Days 53 and 54 – More Mark Crilley Manga Practice

Over thess two days I practiced some more Manga poses from Mark Crilley’s ‘How to Draw Manga’ books…


So these sketches were done in pencil and then inked.  Then I shaded the inked pictures to give the figures a bit more form.

Next I scanned and coloured my images in Manga Studio…



For a change this time I blended my colours rather than using cell shading.

Days 47 and 48 – A bit of Orcish Fun

I watched the DVD of the new Warcraft film yesterday.  It was brilliant.  There was, of course, a lot of CGI in it but they didn’t use it to show off the CGI but to tell the story.  I really loved it.  My favourite part of the story is when the Mage Novice Khadgar researches the Fel and makes loads of papers and drawings and notes in his room.  I love the feeling of that room so much.  My second favourite part of the film is the depiction of the Orcs – they are completely fabulous.

So I had a play at inking an Orc using cross-hatching.  Here’s the ink…



Then I started to work on it digitally – putting in some grey tones…


I think the greys do help to give better shape to the face than the crosshatching alone.

Then for no particular reason I decided to try to paint the orc traditionally with watercolour.  I would prefer to do it in marker pen but copics are too expensive so I need to find an alternative.

Here’s the finished painting…


It doesn’t particularly grab me but it did show me that I can get quite bright fun colours with watercolour.  I’m going to research using watercolour with ink manga / comic art.  It might make a good combination.  When I do eventually write my own Manga story I want the final thing to be a good well-told story with beautiful artwork.  I want the art to be able to stand alone as art as well as tell the story.  Hmmm, nothing like aiming high!  Never mind, I’ve got years to get there.  🙂


Days 38 to 40 – Love and Hate

Over the last three days I’ve been working on using the new style I’ve developed in a manga drawing.  I was looking through Mark Crilley’s Manga books…

manga books crilley

…and decided to draw some human poses.  Because they were on consecutive pages in the book I decided to do the kissing and fighting drawings and use them in an overall digital image of Love and Hate.  Here’s the ink line work with pencil shading…


I must stress that this is not original work, I am following Mark Crilley’s tutorial for these two images.  I added the chinese characters and gave it my own twist in the inking but it is Crilley’s design.

Then I coloured them using three level cell shading – a mid colour and a light and darker shade of each mid colour I was using.

Here are the foregrounds finished…



Then finally, I added a background.  (In fact I drew two backgrounds and my son chose this one.)  Because the background was quite dark I punched up the Chinese characters with a drop shadow but in white to make them stand out.


I am feeling really comfortable with this approach to manga art now, at least in terms of the foreground -ink and pencil with three cell digital colouring over the top.

I once saw a Japanese animated film (Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker) which used 3 cell or even 2 cell shading for the foreground and then a more painterly style for the background.  I totally loved it.  I am wondering about trying that approach for backgrounds myself?

Days 25 and 26 – a dinosaur egg

I wanted to make a simple picture of a dinosaur breaking free from an egg.  Here’s the ink sketch…


Now what I’d really like to do is to colour it with copic markers.  I think that way of colouring would work brilliantly for this subject.  But copics are just ridiculously expensive  – I just can’t ever imagine having the kind of money that would allow me to spend that much on a set of markers.  They must be making a killing from selling those things.    So, I have to find another way.

I tried to colour the picture with gouache…


It was OK but it’ll take some good hard practice to get it looking good.

I also had a go at colouring really quickly using digital tools in Manga Studio.  I was cooking dinner at the time and only had a five minute window before I had to get back into the kitchen.  Here’s the result of that escapade…


It’s kind of rough but it turned out much nearer to what I’d originally wanted than the gouche.  I think because I was only investing 5 minutes into this job I was kind of free to just slap on the colour and not worry about it.  Perhaps I will try to do that with gouach?


