Varuna's Anime Skin Tutorial

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Level 61 : High Grandmaster Pixel Puncher
PART 1 - Basics

Well.. I thought I'd post this since I won't be making anime skins forever and I'd rather pass the knowledge down to any fans of mine that like my skinning style and would want to continue with it.

I use both pastel/contrasted colors when making skins. The reason being is that some characters just look a lot better darker or lighter compared to other characters. It's hard for me to decide so I just try to go with what I think looks good. I try to put enough detail into the skin to make it high quality. Too much detail and it just looks weird. Too little detail and it looks too plain.

I didn't start off very good either. I mean... I can draw, but the entire skinning thing itself was pretty new to me, lol. I never tried 3D pixel art on cubes. I started off making Minecraft skins because I couldn't find any skins that suited me. I made myself one, then my friends wanted me to make them skins too. By the time I realized it... I just started making skins for people. I do this all for free for fun.

If you can see in the older one... I basically just used random burn/dodge effects to try to shade the clothing. It turns out pretty ugly and bland. Don't do that!

The newer one has more contrasted pixels to give the character a more solid appearance and cartoon look. Kind of like how you see sprites in Nintendo games.

Programs I use: MCSkinEdit, MCSkin3D (Sometimes Photoshop)

-- Starting off --

1. Prepare yourself a set amount of colors before you start working on the skin. That way, it's easy to pick the right colors and it's faster to work with. So if you're making Naruto or something, pick out a few colors like orange and yellow.

2. Use the hat layer for hair, hats, ear muffs, scarfs, headbands or whatever. A lot of people I see don't use the hat layer to it's fullest potential. It's a bit hard to teach this part because you really just have to visualize how to make use of it.

3. Save often and make back ups. That way, if you screw up, you can go back or if your program crashes.. then you won't have to start from scratch again.

4. The skin must be symmetrical. That means no missing body parts or a giant robotic arm on 1 hand.

Okay.. I'll keep this short and get to the important parts.

-- How I shade --

This is probably the biggest problem for people. Since you're reading this, I'm assuming you like anime/cartoon colors. That means, when you shade, you want to use a minimum of 3 shades. Dark, Medium, Light. Of course, you can use more, but since we're just doing anime... it doesn't really need to be that detailed. Especially, if you're doing requests, it's much more simple and faster to just use a few types of shades.



Once you get good enough, you can start adding more shades. You want to make the shades look kind of blocky... since we're working with blocky characters anyway.


If you need references, feel free to edit my skins and look at the way I shade them.

This is something I made recently for myself. It basically is a base skin that I can just work off of to finish requests much faster (yes, this is my secret in making fast skins). I just basically drew proportions which I thought were pretty accurate. This is a female base body, but you can also use it for males. This gives you a sense of where to draw the clothes and where the breasts should be on your clothing.


-- How to draw clothing --

Well.. most of this is based on your visualization. Basically, you want to simplify the clothes as much as you can. If you're drawing anime characters and they have tiny little bows in their clothes or buttons all over the place, you're going to have to omit it. Just keep the important parts, like belts... pockets, badges or whatever.

You also want to keep a constant body proportion. Skirts should on the body and pants should be on the legs. Easy enough, right?

On the left and right arms/leg layers.. I tend to leave them dark and kind of plain. The reason I do that is to try to keep a flat anime look. I keep the front and back parts highlighted.


It basically gives the appearance that the light is coming from the front/back of your character instead of the sides.


-- How to pick out your colors --


When making skins, I use both MCSkinEdit and MCSkin3D. MCSkinEdit is out of date by now and MCSkin3D is more up to date thanks to Paril who made it. The only thing I use MCSkinEdit for is to pick out colors and to draw basic skins on. MCSkin3D also lets you work with multiple skins at once so it's really good to use if you do requests. I switch up whenever, but seem to be going back to MCSkinEdit for it's simplicity.


