12 July 2015

Chinese Zodiac Illustration and The Same Face Syndrome in My Manga

Hello! In today's blogpost, I'll show you another step by step drawing video.

I'm still working on my series of chinese zodiac characters, though I have to finish some other projects first. The last character I drew some weeks ago was the rabbit, and I've uploaded the speed drawing video to my youtube channel:

I wanted to give the girl actual rabbit-like features, so there's the toothy smile and a button nose. The result is kind of strange, but I like the mix.

Ok, maybe the rabbit ears helped. :'D

Especially when drawing manga, it's easy to fall into 'same face syndrome'. Meaning that, if one removes the hair, or maybe a characteristic accessory, it can be difficult to tell which character it is.
I've got my fair share of problems with the same face syndrome since starting to learn how to draw manga, so my goal for my next drawing project is:

Learning how to draw a variety of manga characters with different faces in a consistent art style.

While a lot of the final character design depends on their typical facial expressions (one character may have a habit of grinning widely, showing teeth, while another one might typically only let a smile escape as a slight twitch of the corner of the mouth), I'm trying to get the 'foundations' of the faces as different as possible while still fitting my general art style.

Features that can help to differentiate manga characters that are often overlooked:

- Eyebrows. In many manga art styles, the brows are just a thin, curved line. While the main focus of eyebrows should remain to express a character's emotions, some variety doesn't hurt! These can range from bushy, straight eyebrows to very thin, arched ones. Maybe a character has very sparse eyebrows, focused only on the inner corners of the eyes? Another one might have them perfectly groomed. Maybe there's a monobrow going on somewhere. ;)

 - Face form. This goes beyond a square or pointy jawline. It's a bit of a challenge to keep this consistent when drawing the manga character from different angles, but it's a very helpful distinction! Try making a character's face wider, another one's thinner. One character might have very soft facial structures, while another one has sharp edges, cheekbones and jawline. The hairline can also vary from round to square, so even if a character has a fringe covering it up, think about how that same character would look without hair.

- The nose. This is a tricky one for manga characters, as certain art styles don't emphasize the nose - or even don't show it at all beyond a hint of shadow. So, while maybe a chubby, wide nose doesn't fit a certain art style, one can still vary the exact position of the nose (lower, higher), the width of its nosethrils, and maybe hint at a 'button nose' or more of a hooked or pointed end. Also, something that is often overlooked is the 'beginning' of the nose bridge between the eyes and eyebrows. This can vary greatly, with high-bridged, sharp-edged noses, a more curved nose bridge or a flat one.

Of course, these things have to be drawn slightly abstract, adapted to the manga artist's style. I'm struggling a lot and need to practice! But I've noticed that when I consciously decide on individual features for characters in the planning/sketching phase, it's easier to get a unique result and easier to draw the same face for the same character consistently.

On to the MATERIALS!

Materials are the same as in my other watercolor postcard drawing tutorial, though I didn't use my normal watercolor collection for this postcard. Instead, I mixed my 'radiant concentrated water colors' by Dr.Ph.Martin's for - as the name implies - more radiant results. The difference to normal watercolors is very visible: The watercolors have a decidedly softer feel to them than these concentrated watercolors. The Ice Blue and Iris Blue practically hurt the eyes if you look at them in their undiluted form...

The speed drawing video shows how to layer these colors from very light to dark. I also did mix in some Napel Yellow to tone down the way too bright blonde hair.

As far as scanning goes: My scanner struggles a lot with these colors, as you can see in the raw/unedited file:

The texture is very dominant, and the colors have lost their vibrancy. Also, the color hue is slightly off.
Compare it to the video, and you can see what I mean...

So, to get as close to the original as possible, I added Gamma Correction, added contrast with the gradient curves, and upped the saturation and vibrancy, while also adjusting the general color balance.

The finished illustration!
I didn't want to loose the paper texture completely and had to adjust the more vibrant colors again when it came to creating the prints, but all in all I'm very happy with how this turned out!

That's it for this weekend, as I'm burrowed in commissions~ Have a nice sunday!

1 comment:

  1. Love the colors! I use Sakura micron pens too! Also loved the video! :D