‘I Robot’

Of the few robot sketches I did a couple of days ago, my favourite was this one which I redrew a bit bigger…




Here’s him inked…




And here’s my final version coloured digitally…




I had him with his head on one side because that is what my dog does when I speak to her sometimes.  My guess is that she doesn’t know what I’m saying.  I wanted my robot to be like that – a bit confused by human speech sometimes.  It’s like he’s really logical and just doesn’t get it.  I think I’m a bit like that too from time to time!

Looking at the robot critically I think he looks more like a human in a helmet and armour than a robot.  If I were continuing the design, to draw his body, I would have to make it look clearly different from a human body to make this design for the head work.  I like the way the ‘shine’ worked out – I find that stuff hard.


Who says robots can’t be girly?

I would like to draw a simple comic book / manga robot.  I have been fascinated with robots since I first started reading Iasaac Asimov’s books as a child.

Now I have difficulty imagining things from scratch.  I try to do this a lot but my imagination doesn’t really work that way.  So, when I want to make something original and new I first look at all the great robot-type designs that are already out there.  Often there are bits and pieces that I like and don’t like in each design.  There are also design elements from other characters and objects which also seem to help.

Here are some of the super robot designs I found today which other artists have come up with:


The immortal C3PO and R2D2 from Star Wars


More brilliant Star Wars droids.


Wall-E from the film of the same name.


Robots from the animated film ‘Robots’


Robots fro the game ‘Machinarium’ – here painted by ‘big thumb’


This is actually Spectreman by the artist ‘Dreamflux1’ from Deviant Art but I think he would make a cool robot design.


This is a lovely SteamPunk Robot by the artist Ziom5 on Deviant Art

I think that looking at a range of representations of robots helps me learn the visual language of my subject.  Once I’ve got a feel for it then ideas start to flow – not always the best ideas but it’s a start.

Here are some of my sketches:


Looking at these designs I can see elements of C3Po in the first one and elements of a Star Wars Storm Trooper’s helmet in the second one.  However I felt that the first one was too comical and the second I just didn’t really like very much.  One of the things I love about robots is when they don’t have eyes in the way that we as humans might recognise them.

My second set of designs reflected this:


These two were following along with the Steampunk kind of theme.  I imagined part of the hemet being metal and part of it being made of leather – like a robot version of a pair of goggles.  I quite like both of these designs but my favourite is the bottom one – but only just.

So, I decided to make a big version of the one I liked the most in a few days time and to ink the other three now as they are.

Here are the other three robots inked:


I used three different pens to ink these three robots.  On the top left I used a new Kuretake pen.  I loved the way it allowed me to vary the line width by just using pressure on the tip.  It also had a beautiful stark black ink which really shows up wonderfully on the page.  Because it was so different in terms of feel to my usual inking pens (Staedtler 0.1, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7  Liners) I found it hard to control.  It also took longer to dry than my normal pens which resulted in some minor smudging, but it wasn’t too long – just not ultra quick.  There was also some bleed of ink into the paper.  I think this probably says more about the  poor quality paper I’m using than about the pen. Overall the ink quality and width control were so good that I am going to practice a bit more with this pen to see if I can get some mastery over it.

On the top right I used an Italian Dip Pen with some calligraphy ink.  It was clearly NOT a success!!!! LOL  I didn’t find dipping my pen into the ink every now and again too onerous, (in fact it made me feel like I was at Hogworts!!!)  However, the actual nib was MEGA scratchy.  It did give me a good variable line width and had more strength in the nib than the Kuretake pen which I liked but the ink took about 20 minutes to dry!!!!  I totally couldn’t work with this.  I’m going to modify things and have another go with dip pens at some point in the future using a better nib – I’ve got some good ones somewhere – and some quick drying ink.  The dip pen nib holder was lovely to hold and felt comfortable and natural in my hand.

The final ink was done in my normal way with my Staedtler 0.5 liner.  It was easy to use although there is no way to vary the width of the line with pressure.  I also found that the ink wasn’t very dark compared to the Kuretake pen.

Then I scanned the ink pictures into my PC and had some top Manga Studio fun…



Who says robots can’t be girly?!




Days 15 and 16 – Shades of a Grey Wolf

Some of my new art supplies arrived today.  I bought another set of the Faber-Castell pens in shades of grey.