When choosing colors, I always want to start with the lightest color first. Going from light to dark is a lot better than going from dark to light. I draw my characters in plain color first then I finish it up later with shading. I don't normally shade while I'm working on the skin, but it's just really preference.

-- Tips and Techniques --

I struggled for the longest time trying to figure out how to put enough details into the skin to make it look good. An example would be, how would I draw fingers, eyes or a mouth on my characters?

It would probably take a while for anyone starting off to eventually iron the small details out, but that's why I'm here to help, lol.

Face (eyes, mouth, cheeks, blush, teeth)


Once you understand this concept, you can change the facial expression of your character.




Funny how a few pixels change the entire expression, right? Haha. It's really up to you what kind of face you want to give your character. I just give them faces according to their personality. So if it's a mysterious quiet anime boy, then I will probably just have his mouth closed. If it's a happy upbeat girl, then I will probably give her a smile.


This took me so long to figure how to do right, but you can draw fingers on your characters. It's not that detailed, but it gives a nice touch to it. I'm really picky on fine details so that's why I spent so much time on trying to figure out how to draw fingers. Besides, the small details are always very important.


Yay, now she has fingers! Looks a whole lot better than a flat box lol.

Also, don't forget to add the MOST IMPORTANT PART TO YOUR SKIN.... is drawing the underwear. I'm not kidding. You don't want to bend over with your skirt and have nothing there.. it'd just be awkward and you'd look like a noob!


The panties I draw on my female characters are usually white or pink. c: You can put anything there though lol.

PART 2 - ADVANCED (will provide a video soon)

If you want to know more advanced stuff, then read this. It's not recommended for people who are just starting off or not that interested.

So maybe you can draw your skins and stuff but you don't really know how to shade it correctly or how to draw ties, bows, skirts, hairs or whatever.

Maybe you want to try to replicate my style since you really love it. That's great and all, but remember a lot of this has to do with your imagination. I've seen a few skins that are based off my tutorial and skins and they're going for the wrong approach most of the time since they're trying to copy my shading when they don't really understand it.

What I mean is that don't just add random shading on the skin your making. Once you get better, then you can add more and more shading. I recommend just 3 shades then once you get better, you can do 6. The more simple your shading starts off, the better you'll understand it, trust me.

Download: http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/steve-shading-tutorial/
I provided a basic anime steve skin for you to shade. It has 3 colors so it won't be that detailed, but it will be easy to do. Show me the skin once you've finished shading so I can see your progress. You can use this skin to experiment on and improve your shading on.

So enough reading crap! Let's get to the actual skin making. I want you to see my Edward Elric. He's from Full Metal Alchemist.

Download Edward Elric @ http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/edward-elric-269794/
He's one of my top skins.

Now, open it up in MCSkin3D (sorry, it won't work with MCSkinEdit unless you convert the skin) so you can turn the model around and stuff. Look at the hair, the front bangs and how the pony tail connects to the head. Also I want you to pay attention to the placements on the gloves, boots and eyes. I normally have the eyes placed 3 pixels up from the bottom. It's important that you remember where to put the eyes or else it may look weird.

Let's see my old Edward. He looked pretty bland, but this was when I was still pretty new to all this skinning.


A few things that are wrong about this skin:

- Skin is too pale.
- The eyes are up too high.
- Clothes have a lot of noise added.

Now let's look at my new Edward. I went back to improve it a few months later and look how it turned out. I didn't touch ANYTHING but a few shades and look at how much better it looks. See what you can accomplish by just shading?


That's much better. Notice that the design pretty much stayed the same? The only thing I really did was improve on the shading.


But wait, how can you even tell that's an Edward skin I made? It looks like him right? That's because we're using imagination. We basically turned Steve into something that looks like Edward. If you have imagination then you can practically do anything.

Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist.


When you're shading skins... or anime skins or whatever, you want to simplify the actual character itself. That means if they have a bunch of tiny buttons or earrings or necklaces then you'll most likely have to leave it out. Also, if their clothing is a bit complicated then you need to simplify it. If you try adding too much detail then it may look really ugly and unorganized.

