Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Drawing Anime Characters - How to Master This Drawing Style

Many books and tutorials jump the learner right into drawing the anime style.  However, it is important for anyone learning to draw to start with basic concept.  Even though anime is a cartoon style of art, there are some elements that are rooted in reality.  Comic book artists tend to exaggerate just about everything.  But they must first learn how to draw it correctly before making it pop or making their characters look larger than life.  What makes this style so fun is that it shows life and energy in how the images are displayed.  A lot of what you see is almost as if it came from a photo or magazine that was turned into anime with some added exaggeration.

Learning the basics – Anatomy
It goes without saying that we must all learn to walk before we can run.  It’s common to see comic book newbies and amateur’s work posted on sites that have issues of anatomy and proportion.  If we look closely, the artist set out to do something great but all the positives of their work get distracted by the mechanics of the piece. 

Anatomy is an area that all artists must continue to hone and improve upon.  Good anatomy makes a drawing more believable and acceptable to the eye.  Great anatomy allows the artist to expand and do things that push the limits or even bend the limits.  American comic book artists do this all the time.  Starting with the concepts of true anatomy allows them to move beyond that framework a little in order to make a character more exciting, dramatic and larger than life.

What to do first?
Watch lots of movies and read lots of Manga.  While it is hard at times to consider, sometimes it can be valuable to mimic a popular artist’s style to learn how to draw in this style.  Years ago, Travis Charest (the famous American comic book artist of Wildcats fame) was just starting out and was sort of a knock-off of Jim Lee doing fill-in work.  He created many popular works using this method before developing his own unique style which has now become very well known.  There are countless other examples of this in that industry.  Sometimes it takes having to do this in order to find our own look.

Study Famous Works
There are a lot of books out there that show the production art of an anime.  Many of these artists have websites as well.  It’s a good idea to study professional work and how they get things done.  Obviously, they are able to get large amounts of work done while adhering to deadlines.  This means that they probably have methods that are tried and tested.  I’m a big fan of this “insider information”.  I look at this info as precious nuggets of information that if I choose, I can put in my toolbox for later use.  Why re-create the wheel?

Examples from life
The real world is the best place to reference great work.  Go out-doors (if you can) or go somewhere public like a mall and “people-watch”.  Take in the world and its beauty and bring it to life in your work.
Happy Drawing!

Frank Freeman is a freelance artist, trainer and CEO of Artistic Gurus, Inc. a training company that focuses on how-to videos in the 2D, 3D, Traditional Arts, Comics, Anime and Manga fields. http://www.artisticgurus.com/ or http://www.rentartvideos.com/

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