How to represent different ages in anime women

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The face changes and develops as we grow older, and we see a different balance emerge, as well as a change in the skin and features. Since anime is a simplified medium, we need to make sure we tell the character’s story with the parts we have available. Luckily there are some very clear-cut rules when it comes to showing the age of characters in anime, so let’s go through those now and learn how to show characters of all different ages! This will surely help you improve your artistic range, so it’s definitely worth a read!


Young girl

A popular genre of character in anime – the young girl. Because the bones of the face aren’t fully developed, the outline of the face is very round, and the eyes are very large in comparison to the rest of the head. Make sure to draw using soft lines, and bring the top of the eyes down lower than the centre of the head. The position of the eyes is very important when showing age in a character – the lower down the eyes, the more childlike and cute the character will look.


Middle/high school student

In school, a young woman’s face is still developing, so her eyes will still be larger than average, but we do start to see the childlike roundness of the face disappear, and some sharper lines come in around the face and jaw.

Her eyes come around midway down the face, making the top of the head a more balanced, grown-up size, and her features are more evenly distributed than a child. At this age we still see a lot of volume in the hair, so make sure not to make the hair too flat!


Young adult

As the character hits her 20’s, her face is fully developed, and we see a more pointed chin and pronounced nose. This in turn makes the eyes appear smaller. In comparison to a schoolgirl’s more rounded eyes, we use a slightly slimmer, sharper shape for the young adult’s eyes.


Middle-Aged

As a woman hits her 40’s in anime, we see a very sudden change in the way she is drawn. The skin starts to lose some of its elasticity, so we get some wrinkles and sagging around the eyes, forehead, cheeks and mouth. The cheekbone becomes more visible as the face loses some of its plumpness. We also see a loss of bounce and volume in the hair, so it comes down straight, rather than fluffing out at the top and back like the younger characters.

The overall atmosphere is a more slender, sharp one, with less of the round softness we saw in the younger women.


Old woman

We see an even bigger change once we reach pensioner age. The whole face starts to sag, so we lose some of the definition from the shape of the face. The eyelids start to droop too, which affects the whole shape of the eyes. Because the position of the cheekbones and the nose don’t change due to aging, we see them stick out more as the rest of the face sags, leaving some dips and bumps in the face.


Did you enjoy this mini-lesson on the female face? I hope you could see the various ways a woman’s face changes as she ages in anime. Because anime has some caricature elements, we see some really drastic changes! Be sure to use this knowledge in your own work, and expand the range of characters you can draw.

Next time, we’ll be looking at men’s faces, so be sure to check back for the next instalment!

And of course, for more detailed lessons on how to draw characters, be sure to join our online course at Anime Art Academy! We have lots of free lessons to enjoy too!

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