What I can't teach you:

- Designing hairs. It depends on the character.
- Designing clothes. It depends on the character, again.

Think of chibi for simplicity. If you're an anime fan then you know what that is. c:


You'll also want a full body render of the character to make it easier for you to know how to even draw the character in the first place. If you're doing a custom character, then it doesn't really matter since you're the one coming up with the design.



Because there are only so many ways you can draw eyes on these blocks, I provided somewhat of a layout. Everyone does their eyes different, but since you're reading this, then I'll teach you the way I do it.

Depending on the character, you want to draw different eyes. It also gives a nice variation so that not all your characters look exactly the same. Example if you were drawing an anime character like Kurosaki Ichigo from Bleach, then you would probably give him small eyes and not big eyes. If you gave him large anime eyes, he'd look really cute and weird, right? Unless you prefer it that way, lol.

Generally, you want to put small eyes on males and big eyes on females. Really depends on the anime character though.

1. LARGE EYES CALM - Used for almost every female character or girly boys with big anime eyes.
2. LARGE ANGRY EYES - Used for angry/mad looking characters with big anime eyes.
3. SMALL EYES DRAGONBALL - Pretty much inspired by Dragon Ball Goku eyes. I don't really use these eyes too much.
4. SMALL EYES ANGRY - Used for male characters that have small eyes but look serious/angry.
5. SMALL EYES CALM - Used for just about any male character.
6. SMALL EYES SERIOUS - I typically use these for male characters with glasses or that have tiny serious eyes.

There are a few other ways I do eyes, but this is generally it.


A lot of people ask me how I do the hairstyles and need help with it. It's really hard teaching this because the hairs are all different on anime characters. Some characters have similar hair styles though. Since there's only so many ways you can make hairstyles on your anime skins because it's basically all just blocks... I have a few hair styles I can teach.

You typically want to use the hat layer for hair unless your character has extremely short hair. Then you can just use the front hat layer for your hair bangs. The more complex the hair is, the harder it will be to make.

Short Hair
Difficulty: Easy

Generic, short easy hair for males and females. You can pretty much use the short hair for anything you want to make.

Pony Tail
Difficulty: Medium
If you like ponytails, it's possible to do. You'll just have to use the back of your body to connect the hair with your head.

Hero hair
Difficulty: Hard
This hair is pretty much a custom hair made for Elsword. His hair is pretty crazy so I just thought up of a hairstyle that would look good with him.

Long Hair
Difficulty: Medium
It's not that hard to do if you're using your hat layer right. I think I see a lot of people draw long hair like it's a box around their head or something. You want to make it feel like it's hanging off the head and drooping down.

Don't forget to add the back hair on your back if you're going for long hairstyles.


There we go. That wasn't so hard was it?

So remember to use the hat layer often for your hair. Anime hair is pretty difficult for me to do as well, even though I might make it look easy. Sometimes I spend like an hour just trying to think of how to do a certain hair without it looking like utter crap. Sometimes the hair won't look exactly like what you want it, but just try to make it look similar or touch it up with whatever you think looks nice.

With enough imagination and skills you can practically make every single anime character you want and show them off in the Minecraft world.



That is all I have to teach. Thank you for reading my tutorial and goodbye everyone.
Tags:Tutorial, Anime, Skin, Varuna, Cartoon

Update #1 : 08/19/2012 4:44:05 am8/19/12

- Added part 2.

Comments :

Join us to post comments.

1 - 50 of 119

Level 36
Artisan Spelunker
September 12, 2014, 7:15 pm


Level 1
New Miner
August 20, 2014, 4:58 pm

Its kind of hard for me to do shading, specially blonde shading

Level 32
Artisan Geek
July 27, 2014, 12:29 pm

Lol, the small serious eyes' expression reminds me of Elsa's "You can't marry a man you just met" face :P

Level 27
Expert Artist
July 7, 2014, 4:09 pm

Thanks! This is perfect!

