Short week, wasn't it? Tomorrow, while most of you are enjoying, friends, barbques, and fireworks I'll be down in L.A. teaching coloring workshops at the Anime Expo convention. I love teaching the comic workshops! There are so many enthusiastic people, in amazing costumes that all gather together for their love of Japanese Comics (manga) and Animation (Anime). I'll try to post some photos next week if I get the chance. In our booth we have some wonderful guest artists from Japan, whose work is simply stunning! Every year I wish I could draw half as good as they can.
In honor of Anime Expo, and the Japanese comics, or Manga, I wanted to cover an important part of the distinctive look to Manga characters- the big, beautiful eyes. These oversized eyes are stylized, but I want to explain a bit about the idea behind the way they are drawn and how you too can get the cute-eye look.
Eyes are not flat, just like the world isn't flat, or a ball isn't flat. Eyes are also reflective, and have beautiful but complex patterns just below the surface of the lens. So how can we capture all those qualities in one tiny little picture? I want you to try this: stand outside with a piece of white paper and a friend (hopefully it's a bright Summer day). While standing about 2 feet apart, hold the paper just under your chins. Now, look into each other's eyes.
Understanding light and reflections
Our eyes catch light and bounce it back at the person looking into our eyes. The strongest reflection you see will be from the sun. It is above us, so it hits the top of our eyeball. The next brightest thing we see is the reflection from the white sheet of paper. This is below our eyes, so it causes a smaller reflection on the bottom of our eyeballs. So? What does this mean for how we understand eyes?
Understanding Cute Things
Cute, innocent things tend to be drawn with eyes wide open. When your eyes are open large people thing you're trusting, sweet, and innocent. Look at these two bear heads. Which one looks cuter and more inviting? The one with reflections! They are identical, except for the light reflections.
Understanding how eyes are drawn
So a Manga eye is stylized to be cute & innocent (except bad people). The eyes are drawn oversized (eyes open extra wide). There are usually a minimum of two light reflections, and if the character is super-cute, there may be more. In black and white it looks kinda bland though. So how do we color this to really make those glints of light stand out?
Coloring Eyes step-by-step
1. Choose 3 colors from a Natural Blending family. In this case I'm using YG03, YG07, and I didn't have a darker shade in YG so I had to use a G09. Color with your lightest color, but leave your white areas white.
2. Add your next darker color to the top of the eye. Why the top? Because our eyebrows cast a shadow over the top of our eye, making it look darker on top and lighter down below.
3. Add your darkest color to the very top.
4. Take your lightest color and color over the top of both darker layers. This acts as a blender pen and smooths the colors together. You may have to carefully do this a couple times to get it smooth enough.
5. It's hard to see, but you need to draw the shadow of the eyebrow over your white areas. This is tricky because many times the sides of the eyeball are not defined. In this case I used C1 to add a pale shadow to the top of the eye.
6. Finish by adding skin around the eye. Leave the sides of the eye white to show where the eyeball is. (sometimes I do the skin first, then the eyes, other times it's eyes first and then skin)
If you have a hard time leaving the white areas white, then this is the perfect time to use Copic Opaque White- a thick white paint applied with a paintbrush to add pure white back into a picture. If you have a picture like the bland bear head earlier in the post you can make it cute by using opaque white to add the light reflections on dull, black areas.
For my finished artwork today, I decided it was time to show a guy, since my last two manga posts were of girls. Manga guys tend to look a lot like their female counterparts sometimes (i think his bottom lip is too pouty and I messed up on his hair). Otherwise, he looks like a handsome, pleasant, green-eyed boy.
I drew this picture in my Copic Sketchbook, starting with a loose pencil sketch, then inking it with a 0.1mm Multiliner.
Since the picture was so small, I cut back on my eye colors to the light and dark, no middle color, but I still used the same technique.
I hope this post helped you understand eyes a little better. Have a great weekend! I'll think of you while I'm teaching my workshops. If anyone will be at the show, my Friday workshop is from 1:30 to 3 in workshop room 1, and my Saturday workshop is from 3 to 4:30, same place. Show up early, since these classes fill quickly to standing room only.