Are you an aspiring anime or manga artist looking for help with perfecting your craft? In a previous article, we highlighted some of the best Skillshare classes for learning how to draw anime and manga. Did you know that every purchase of a Wacom Intuos pen tablet or Wacom One pen display includes a three-month trial of Skillshare?
If YouTube is more your speed, however, we’ve pulled together some of the best and most consistent YouTube channels for anime art instruction. No matter what you are looking to improve on, these channels will cover what you need to improve your skills as an anime artist.
Naoki Saito is an accomplished Japanese illustrator and Youtuber who made the news early this year when his old channel was suddenly deleted without explanation after racking up hundreds of videos and 1.3 million subscribers, burning a veritable Library of Alexandria of drawing lessons. But undeterred, he was back just a few days later and has been steadily released since.
He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever seen on the platform, covering every aspect of anime-style digital art from an authentic perspective that draws from twenty years of experience in the industry. He’s a compelling narrator and storyteller, and impressively prolific to boot, uploading multiple videos a week.
tppo is a newer channel, but a more information-packed one than many that have been running for years longer. He specializes in studying popular Japanese and Korean illustrators and breaking down their digital art techniques into great analytical detail. For those who’ve always wondered what obscure Photoshop function your favorite Pixiv artist uses to make their colors pop, this is the channel for you. Special kudos have to be given for the sheer amount of effort he puts into his videos: His research, his explanations, and especially his editing are all phenomenal.
Billing his content as “anime art and dank memes,” Art Senpai infuses humor with his instruction. Although not the most technically advanced on the list, he’s one of the most engaging, with a lighthearted teaching style that makes otherwise dry content entertaining without sacrificing usefulness. He also draws extensively from other art teachers in his lessons, frequently summarizing courses from Japanese artists on the paid tutorial site Coloso. All of this gives him the impression of an artist who’s learning and improving with you instead of teaching from an unattainable place of expertise.
Odunze Whyte Oguguo, known as Whyt Manga online, is a Nigerian-by-way-of-Texas artist, creator of the graphic novel series Apple Black. He puts a unique twist on the manga aesthetic with a funky, Boondocks-esque style, and his videos are especially recommended for those who want to learn to draw POC. And in addition to tutorials on drawing itself, he applies his comics experience to lessons in writing, visual storytelling, and character design.
Akihito Yoshitomi has been a mangaka for over thirty years, creator of the series Eat Man and Blue Drop, and a Youtuber for five. His channel is minimalistic, comprised of videos of him drawing in silence, with captions on rare occasions, but while there’s no direct instruction to be found here, there’s a lot to be learned just from watching a master at work. Of particular note is his anatomy practice series, where he conveys valuable lessons on how to draw various parts of the body without a word. The sounds of his tools are very well-recorded too, making for a nice ASMR.
Urasawa Channel / Manben
Showing a little bias here as Naoki Urasawa is my favorite manga artist of all time, but his educational videos are also a gift to aspiring creators. His channel focuses on comics techniques, like panel layouts and portraying motion, so for those who want to tell stories in sequential art, this one’s a must-watch.
But this entry is also an excuse to plug his documentary series, Manben: In each episode, he films a different high-profile manga artist working for four days, then does commentary on the videos with them. It’s an unparalleled look into the processes of some of Japan’s greatest artists. It’s been pulled off Youtube due to copyright claims, but can still be found on this fansite.
Japanese ArtTuber Grab Bag
There’s no better place to learn anime drawing than straight from the source. But Japanese Art Youtube is a deep rabbit hole to dive down, and it can be hard to find the content you’re looking for due to the language barrier. So here are three channels I’ve found that are particularly packed with valuable information, with a high ratio of English-subbed videos. Make sure to turn on CC!
Note: As a general rule, videos with English in their titles will have subtitles, and the ones with fully Japanese titles won’t.
Hide channel is an anonymous animator whose background shows through in his subject matter. Drawing bodies is his specialty, with a lot of videos on croquis, or quick sketches of live models, although he also has his fair share on faces and rendering. Watch this if you want straightforward lessons on how to get better at drawing with no frills or gimmicks.
Minimaru is a manga artist and vtuber — don’t let the avatar put you off. Their videos are cute and relaxing, narrated in a friendly, affable style. Although less than half have subtitles, most of their tutorials on the fundamentals do. Particularly valuable is their anatomy drawing series: In fact, I’d go as far as to call “Super easy! How to Draw People” the most essential single video I’ve found on any channel listed here.
This channel is even more technical than Hide’s, possibly the best of them all for going into the weeds on facial structure, anatomy, and perspective. Her repertoire of tutorials on how to draw figures and faces is stellar, and unlike the others, all her videos have subs.
Honorable mention: Archipel
Archipel isn’t an instructional channel, but a series of beautifully-shot documentaries on Japanese creators of all stripes, including a gamut of anime and manga artists. The creators’ own commentary on their lives and works is interspersed with wonderfully cinematic shots of them both in their studios and in beautiful environments around the country that inspire them. It’s full of fascinating insights into creative minds, and a great way to relax after a long day’s drawing.