Level 1
New Explorer
May 26, 2014, 10:21 pm

Thanks My Skinng Really Improved So Well. My First Skin Is Hotoro Oreki THX !!

Level 27
Expert Artist
July 7, 2014, 4:08 pm

OMG I LOVE Hyouka!

iBearzHD Plays
Level 1
New Miner
May 5, 2014, 11:25 am

Nice tutorial. I would gladly like to use the enderman skin from anime. Send the skin through via Skype if you can. My Skype is raslink6. Thanks

Level 17
Journeyman Taco
April 2, 2014, 7:34 pm

this help very well thnx :P

Level 4
Apprentice Skinner
March 21, 2014, 10:20 am

*bows down* thx, this is going to help me. Great tutorial^^

Level 7
Apprentice Toast
March 15, 2014, 5:07 pm

omgomgomg its hatsune miku!!!!

Level 43
Master Creeper Hugger
March 15, 2014, 11:08 am

Wow! That is amazing! Would you mind telling me the name of the song u were playing during the tutorial? Thanks

Level 35
Artisan Fox
February 6, 2014, 10:26 pm

problem I'm having:
what if the clothes are mainly white? how exactly would i go about adding highlights to this? should i just make the entire thing slightly darker to begin with?

Level 1
New Explorer
February 1, 2014, 7:51 am

Im pretty new to skinning (in fact im working on my second one right now xD) and this helped a lot. NOW I WANNA DO SOME ANIME SKINS! Time to re-watch 5 series of aaaaannniiiimeeeee <3

Level 35
Artisan Sailor
January 29, 2014, 3:07 am

I tried out the style of eyes you use on my skin. I'm thinking...

Level 30
Artisan Bunny
January 14, 2014, 10:57 pm


Level 25
Expert Pokemon
December 17, 2013, 4:54 pm

Helped me alot, Such great skinning advice. Hopefully I become as good as you :)
I love anime too <3

Level 5
Apprentice Cake
November 12, 2013, 5:51 pm

yay I was 150th diamond

Level 1
New Miner
October 27, 2013, 11:11 pm

101 bottles of comments on the wall. Also really good, it really helped me with skin creating itself. lol

Level 1
New Crafter
October 18, 2013, 7:28 pm

This is a really cool anime tutorial. Thanks!
P.S, 100 bottles of comments on the wall.

Level 10
Journeyman Dragon
October 13, 2013, 8:52 pm

wow this is AWESOME <3<3<3<3

Level 55
Grandmaster Senpai
October 11, 2013, 6:35 pm

Wow, this is by far the best skinning tutorial I've ever seen!!
<3 <3

Level 1
New Miner
September 3, 2013, 10:37 am

What's the program you used??

Level 1
New Miner
March 11, 2014, 3:54 pm

she said MCSkinEdit and MCSkin3D

Level 1
New Miner
August 22, 2013, 9:40 am

Can you make a version of sailor jupiter in her school uniform?

Plz & Thx

Level 11
Journeyman Skinner
August 1, 2013, 7:37 am

I dont find that i need to shade my skin but this is what i think is best so far : http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/mermaid-for-contest-not-up-yet-read-description/

Level 1
New Miner
June 24, 2013, 9:45 am

This tutorial helped me SO MUCH! I swear this is just perfect <3

Level 2
Apprentice Explorer
June 13, 2013, 12:42 pm

Thanks for making this tutorial!
Before I read this, I sucked badly at making skins. After reading it, their quality has greatly improved.
The base skin halfway up the page (just above 'how to draw clothing') is also very useful in regards to shading areas and getting proportions correct.
I've also put you down as one of the Thanks on my skins (only got one uploaded as of writing this) as without you, my skins would still be very poor.

