How to Draw Japanese Anime Girls' School Uniforms

Written by ethel leslie
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How to Draw Japanese Anime Girls' School Uniforms
The protagonist of Sailormoon wears a costume modelled after her school uniform. (Junko Kimura/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Japanese schoolgirl uniforms are famous for their unique look, often copying the look of a traditional girl's sailor suit. Some uniforms look like their western counterpart, with a plaid kilt and blazer, but the iconic look of anime is typically the sailor design as seen in such television series as Sailormoon.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Reference photographs
  • Drawing pencils
  • Sketch paper
  • Inking pens
  • Eraser
  • Coloured pencils or markers

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  1. 1

    Select reference pictures featuring images of Japanese school uniforms you would like to copy. Try to pick images of girls in different poses and from different angles, to best capture the drape and flow of the fabric. Japanese schools change uniforms depending on the season, so choose a match that fits the time of year your drawing is set in.

  2. 2

    Complete the pose for the character you are drawing, sans clothing. Use light strokes in pencil. She should resemble a naked doll, ready to be dressed. This step allows you to see what parts of her body will project against the fabric of her clothing and how it will drape.

  3. 3

    Sketch out the outline of her clothing, following your references. This will include tights or knee socks, a pleated skirt and a long or short sleeved blouse. Typically a decorative sailor scarf is part of the neckline of the blouse. Fabric should obey gravity and hems and scarf ends should point towards the ground unless moved by the wind or the motion of the character.

  4. 4

    Use your pencil to sketch in fine details, such at the buttons on her blouse and the piping or decorative bands that are often found on her scarf.

  5. 5

    Trace over the lines you wish to keep on your drawing with an inking pen and allow to dry completely. For different line weights, use different sizes of pen tip.

  6. 6

    Erase pencil and use coloured pencils or marker to finish the drawing with colour. A common uniform colour is dark navy or other long-wearing shade, but in a cartoon the colour may be anything you wish.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a cover sheet to protect your pencil lines from your skin to avoid smearing. instead of colouring by hand, you may also scan you black-and-white line art and use programs like Adobe Photoshop to add colour.

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