"Chibi" or "super deformed" (SD) is a "cartoonish" art style that involves making characters two to three heads tall. One example of a well-known work that consistently uses a chibi art style is the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz, as well as its animated adaptations. I understand a couple uses of the chibi style:

  • To make characters appear "cute" in an exaggerated manner, as the brain associates a larger head compared to the body and simpler facial features with protective instinct.
  • To keep faces visible in wide shots, which was required in two-dimensional low-definition video games (roughly pre-1997).

But I also see drawbacks. For example, because the arms are usually not long enough to touch the top of the head, it becomes difficult to animate a character doing any of these:

  • Pulling a shirt over the head
  • Putting a hat on
  • Dressing one's own hair

What are the common solutions to this in chibi illustration and animation?

  • 1
    Artistic freedom? In the specific case of the Peanuts, it's probably their parents doing it!
    – Jongware
    Oct 27, 2014 at 8:32
  • 1
    you might want to take notes from the south park show. watch a few episodes and see how they do things.
    – Jake
    Nov 2, 2014 at 11:31

1 Answer 1


This is something I think about from time to time when drawing. When it comes to cute, alternative styles like this, you have some freedom to get away with things that might be impossible or unfeasible -- in some cases, you may have arms lengthening unnaturally for a moment (it doesn't look as unusual as you'd think in context), or the character openly acknowledging this drawback. "Stretching the truth" a little bit would not be uncommon, however!

The Samurai Pizza Cats are about 3 heads tall, and they could get away with touching their toes or the tops of their heads (if they removed their helmets, perhaps). Super Mario is also 3 heads tall -- 2 in Paper Mario and some older artwork -- and he's still depicted as able to do a wide range of things in both forms, though a few of them involve some deformation (see his attacks in Super Smash Bros, or read the comic Super Mario Adventures). It's all about the style.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.