Kids First Saturdays: Drawing Value From Manga

This week, we continue learning how to draw value by looking at Japanese comics or manga. This is the second of three activities that will be used to create your own zine publication during our in-gallery Kids First programming on Saturday, October 3rd 2020.

Advance registration for Kids First programming can be done by emailing s.bernard@thepolygon.ca and same-day registration should be done by telephoning the admissions desk at 604-986-1351.  Our new Covid-19 plan ensures a safe experience for all.

For anyone visiting the gallery from September 4th to November 8th 2020, download and print this ‘Seek and Find’ document before your visit, to help you look closer at the artworks in the exhibition. Or, use your personal device to look at the sheet as you go through the exhibit with your family.

INSPIRATION

For the next several months, we will discover the artistic practice of over 10 artists from the Third Realm: Contemporary Art From Asia exhibition.

In the work of Lu Yang, many influences come together including science, technology, popular culture and Japanese comics. Her recent multimedia works, as shown in the gallery, examine the increasingly digital nature of our world.

For example, the still image below comes from the piece titled Wrathful King Kong Core (2011). For this video, the artist borrows ideas from brightly coloured digital animations and video games to combine images of the human brain with that of Tibetan Buddhist deities or gods, in order to break down the religious symbols of these figures.

By using this technique of borrowing imagery from different sources, we will look at how several Japanese comics creators use value in their works, in order to make an original drawing that is a combination of these techniques.

 

STEP 1: GATHER MATERIALS
  •   White drawing paper, full 8.5 X 11 inch sheets or cut in half to 8.5 X 5.5 inches
  •   Tracing paper, full 9 X 12 inch sheets cut in half to 6 X 9 inches
  •   Coloured construction paper, 6 X 9 inch sheets
  •   Pencils of different hardness: a hard 2H drafting pencil, a regular writing pencil (HB), and a softer 2B drawing pencil
  •   Pencil sharpener
  •   White Eraser
  •   Graphite sticks: from 6H to 9B (optional)
  •   Paper towels
  •   Japanese comics or manga such as the publication KoroKoro Komikku (CoroCoro Comic is suitable for primary school children)

 

STEP 2: TAKE THE TIME TO LOOK CLOSELY AT HOW SEVERAL ARTISTS USE VALUE WHEN CREATING THEIR OWN CHARACTERS

Japanese comics creators have a unique way of representing human characters and imaginary creatures like robots and monsters. They also use value — the artistic idea that an image varies from lightest to darkest on the page — to make this happen.

For example, to accentuate the emotions or facial expressions in the two images below, notice how both the darkest parts of the image (the eyes and hair), and the lightest parts of the image (mouth, jewelry, band-aids and hair elastics) are found in the central area of the face, whereas the middle values (greys) are being used for the clothes and background. This high difference, or contrast, between the dark eyes and light mouth draw your eye to what the character is feeling: happy or surprised.

Value can also be used in a drawing to create a sense of motion or movement, as with the two characters below, where the hands are the darkest part of the image. Notice how the contour of the hands are drawn with a series of short, action lines that have been blurred with values of grey.

Still another technique would be to use the middles values to cover the skin of the face in shades of grey, while making the lines of the eyes very thin and white, and contrasting this with very dark eyebrows or shadows. This is a way of making your character look angry or scary.

Value is also the perfect drawing technique to give texture to a character. In the image below, the robot knight has an armour that is a different value than that of the smaller robot, who has a different shade of grey for the separate parts of his body. And the ghost to the right has a slightly wavy value of grey that is the same as the background, giving you the impression that he is transparent or that he is coming out of the shadows.

With the animals in this final series of manga images, changing values of grey are used to give the squirrel super powers, to make the wolf jump out of the background, and to give the eyes of the bird that extra touch of cuteness.

STEP 3: USE DIFFERENT DRAWING PENCILS (2H, HB & 2B) TO CREATE OR TRACE OUT THE PARTS OF YOUR OWN CHARACTER OR ANIMAL

Graphite pencils, like the common writing pencil, are graded on a scale of hardness, where the middle point of the scale is the everyday ‘HB’ pencil, which is often unmarked depending on the brand. Harder pencils are marked with an ‘H’ as in a ‘2H’ pencil, which leaves a light coloured thin line, and dark, softer pencils are marked with a ‘B’ for ‘black’, such as the ‘2B’ pencil.

Use an HB pencil to trace out the original outline of the different parts of your future character. Start with the most important parts: the elements of the face: eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth and hair. If drawing outright from observation is difficult, use the tracing paper to get the initial shape down. Then use the dark 2B pencil to complete the outlines and darker details, while also using the lighter 2H pencil to draw in the grey values. Use an eraser if necessary and the paper towel can be used to create a gradient of grey value as well.

STEP 4: USE MANGA FACIAL FEATURES TO TURN A DRAWING OF YOUR HAND INTO A WEIRD CHARACTER

Now that you have experimented with creating character expressions using Japanese comics as a model, use your examples of facial features to turn an ordinary outline drawing of your hand into an expressive character. Start with a line drawing of your hand while making a ‘OK’ gesture on coloured construction paper, then add expressive eyebrows, eyes, nose and/or mouth to the mix.

Use the graphite stick to add thick black to the darkest value areas such as the mouth and the final contour, and then use the paper towel to pull the graphite away from your character to make him jump off the page. Use the lighter 2H pencil to include mid-tones and action lines or other details where needed.

 

STEP 5: USE A GRAPHITE STICK, AN ERASER AND A PAPER TOWEL TO DRAW A MANGA-STYLE FIST SUPER PUNCH

Start by making an outline drawing of your fist on coloured construction paper with an HB pencil.

Redraw the outline of your fist with a dark graphite stick (6B to 9B) and then draw some motion lines to one side of your hand. Use the eraser to turn your contour lines into dotted lines and then pull the graphite AWAY from your hand with the help of the paper towel.

Use the 2B and HB pencils to extend the dotted outline marks while following the direction of the graphite stick marks. Don’t be afraid to use the graphite stick again to add shading to the background, but make sure to keep the inside of your hand relatively light, to create a big contrast.

STEP 6: SHARE YOUR WORK

If you share your work online, be sure to tag @polygongallery as we would love to see your different hand drawings. What techniques did you use from looking closely at Japanese comics? Now try your hand at drawing your favourite animal or pet using what you’ve learned.

Join us on Saturday, October 3rd, in order to experiment with two more different drawing techniques, while learning how to produce your own zine publication. Hope to see you soon!