One of the stars of the ever-popular Final Fantasy VII and a popular hit in her own right, Tifa Lockhart is a great subject to draw. She offers a plausible range of motion and poses that many characters with weapons lack, and her, uh, classic outfit makes for a decent study in female anatomy, as few of her joints are hidden by clothing. Below is a quick step-by-step guide for sketching out a picture of Tifa.
Step 1: Pose
More than most characters, Tifa requires a pose. She's big on crazy martial arts moves. Use the usual wireframe character with visible joints for this step. The below pose is neutral, and ultimately made for a rather dull drawing, so feel free to experiment and set her up in a more combat-oriented pose.
Step 2: Add mass
The original picture of Tifa portrays her as skinny-as-a-stick. Her arms are nowhere near as muscular as they should be for a girl of her strength. (Same goes for all the characters, of course.) I compromised and made the outline a little bit beefier than it would normally be to make her look a bit tougher.
This is a quick step, and still part of roughing it, but don't neglect this outline. Poses that seem fine in your head or in the wireframe stage may be revealed as anatomically impossible thanks to fleshing out her musculature.
Step 3: Head
Tifa's face is classic anime: big eyes, tiny nose, slim, pointed chin. Her hair is what really sets her apart, with a line of short, spiky locks hanging over her left (right?) eye. Beyond that is one really long lock that hangs down to her chest and a ton of long, flowing hair that hangs to the small of her back. Emphasize the smoothness of the hair! Aside from those few spikes, as well as the tip of her ponytail, her hair is straight and flowing.
Step 4: Arms and torso
Tifa's torso is uncomplicated, though some artists may get carried away with her proportions. Which route you go is up to you, though for combat poses you may want to slim her down just a bit. You know what I'm talking about. Her stomach is bare, which is good practice for an hourglass shape. Start drawing her belt just slightly under her bellybutton.
Tifa's arms are perhaps the hardest part of her to draw, as she's wearing some complex gauntlets which differ from one another. Traditional Tifa has long, oddly-thin arms with gloves that stretch up to slightly below halfway up her bicep; for a slightly more realistic Tifa, you may want to add in some more muscle mass. The gloves have a neat layered effect that make her hands look longer than they actually are, so draw her bare hands first, then draw the gloves on top. Don't forget to draw her fingers with variable lengths!
Step 5: Legs
Again belying her strength, Tifa's legs are trim and smooth. Draw her skirt at roughly the halfway point of her thighs and work your way down from there. Because her legs are bare it's important not to make one leg look different from the other. Positioning of the knee is critical to a realistic picture; it should be joined to the calf just a little over halfway down the leg.
Step 6: Boots
Tifa's boots are a noteworthy part of her overall design. Not because they're glitzy or look especially cool, but because on the official art their size stretches her ankle to an abnormal length. (Seriously, look at it. WAY too long.) If you want a more realistic set of feet, draw rough outlines before drawing on the boots.
Step 7: Cleaning
You now have a Tifa. You can proceed with adding the extra stuff - more contoured hair, suspenders, greater details on the boots - as well as cleaning up your lines. If you want you can also add shading.
The sample picture of Tifa isn't that amazing. The pose is boring, her left hand looks a little awkward, and her legs are stretched out a little too far. This was mainly done to give you a good sense of how each piece fits into the puzzle. Now you can take all those bits -
Step 8: Dynamic
... and put them into a picture that better depicts Tifa's martial arts training. She moves around a lot when she fights; reflect that in her poses. Fists up, legs splayed and ready to send her forward. I recommend watching martial arts or boxing films to find good poses for Tifa - or, if you want authenticity, watch battles scenes from the game or movie.
Matt Bird (author) from Canada on January 02, 2013:
Thanks! I always find it easier to learn something if I have a step-by-step guide for my first attempt; I imagine most people are the same way.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on January 02, 2013:
Nice artwork! I love the way you show the evolution of the drawing!