Manga character illustration
This article was taken from issue 17 of ImagineFX magazine. Be the first to read ImagineFX articles in print before they're posted online and get your hands on loads of additional DVD content by subscribing. Visit our shop for more options.

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Manga rendering

In this workshop, I’m going to show you how to create a manga character illustration. I’ll mainly focus on specific rendering techniques that, while painterly, enable me to preserve a clean, line art feel.

Dark versus light

Throughout the workshop, I’ll also study the differentiation between material types, as well as the relationships between warm and cool colour tones. I’ll look at how to successfully make use of shadows, lighting and reflected light, in order to achieve a three-dimensional form from a flat line drawing. You should keep in mind throughout the workshop the decisive use of dark versus light, in order to achieve a shapely, yet comfortable look to the artwork. Although I’ll be working on a flat, white background, I’ll keep a virtual atmosphere in mind, and really push bounced lighting. I am going to achieve this mainly by sharing colours between materials and objects.

Japan in mind

Of no lesser importance will be my focus on maintaining a very Japanese art-inspired look and feel to the character art. As a result, I’m going to be very deliberate in how I shape such areas as the eyes and hair – always distinct points in manga illustration. At all times, I’m going to keep Japanese animation in mind, specifically the way that shadows (or ‘cuts’) are shaped.
Cuts are used in animation all over the world, but the Japanese have a very specific way of shaping them. Since I’m taking a painterly approach in this workshop, my cuts will be a lot more painterly than those found in most classical-style animation.

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