Improve Your Anime/Manga Composition with These 5 Easy Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Focus on Character Positions and Poses
  2. Use Light and Shadow to Add Depth
  3. Incorporate Motion Lines for Dynamic Scenes
  4. Employ the Rule of Thirds for Balanced Compositions
  5. Practice Perspective Drawing to Create Realistic Environments

If you've ever wondered how to improve composition in anime/manga, you're in the right place. Drawing anime or manga characters isn't just about creativity—it's also about understanding the principles of composition. In this blog, we'll dive into five easy tips that will help you elevate your anime/manga compositions. From character positioning to light and shadow usage, these tips will give your artwork a professional edge. So, let's get started!

Focus on Character Positions and Poses

Character positions and poses play a key role in how to improve composition in anime/manga. They can tell a story, show emotions, and even create drama in your artwork. But how exactly do you master this aspect of composition? Let's break it down into a few simple steps.

Understand Body Language

Body language is a powerful tool in visual storytelling. For example, a character with crossed arms might be defensive, while a character with wide-open arms could be welcoming. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Posture: A straight posture can indicate confidence, while a slouched one might suggest tiredness or sadness.
  • Facial expressions: Expressions can speak volumes about a character's emotions. A simple smile can show happiness, while furrowed brows can indicate worry or concentration.
  • Hand gestures: Hand gestures can add to a character's expressiveness. Think about how your character might use their hands when they're excited, nervous, or angry.

Play with Angles

Angles can add dynamism and depth to your compositions. For instance, a low angle can make a character appear imposing or heroic, while a high angle can make them seem vulnerable. Experimenting with angles can truly make your anime/manga compositions stand out.

Use Action Poses

Incorporating action poses is a great way to bring energy and excitement into your work. Whether your characters are swinging a sword or running from danger, action poses can make your compositions more dynamic and engaging.

Remember, the key to improving your anime/manga composition lies in practice. So, grab your sketchbook and start experimenting with these tips today!

Use Light and Shadow to Add Depth

Another effective way to improve composition in anime/manga is by mastering the use of light and shadow. Light and shadow not only add depth and dimension to your drawings, but they can also help to guide the viewer's eye and set the mood of the scene. So, how can you use light and shadow to your advantage?

Understand Light Sources

When adding light and shadow to your drawing, first identify where the light is coming from. Is it above, below, or at the side of your character? This will determine where to place the highlights and shadows. Here's a quick guide:

  • Top lighting: If the light source is above your character, the top of their heads and shoulders will be brighter, while their eyes and lower body will be in shadow.
  • Side lighting: If the light is coming from the side, one half of your character will be in light and the other in shadow, creating a dramatic effect.
  • Under lighting: If the light is below your character, it will cast eerie shadows on their faces, perfect for a suspenseful scene.

Add Depth with Shadows

Proper use of shadows can add a sense of depth and volume to your characters. Keep in mind that the closer the shadow is to the light source, the darker and sharper it will be. As the shadow gets further from the light source, it becomes lighter and blurrier. This technique of using gradients in your shadows can give your art a more three-dimensional look.

Set the Mood with Lighting

Light and shadow don't just add depth—they also set the mood. Bright, even lighting can make a scene feel cheerful and relaxed, while harsh shadows can create tension or drama. Don't be afraid to play around with different lighting scenarios to evoke different emotions in your viewers.

Just like with character poses, the key to mastering light and shadow is practice. So, why not give it a try in your next anime/manga composition?

Incorporate Motion Lines for Dynamic Scenes

Ever wondered how to make your anime/manga scenes burst with energy and movement? The answer lies in the effective use of motion lines. They're a great tool to visually communicate action and direction, and when used right, they can transform static images into dynamic sequences.

Signifying Speed with Motion Lines

When your character is moving quickly, motion lines can help illustrate their speed. The faster the movement, the more motion lines you should use. For example, if your character is casually walking, a few lines will do. But if they're sprinting or in the middle of a high-speed chase, you'll want to pack in plenty of lines to emphasize the pace.

Directing the Eye with Motion Lines

Motion lines aren't just for showing speed. They also guide your reader's eye across the page in the direction of the action. By strategically placing these lines, you can lead your reader's gaze from one key point to another, ensuring they don't miss crucial parts of your scene.

Showing Impact with Motion Lines

If you're illustrating a powerful punch or an epic explosion, motion lines can help to convey the force of the impact. Radial lines—that is, lines that radiate out from a central point—can be especially effective here. The more lines you use, the stronger the impact will seem.

So next time you're sketching out an action-packed scene, remember: motion lines are your friend. They'll not only add dynamism to your drawings but also guide your readers through the story you're trying to tell. Now, isn't that something worth giving a shot in your quest of learning how to improve composition in anime/manga?

Employ the Rule of Thirds for Balanced Compositions

Now, let's move on to a classic technique that's not just limited to the world of anime/manga, but is a staple in all forms of visual art: the rule of thirds. This simple yet powerful rule can dramatically improve the balance and appeal of your compositions.

Understanding the Rule of Thirds

Imagine dividing your page into nine equal parts by drawing two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. The intersections of these lines form four points, which are considered the most effective areas to place your main subjects. This is the basic idea behind the rule of thirds.

Placing Characters with the Rule of Thirds

When figuring out how to improve composition in anime/manga, consider where you place your characters on the page. By placing your lead characters at the intersections of the grid or along the lines, you create balance and draw your reader's eye to the key elements of your scene.

Composing Backgrounds with the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds isn't just for characters—it's also useful when designing backgrounds. For instance, you might place the horizon line along one of the horizontal lines, creating a sense of depth and space. This can make your scenes more visually appealing and immersive for your readers.

Remember, while the rule of thirds is a useful guide, it's not a strict rule. Feel free to break it when you feel it's necessary for your story. After all, creativity and originality are what make your anime/manga unique!

Practice Perspective Drawing to Create Realistic Environments

Lastly, let's delve into the world of perspective drawing. This technique, while it may seem complex at first, is a game-changer when it comes to creating realistic and immersive environments in your anime/manga compositions.

Grasp the Basics of Perspective Drawing

At its core, perspective drawing is about representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface (like your paper or digital canvas) in a way that mirrors how we see things in real life. There are a few types of perspectives you can use, such as one-point, two-point, and three-point perspective, each offering a different viewing angle.

Applying Perspective to Your Manga Layouts

When considering how to improve composition in anime/manga, make sure to use perspective to your advantage. For instance, in a cityscape scene, you could use two-point perspective to give the impression of tall buildings towering above the characters. This not only adds depth and scale to your scene but also helps convey the characters' emotions and experiences.

Experiment with Different Perspectives

Don't be afraid to play around with different perspectives. Maybe an intense battle scene could benefit from a dramatic three-point perspective, or perhaps a quiet, intimate moment between characters is best captured with a simple one-point perspective. It's all about choosing the right tool for the right moment.

Remember, mastering perspective drawing takes time and practice. So, don't get discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out exactly as you'd hoped. Keep refining your skills, and soon enough, you'll see a noticeable improvement in your anime/manga compositions. Happy drawing!

If you're eager to level up your anime/manga composition skills, we highly recommend the workshop 'Tips To Compose More Compelling Photos' by Austin James Jackson. Although the workshop is geared towards photography, the composition principles discussed can be applied to the world of anime/manga illustration as well. Learn how to create visually stunning compositions that will make your artwork stand out from the rest.