A lot of anime’s visual language grew out of budget constraints. Many early anime series (and even some current ones) are known as limited animation. To save time and money, animators would hold or pan over still images, reuse drawings or animation cycles, create symmetrical visual assets, or have motion that was so fast it could be expressed as a blur. Storytelling conventions were created in response to practical limitations.
Early series like Speed Racer showed the title character in his car, but his face and head were often still. Motion was conveyed through moving lines around him, and viewers familiar with manga understood that those lines indicated fast acceleration. These effects were simple to animate yet conveyed a great deal of information and excitement.
While they might have their origins in tight budgets, anime lines have become a beloved mainstay of the medium. Even productions that can afford to show elaborate animated action still include speed lines to pay homage to earlier series and to vary how they tell their visual story.
Adding anime action with Adobe Animate.
Uploading footage to Animate.
Add speed lines to existing footage, animation, or motion graphics with Adobe Animate. Decide what you want your speed lines to express. If you want them to connote direction and movement, note where the character is in the frame and what direction they’re going, and draw lines accordingly. Speed lines can also show that a character is powerful or filled with determination. If that’s the case, have the lines emanate from the character like a halo.
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.