The Difference Between Anime and Manga Art Explained


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In this post, I will share what makes the difference between anime and manga art. While anime art can be seen as the same as manga art, there are a few key differences between them. Keep on reading!

Key Takeaways

  • The main difference between manga art and anime art is the use of colors in anime art.
  • In manga art, depth and three-dimensionality are created with halftones and using the hatching technique.
  • Anime art can be seen in anime series and movie posters, and manga art can be seen in comic books.

The Difference Between Anime and Manga Art

The most prominent difference between anime and manga art is the visual representation. 

The main difference between manga and anime art comes from using colors in anime art. Anime art can also be cel-shaded, rendered, and vibrant with colors. It can also be a fully rendered illustration. Anime artworks can be made using traditional or digital mediums, but some artists combine the two.

On the other hand, manga art is usually black and white and uses line art prominently. And when it comes to shading, manga artists use halftones to add depth, detail, and three-dimensionality to the art.

Manga art is seen in manga comics, while anime art is seen on movie posters and promotional material. While manga art and anime art words are used in synonyms, anime art can be seen as a detailed and colored continuation of manga art.

What Is Anime Art?

Anime art is the core of anime or Japanese animation. While it’s traditionally drawn by hand, nowadays, animators use tons of digital software to pump out more anime films and episodes in a shorter period.

Dragon Ball Super poster showing an example of what anime art looks like. Image credits.

Although some people don’t take anime seriously or consider it an art form, the Japanese Ministry of Education officially recognizes it as a form of art. In fact, anime art is one of the most important expressions of art in Japanese culture.

Anime art is usually based on manga art, so what differentiates one from the other?

Colors are the most notable difference between the two. The colors of anime art bring manga art to life, providing a whole new element to the drawings. 

Besides highlighting details, the colors also help set a tone for the artwork. For example, dark shades often portray sadness and mystery, while bright hues can present joy and vitality.

Also, animators use lots of software to create and render their anime art. To give it a more hand-drawn look, they also use a technique called cel shading, where shadows are drawn with solid colors that aren’t blended. Cel shading is one of the key elements of what makes anime art style look like anime.

What Is Manga Art?

The first examples of the Japanese using manga can be found in the Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga scrolls. The art can be credited to the artist-monk Toba Sōjō, which dates to the 12th and 13th centuries.

Related: The Short History of Manga.

Dragon Ball Super manga shows what manga art looks like. Image credits.

Nowadays, manga art refers to the illustrations in graphic novels produced in Japan

Unlike American graphic novels and comic books, which use colors in their art illustrations, manga is typically released in black and white. However, you can find full-color prints of special-edition manga.

Because most manga art is colorless, it can’t illustrate things like hues. This is why manga-ka creates depth with halftones and hatching techniques and uses line art to emphasize form and shapes and to differentiate objects from one another.

A popular technique in manga art is hatching. It’s the process of drawing closely placed parallel lines to create tonal effects. Hatching also creates various textures and dimensions, affecting the overall brightness of a drawing.

Overall, stories portrayed by manga art can be compelling and exciting. When a manga gets enough popularity, it can get adapted into anime. A few examples of manga series turned into anime are Dragon Ball Z, Death Note, Naruto, and One Piece.

The Process of Adapting Manga Into Anime

When a manga has been doing exceptionally well, it’s put under consideration to be turned into an anime series. Publishers usually contract anime studios for the project, often to boost the manga and sell merchandise about it.

Adapting manga into anime can be cost-efficient. If the manga has a huge and loyal fanbase, it might not need much money for marketing.

Turning a manga into anime is a major project, involving everything from coloring and animating the artwork to contracting talented voice actors to give life to the dialogue.

In the process, the manga art seen in the comics needs a color palette so that animators can make the anime art for the anime series.

Feature image credits.



Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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