Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki shares a secret to help you improve your anime art skills


Often overlooked details reveal why Studio Ghibli films connect with audiences on such a deep level.

In Japan, where thousands upon thousands of different animes have been created, it takes a true legend to stand out and receive praise from a global audience. Director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli Hayao miyazaki is one of those legends, often hailed as the Japanese animation industry’s foremost visionary, not only for his flawless storytelling, but his skills as a hand drawn anime artist, an art that he continues to keep alive to this day.

▼ There is a special magic in hand drawn anime that CG images cannot quite capture.

Adorable characters seem to flow effortlessly from the 80-year-old’s fingertips, but it’s not just the innate talent that belies the director’s skill. Much of Miyazaki’s artistic ability has been nurtured by years of observation, and one of his little-known ideas recently went viral online, as it reveals a simple but often overlooked trick that can elevate an ordinary work of art from good to spectacular anime-professional.

The idea was shared online by manga artist Takehito Moriizumi, (@moriizumii) who recalled an old TV show featuring Miyazaki, saying:

“A long time ago, there was a show in which director Hayao Miyazaki gave a brief review of images drawn by young people. One of the photos showed a mother giving kakigori (crushed ice) to a child sitting on her lap. I was impressed with the photo and thought “they drew this really well”, but director Miyazaki pointed out that “at times like this the mother would open her mouth too.”

Moriizumi went on to say:

“I remember thinking, ‘So that’s the direction of performance. This was before I became a mangaka, but it marked me, and since I became a mangaka, this is a very useful tip.

A little detail like a mother opening her mouth as she feeds her child is one that can turn a good image into a moving moment that connects with audiences on a much deeper level. It’s a fascinating nugget of the director’s wisdom, and gives us a glimpse into how his artistic eye observes the world and channels it into his art, helping to bring a sense of realism to his magical films.

▼ Minute details like the preview of the teeth in this image of Haku from Abducted as if by magic would have been supervised by Miyazaki in the director’s chair.

Netizens were quick to praise the director and his helpful advice, saying:

“What a fantastic way to bring action to a static image! “
“This is so true – I have a picture of my son opening his mouth while feeding his son and I love this picture!”
“Wow, his powers of observation are there!” “
“So that’s what it takes to be an artistic genius! “
“Attention to detail is so important when representing reality on paper. “

Whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned professional, taking the time to observe the world like Miyazaki would is a sure way to help improve your craft. As the director has shown us in the past, movement and form are essential for conveying emotion and portraying realism, even when you are creating a character who embodies the dreaded coronavirus.

Source: Twitter /@moriizumii via Hachima Kikou
Featured Image: Studio Ghibli

Insert images: Studio Ghibli (1, 2)
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