Improve Digital Rendering: 5 Practical Anime/Manga Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Use reference images for accurate character design
  2. Apply cell shading for authentic anime look
  3. Practice drawing various expressions
  4. Pay attention to body language and poses
  5. Incorporate backgrounds to create context

Are you an aspiring anime or manga artist who's cracking their head on how to improve digital rendering in your art? Well, you're in the right place. In this blog post, we're going to share some practical tips that will help you level up your digital rendering game in anime and manga. So, sit back, grab your sketchpad or tablet, and let's dive into the fascinating world of anime and manga art.

Use reference images for accurate character design

Think of reference images as your trusty guide in the world of anime and manga art. They are your compass, leading you towards a more accurate and believable character design. Let's take a look at how to use them effectively.

Choosing the right reference image

Not all reference images are created equal. Some might lead you astray, while others can guide you to a beautiful artwork. Here's what to look out for:

  • Quality: A good reference image is clear, detailed, and high-resolution. It should provide a clear view of the elements you want to draw.
  • Relevance: The image should be relevant to what you're trying to draw. If you're working on a samurai character, for example, a reference image of a knight won't be very helpful.
  • Multiple angles: It's a good idea to have reference images of the same subject from various angles. This will help you understand the 3D structure of what you're drawing.

How to use the reference image effectively

Now that you have your reference image, how do you use it to improve your digital rendering in anime/manga? Here's a simple process to follow:

  1. Analyze the image: Before you start drawing, take a few moments to really look at the image. What details stand out? How is the lighting? How about the colors? Make mental or physical notes of these details.
  2. Block out the basic shapes: Start your drawing by blocking out the basic shapes of the character or object in the image. This will help you capture the overall structure.
  3. Add the details: Once you have the basic structure, start adding in the details. Remember to keep referring back to your image to ensure accuracy.

Using reference images is a powerful tool to improve digital rendering in anime/manga. It's like having a tutor right there with you, showing you how to draw. So next time you sit down to draw, don't forget to bring your reference images with you.

Apply cell shading for authentic anime look

Ever wondered what gives anime its distinctive look? The answer lies in a technique known as cell shading. This technique can be a game-changer if you're figuring out how to improve digital rendering in anime/manga. But what is cell shading and how can you apply it to your art? Let's find out.

Understanding Cell Shading

Cell shading, also known as toon shading, is a type of non-photorealistic rendering designed to make 3D graphics appear flat. In anime, cell shading creates a bold, dramatic look with high-contrast colors and sharp borders between light and shadow. It's a stylistic choice that sets anime apart from other art forms.

Steps to Apply Cell Shading

Applying cell shading might seem intimidating at first, but once you break it down into steps, it becomes manageable. Here's a simple guide to help you get started:

  1. Start with Flat Colors: Begin your drawing with flat colors. This means no gradients, shadows, or highlights—just the basic colors of your character or object.
  2. Add Shadows: Next, determine where your light source is coming from and add shadows on the opposite side. Remember, in cell shading, shadows are usually a darker version of the base color and have hard edges.
  3. Add Highlights: Finally, add highlights on the side facing the light source. These should be a lighter version of the base color and, like shadows, should have hard edges.

Voila! With these steps, you're on your way to creating an authentic anime look with cell shading. And remember—the key to mastery is practice. So keep experimenting with cell shading in your drawings and watch as your digital rendering skills in anime/manga improve.

Practice drawing various expressions

Have you ever noticed how anime characters can convey a wide range of emotions? From the broadest grins to the deepest frowns, expressions play a pivotal role in bringing characters to life. So if you're seeking to improve digital rendering in anime/manga, it's time to hone your skills in drawing expressions. Let's get started.

Mastering Basic Expressions

Before diving into the complexities of anime expressions, it's important to start with the basics. The six primary emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise—are a good starting point. Try drawing your character expressing each of these emotions. This exercise will help you familiarize yourself with how facial features change with different emotions.

Embrace Exaggeration

One thing you'll notice in anime and manga is the use of exaggerated expressions. A character's eyes might go incredibly wide in surprise, or their mouth might stretch impossibly wide when they're yelling. Don't be afraid to push the boundaries and exaggerate when you're drawing. It adds to the drama and makes your art more engaging.

Get Inspired

Looking for inspiration? Watch your favorite anime or read a manga you love. Pay close attention to how different artists handle expressions. Notice the little details—the way the eyes crinkle in a smile, or how a single tear can convey immense sadness. Use these observations to fuel your own creativity.

Remember, the secret to improving digital rendering in anime/manga lies in practice. So grab your drawing tablet, pull up your favorite digital art software, and start practicing those expressions. Who knows? Your next drawing might just be your best one yet!

Pay attention to body language and poses

Just as expressions can say a thousand words, body language and poses can tell a story. Indeed, they're integral to visual storytelling, especially in anime and manga. How a character stands, sits, or even gestures can reveal their personality and current mood. This section will guide you on how to improve digital rendering in anime/manga by focusing on body language and poses.

Study Real-Life Poses

Start by observing people around you. How do they sit when they're relaxed? What does a confident stance look like? How does someone's posture change when they're nervous? Jot down these observations and use them as a reference when you draw your characters. You could even take a figure-drawing class to better understand human anatomy and how it moves.

Exaggerate for Effect

Body language in anime and manga often tends to be exaggerated for dramatic effect. A character might strike an over-the-top pose when they're excited, or slump dramatically when they're sad. While you should understand real-life poses, don't be afraid to exaggerate them for effect in your drawings. This can make your art more dynamic and engaging.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is vital when it comes to body language. If a character is generally laid-back and relaxed, it wouldn't make sense for them to suddenly stand ramrod straight unless something has made them nervous or alert. Make sure your character's body language is consistent with their personality and the situation they're in.

Remember, practice makes perfect! So, pick up your stylus, fire up your digital art program, and bring your characters to life with expressive body language and dynamic poses.

Incorporate backgrounds to create context

Backgrounds aren't just pretty scenery—they play a crucial role in setting the mood and giving context to your story. A well-drawn background can tell your audience where and when the story takes place, what kind of world your characters live in, and even how they might be feeling. Let's explore how to improve digital rendering in anime/manga by paying attention to backgrounds.

Setting the Scene

A city skyline can show your story is set in a bustling metropolis, while a tranquil meadow might suggest a peaceful rural setting. The time of day, weather conditions, and even the amount of clutter in a room can provide useful information about the story. So, when you draw your backgrounds, consider what they're telling your audience about the setting and plot.

Mood Lighting

Lighting can do more than just show where the light source is—it can set the mood for your scene. A sunset might create a warm, peaceful atmosphere, while a scene lit by harsh fluorescent lights might feel cold and unwelcoming. Experiment with different lighting conditions to see how they change the mood of your scene.

Adding Depth

A background can also give your art depth and make it feel more three-dimensional. You can achieve this by using techniques like atmospheric perspective—objects in the distance are less detailed and have a bluish tint. This can help create a sense of depth and make your art more immersive.

Whether you're drawing a bustling city street or a quiet forest, the right background can bring your scene to life and help tell your story. So, keep these tips in mind when you're working on your next anime or manga project!

If you're eager to further enhance your digital rendering skills in anime and manga, we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'Animating with Procreate and Photoshop' by Nyanza. This workshop will provide you with valuable techniques and insights into digital animation, which complements your journey in improving your anime and manga rendering abilities.