The Wind Rises: Layout / by Jaz Malone

Hayao Miyazaki's most recent film, The Wind Rises, ended his directorial career. He is one of the masters of the animation craft, and his work is pretty fun to study. The Wind Rises has some beautiful layouts; as far as I can find, they were created by the artist Aya Suzuki. No copyright infringement intended.

 Let's take the most popular image from the film, shown above. Lovely, isn't it? The focus is clearly on the kissing couple. In order to achieve this, Suzuki uses a series of subtle angles.


First, the ground points up toward the couple. I didn't mark it in the image, but if you follow the path of the top of the cloud on the left, and the bottom of the cloud on the right, they frame the couple, as well. The angles of the ground, the side of the easel, and the umbrella form a triangle around the action.


The second set of lines closes in on the main focus: the top and bottom of the easel could be extended around the couple's faces, and the umbrella's handle sits at the perfect angle to close off this smaller section.


Lastly, the characters themselves frame their own action. The woman leans back, the man leans forward, and the woman's skirt whips up to form the bottom of a small diamond. Everything sits inside this area.

It's a diamond inside of a triangle. There are a lot of beautiful details added to the surrounding image, but the focus stays where it's supposed to.

One more:

A young Naoko nearly falls off a moving train. This is a good one.

The main action (orange) sits inside the triangle formed by Naoko's arched back and Naoko's caretaker. The secondary action (yellow) leads toward the main action; the man on the left's eyes point to Jiro, who watches the caretaker, who looks at Naoko. Lastly, the background details (red) frame Naoko, as does her skirt. It's quite well done. Even the shine on the passenger window frames Naoko's tipping head.


This image is only here because it's gorgeous. Look at the colors in the clouds! Beautiful.