But as for any kind of art, many people have problems in improving their own style or even finding it. This news-article is directed to any kind of artist that is interested in improving himself/herself.</i>
Ive been asked multiple times how some artists manage to improve very fast and others seem to never improve at all and even though I first thought it has to do with practice I had to admit myself that it does not only depend on mere practice but much more on how you practice and especially on how you handle your finished piece of art.
Improve your Poses and Characters
One of the most widespread improvement-blockades is the missing of helplines. Only very few artists that passed a certain line of skills in drawing Mangas draws them without helplines! Many sketches are posted on deviantart from really good artists that look as if the artist started with the outlines right away, but thats just wrong. Many of these artists either use a blueprint-pen for the helplines (the scanner cant detect this color-> the helplines disappear) or draw them so soft and light that they are nearly not visible in digital form.
Helplines are a giant aid for any kind of poses or angles you want to draw your chara in. Many artists cant draw more than a few poses because they wouldnt know how to change the different joints of the body so that it is another pose.
Now that you know how your pose is supposed to look like, you can build your character around it by giving him/her a face, cloths, ... You dont have to focus on your pose any longer.
This is a giant step and will help you improve a lot!
Giving your character a Personality
Some people look at an artists characters and somehow every single character seems too look just like the other characters of this artist Sometimes thats the fault of the person that looks at them. They dont really look at them but often it is the fault of the artist. A character has life in him/her. If you draw a character just to create a picture with someone in it, it will never look as interesting as if you draw someone that has a personality! For example this chara:
On the left side the chara seems neutral even though she smiles. You cant see any kind of personality in her. The right picture seems much more interesting. The smile looks a little mean-she could be a thief or something. The eyes have much more life in them now and the face is a little longer than before. Such little changes in a characters face or pose give him/her so much more life that it looks a dozen times more professional than a character without personality.
Even if you are just drawing a random character, think of a rough personality for him/her. It doesnt have to be much but just think of it like This character is supposed to be shy, but she loves sunlight, Thats enough. Now you can draw a picture of a girl in a sunflower-field that enjoys the sun but still seems fragile. Just imagine how such a girl would look like. With this you can even create awesome effects in manga-stories. If one of your characters uses to always be in a bad mood and suddenly starts smiling, it seems creepy cause it doesnt match with his personality. Or a very cheerful character. If this chara all of a sudden is serious, the reader knows that something horrible must have happened. With these little tricks your characters and stories grew much more interesting than before.
On a side-note: No character is perfect. Everyone has a flaw in his/her personality or abilities. A God-moded character is totally boring cause you know before that this character is never going to fail in anything all humor and intense is erased out of your story that way. Just take a look at popular mangas just as (for example) Naruto. None of the characters there is perfect. Naruto is a trusting person and a very good fighter, but what makes him so funny and interesting is not Kyuubis might in him, but the flaws he has-> His kind of humor, his Sexy-jutsu (I think it has a different name in English sorry I only know the German name ), things that make him different from others. Whod care about him if he was overpowered, win every fight with one hit and be the most mature person on earth?
So dont worry about giving your characters flaws. It makes them so much more human.
Practice your Characters
If you have OCs that you want to draw more than once, try to make sketches of them from different angles, in different poses, try something new with them! Dont be afraid to try poses that you werent good in before. Just try to draw them by using the helplines. Rough sketches are easily finished in a few minutes but they give you a lot of experience that you might need later on when drawing a real picture again. It also helps you with interactions of characters (take a look at the next chapter for details.)
Only few artists post their rough sketches, but if you search for them you come across a lot of awesome sketches in which you can see the progress of an artists work.
Building a Story
To write a Manga always starts with a story you want to draw. But how to build an interesting story?
The basic of a story is a good idea. You must have a clue where you want to set a story and what you want to show with this story. You must decide before getting started with your charas if you want it to be a fantasy-story, mecha, mystery, dark, ... whatever. So you must be aware of the genre you want to draw (doesnt use very much to draw a mecha-chara for a story that takes place in the Mid-ages )
Now that you know your genre, set up a good idea for something that happens or that happened and makes the adventure of your charas start now. For example: A giant flood destroyed the village your charas live in and killed most inhabitants of the small village.
