Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A few more Manga doodle pages and stray thoughts

Many How-to-Draw books start with a few pages explaining the value of basic geometric shapes in deconstructing every imaginable subject that you might want to draw for good reason. Even the most complex shape can be analyzed and broken down into its component geometric parts to facilitate its rendering as demonstrated by these basic figure construction sketches that rely mainly on spheres and slightly modified cylinders to portray simplified human bodies.
Some face doodles drawn with a Sakura Pigma Sensei 0.4 mm pigment liner pen.
My usual sketching process is to start with the head, and then gradually add each adjacent body part: torso, shoulders, arms, forearms, pelvis, thighs, knees, ankles, and feet. In this example rather than seeing the finished image in my head, I'm putting it together for the first time on the paper as I gradually recall and combine different body part symbols (accumulated through study, observation, and regular sketching practice) to build a generic robot character. Keeping it simple enough to facilitate drawing it from another viewing angle. In a way creative sketching is equivalent to thinking on the paper surface, enhancing the transmission of ideas with a visual component. This process is partially independent of the constraints of language, so becoming an effective sketcher/visual communicator can overcome some language barriers. Imagine trying to order food at a restaurant in another country where you do not speak the language, a picture menu or a hastily drawn picture of a chicken dish might still allow you to get some food provided that the visual symbols in both cultures are fairly similar. In the worst case, they might bring you a plate with life poultry or some innards if you are perceived to have tastes similar to Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame.
Some random design ideas for updated Masked ninjas, concept inspired by my fascination with the Old-School arcade game Shinobi.
A few years ago, comic book artist Dan Brereton declared during an interview that he has always enjoyed drawing monsters inspired by favorite childhood memories of Godzilla, Ultraman, and feudal Japan movies. While I share some of the same influences, I also enjoy finding out as much as I can about mythological beasts and creatures from archaeological records and folk tales while traveling. Thus I partially recall a Chinese tour guide's story about the origin of the Chinese dragon being an amalgam of different real animal parts (hence the dragon sketch above showing the possible origin of its body components). Monster creation tips: to create your own monsters simply blend different animals in the tradition of Chinese Dragons and the Medieval Chimera and Griffin. While a simple blob could be considered a monster, do not forget to apply the laws of Physics to its mass to enhance its sense of believability. Without gravity the amorphous shape would resemble more an innocuous amoeba rather than a threatening man-eating beast. Just because you are drawing monsters, does not give license for sloppy work that ignores all basic rules of science and comparative anatomy. The goal of sketching is not the straightforward photographic representation of reality (for that you just need a camera), but to capture its essence with economy of lines and clarity.
A few monsters drawn with the Sakura Pigma Sensei 0.6 mm pigment pen.
Phoenix and Dragon also drawn with a Sakura Pigma Sensei 0.6 mm pen.
Making up some more monsters with a recently discovered favorite gel pen.
More monster doodling done with a Uni-ball Signo Bit 0.7 mm gel pen.

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