Manga Animation Techniques

in Hacks on March 16, 2019

Probably you have already noticed that anime stories have a specific language of emotions. It is amazing how manga can create so much empathy using just a few simple graphic techniques. Generally speaking, manga is a combination of specific graphic styles that have been elaborated through thousands of years and managed to come up with a range of graphic symbols for expressing facial emotions of manga or anime characters. We have gathered the most basic graphic devices that show character’s emotions. It will help young animators to create better manga animations.

Beads of sweat — embarrassment, nerves, discomfort
Bubbles above head — drunk
Mushroom cloud — sigh of relief
Vertical lines — shocked
Bubble from nose — sleeping
Ghost leaving nose — dead
Pounding vein — angry
Pounding vein — angry
Sparkles — extreme happiness in romantic situations
Scribble cloud — very angry
Chick on head — innocence
Spiral/helix — dizzy
Hair bristling — annoyance, irritation
Hearts — romance, in love

It is quite easy to use these graphic elements to make a character in your animation more emotional. In order to apply this emotions in the CLILK animation, you may prepare your own unique stickers with emotion symbols and then apply them to faces of your characters. On the other hand you can use the ready made facial emotions from CLILK albums. You can also learn about some other techniques of creating a character in CLILK from our previous article.

How to show more action in manga animation

Although CLILK gives you an opportunity to animate objects, it is also possible to express great speed, swiftness and power through dynamic pases and artistic tricks.

Most comics animations have dramatic moments or emotional confrontations. The appropriate use of action scenes can drive a story forward and heighten tension and drama, setting a hero apart from other characters as he or she overcomes an adversary or is defeated only to rise again. Here are some graphic techniques that help the author to create more action in the movie.


An example of jumping from Naruto
An example of jumping from Naruto

Jumping could be expressed with the heavy use of perspective and bold composition. Use dense lines to highlight a rapid action of the character.

Jumping is a truly dynamic activity to illustrate and offers great opportunities for stunning artwork in stories about martial arts and also in sports manga.


Destruction example from Naruto
Destruction example from Naruto

A breaking object, even an innocuous toy can be presented as a dramatic event. Pieces of a destroyed object flying around make the act of destruction even more emotional and catchy. In order to make a focus on the action you may apply the radial lines around the scene, which is quite typical to manga. This is a technique that helps to direct the eyes of the viewer to the main action.

Car Chases

The use of vehicles in a chase is always dramatic. It increases the potential for injury or even death making the action much more exciting, dangerous and destructive. Car chases are also thrilling because they are something not commonly seen in everyday life.

Falling and Dropping

Falling of an important item in animation

Dropping and important or rare item might be a significant event in your story, so it makes sense to emphasize the drama with dynamic action in your animation. Equally, if a person falls from a fatal height the intensity is extreme so be sure to accentuate the drame and speed of the moment.

How to make a comic narration?

The comedy focus goes to the very roots of manga, so it has evolved to allow for ever more outrageous ways to present humour. One of the ways to do this is through exaggerating the style and understanding manga’s visual grammar. Here are some tools and techniques that could be helpful in illustrating funny situations and characters without relying on dialogue.

Zombie Gaze

This exaggerated gaze emphasizes the character’s emotional state. Showing the mouth extending beyond the bottom of the face gives the impression of the mouth being open much wider than it ought to be. This is the manga equivalent of the technique used in American cartoons where someone’s jaw stretches downwards to and impossible extent. In the case of manga the visual portrayal is far less literal and plays on the two-dimensional nature of the artwork.

Wobbling Limbs

This technique is to give characters’ arms and legs an almost jelly like quality. This is often used to create the impression of a character dancing or moving in a stupid manner — usually with a blank and blissful expression — suggesting the character is oblivious to what others think of him or her.

Happy Floating Cheeks

Using a similar technique to the mouth dropping off the face, this character has cheeks drawn so that they appear to hover away from the skin – an exaggeration or hyperstylization, indicating a moment of extreme happiness. In CLILK you can animate these cheeks and make them move by manipulating the time of the shot. More information about time manipulation in CLILK you can find in our tutorial article (see step seven).

We hope that this information was helpful and now you will come up with new ideas about how to make your CLILK animations more dynamic and cool. Don’t wait to make a new wonderful animation. Open the editor right now.