Level 27
Expert Creeper Hugger
May 27, 2013, 10:22 am

This is like the most amazing thing I have ever seen

Level 1
New Miner
May 17, 2013, 1:57 pm

I used skincraft to create a template skin. I'm going to start creating anime skins using it!

Level 3
Apprentice Mage
May 15, 2013, 1:22 pm



Level 22
Expert Prince
April 21, 2013, 4:07 am

This tutorial is GREAT :D

Level 2
Apprentice Crafter
April 20, 2013, 5:18 pm

This is great! Thank You so much :) This will really help me in the future for my Teddie Skins x)

Level 1
New Miner
March 19, 2013, 8:10 pm

can you send me a download link for the female base that you gave a pic of?


Level 6
Apprentice Ranger
March 16, 2013, 12:37 pm

My skin I made using this: http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/anime-warrior-1989697/

Level 13
Journeyman Skinner
March 16, 2013, 12:19 pm

I love this tutorial. Thanks so much ^_^

Level 6
Apprentice Ranger
March 13, 2013, 2:15 pm

As an anime artist myself, I've been looking for ways to make these types of skins. Thank you for this tutorial!

Level 23
Expert Nerd
March 4, 2013, 7:12 am

Well done. Excellent, in fact. Diamonds aplenty for you, and please don't stop skinning!

Level 17
Journeyman Taco
February 15, 2013, 10:58 pm

I would make 1 suggestion to eyes bit on this post
Theres about 8 more eye types in total
the 1 which is 1 block wide 2 blocks high on more crowded face skins and that is 'Alert Eyes' (bottom pixel normally very dark) then it flipped onto its side is 1 you have there but you put the pupil lighter there,Then you have a 2x2 eyes but 1 block the bottom outer block is taken out and the block
(bottom inner/closer to nose) is pupil normally dark and then above block very faintly coloured...and that is 'Sleepy Eyes' and currently thats all that i think would be good in the blog...
As ever...Thx for reading

Level 34
Artisan Fox
February 27, 2013, 11:07 pm

lol thats not anime type eyes :3

Level 17
Journeyman Taco
March 8, 2013, 6:38 am

Strictly speaking not really...but its still useful to have on :3

Level 34
Artisan Fox
March 8, 2013, 10:14 am

aha agree

Level 17
Journeyman Taco
March 8, 2013, 10:27 pm

Only bit of this tutorial im not going to use is the hairs...

Level 7
Apprentice Narwhal
December 15, 2012, 12:41 pm

How would I do pigtails?

Level 1
New Miner
November 24, 2012, 6:00 pm

Love your work, i improved SOOOO much at making anime skins! This is the best tutorial EVER! :D Thanks! :D

Level 25
Expert Hunter
October 27, 2012, 6:53 pm

WOW, BEST ANIME TUTORIAL!, i make Kudo Shinichi (Detective Conan) from this tutorial, thanks for Varuna :), Diamond for you!

Level 34
Artisan Pixel Painter
October 21, 2012, 10:09 am

Level 7
Apprentice Narwhal
October 13, 2012, 8:41 pm

With your tutorial I made Kokoro Akechi and Enma Kozato

Retired Moderator
Level 1
New Miner
September 30, 2012, 11:37 am

Mon préféré (:

Level 1
New Miner
September 29, 2012, 9:42 am

Could i request a skin? I would really want you to make me a skin, so if you have time, PLEASE make one for me. I tried to make one using your methods but couldn't really get blonde toned hair to work.
So i would like a blonde-haired male character with happy eyes. Short hero-hairish style. For clothes i would like a kind of "long" jacket which continues down , kind of a detective suit, but open at the front. White with black "outlines" if you could :) If you could make one like that I would be SO HAPPY. Thank you in forehand.
And also; 69th comment xD

Level 1
New Miner
September 30, 2012, 8:15 pm

Well i succeeded in making it :)

penguin king
Level 11
Journeyman Mage
September 29, 2012, 12:16 pm

i can do the blond

penguin king
Level 11
Journeyman Mage
September 21, 2012, 4:26 pm

could you make me a skin with your anime shading technique please I love your work

Level 9
Apprentice Explorer
September 5, 2012, 3:39 pm

Awwww yeah... we got some FMA all up in HERE!

