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Drawing Tutorial:- Using Drawing guidelines To Make drawing Easier And More Precise

Drawing Guidelines is about using fundamental & basic geometrical shapes. Like cubes, circles or lines, to facilitate drawing different poses & shapes. Think of it as a way to organize the drawing process. I present all the information and tips in this post as points because writing them in paragraphs seems to make them harder to read & grasp.

Reasons why you should use Drawing guidelines:-

  • Drawing Guidelines are useful for drawing complicated poses. And for drawing anything you are not generally familiar with, it is a great tool to ensure you get great results from the first time you draw almost anything.
  • It helps you get the anatomy & proportion correctly. This is specially great for beginners who are struggling with these two aspects
  • Drawing guidelines can help you make much less mistakes(and so less erasing)
  • If you are copying an existing drawing or artwork. It will help you establish your drawing methodology. Which is a key when you draw to draw original picture
  • They are also a great help for draw the harder parts of the human body. Like the hands(which I struggled a lot to draw)
  • They help with perspective, in my personal opinion. I can’t imagine drawing perspective without drawing guidelines. As we have seen in my All About Drawing In Perspective post
  • Helps you draw the picture you want one step at a time.
  • They are a great help for drawing clothes and the folds. And the creases they cause
  • And finally. Filling the guidelines and adding more and more details after finishing the guidelines is one of the most fun things in drawing the artworks :)

Tips for using drawing guidelines?

  • Drawing guidelines are preferred to be drawn using thin lines. So you could easily erase them later.
  • Remember to relax your hands so you could produce better lines. The drawing guidelines lines don’t have to be %100 precise. It is okay if they zigzagged or if your hand trembled while you are drawing them.
  • After you try various guidelines techniques. Feel free to develop your own drawing guidelines if none of the ones you tried worked for you. For one, I like to draw circles to indicate the main joints of the body.
  • Don’t overdo using them or the figure will look stiff. Leave some space for guessing, drawing is not math after all.
  • After some time. You may need less drawing guidelines when you draw certain poses
  • Some drawing guidelines you could try are:-
    • Stick Figures.
    • Basic geometric shapes, like circles ovals, squares, cubes, sphere and even cones. A common way to build the body is to use a combination of those.

Tips For Getting The Proportions Right:-

  • For adults, the shoulders tend to be 2 heads width. Note that in many anime characters, this doesn’t apply, because the head is drawn big and the shoulders are only 1 head width(and sometimes a bit less than that).
  • The head ends below the breasts(assuming the breasts are well supported) for adults. And around the navel for children’s, and again, for moe characters, this doesn’t apply

~I am thinking of making a post to compare real-life drawing with Anime someday~

Hand-On:- Doing it the Monia way, drawing Alice using drawing guidelines.

I think this post will be useless without any form of hand-on. I chose to draw the following artwork of Alice(from Touhou) to show you one way of using guidelines to for drawing. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to do it from the first time. It takes some practice to do it. Also, if you felt like I am rushing through the steps, feel free to add as much intermediate steps to make it easier for you.

~I would also like to mention that this artwork is not made by me~

I personally don’t use things like stick figures because I think they are redundant. So I stick to circles to indicate where the various parts of the body are. I don’t think there is a correct method in at. As long the end results are correct, use whatever method you want.

Let’s start the tutorial:-

      • I start by drawing a circle. You probably have seen this done in tons of tutorials before, the point of this circle is to define the perspective of the face using a crosshair guideline. The whole drawing is going to be build depending on the size of this circle.

We start our drawing by drawing a circle

    • Then I drew the crosshair, and since Alice is facing forward. The vertical line of the crosshair comes exactly at the middle of the face.Then we add the chin
    • I draw some eye-like guidelines to indicate where the eyes will generally be when the get to draw them later. I don’t care much how precise they represent the eyes, .s long their perspective is correct. I can draw the eyes correctly later when I get to that.
    • Then I draw the chin guidelines. Most of the time, the guideline I draw turns up in the final drawing. Pay extra attention in this step, as doing this step wrong can lead to the character face not to appear correctly(it can appear too long, or wider than it should be).Then we continue drawing the hair


  • I draw more guidelines to indicate where the bangs are. And to also indicate the peripherals of the head. The general rule is that the hair has the same height of the face. But that can differ from person to person. Kids tend to have bigger heads, and the face sits a little more at the bottom of the head.
  • Now I draw the shoulders. I use the help of some circles to help me get them the way I want. The shoulders are horizontal in this case. But you have to keep in mind how different in size and incline they can be when drawing them from a different perspectives. I also draw two cycles to indicate the breasts.The we draw the shoulders and the breasts
  • I continue the drawing by drawing the guidelines for the naked torso. I also draw more circles to help me know where the joints of the forearms are.The we draw the rest of the body. And we also add some guidelines for drawing the arms later.
  • I continue adding drawing guidelines. In many cases, I have the habit of drawing the hair right away without using much of guidelines. Probably because the hair is one of the parts in the female that I really really enjoy drawing. Have you noticed the cute smokes I drew to indicate the hands? These don’t have much meaning really, other than showing myself the direction of the hands :)Then we add more details to the drawing
  • I finish the drawing by adding more and more details. The more I add details, the more refined and excellent the drawing et to be. I made a few mistakes if you looked carefully, like how I made the neck a bit short. And I used drawing paper to make this one, which is different than the A4 paper I am used to. But I am satisfied with this as a quick sketch.The final drawing. Which made possible with the help of drawing guidelines.


I hope you found this tutorial helpful, for an suggestion or feedback. I am always ears for them~

See Also

I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.


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