Action Sketching: Get more out of the game by creating action stories

Japanese of all ages create manga, which are graphic stories (novels) involving highly active characters.

In America, potential artists might claim they don’t have the skills to create graphic stories, but that is only because they haven’t learned the drawing tricks related to action positioning.

To accomplish their craft, Japanese manga artists rely on photography and sets of miniature manikins, popularly sold as COLOR-LILIJ Body Figures.

Japanese manikins used to draw action figures

Everything about their manikin sets are described in Japanese, so don’t rely on the directions that come with these sets (unless you read Japanese).

The manikins are very small, as shown here relative to a standard sewing scissors. Each manikin comes with extra hands, feet, arms, and other implements that could be used to illustrate a story.

Here is a COLOR-LILIJ manikin set showing its relative size against a scissor

Below is a picture of one of my older manikins next to a new one being unpacked. If you think they look delicate, you’re right! They are easy to break, and, in fact, my old manikin is missing an arm because of that.

Size comparison of the COLOR-LILIJ manikin

In order to keep the manikin stands and other items tight, you’ll need a tiny screwdriver as one does not come with the kit. Equally important, you’ll need a camera (a cell-phone camera will do), and perhaps additional reference photos. My next soccer sketching blog articles will discuss how to work with these things.


Americans are probably not aware of just how seriously the Japanese are about action art and because of that, skipped seeing tutorials on the subject. Spend time getting acquainted with them (even if you can’t understand a word they say) so you can start imagining your own soccer mangas.