I hadn’t forgotten, of course. The next session was just postponed because the time it should have been last was a national holiday. So I have three lessons this month instead of two, yippee!
Well, today’s subject was simply drawing the human body and we were asked to draw a boy and a girl on the same page or two characters of the same gender but with different body types. I have to say, I wasn’t really on form today and so my drawing looks… pretty bad by my usual standards. I also had to use the G-pen again, which I really hate… the lines come out thicker than I usually would like. But here it is all the same.
Recognise these two? It’s the Doctor and Clara! I watched the final episode of the new series this morning so they were in my head somewhat. I also really like Clara’s dress sense because it’s similar to my own (Jenna-Louise Coleman is roughly the same height as me so I guess it figures that we wear clothes to show off waist and shoulders). Once I drew her, I figured I may as well draw the Doctor next to her.
Now, then… I’m actually not very good at drawing static human bodies like this. I find it hard to visualise and I think it’s much more interesting to draw things in action. I also rarely draw legs. My sketchbook is full of stuff that’s just the torso so when it comes to drawing the lower body I’m all thumbs. S-Sensei picked up on that straight away when he looked at the Doctor.
“The girl is good,” he said, “I like the balance. It looks natural. But the man is a bit… well, he’s not lined up with her for a start.”
And he has a very good point, it looks like the Doctor is levitating. XD;; That was just me being clumsy.
“Also, his legs are too long. Look at how short his body is, it looks quite unnatural.”
(I didn’t want to point out that this is what Matt Smith actually looks like, so I just sort of nodded and said “Ah, I see.”)
“Proportion-wise, though, it’s not bad. Heads are a bit big, but maybe that’s just your style,” he added. “Your white-black balance is excellent, though— just right. The pattern on the girl’s dress is great. It’s not screentone, but your cross-hatching is neat so it looks good.”
I explained that my reasoning for this is that in the UK I never had access to screentones. I had to cross-hatch if I wanted to create texture in my work so I got a lot of practice in. He particularly liked it on Clara’s dress. He was also quite surprised by the way I fill in small areas of white. A lot of manga artists colour around areas they leave white (lines in the hair, etc) but I’m veeeery clumsy. So instead I colour it all black and then go back over where the lines were with a white gel pen. That’s how I achieved those pinstripes on the Doctor’s waistcoat, too— white pen! Apparently it’s a method a lot of manga artists don’t use, so that made me glow a little. Originality, yay!
I also learned the reason why I fall over a lot. Because of the way women’s hips are widened, most women’s toes point slightly inwards to counter-balance the heavy bones we have up there. But I’m duck-footed (feet point outwards) so I guess the weight of my hips isn’t spread evenly. And I have very wide hips indeed. So wide I couldn’t even sit on a child’s swing the other day. Sob! Anyway, I wonder if that’s why I lose my balance quite a lot.
That was actually pretty much it for today’s lesson. Apart from sitting by a girl who was freaking amazing at manga. Seriously, she sketched out the rough shape and then went straight over with the ink— not a single mistake made. She finished her piece in about half an hour before doing several more. I was amazed— how can anyone draw that good that quickly, I asked?
“Lots of practice,” she replied. “Actually, I didn’t even know I could draw until I started work about a year ago and doodled in notebooks.”
She had only been drawing for one year and was already at a professional standard?! I’ve been drawing for well over ten years and I’m still nowhere near!
“I’ve come to realise that I enjoy this too much,” she went on, ”so I want to quit my job and go to Tokyo to become a manga artist.”
“I’m pretty sure you can do it,” I said, enviously eyeing her perfect work.
She laughed and replied, “You’re pretty good yourself, though. I’m sure you can become this good, too, don’t worry. Focus on yourself and not on other people. Do what you can do, because only you can become the artist.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, so I thought about it on the train home and I wondered if she meant that it’s wrong to try and get bogged down in little details or compare your work to others. If you want to be a manga artist, then of course you should recognise when your work is good and when it’s bad. But there should also come a time when you stop doing that and focus only on your own improvement without constantly comparing to external elements.
I guess I’ll just have to ponder it more before next week’s class.