In Art, Tutorials by Toni Justamante Jacobs

If you have some interest in medieval and early modern Japan, you must have come across the infamous characters known as Ninjas. These individuals were known in Japan as skillful and deadly assassins, always ready to “take somebody out” if the pay was good enough. What’s more, these Japanese killers were well-famed in Japan for being masters in infiltration, secrecy, different styles of combat and weapons. So, if you have ever been in awe of Ninjas, then in this drawing tutorial you are in for a fun ride.

We will be showing you how to draw a perfect image of a Ninja from start to finish and we would be doing this in 8 easy steps. The drawing would capture his outfit and weapons. How amazing is that?!. You should also note that the more familiar you are with each step, the more likely your final draft would be flawless and the more likely it would appeal to an audience. That said, we would start up by drawing a dummy. The manikin would serve as a foundation for our final sketch. Ready?. Let’s rock and roll!.


Getting a great drawing of a Ninja would need you following 8 basic steps. These are;

  1. Drawing the Rib Cage
  2. Drawing the Hips and Abdomen
  3. Drawing the Legs
  4. Drawing the Arms
  5. Drawing the Head
  6. Drawing the Weapons
  7. Drawing the Clothing
  8. Drawing the Final Line art


Using the above picture as a guide, the Ninja rib cage should be drawn using a 3/4 perspective. This just means that the right side which faces the viewers would be drawn bigger in size than the left side.

Going on, the rib cage should be started off by drawing two curved horizontal lines. The lower line should have a deeper arc than the top line. Then you should draw two curved out vertical lines that connect the earlier drawn horizontal lines at their extremes. Having done that, divide the rib with a vertical line using the 3/4 perspective. When that is done, as seen in the picture, draw another curved vertical line at the right side of the rib cage. This would serve to highlight the underarm area  Having drawn it, go on to highlight where the head will be by drawing a small circle at the top of the rib cage. Flowing from that, draw another circle at the top right side of the rib cage. This would be where the right arm would emerge from.


For the abdomen, you should draw two pretty short vertical lines that extend down from the rib cage. Then an outwardly curved horizontal line should connect those vertical lines. For the hips, you should draw them to take the form of a man’s underpants as depicted in the image. This is where the legs of our character would emerge from.


Our Ninja character would be drawn standing with his legs far apart. Each leg should be started off as a big tube and then you should gradually reduce them as you get to the knees. To highlight the knees, draw two horizontal lines on each knee and then draw a circle in between them as seen in the above picture. When you’ve done that, the continuation of the leg should then extend out a little and should narrow down as you get to the ankles. Then draw the feet as seen.

The difference between one leg and the other is the leg on the left is flexed due to the body´s weight lays on top of it. Meanwhile, the other leg appears extended.


The arms of our character should be sketched slightly extended from the body and they should be drawn using a 3/4 perspective. This entails the right arm being bigger in size than the left arm because the right side faces the viewers.

Having laid that out, the upper arms should be started off in the form of big tubes and should reduce in size as they get to the elbows. Then they should extend out at the point of drawing the lower arms and should further reduce as you get to the wrist. Having drawn that, draw the hands as seen in the picture. When drawing the hands, draw the fingers of the left hand clenched as it will hold on to the handle of our characters Naginata( spear). The fingers on the right hand should be also clenched because our Ninja will be holding in this hand a Ninjato Chokuto also known as “Ninja sword”. Finally, draw the arms biceps and triceps by drawing the horizontal lines seen in the image.


For the head, first, draw a small neck that extends from the circle at the top of the rib cage. Then draw the head as a medium sized oval. Flowing from that, draw a vertical and a horizontal line that intersects within the oval. These lines would be useful for drawing facial features later.  


The Ninjato Chokuto (sword) is one of the most important features of our characters outfits and according to what’s depicted in the above picture, the blade should be drawn using two long horizontal lines with a small distance between them. The blade should connect to the handle earlier drawn and its tip should be pointed as seen in the above-attached image.  

The Naginata ( spear ) on the left hand will be drawn as a long tube ended in a short curved blade, similar to a scimitar´s blade.

Also notice, how our Ninja is carrying, attached to its waist, a Ninja Tanto or short knife. The Tanto is like a smaller version of a Ninjato Chokuto.


Well, a Japanese Ninja kimono is made up of two pieces jacket and pants. The jacket should be tight with a belt, like any other martial arts kimono.

Here’s where we get things to look a little more realistic. We would include the bracelet and shin protections into our characters drawing by sketching all the lines as shown in the image. The hands will have a protective layer over them attached to the bracelets.

Regarding the head, we will draw the mask covering fully the head except for the eyes.


For this stage, you would need to fade out the dummy already drawn. This is to prevent the manikin´s sketch from interfering with your final sketch. Using traces lefts of the original manikin´s sketch, you would then go on to draw the final lines. It should comprise of well-detailed features, a well-drawn maskkimono, and weapons. With that done, you should then throw in some shading effects to your drawing. Shading has an easy of making drawings appear so real and flawless. So go on and make the strokes of your drawing darker. You can then shade places like our characters belt, underarms and his neck region. If you are interested in knowing more about how to shade with a pencil, you can check my free tutorial clicking here.

Also, another important detail is to draw wrinkle lines from the clothing. Wrinkles in clothing come from tension areas, like the armpit, the waist and the insight of the pants, where the fabric of the kimono is being pulled, stretched or folded.


Right here is where we call our drawing tutorial of a Ninja a wrap. You can go on and express some satisfaction at what you have been able to put together on your drawing pad. However, you should not hang up your drawing tools just yet. We advise that you repeat the procedure a couple of times more. This would enable you to have a better grasp of character drawing and soon enough you will be able to polish up on your skills and draw without seeking the assistance of a drawing tutorial.  

For more tutorials click on the Drawing Tutorials section on the menu bar on top.

Writting and art by Toni Justamante Jacobs, Concept artist and illustrator.

Toni Justamante Jacobs

About the author: Hi, I’m Toni Justamante Jacobs. I´m a professional Concept Artist and Illustrator with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. Some of my clients are Gameloft, Fantasy Flight Games, Kunlun Games and Games Workshop. Currently, I´m working at Socialpoint as an in-house Senior Concept Artist.