In our guide, How to Draw a Basic Manga Figure we learned the shapes that make up a figure. Naturally, females have a different body shape from males, even as different females have varying body shapes from one another. We’ll explore these differences in this guide, and look at which sort of female character is best suited to a particular body type.
We open with the standard stick figure, which shows the character’s body language more than its body type.
Our circles-and-cylinders mannequin settles the question regarding the sex of this character once and for all. This typical manga female has much more of an hourglass figure than its male counterparts, a small waist, larger hips, and more pronounced breasts. They also have a slightly longer and thinner neck, as well as thinner ankles and smaller feet.
As this figure is smoothed out, we see that the female figure is much curvier than the male, in every aspect of the body: legs, arms, and torso. Really, the only area not more curvy than the male is the head and the hands.
Note in this picture we see an oval representing the stomach. However, unlike the male figure, there are no defined “washboard abs.”
Here is the figure fleshed out further, where we see lines to represent the musculature.
In this figure, David uses arrows to indicate where the folds of clothing will be, based on the character’s anchor points. As we will see, this female martial artist figure wears a smaller outfit that does not cover most of the character’s points of articulation. Instead, based on the outfit that exists solely in David’s head, he maps out the curves and folds of the outfit, including marks to denote leg wraps, shoes, and gloves. Also, since this is a character with longer hair than the typical male character, David anticipates how the hair is going to fall and flow.
In the finished and inked figure, our athletic female appears to be some sort of martial artist or fighter character. As in every other part of Japanese and American culture, there is more emphasis on female flesh than male, so costumes tend to be a bit more revealing. In the case of this martial arts robe, the arms are left bare, and the legs are visible all the way up to the hips.
Here is the stick outline of our teen figure. In this case, we can see that the body language is more reserved than in our previous female. Already, we can tell that we are probably dealing with a much less aggressive type of character. Of course, it still remains to be seen whether this is a female or male and what age this character will be.
From this cylinder and circle figure, we can now determine the gender of the character—it’s a girl! There are no breasts, the chest is slim and oval, and the cylinder between the waist and mid-section is thin, suggesting this figure will have the curves of the female hourglass. Limbs are thin, as is the neck. And, if nothing else, the body language of this character seems to suggest a female; this character is in a much more feminine stance.
As David rounds out the character from shapes into limbs, it comes into better view as a female, with curved features in the torso and limbs. We also see outlines of breasts, although they are considerably smaller than the round globes of the adult figure we saw previously. That should tip us off that we are dealing with a character who is not fully developed (that is, a teen) and likely someone in her early-to-mid teens.
Fleshing out the character, we can see there is no evidence of muscles on this character. There are some slight lines to represent the curve of the stomach, the knees, and elbows, but little else. The limbs and neck are long and thin, and the limbs are mostly straight, without a tremendous amount of curvature.
In the previous figure, David not only lays out the face, but anticipates the hair and the clothing of the character. It seems safe to assume that this character will be wearing a dress, based on the guides David has put on the legs of the figure.
The final figure is indeed wearing a dress, and we can see that the guides David drew not only accounted for the skirt, but accessories to the arms and hands as well.
Now we present the female child, which as far as body types is not much different than the male child body type. Again, we start with a larger head and limbs and a torso that is smaller and shorter than the adult or even teen body type.
There is less attention to curves here. The girl child is naturally not going to be developed as an adult or a teen. There are no breasts, and the hourglass aspect to the female figure—curving outward at the chest and the hips and inward at the waist—is not pronounced like it is in older females.
And, probably needless to say, there is no evidence of muscle development, either.
Fleshed out, there is still very little difference between the male and female child. There is slightly more curvature to the legs, particularly the thighs, but in general the gender of the child is indeterminable based on the body type.
Of course, in the final figure, it’s obvious that this is a female child, as this figure has long hair and a frilly dress. This character’s outfit does not accentuate any curves, because at this stage in her development there are no curves to accentuate.
And there you have it—the basic of drawing a female manga figure! Make sure to check out our other guides on drawing a basic manga figure and drawing male figures. Happy drawing!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Drawing Manga Illustrated, Second Edition by John Layman and David Hutchison for IDEA + DESIGN WORKS, LLC