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Create a Retro Anime Character Illustration with Blender 3D

Create a Retro Anime Character Illustration with Blender 3D

Beginners Guide: Create A Retro Anime Character Illustration With Blender 3D · 17 Lessons (with over 2.5 hours of focused instruction) · An untextured starter .

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Creating a retro anime character illustration with Blender 3D involves a combination of modeling, texturing, lighting, and rendering techniques that evoke the nostalgic style of classic anime. This process requires a blend of artistic skill and technical knowledge to achieve a look reminiscent of the anime from the 80s and 90s. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your own retro anime character illustration using Blender 3D.

1. Conceptualize Your Character

Before diving into Blender, start with a clear concept of your character. Sketching on paper or using digital tools like Photoshop or Krita helps solidify ideas. Focus on features characteristic of retro anime: large expressive eyes, simplified shapes, bold outlines, and stylized hair. Consider the character’s attire, accessories, and overall theme.

2. Setting Up Blender

Open Blender and start a new project. Make sure to set up your workspace efficiently:

  • Switch to the Layout workspace for modeling.
  • Use the Grease Pencil tool for sketching directly within Blender if needed.

3. Modeling the Character

Base Mesh

Start with the basic shapes:

  • Use a sphere for the head.
  • Use cylinders and spheres for the body, arms, and legs.
  • Employ mirror modifiers to ensure symmetry.

Detailing the Face

Retro anime characters often have distinctive facial features:

  • Model large eyes using spheres or by extruding faces on the head mesh.
  • Create a small, simple mouth and nose.
  • Use edge loops to define the eye sockets and mouth area for better deformation during animation.


Hair in retro anime is usually stylized:

  • Use planes or curves to model the hair strands.
  • Apply a solidify modifier to give the hair thickness.
  • Use particle systems if you want more control over individual strands.

Clothing and Accessories

For clothing:

  • Model simple yet stylized garments using basic shapes.
  • Add accessories like headbands, jewelry, or belts by extruding and shaping basic meshes.

4. UV Unwrapping and Texturing

UV Unwrapping

Proper UV unwrapping is crucial for texturing:

  • Mark seams carefully to minimize distortion.
  • Use the UV Editing workspace to unwrap the model.
  • Optimize UV islands to make efficient use of texture space.


Retro anime relies heavily on hand-painted textures:

  • Use a limited color palette.
  • Employ flat shading with subtle gradients.
  • Create textures in an external program or directly within Blender using the Texture Paint workspace.

5. Shading

Toon Shading

Retro anime characters benefit from toon shading:

  • Use Blender’s Shader Editor to create a toon shader.
  • Combine Diffuse BSDF and Shader to RGB nodes.
  • Use a Color Ramp node to control the shading steps, mimicking the flat, stepped shading of classic anime.


Outlines enhance the retro feel:

  • Use the Solidify modifier to create a duplicate mesh with inverted normals for outlines.
  • Alternatively, use Blender’s Freestyle rendering feature for more control over line thickness and style.

6. Lighting and Rendering


Proper lighting is essential to achieve the retro anime look:

  • Use simple lighting setups, like a key light and fill light.
  • Avoid complex shadows; aim for soft, diffused light.

Camera Setup

Choose a camera angle that complements your character:

  • Use orthographic or perspective view as needed.
  • Experiment with angles that highlight the character’s features.


Set up your render settings:

  • Use the Eevee render engine for fast, real-time rendering.
  • Adjust the sampling and resolution settings for a clean image.
  • Enable Freestyle if using outline rendering.

7. Post-Processing

After rendering, some post-processing can enhance the retro aesthetic:

  • Use Blender’s Compositor to add effects like bloom, glare, and vignette.
  • Adjust color grading to match the vintage anime look.
  • Consider adding film grain or noise to replicate the feel of older animation.

8. Final Touches

Review your illustration and make any final adjustments:

  • Tweak textures, lighting, or shading as needed.
  • Ensure the character’s pose and expression convey the intended personality and style.


Creating a retro anime character illustration in Blender 3D is a rewarding process that combines the precision of 3D modeling with the artistic style of classic anime. By following these steps, you can craft a character that not only looks great but also resonates with the nostalgic charm of retro anime. This guide provides a foundation, but don't hesitate to experiment with techniques and personal touches to make your character truly unique. Blender's versatility as a tool will allow you to explore various styles and workflows until you find the perfect balance for your retro anime illustration.

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