Drawing Chibi Characters

Drawing Chibi Characters

Contact Graphixly @

Hello! My name is Liz Staley and I’m a long-time user of Clip Studio Paint (I started using the program back when it was known as Manga Studio 4!). I was a beta-tester on the Manga Studio 5 program and for Clip Studio Paint, and I have written three books and several video courses about the program. Many of you probably know my name from those books, in fact. I write weekly posts on Graphixly.com and on CSP Tips, so be sure to come back every week to learn more Clip Studio Tips and Tricks from me!

A chibi character is usually a stylized version of a normal character, drawing in cute style with a large head, big eyes, and between 2-3 heads tall. Chibis are very popular on anime merchandise, such as cell phone charms and keychains, bags, towels, and even plush toys.

In this article we will cover the following topics:

Designing a Chibi Character
Drawing the Body
Drawing the Head and Expressions

Let’s get drawing!



Designing a Chibi Character


When turning a “full-size” character into a chibi, it is important to take a look at the character and decide what features to exaggerate so that the character is still recognizable.



Chibi characters tend to have bigger hair, and a very large head. Pick features to exaggerate, such as making pigtails fuller and bows larger. Of course one of the most recognizable features of the chibi is a large head and very big eyes. Eyes will probably take up ⅓ to ½ of the face.

Chibi characters are usually 2-3 heads tall. A 3 head tall chibi will look a little more “adult” than a 2-head one. 2-head chibis tend to look like “Funko POP!” dolls, if you ask me!

You should simplify the character’s design while keeping any details that are important to the character. If the character is wearing a complex costume or armor, take that outfit down to the most basic shapes.

Also, male and female chibis tend to have the same body style in chibi form. When drawing a chibi I find it helpful to think of the character like a plush, with simplified anatomy and soft joints. We will discuss more about drawing the body in the next section.



Drawing the Body


There is no hard-and-fast rule when drawing a chibi character, but usually they are between 2-4 heads tall, with the torso and legs having a 1:1 ratio.



I like to think of the torso and hips as being like a big, soft, squishy pillow! Think of the body as one object and don’t emphasize the waist on both male and female characters. Unless necessary, female chibis don’t usually have defined traits such as breasts or large hips. The length of the torso is also important - a longer torso makes the character look more like a doll where longer legs make the character look more like a normal human.

Joints such as the elbows and knees should be drawn soft, almost like the “rubber hose” cartoon style of the 1920’s. The shoulders should also be soft and sloped and not too broad.

Keep the limbs a bit on the thick side so that the character doesn’t look like they are full-grown.



When drawing the hands and feet, don’t add too much detail! Hands can be cartoony with fingers (don’t worry about getting all the finger joints drawn in!), mittens, or even just a ball on the end of the arm.

The foot is usually drawn as a little bump coming off the front of the leg. Don’t draw ankles, just have the leg go right into the foot. I personally do like having my legs flare out to a big foot because I feel like it balances more with the size of the head, but there are no rules with drawing a chibi so choose the style you like!



Drawing the Head and Expressions


The face and expressions are very important when drawing a chibi character. Not only are humans automatically drawn to looking at a face, but that is where the character really gets their cuteness from!



To start off, draw a sphere. Some might call it a circle, but make sure that you keep the volume of the head in mind when drawing. You want to simplify the facial features but don’t flatten them!

The eyes are usually large, sometimes as large as taking up half of the space of the face. You can either draw detailed eyes or simplify them, depending on the style you want to achieve. Simplified “doll-like” eyes can sometimes look a bit creepy, however, so be careful with how you use them.



Drawing chibi characters is a great excuse to exaggerate your expressions. This is when giant waterfalls of tears or the anime “popping vein” and fangs can come out to show extreme sadness or anger.

Many chibi expressions are emoji-style, so think along those lines when needed. For instance, the shocked expression above is very like the ._. Emoji!

Remember when adding the air that you can make the hair larger and fuller on a chibi. Make it stick up even more than on the normal character, or make pigtails and ponytails even more full. If your character wears bows, make them larger to accentuate the cuteness and add movement.





Whether you want to start making merchandise with chibi characters or if you just want to experiment, drawing these cute characters can be very enjoyable once you get the hang of it!

For more information on CLIP Studio Paint, please visit https://www.clipstudio.net/en or https://graphixly.com