Hayao Miyazaki’s Sketches Showing How to Draw Characters Running: From 1980 Edition of Animation Magazine

Miyazaki Running 4

Earlier this week, we let you know about the animation software used by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli coming out in an open source version free to download. While this makes available to you a piece of the technology used in the service of such masterpieces as Princess MononokeSpirited Away, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, it won’t, alas, get you any closer to possessing the artistic skills of the Ghibli team. To attain those, you’ve just got to engage in the same long, cyclical process of observation, replication, and refinement that you would when mastering anything.

Miyazaki Running 3

Luckily, Miyazaki has provided plenty of examples to work with, and even, now and again in his long career, broken down his techniques for all to understand. Here we have four of his sketches, originally published in a 1980 issue of Animation Magazine (月刊アニメーション), which provide visual explanations of how to animate a character running — not an uncommon task, one imagines, for the Ghibli animators in charge of what the Creators Project calls “the constant running Miyazaki’s films are known for.” If you’ve ever tried to animate running yourself, you’ll know that what might at first seem like a simple, everyday physical action requires a great deal of subtlety to get right.

Miyazaki Running 1

The early motion photographer Eadweard Muybridge gave the world a sense of this when he captured the mechanics of both men and horses running back in the 1880s, but to take those real-world observations and render them convincingly in animation — much less with the characteristic Ghibli smoothness — takes things to another level altogether. “Only Miyazaki man,” said animator LeSean Thomas when he tweeted these images. “Such effortless lines and silhouettes. Years of hard work & learning on display in these sketches!”

Miyazaki Running 2

To those who wish to follow Miyazaki’s method of animating running in order to go on to making the kind of lavish cinematic stories he and his collaborators have, best of luck; to those who’d rather not put in the decades, well, you can still learn his method of making instant ramen.

via LeSean Thomas

Related Content:

Software Used by Hayao Miyazaki’s Animation Studio Becomes Open Source & Free to Download

Watch Hayao Miyazaki Animate the Final Shot of His Final Feature Film, The Wind Rises

The Essence of Hayao Miyazaki Films: A Short Documentary About the Humanity at the Heart of His Animation

How to Make Instant Ramen Compliments of Japanese Animation Director Hayao Miyazaki

Early Japanese Animations: The Origins of Anime (1917-1931)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.


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  • E says:

    Miyazaki is great and all, but I’m getting fatigued from the amount of coverage he gets on this blog. There are other interesting animators.

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