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Concept 1 - Uzumaki Naruto

Uzumaki NarutoThis is Masashi Kishimoto's first concept of Naruto. This same character had appeared in an earlier small one-shot by Kishimoto, not about Ninjas, but about demonic magic.

Before starting his next big series (Naruto), he decided to use this character but made a few minor changes to his appearance. Firstly, Kishimoto changed Naruto's boots to sandals. And, since drawing Naruto's goggles every week took to much time, he also thought up the idea of the Ninja Head Protector.

Concept 2 - Hatake Kakashi

Kakashi's original introduction sceneHatake Kakashi was originally going to be introduced in Chapter 2 and become Naruto's sensei immediately. At this point, neither Sasuke or Sakura would have been introduced. But, after Kishimoto had discussed this with his assistants, this idea was deemed a failure and trashed. Instead, Konohamaru was introduced in chapter 2 and Sasuke and Sakura would be introduced next, before finally being put under the supervision of Kakashi.

Also interesting to note is that while developing the ideas for Naruto, Kishimoto was undecided on the name of this Jounin sensei. He was going to call him either Kuwa, Button, Enoki, Kakashi or Kama. The two, Enoki and Kakashi, were his favorites and he only decided on Kakashi near the end; he says that, looking back, he is glad he did.

Concept 3 - Konohamaru and Ebisu
Early sketches of Konohamaru
                           and EbisuKishimoto, when designing Konohamaru, originally gave him large eyes, but, in his mind, he could not separate him from Naruto because they both have a similar energy and personality. So, he gave him small eyes and decided on that, and the results are the current Konohamaru. He also changed Konohamaru's height in relation to his tutor's. As for Ebisu, Kishimoto decided on him after just one drawing.
Concept 4 - Iruka and Mizuki

Iruka and MizukiThis Mizuki looks much like the Mizuki who was in Chapter One, the only major difference is the hair. Originally, he was going to have slightly scruffier, thicker hair. However, he decided to make it thinner and straighter, and part it in the middle. He also changed the forehead protector around his neck.

His first sketch of Iruka was much "rougher," he had stronger cheek bones and scarier eyes, so Kishimoto made him look gentler, younger, and gave him a more "mellow feeling" as he says.

Concept 5 - Uchiha Sasuke

Uchiha SasukeTo the left is Kishimoto's first sketch of Sasuke, as you can see, it has changed very little up till now. The only major difference is the necklace which has now been removed.

Kishimoto mentions that he kept adding extra lines to his main characters, as he drew them more and more; adding accessories and such. However, in a weekly series such as Naruto, the more detail the characters have, the longer they take to draw. So, he started to scrap things like this and made Sasuke's image "closer to Naruto's."

He also mentions that he has to be careful when drawing Sasuke, so as not to make him to adult-looking, particularly the eyes.

Concept 6 - Haruno Sakura

Iruka and MizukiThese are Kishimoto's earlier sketches of Sakura and Inner Sakura, as you can see, little has changed. He says that he has always had trouble drawing girls, and worries that they are not cute enough. When he passed his sketches around to his assistants, they also agreed that she just isn't cute!

Kishimoto says he really likes Sakura's design and her as a character, particularly since everyone has a voice in their head like Sakura, which expresses their true feelings. He also thinks that a young teenage girl pursuing a "selfish love" is realistic.

From the images, you can see that Sakura's uniform is what had changed the most.

See also: Kishimoto's Earlier Sketchs of Haku's Demonic Ice Mirrors technique.
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