To celebrate Manga Day in Japan, RocketNews24’s best artist has some tips to help add some flare to an average Joe’s drawing.

Yes, 9 February is Manga Day… and so is 17 July and 3 November for that matter, but we’re going to go ahead and celebrate today until some governing body of manga straightens things out.

It was on this very day that a somewhat young artist by the name of Seiji Nakazawa approached his editor Go Hattori with a personal problem. In addition to rock star, model, and chef, Seiji also aspires to become a manga artist but is struggling with the finer points of drawing.

Go looked down at Seiji’s sketch and saw what seemed to be a wolf-boy bunting a piece of mochi with hair growing out of it. “I think it’s pretty good,” explained Seiji, “but I want it to be more exciting. I want the guy to be all like ‘HOME RUN!’ and the ball to be all like PSSSHHHH BOOOOOSHHHHH TTTAHHH, you know?”

Go did not know. But he knew just the person who would: RocketNews24’s resident illustrator Kyoshiro Mamiya. With over 18 years of experience, he should be able to identify the problems in this picture.

After untying his ponytail and putting on a beret, the transformation from Go to Mr. Mamiya was complete.

Mr. Mamiya looked at Seiji’s drawing and smiled. He knew exactly what the problems were. Looking back up at Seiji he cooly explained, “It’s a little…stiff. The movement is rigid and the body’s balance is off. Let me try to improve it.”

Mr. Mamiya took a photo of the sketch with his iPhone and muttered “scan complete.” Then, he loaded it onto his computer for adjusting. He also took off the beret and put his hair back up, making him look exactly like Go again, but he would have to put up with the possible confusion for now. There was work to be done.

Mr. Mamiya: “First, the head is too big. Let’s shrink that down.”

Mr. Mamiya: “Next, his legs look way too stiff. So, I’m going to reposition them a bit to make them look more dynamic.”

Mr. Mamiya: “Now this upper body is all wrong. How are you supposed to hit a home run like that?”

Mr. Mamiya: “Where do you look when you hit a home run? The sky, dummy! Try to convey the action with the character’s eyes.”

Normally, Seiji would be offended at that “dummy” remark, but he had already walked away. Seiji remembered that he had a cake in the oven, because he was also aspiring to be a professional pâtissier, and left Mr. Mamiya by himself.

Mr. Mamiya: “Next, I’ll get rid of that hairy piece of mochi. A baseball is more suited for this scene.”

Mr. Mamiya: “You can feel the action more by showing the ball after it meets the bat, not when it meets the bat.”

Mr. Mamiya: “Now to give it a better sense of speed.”

Mr. Mamiya: “And, I’ll jazz things up with some sound effects and dialog. I’m an artist and not a writer, however. So, my dialog will be ‘DeYAAAaaah!‘”

Mr. Mamiya: “Finally, since there is a little emptiness in the bottom corner I’ll throw in a close-up expression shot.”

Mr. Mamiya: “Aaaaaaand voila!”

The difference was remarkable, and aside from adding the speed lines and words, Mr. Mamiya hardly drew a stroke with his own hand.

Of course, Seiji’s original drawing actually wasn’t so bad at all, but it was easy to see he lacked the experience to become a professional. And since he was now busy putting some icing on a tray of petit fours, he will probably never get it.

In the case of action scenes like this, Seiji’s fatal flaw was holding back. When comparing the two images, the large amounts of restraint in Seiji’s drawing is very easy to see. Mr. Mamiya recommends going all out when drawing action. If you really let loose in your drawing, the resulting image will reflect that.

But most importantly, to be a good artist, you must be prepared to do it again, and again, and again, and a little more again, until you get it right – or at least the way you really want it to be. So, if this is you, what better time to start practicing than Manga Day!

…Whenever that actually is.

Original article by Go Hattori
Photos: RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]