Chibify Your Character
Chibi characters are known for their large heads, big eyes and overall cute appearance. Most of the time they appear almost like ’rounded’ characters.
A chibi character in general is 2 and a half heads high. In contrast to the character’s normal body proportion, the legs and arms will be much shorter, whereas the torso takes up more space.
When you sketch a chibi character, try to imagine a jointed doll and break up the body into simpler shapes. Use a slightly elongated circle for the head, a near pear shape for the torso, circles and long ellipses for the limbs. Hands and feet on chibis are always small, sometimes even omitted and only hinted at.
As mentioned above, the head and especially the face is the trademark of a chibi character. Not only is the chibi character small, but at the same time it is a simplified version. Despite this, the proportions still follow a few rules.
The eyes are drawn bigger, yet they are still sitting in the ‘centre’ of the face and the mouth is placed in the lower quarter. In case of the nose, it is down to personal preference, whether to draw it, or to leave it out completely.
When drawing the hair on a chibi character, make sure leave some room for it to grown from the head. This gives it much more volume and ‘natural’ look. Adjust the length of the hair to your liking, but it should correspond with character’s normal appearance. For example, if you have a character with waist long hair, then the chibi’s hair should only reach the waist and not the floor.
Even though the head is the biggest feature on a chibi character and the body is massively shrunk, you can still change the shape of the body. You can make the body look thinner with slim legs and a less round torso, or do it the other way around, draw a muscular body. You also have the option to simplify the body altogether; leave out visible joints, the shoulders and draw unified long shapes for the limbs.
Just a note of caution, however simplified you decide to draw the body, try not to end up with a stickmen-like figure.
Once you have the basic sketch of the chibi body done, it is time to fill in the details, such as the face and hair.
Shorten the clothes to the correct length where it is needed. Sometimes the clothes on the ‘normal’ character look rather complicated and detailed. In this case you can reduce the details without changing too much of the design.
© Aileen Strauch, first published on WorldMangaAcademy.com in 2015