How to Draw Totoro

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"Do you like spirits, mommy? Even fuzzy ones?"
- Mei Kusakabe, My Neighbor Totoro

Totoro is the title character of an animated 1988 fantasy film. My Neighbor Totoro follows the adventures of two young girls in rural post-war Japan who move into a new home. Their friends include dust-like spirits called susuwatari, a cat-shaped bus, and the large rabbit-like spirit of the woods known as Totoro.

Spirits like Totoro have long been a staple of Japanese folklore and mythology, and the tradition continues in anime and manga. Traditional religions included the belief "spirit-like entities...reside in all things." Peaceful spirits were thought to bring good fortune.

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My Neighbor Totoro is just one of many popular anime films by the famed director Hayao Miyazaki. Other fan-favorites include Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, Ponyo and The Wind Rises. The production studio, Studio Ghibli, has been called "the Disney of Japan."

Would you like to meet Totoro in person? You'll be greeted by a life-sized statue of the beloved character at the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo. A replica of the home in the film stands at Japan's EXPO Park. Plans are underway to recreate the enchanted Dondoko Forest, complete with the catbus, as the Park is transformed into a new Studio Ghibli theme park.

Interestingly, the park won't feature roller coasters. Instead, its focus will be on nature. Miyazaki has even requested that no trees be harmed during its construction.

You, too, can draw the cartoon Totoro. This easy, step-by-step cartoon character drawing tutorial will show you how. All you will need is a pencil, an eraser, and a sheet of paper. You may also wish to color your finished drawing.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, Charlie Brown, and Woody from Toy Story.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing Totoro

How to Draw Totoro: Step 1

1. Begin by drawing an overlapping circle and oval. The circle will help you to draw Totoro's head, and the oval his body.

How to Draw Totoro: Step 2

2. Use a series of overlapping curved lines to contour the character. Draw a wide semicircle over the original circle. Craft a rough oval from overlapping curved lines inside the original oval.

How to Draw Totoro: Step 3

3. Erase the original guide lines. Then, use overlapping curved lines to sketch Totoro's short, wide arms.

How to Draw Totoro: Step 4

4. Use short, straight lines that meet at sharp points to enclose narrow triangles at the end of the arm. These form the animal's claws. Then, use overlapping curved lines to craft Totoro's legs, feet, and toes. Finally, use short, straight lines to enclose a tiny triangle at the tip of each toe, indicating the toenail.


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How to Draw Totoro: Step 5

5. Draw two circles spaced widely on the head. Draw two small circles within each. Shade one of the small circles to indicate the pupil.

How to Draw Totoro: Step 6

6. Continue to detail Totoro's face. Use curved lines to outline the pointed eyebrows, the nose, and the surprised mouth. Draw another curved line over the nose, and use several vertical lines to differentiate the teeth within the mouth.

How to Draw Totoro: Step 7

7. Outline Totoro's rabbit-like ears using a series of short, curved lines. Draw a curved line within the near ear to contour the inner ear. Then, draw three straight lines on each side of Totoro's face to indicate the whiskers.

How to Draw Totoro: Step 8

8. Use pairs of curved lines to draw several boomerangs or curved triangle shapes across Totoro's chest.


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How to Draw Totoro: Step 9

9. Texture Totoro's fur with patches of short curved lines.

How to Draw Totoro: Step 10

Color Totoro. He is greyish brown with a cream-colored belly.

You can learn to draw Totoro's enchanted forest home. Then, check out our other cartoon character drawing guides.

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The Complete Totoro Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to Draw Totoro

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