And now think of a way to solve the problem-> They must find a new home and so start a journey through the lands to find a new place to settle down.
And to make it a little more interesting think of a second problem that might occur: The village lay on a beach, but was surrounded by a desert. Now your charas have to travel through a hot desert instead of just wandering around.
The main-idea for your Manga is born. By giving your characters problems and finding solutions for them you can set up giant stories. This system works: You have one giant main-problem whichs solution ends your characters adventure, but in between the start and the goal more and more problems appear and your heroes have to solve them. What makes such problems even more interesting is if their solution is necessary but distances the charas from their main-goal.
This way you can build your story, yes, but what keeps a story alive are not the events in it, but the charas.
Charas have to match with each other to keep the story running on. If you put two charas together in one room and they are both shy, they will sit in a corner and stare at the wall if the charas both are hot tempered they might start to fight without a clear reason.
Depending on a charas personality the reaction will always change. And especially by putting more charas together they will change the story by interacting with each other. Place two shy charas in front of a dark cave and nothing will happen they will sit there and they wont do ANYTHING!!! But let it be two self-confident charas and they will eagerly take a look whats in the deep dark cave. The most interesting combination though is if the charas are totally different. If one chara is shy and the other one is self-confident and curious, the self-confident chara will stragger the shy chara along into the cave, even if this chara doesnt want to go in there at all
A funny combination can also be a mature chara and a childish chara it adds humor to the worst situations and makes them amusing.
Think of interesting constellation of personalities and create your characters depending on this. If you have one or two charas you want to keep the way they are, add characters that match with them and interact with each other.
A story doesnt have to have much content as long as the charas keep the story running and interesting.
Again: Try to practice this by drawing rough sketches. Chibi-sketches are perfect to practice here! Chibis are the 5x over-acted version of your charas-> If you can draw a chibi-interaction a usual interaction wont be much of a problem.
To keep improving</u>
Many people say the key to improve is practice a lot. Others say it is talent Both are correct and both are wrong.
Talent makes it much easier to improve, but with enough knowledge and practice you can create talent. Drawing is 60% knowledge, 30% creativity and 10% talent. If you lack creativity it is hard for you to think of anything good to draw but all in all you can still draw something if someone just tells you what to draw. A little talent helps to make your pictures look special but these 10% are not so important what is important though is your knowledge about anatomy, poses, perspective, use of colors, skills
A child draws as it draws due to the lack of knowledge and skills. The more we learn how a human body looks like, them more our drawings improve. We learn over time how to make good shadings, how to add contrasts, or how to draw good facial expressions If you take a look at drawings you made when you were 8 years old and look at your drawings now there is a giant difference-> cause you learned a lot.
How to gain this knowledge?
The best way is probably to always have a close look at your surroundings. Take a look at your hand for example. Many people draw pointy fingers but in fact your finger-tips are round. Or fabric. Many people draw cloths as if there are no creases at all in them. But look down on you and you will notice a lot of creases on your own cloths. So a picture of a character with cloths that does not have a single crease just looks unnatural. You dont have to add many of them, but a good amount gives your picture life and a realistic touch.
This is a rather hard way to learn things though. An easier way is to buy some sports-magazines and look at the photos there. Try to draw the poses you see on the pics for your own charas. This is a good way to master new poses you havent been able to draw before. And you practice with your eyes that way too. If you can draw poses you see on pictures, you will have an easier time to draw poses you see in real life.
Any artist (at least 99,9% of all artists) have an idol they admire. It does not have to be someone that is really better than you, but someone that manages to draw pictures that captivate you somehow. Now take a close look at these pictures and try to figure out what exactly fascinates you on them. Find out what your personal preferences are, what you love, what you want to have in your own pictures.
