How to Draw in the Kawaii Manga Style

Learn how to draw in the kawaii manga style from art instructor Chris Hart in this Howcast video.

If you’ve never considered drawing a style of manga called Kawaii, you’re in for a treat. Kawaii is perhaps the happiest style in all of manga. It’s also huge in Japan, it’s been huge in Japan for a long time but it’s emerging now in an explosive way in the United States.

Where do you see this stuff? Well besides graphic novels, general manga, it’s huge in licensing. You’ll see it in toys, products, and apparel. It’s everywhere. Now I’m going to show you a couple of examples of kawaii. I’ve done some mini monsters in kawaii. Here’s one. Take a look at this, you’ll see that, what’s interesting about kawaii is that often, they’re not always, but often they have thick ink lines and it’s a very flat graphic look. It’s not supposed to look like it has depth.

When you simplify make sure that you add a little style. So when you simplify the hands, instead of just adding a little bit of fingers here or there, what I’ve done here is I’ve just made a rounded chubby little arm. That’s how kawaii is done, it accentuates the shapes. Here’s another example of kawaii, another mini monster. So you see, same thing, you know. Very flat looking, lots of obvious shapes, and very simplified. Kawaii has different types of characters, not just these cute monsters. It’s got people, it’s got the monsters, it’s got even inanimate personified characters like food. Funny and cute food, like cute cupcakes and ice cream. I mean, I know it sounds strange, but if you see it you’ll find it adorable. The difficulty rating of this is easy but with a caveat. You see, the shapes are easy to draw, so the characters are pretty simple. But you’ve got to work at keeping it minimal, simplified and yet making the personality come across to the reader. So that’s the key. Simple expressions, but with big personalities.