Level 34
Artisan Pixel Painter
September 1, 2012, 8:01 am

I used the tutorial to make a new skin! Check it out please!


Level 34
Artisan Pixel Painter
September 1, 2012, 1:26 pm


Level 41
Master Narwhal
August 25, 2012, 5:36 am

i used this tutorial to remake a old skin of anime character http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/patty-from-soul-eater-1335975/

Level 11
Journeyman Explorer
August 23, 2012, 9:40 am

Hey the old edward you used in this tutorial was the one you made for me! I like all your skins, old or new shading!

Level 71
Legendary Scapegoat
August 22, 2012, 12:16 pm

Best skinner everrr.
You should come into the chat sometime (when it's fixed, that is).


Level 41
Master Narwhal
August 20, 2012, 6:40 pm

THIS IS AWESOME!!! for shading i was the using the shading button on miners need cool shoes, and i make some anime skins so.... THANK YOU!!!!

(+1 favorite!)

Level 23
Expert Architect
August 19, 2012, 11:30 pm

This is so great! Thank you! I want to become good at skinning and I love anime so this will help alot :)

Level 19
Journeyman Unicorn
August 19, 2012, 3:58 pm

This is an awesome tutorial - have to say that is has inspired me to make more skins and now able to make them in half the time.

Thank you so much for this ^_^

Level 61
High Grandmaster Pixel Puncher
August 19, 2012, 5:21 pm

You're welcome. Hope you continue to improve on it.

Level 34
Artisan Vampire
August 19, 2012, 1:16 am

Lovely tut! So did you use the Lighten/Darken tool to find the shades or you just pick them out in MCSkinEdit?

Level 61
High Grandmaster Pixel Puncher
August 19, 2012, 2:07 am

You seem to be my number 1 fan. c:

I just pick them out. I don't like the Light/Dark tool, lol.

Level 34
Artisan Vampire
August 19, 2012, 3:35 am

I think I AM your number fan, lol. :P

Level 1
New Miner
August 13, 2012, 11:15 am

I find it hard to shade hair, do you have any tips or hints?

I like all your skins that you've been making, keep up the good work ^_^

Level 61
High Grandmaster Pixel Puncher
August 18, 2012, 11:49 am

Depends on the hairstyle so I can't really help you with that. You should probably just start off with simple short hair first.

Level 1
New Miner
August 9, 2012, 2:20 am

I have a weird grin when i saw that panties part...

Level 1
New Miner
August 5, 2012, 6:30 pm

This is so great. Best tutorial I've found yet, but I was wondering about the blush you mentioned on the faces and how you do that? Also if you have a way of doing more complex hairstyles like pigtails, or a high pony-tail?

Level 61
High Grandmaster Pixel Puncher
August 6, 2012, 11:27 pm

The blush isn't really that hard to do, but the hair styles are a bit tricky. I tend to just simplify the pony tails since they're really hard for me to do. I just recently did a skin with a pony tail. You should check that out as a reference.


Level 4
Apprentice Skinner
July 15, 2012, 6:59 am

Could you post the skin of the girl with the blue-ish, purple-ish hair color that is facing backwards in the
picture because I like that skin and I want to download it for my minecraft character, plz post it :-)

Level 2
Apprentice Miner
July 6, 2012, 8:50 pm

WHOO!!! I hope this helps! :D by the way , Aren't those Hyerdimesnion Neptunia games so fun!!!! So happy for the 3rd to come out.

Level 17
Journeyman Pig
July 5, 2012, 5:12 pm

wow amazing art, i dont even care about the skinning (no offense) but the art in amazing

Level 40
Master Technomancer
June 28, 2012, 11:20 am

Could you maybe post the base skin?

1 - 50 of 119