I also got a Pentel Graphgear 1000 in 0.5, which is a mechanical pencil.  I’ve never used one before but I wanted to see what it was like and whether I would take to it or not.

It looks like this:


Well, I can hardly stop myself drawing when I don’t have new supplies to try out, let alone after these arrived!

So first I had a go at sketching a werewolf.  For reference I used this art book by Glen Fabry:


I changed the posed a bit and the way I drew the paws.  Here’s the sketch:


I found the graphgear pencil really easy to use.  I could get a good range of strokes with it and the linework stayed very consistent.

Then I inked the sketch.  I was used a normal liner pen for this which doesn’t have the facility to make strokes of different widths so to make that effect I had to thicken and even colour-in my line work at times.  Here are the inks:



Then I added some grey tones with the Faber Castell pens.  I’ve had a set of these before and I  like the way they work.  However my current artist’s notepad is only 170gsm and I’ve found that this is not enough to hold much in the way of ink.  So I used the pens quite sparingly and it turned out OK I think.  I might do another picture at a later date on bristol board and see if that’s better for layered ink.

Here’s the final picture:


Days 13 and 14 – Samurai Ink

I came across some totally inspired Stock photos on DeviantArt the other day.  They are by a German artist and photographer called Phelan Davion.   There is a whole series on Samurai in different poses.  The one I liked the best from the very first time I saw it was this one:


(Please find the original of this super image in Davion’s Deviant Art gallery.)


So I made a quick sketch:



And then had tremendous fun inking it:


Because so much of the Samurai was dark I had to play around with texture effects in the ink to distinguish different areas of his armour.

Later I also added some basic grey shading to the ink.  I had to do this is Photoshop since my grey pens haven’t arrived yet.  Here’s the finished picture:



While I do really like the purity of having just the black ink to work with I think even a single grey shade adds a nice feel to it.  When my grey ink pens come I’m going to try doing all of it by hand and see what that looks like.



Challenge Days 11 and 12 – The Nakasendo Way

Over the last week I’ve been unwell with a chest infection.  I was still able to sketch a bit after a few days but haven’t been well enough to do much more.  Fortunately I had my last post already scheduled before I became ill so that went ahead without me.

While I was unwell in bed I was looking through pictures of Japan on my tablet.  I came across this old route from Kyoto to Tokyo called the Nakasendo Way.  It’s a route which people often choose to walk as it is recognised as being quite beautiful.

As I was recovering I began to try to sketch a scene from a small town on the route.


It was difficult because as the road climbs and turns it puts buildings into perpectives with different vanishing points.  The first thing I did was to slightly simplify this to two points.  I wasn’t aiming to sketch an exact copy but to make an enjoyable scene.

Here’s the beginning of the drawing construction:


I was drawing very lightly, mainly because I was in bed and not sitting at a table I think, so I had to ‘push’ the photograph when I got it into my PC to get it to show the lines.  Here’s the finished sketch:




My next stage, when I was well again, was to ink the sketch.  It was quite a therapeutic thing to do – really relaxing.  I love inking!

Here’s my finished ink drawing:


As you can see, instead of putting in the people who were in the original photograph I put in someone in more traditional dress.  I also added (at the sketching stage) a plant pot on the bottom right to add interest and detail to the forground.   I’m sad to say that I don’t read Japanese  and so I have no idea what the sign at the front of the picture says or if I copied it accurately enough.

Once that was done  I scanned the images into my PC and then added some greyscale shading to the picture to finish it off.  Rather than making all the ‘flats’ (areas of single colour which can be used to define a mask and paint just that bit), I decided to paint the greycale shading on – just colouring it in like you would on a paper colouring book.  It was much quicker.  In a couple of places I later played around with the lightness of certain areas using a mask.  Generally though I think I prefer the more organic shading as I think it has a nicer feel.  I tried to keep the shading simple and to use it to bring out the main shapes in the little town landscape.

Here’s my finished picture:


I’m really pleased with this one.  🙂