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7 Ways Animators Can Master The Anime Animation Style

ben marvazi 2020

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Elevate Your Studio Skillset With the Anime Animation Style

Anime, a style of animation that originated in Japan, has captivated audiences around the globe with its unique blend of art, storytelling, and emotion

The anime animation style is not just a cultural phenomenon; it's an artistic language that speaks to both the heart and imagination. For animators, mastering the anime animation style can open up a world of creative possibilities and storytelling techniques. 

ninja scroll anime character with birds flying in the background

Cover GIF via GIPHY

Whether you're a seasoned animator or just starting out, understanding the nuances of anime can elevate your animation skills and expand your artistic repertoire.

In this blog post, we'll explore 7 key ways that animators can master the anime animation style. From character design to motion dynamics, these tips are designed to help you imbibe the essence of anime and infuse it into your own work.

1. Understanding Anime Aesthetics

The first step in mastering anime animation style is to immerse yourself in its unique aesthetics

Anime is renowned for its vivid visual elements - think bright, eye-catching colors, dramatic character designs, and dynamic compositions. 

Key characteristics include large, expressive eyes, which are often used to convey a wide range of emotions, and hair that's just as expressive and varied in style and color.

cherry blossom tower anime


Anime also tends to have a distinct approach to proportion and perspective, often bending these for dramatic effect. Understanding these aesthetics is not just about replicating them; it's about appreciating the reasons behind these choices. 

For instance, exaggerated facial expressions in anime are more than a style choice; they're a storytelling tool, conveying subtleties of emotion and character. 

As an animator, when you understand these nuances, your work in this style becomes more authentic and impactful.

2. Mastering Character Design

The characters in the anime animation style are not just visual elements; they are the heart and soul of the story. 

This is why mastering character design is crucial. Start with learning the basics of drawing anime characters - focus on the iconic features like the eyes, hair, and facial expressions. 

However, it's essential to go beyond the basics.

an anime character thinking with a cat helmet on


Think about creating characters with depth. Each character should have a unique personality that is reflected in their appearance. 

Experiment with different archetypes and personalities, from the stoic hero to the bubbly sidekick. Pay attention to details like clothing and accessories, which can tell a lot about a character's background and role in the story. 

Remember, when working with the anime animation style, even the smallest details can add layers to your characters.

3. Embracing Exaggeration and Expression

The anime animation style is known for its use of exaggeration to convey emotion and action. This exaggeration is not just limited to visual elements but also extends to the storytelling

When animating scenes, focus on how you can amplify the emotions or actions to make them more impactful. For instance, a simple nod in anime can be depicted with a dramatic tilt of the head, or a character's surprise can be shown with an exaggerated facial expression.

Kirby with exaggerated expressions


This exaggeration is also evident in the depiction of actions. In the anime animation style, actions like running or jumping often have a heightened sense of motion and impact. To master this, study various anime scenes and notice how exaggeration is used effectively. 

Then, practice incorporating these elements into your animations, ensuring they enhance the storytelling without overwhelming it.

4. Anime-Specific Motion and Movement

One of the hallmarks of anime is its dynamic and fluid motion. This style often involves complex action sequences and emotive character movements. To capture this essence, focus on the fluidity and rhythm of motion.

When working with an anime animation style, movements aren't just about getting from point A to B; they're about expressing character and story. For instance, the way a character moves can reflect their personality - a confident character might have bold, decisive movements, while a timid character's movements might be smaller and more hesitant.

two anime characters fighting


When animating action scenes with an anime animation style, such as fights or chases, pay attention to the pacing and impact. Anime action scenes are known for their intensity and speed, but they also have moments of slow motion for dramatic effect. 

Balancing these elements is key to creating gripping, visually stunning scenes that resonate with the anime style.

5. Color and Background Art

In anime, color is not just an aesthetic choice; it's a narrative tool. Colors in an anime animation style are often used to set the tone, convey emotions, and even symbolize themes. 

Choosing the right color palette can elevate your animation, making scenes more vibrant and expressive. Pay attention to how colors are used in different settings and times of day in anime, and how they affect the mood of the scene.

Background art in anime is just as important. It sets the stage for the action and contributes to the world-building. Whether it's a bustling cityscape or a serene countryside, backgrounds in anime are often rich with detail. 

a moving background seen from a car window from a Studio Ghibli movie


When working in an anime animation style, invest time in creating backgrounds that complement the story and characters, and help immerse the viewer in the anime world.

6. Integrating Traditional and Digital Techniques

Anime animation style has evolved over the years, blending traditional hand-drawn techniques with digital technology. As an animator, embracing both can be beneficial. 

Traditional skills, such as drawing by hand, are essential for understanding the fundamentals of animation and developing a personal style. Digital tools, on the other hand, offer efficiency and a range of possibilities that can enhance your animations.

a hand-drawn animation exercise of a character throwing something

GIF by sarahmaes via GIPHY

Experiment with different software and tools that are popular in the anime industry. Programs like Adobe After Effects, Toon Boom, and Clip Studio Paint are commonly used for creating anime-style animations

Each tool offers unique features that can help bring your anime visions to life. Remember, the goal is to find a balance that works for you and allows you to express your artistic vision effectively.

7. Learning from the Masters

To truly master the anime animation style, it's invaluable to learn from those who have already excelled in this field. 

Study the works of renowned anime creators and studios like Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Pay attention to how they craft their narratives, develop their characters, and use animation techniques to bring their stories to life.

an image of Hayao Miyazaki

My process is thinking... thinking... and thinking. If you have a better way, please let me know.

Hayao Miyazaki

Notice the subtleties in their work - the way they handle light and shadow, the fluidity of their action sequences, and the emotional depth of their character designs.

Don't just watch their anime; analyze it. Break down scenes to understand how they were constructed, from the storyboard stage to the final animation. Look for interviews and behind-the-scenes documentaries to gain insights into their creative processes

Learning from these masters can provide a wealth of inspiration and knowledge that you can apply to your own work.

Elevate Your Studio With An Anime Animation Style

Mastering the anime animation style is a journey of continuous learning and practice. It's about understanding the unique elements that make anime special and using them to tell your own stories. 

By embracing these 7 tips - from mastering the aesthetics to learning from the masters - you can develop a strong foundation in anime animation.

an anime character with hearts for eyes


Remember, the key is to experiment, practice, and let your creativity flow. Anime is a versatile and expressive medium, and there's always room for new voices and visions.

If you're an animator looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on "How to Start an Animation Studio" and GET FREE TRAINING to kickstart your animation career today. Dive into the world of anime animation and unleash your creative potential!

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