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80s Anime Effect - Krita Tutorial

Being in the 80s, the Japanese animation produced during this pioneering era holds a sense of nostalgia for those watching it today. Legendary examples like Ranma 1/2, Lupin the Third and Astro Boy. All of which shared a common aesthetic quality due to their shared production process of tediously drawing it on individual cell-sheets with simplified pastel water color.

Technology improved inevitably from there and we therefore lost that 80s effect naturally.

So if you interested in emulating the 80s anime effect, here is a quick and dirty tutorial you can follow to do the same for your art.


1. The General Formula

2. The Krita Formula

3. References

This tutorial does not go too deep into the details about what and why the steps are done. If you are interested in the details, I strongly recommend the links I collected under References.

The General Formula

After reading and watching through many articles and videos explaining how to fake the 80s effect, I realized 2 things:

1. Each author always used specific features within their specific image editor (eg. Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Paint Tool SAI, GIMP).

2. There is no such tutorial for Krita users, as of this writing. (If there is, be sure to comment down below.)

Therefore, I decided to provide general characteristics of 80s anime effect which you can figure on your own for your specific image editor. If Krita has it, I am sure yours will have the same. (If not, just switch to Krita. It's free and properly maintained anyway.)

Key Characteristics

1. Watercolor Texture

Reason: During production then, each frame is a watercolor painting on individual plastic cells layers on one another.

2. Blurry

Reason: Back then, to capture each frame, they use physical cameras and it could have been hard to maintain the same focal length when trying to take literally thousands of frames to make episodes.

3. Pencil Lineart

Reason: They were drawing on physical paper and using pencils or markers.

4. Chromatic Aberration

Reason: This happens due to lens distortion. Using physical cameras to capture each frame digitally, this distortion of different wavelength was bound to happen during production. This feature can also be due to the way it is displayed on old cathod ray TVs.

5. Minimal Cell Shading

Reason: Animating is not easy, to say the least. The more elements are in the frame, the more you need to draw to show movement. That is why, for shaded regions in 80s anime, it is often extremely simplified to help ease the burden of production.

6. Increased Saturation

Reason: Having to physically paint each frame meant using real paint. So it should not come as a surprise that most of the color that used are often limited to the primary colors or do not deviate far from it.

If you can replicate these key characteristics in your own image editor, you thus have the general formula.

The Krita Formula

If you use Krita like me, here is a more specific step-by-step guide. For this tutorial, I will be painting Ranma Saotome from Ranma 1/2.

1. First complete your artwork's lineart with a pencil "brush". If you already have lineart done but with a different brush, I suggest redoing the outline again with pencil "brush". This satisfies the Pencil Lineart feature.

For my case, I used specifically "Charcoal Pencil Large", which should come default with Krita.

2. Use water-color brushes to paint in the base colors like so. (If you don't already have the brushes, please refer to this Krita article.) This satisfies the Water Color Texture feature.

3. Next put in shadows like so. This satisfies the Minimal Cell Shading feature.

4. Increase the saturation of all colors. You can easily do this by inserting a Filter layer and adjusting the respective HSV parameter. This satisfies the Saturated Color feature.

5. Duplicate your lineart layer and Apply a Gaussian Blur Filter over it. This satisfies the Blurry feature.

6. Duplicate your overall image into 3 layers (Remember to keep your original image visible below.) Change each respective layer's type to Copy Green, Copy Blue and Copy Red under the Misc tab.

Once you are done, use the move tool and shift one layer subtly to either the left or right. This satisfies the Chromatic Aberration feature.

And you are done!

Has this tutorial been helpful? Was it very convoluted to follow? Is this 80s effect convincing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I am always looking to improve this tutorial.

If you have any other ideas of tutorials, suggest them in the comments and I would think about it.


1. How to Fake '80s Anime [Youtube Video] by

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