Pro tips for drawing characters in movement: Let’s talk about running!

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When drawing a character in movement, it can be even harder to keep the pose looking natural. In order to do this, it’s important to think about the character’s core, and the centre of gravity so that the character looks like they are stable and balanced.

In this series of articles, we’re going to be talking about different types of movement, and seeing how to draw characters moving in that way.

Today we’ll be looking at running! We’ll be looking in to some running poses that are used regardless of gender, and then finally we’ll be talking about some more stereotypical gender-based running movements that we often see in anime.


Full-speed dash

When a character is running at full speed, perhaps in a competitive setting like a race, or in a dramatic scene where they’re running for their life, we want to really see the power behind their movement.

We can do this with the angle of the body, and with the movement of the character’s hair and clothes.

Pro Tip-1

Having the hair and clothing flare out at the back will really help show speed of movement. Read more about the movement of hair in action scenes here.

Pro Tip-2

When moving at full-speed, the body will lean right forward at an angle that would not be possible if the character was stationary. See how the body forms a straight line through the sole of the foot, the hips and core of the body, right up to the top of the head? The velocity keeps them from toppling forwards, even at this angle. To keep up this speed and balance, the back foot is kicking off from the ground with great force – remember to show this in the way the foot bends.

Pro Tip-3

Adding in some little dust and or dirt flecks around the feet will help to add more drama to the scene, and emphasise the force of the running action. Read more about “manpu” manga effects here.


Energetic run

When drawing an energetic character running, we want to have them throw their whole body into it. The arms are fully bent, and are being swung back and forth very enthusiastically. This kind of running style is most often seen used for youthful, peppy characters, and children.

Pro Tip-1

Swinging the arms enthusiastically, with tightly clenched fists will help add energy to the pose. Also make sure that the front and back legs and front and back arms come on opposite sides. For example here we see the left hand arm and right hand leg are out in front, while the right hand arm and the left hand leg are out at the back. Bringing the limbs really far forwards and back, so that the torso and hips are on quite extreme angles will really help the pose look more dynamic.


The stereotypical “girly” run

This is a very anime-specific movement, that you’ll not often see in real life, but it’s meant to show a character’s lack of athletic ability and proper running form. The arms are raised up, rather than down by the character’s sides, the legs are in the uchimata position, and the way the body is twisted looks unstable. It will make the character look quite clumsy and unsure of themselves, which often translates to cuteness in anime.

This style of running is usually used for young girls and women, but might also be used for boys if you want to make them look cute and feminine.

Pro Tip-1

The arms are key here! The character should have raised arms with half-clenched fists, and the arms and upper body should rotate from right to left as the character runs.

Pro Tip-2

Having the knees rotated in towards each other will add to the femininity of the pose.


I hope you’ve found this article useful. We’re looking forward to seeing all your characters in lots of dynamic poses! Good luck with your studies!


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Pro tips for drawing characters in movement: Let’s talk about walking!

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