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How to Draw Anime Swordsman

Updated July 20, 2017

Anime is a Japanese illustration style, also described as manga, for the name for Japanese comic books. Many manga and anime films feature violent storylines or historical and fantasy settings that contain sword fighters of both genders, who might favour Western or Asian weapons. For example the ronin, or samurai, of Japanese history would be found wielding a katana, or the smaller wakizashi and very short tanto, while the variety of broadswords, sabres, scimitars and other blades might be found in the hands of a western fighter in different periods of history.

Research the type of character you would like to draw. A knight during the Crusades uses a very different set of equipment and fighting stances than a ninja assassin during the Edo period of Japan. Where possible find visual references of the poses and grips used. Museums may contained preserved weapons and because of the creative license taken with replicas, a real sword is superior to a toy or display model.

With clean hands to avoid smudging your line work, use sketch pencils to create the outline of your figure's pose. Whether he is standing or in action, focus on the shape of the spine and how the arms and legs are placed. The sword can be represented by a simple line in the shape of the blade. Press lightly, because you want to be able to erase the pencil lines.

Add details to the outline, sketching in his frame, whether he is muscular, fat or slender, and add details like the grip he uses for his sword. At this point the anime influence can be reflected in your drawing. Though often characterised by large eyes and small mouths, more adult works typical of violent sword-fighting storylines often feature a less cute, but still highly simplified cast of characters.

Take a fine tipped inking pen proportionate to the scale of your drawing and go over the final lines you wish to keep. Alternatively you may use a fountain pen, which is popular among Japanese illustrators.

Wait until the ink has completely dried and use an eraser to remove the pencil lines, leaving behind the clean inked lines. You may use the ink pens to shade your illustration with cross hatching to represent depth.

Tip

Computer software such as Adobe Photoshop may be used to add colour to your drawings, as may paint, markers or coloured pencils. A cover sheet under your hand will prevent smudging pencil or ink.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencils
  • Sketch paper
  • Good quality gum or soft eraser
  • Inking pens
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About the Author

Ethel Leslie got her start with student journalism in 2007, including a year as features editor in 2008. She became a contributor to Here NB in 2008. In 2011, she completed a BA in Political Science at McGill University. Currently she is a full-time web copywriter.