Always Gotta Be Different

>> Saturday, January 29, 2011

With anything other than motor skills (acronyms and the names of business associates), I tend to be a quick study, the kind that usually does better learning in her own way. Self-study and self-taught has been my way in general because I tend to know best how I learn. That even applied, to some extent, in singing.

I had a couple of books on how to draw manga that I'd bought for my more artistic daughter and husband in the hopes they could be the artist, but they never pursued it. I looked through them, but, again, I just can't see going that way. I have no interest in drawing people as series of ellipses and then filling in over that.

As I was planning to do this, but still finishing my latest novel, I spent a lot of time trying to decide how I wanted to start. The challenge, I figured, was coming up with a face for a character I was satisfied with, then practicing drawing that character with (a) different expressions and (b) in different poses. Drawing the same character consistently, that I figured would be challenging. When I had one character down, I'd design and do the same with then next key character and do that until I had all the main characters laid out. By then, I could start thinking about what else I needed to work on.

So, last week I started. I'm using the worlds cheapest mechanical pencil (0.7 mm unrefillable papermate you can buy by the jillions from Sams), a vunderbar white eraser (Pentel Tri-Eraser) I would recommend for ANYONE who likes to draw or draft (if you're going to spend money, that's where I'd spend it), and a $2.35 sketchpad I bought from Walmart. The tri-eraser has it all over my beloved click eraser I use at work because it has three sharp points for doing detailed erasing.

I don't do rough drafts, largely because I'm too perfectionist. I'd get frustrated and stop. I know nothing about using models. I found a pair of eyes in manga I wanted to use for my main character in manga because I thought they were so expressive.

The next two days, I worked on this picture of Tander, hoping to make a reference Tander I can use for learning and drawing the character in different expressions, poses and clothing. I drew them the first day I worked on this, using features from manga I liked (different faces) and then putting them together or adapting them until I had what I wanted. Only the eyes are really stolen. It is not retouched.

You can see I have some work to improve my symmetry and you can clearly see the eraser earned it's keep. I may also, as I work on other aspects, expressions, whatnot, want to change a few things.

However, as a starting place, I'm actually pretty pleased. I was able to do something more easily than I expected. Manga is pretty low on requiring too much detail. I also discovered as I redrew eyes multiple times, that I drew them faster and consistently (even as I varied them in position and size) the more I drew. I thought that boded well.

Some of you might have been uninterested in my little experiment. If you were, sorry. And sorry for those of you looking at this and shaking your head at my obvious lack of training/ability. I expect it to be a slow learning process.

Even so, I'm pleasantly surprised at my progress. I thought some of you all might be, too.

Update: Note to self. It does not increase my confidence to see my clumsy sketch, then scroll down and see the panels from Shinobi Life. I do have a long road ahead.


  • Jeff King

    Agree, you have a long way to go, but you have talent. I am very impressed so far.

    I have no doubt you will reach your goal, with your determination and skill set.

    I score it 7 out of 10… I love the hair and shape of shoulders and neck.

    Keep it up; I’m jealous of your ability.

  • Shakespeare

    Wow, Tander looks so much like I imagined him! Well done!

    So glad you are doing this! I'm actually drawing my characters right now, too, as I'm re-forming the novel. I feel like I haven't drawn in ages... but hopefully with a little work I'll start doing something well.

  • Stephanie Barr

    I always appreciate any commenters who aren't obviously laughing at me.

  • flit

    I love it - especially the hair; it is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    Silly me, I must be old school.  I was expecting to see Conan the Barbarian's body with Fabio's face and hair!  'Course, I don't get exposed to anime/manga much so this image never would have occurred to me. 

    Good artwork, though.  I see possibilities of online comic books!  Dunno, might be easier to break into that market than traditional publishing - and more fun since your hubby is an expert and could collaborate even more. 
    Mike Hawthorne

  • Shaky Jake

    A long way to go to what? This looks friggin cool. I'm certainly no artist, but I think this is pretty impressive.

  • Stephanie Barr

    Thank you, Shaky Jake. Feel free to look at my last post for something closer to the goal.

    But I'll take the encouragement. I want to get there. And, truthfully, it turned out better than I expected. Now if I could just stop having to work to all hours, I could do more.

  • JD at I Do Things

    I'm with Shaky Jake. That looks great to me, especially considering your inexperience. Anyway, it's worlds better than I could attempt. The only things I can draw are a smiling sun and a turtle with a top hat.

  • The Mother

    I tend to be a quick study, too. Good thing, too, since I've had to throw so much stuff into my brain over the past few weeks.

    Drawing, however, I would never be able to do.

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