Some people consider this as copying other persons styles, but think about it: You havent found your own style so far and you want to draw things that fascinate yourself. You want to be happy with what you draw. You dont copy an artists pictures, you just learn something about yourself: You learn what you like on your own pictures, and now you found your own style. It is important to see the difference here: You DONT draw their pictures. You draw your own pictures but with the knowledge of what you like due to another artists pictures.
Some people dont like to use this method. This is all up to you.
Can critic help me to improve?
Of course it can as long as it is a good critic.
There are many comments like Wow, what an awesome work!! I your picture it soooo sweeeeeeeet!! and stuff like this. Guess anyone likes to get such comments every once in a while cause it gives you recognition of your skills and you gain self-confidence for your works. Anyone needs them once in a while to keep up your artistic mood. If no one likes your works it is hard to draw on (Sadly Ive seen lots of artists with much potential that stopped drawing due to flamers )
But these comments are NOT critic.
Some people think Your art sucks is a critic too *Meeeeeeep* Wrong!
A good critic is made of different parts:
-What someone likes on your picture
-What you might improve on your picture
-All-in-all opinion of your picture.
(For anyone that wants to write a crit: If you cant find anything you like on a pic THEN DONT COMMENT!)
By telling you what someone likes on your picture you learn about what other people find interesting on your pics (Like what I stated in the previous point: Personal preferences and what others fascinate on your picture). If many people tell you that they like something on your picture you can be kinda sure that this part is already high-quality so you can focus yourself on improving other things.
You might have notice one thing: I stated what you might improve, not what is bad on your picture. By stating how to improve something you automatically give the artist a hint on what to do better next time to prevent a fault. If you keep telling an artist Your hands suck He wont know what is wrong with them. But if you say Your fingers are rather pointy. Try to make the tips rounder it will show the problem and give a matching solution.
It is really hard to accept critic first, but this is the very best way to improve. Selecting which critic is a good one and considering it makes you improve a dozen times faster than by just trying to improve your main-knowledge. It is weird, but somehow we rarely see our own flaws on pictures, but after a few months we can see them. Persons that didnt draw the picture often see it immediately and show you where you might improve your knowledge.
This way you can improve your art within a few months to a totally new level!!
In this section I want to state some of my personal experiences and opinions. Im not sure if they match with the huger part of artists here in DA so I made an extra section for them.
To improve your style it is important that you draw many different OCs. Fanarts are nice, of course, but a well-drawn OC needs much more skills than a character you didnt create. So if you really want to higher your drawing-level try to draw many different OCs even though they dont give as many pageviews as a Fanart Focus on a couple of OCs you really like and keep drawing them again and again but also draw other charas that dont have to do anything with them. By drawing older OCs again you can notice your own improvement much better, but by drawing new OCs you gain new experiences because you have to draw new faces, poses, personalities,
A good balance between these two helps you to see your own bettering but in the same time gain more and more skills.
Tutorials are awesome! I love taking a look at them even though I can draw most of the stuff I look at already for example kiss-tutorials. I made two of them myself already, but I love looking at other peoples tuts. They use techniques that I dont use, but that have interesting aspects too. Analyzing other tutorials is a great help. With a certain kind of practice you can look at pictures and think of ways to create the same effects of coloring, pose, Tutorials help you to practice your eyes a lot. I love browsing DA and guessing how some artists created certain effects. Just try it out! Its really funny.
Another advice I want to give any manga-newb out there is to keep up your work Dont forget about a good story you wanted to draw just because you dont have the skills yet to draw a good Manga. If you are not satisfied with your work anymore dont be afraid to restart anew. One day you will have enough experience to keep up your work ^^ I enjoy looking back at my first Manga-pages from 2006 and comparing them with my pages now. It makes me really shocked sometimes, but it is so much fun looking back. You should stick with good stories. The longer you write on them, the better and deeper they will become!
I hope you enjoyed this article. Spread the MANGA-LOVE!!!
And here a selection of very fine pieces of (partly semi) Manga-/Anime-Art I found on DA. These artists really have much potential! ^^
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