. If you want to do just little black dots, go ahead. Heck, if your chibi is madly in love with someone, little pink hearts can do instead. If you’re stuck, try googling chibi eyes and trying out the ones that you like best. At this point, don’t worry about coloring it. It’s just the shape at present.

Step Six

I didn’t do that much in this step--Eyebrows, a bit of a nose, and a mouth. Chibis generally have more simplified features, so this is easy. Little dashes do the trick. Remember, eyebrows are hugely important in conveying expression. The entire meaning can be changed by raising one or dropping the other. Experiment!

Step Seven

Okay, I kind of dumped the whole head of hair on at once. The truth is, hair is at once the most annoying and most wonderful thing to draw. And everyone’s is different. Chibi hair usually stands off the head a bit--Give it some volume--Give this girl HAIR.
Or not. Hats are cute, too. If you give her a hat instead, there are two ways to go about it. Either make it strangely small and set it on top of your chibi’s head, or make it incredibly big, so as to fit the rather large head. Hats come in all styles, so have fun with it.
If you want, you can take this step to fix up the circle of the head. Make it rounder, smoother, or just leave it the way it is.

Step Eight

Step eight has always been my favorite--When I was younger, I wanted to design clothes for a living. That’s right--Step eight is clothing.
I put my chibi in a Captain America shirt and jean shorts, mostly because I spent most of last summer in that outfit, but also because it’s just fun. I skipped shoes, because it’s summer. Okay, maybe it isn’t, but it is for my chibi.
Clothes are fun, but remember that they’re not part of the body--They’re fabric, so they may at times stick off a bit. (Unless we’re talking leggings or something, in which case, yes, they can be form-fitting.)
So, whether you’re dressing your chibi as an Asgardian prince, or a cowboy, or a Timelord, feel free to be as simple or as complicated as you want. You don’t have to use my outfit, though you’re more than welcome to--Throw them in bunny pajamas if you want.

Step Nine

What I did here was that I actually created a whole other layer on my art program and went over the whole thing with a black brush. However, if you’re using a pencil, this is the part when you go over the picture and darken the lines you want to keep.

Step Ten

Step ten: Erase the unwanted lines. BEHOLD YOUR MASTERPIECE. You have done brilliantly.
When drawing anything, I think the hardest thing that I have to tell myself is not to be too afraid of messing up. You really do learn from your mistakes in art, and if you never mess up, you’ll never learn. Actually, strike that--If you never mess up, call me up right now, and let me learn from your brilliance.

I hope this helped a bit! I wasn’t doing a colored tutorial, but here’s how mine turned out.

Hope this was as fun to use as it was to make, and thanks so much for reading!

Until next time,
Josephine Paige

Miss Paige's blog Paperclips and Pencils can be found here. It has her daily ramblings as well as her many drawings.


  1. This is great, Josie! I'm tempted to pull out my pen tablet now... :D

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