What are anime speed lines?
Anime speed lines are an effect that adds emphasis to action in cartoons, movies, and comics. In a classic setup, a lone hero stands before a challenger, both with looks of determination on their faces. For a few moments, the hero is still, almost as if gathering strength for the inevitable fight. When they spring into action, that gathered strength explodes as a visual effect that looks like sun rays emanating from each opponent. These radial speed lines extend out from their forms as they charge and the fight begins. Fans of anime (Japanese animation) have seen this countless times: anime speed lines tell you it’s time for action.
Despite the name, anime speed lines didn’t originate in Japanese cartoons. The speed lines most associated with heroes, robots, and monsters about to fight originated in manga, or Japanese comic books. These black-and-white comics often needed a way to show motion in a still medium. Many anime series are based on manga, and those adaptations haven’t just incorporated the core concepts, characters, and story lines from a series. They’ve also incorporated manga’s visual language, which includes shortcuts for showing emotions or action. Just like in manga, characters who are flying through the air in anime are often accompanied by a halo of speed lines.
Uploading footage to Animate.
Drawing speed lines.
There are two basic types of speed lines. The first type is simple hand-drawn lines coming from the character or object in motion. This type evokes early twentieth-century manga and anime, and will give your footage a low-fi effect reminiscent of old Astro Boy cartoons. The second type of speed lines can also be tapered so they are slightly wider as they approach the edge of the frame and narrower as they reach the center of focus. This type looks more sleek and contemporary.
Animating speed lines.
Other anime effects.
Speed lines aren’t the only way to add anime action to existing footage. Anime draws on many other manga visual features, including on-screen text, to emphasize sound effects or dialogue, and halos of light around characters who are channeling or exerting great power.
Don’t just suggest action, show it.
Anime speed lines are a beloved genre convention, but they are only one way to add excitement to your footage. Animation is a huge medium, and there are many other ways to put your characters at the center of the action. Learn more about how to animate action and create dynamic movement with these Adobe Animate tutorials.