My manga char­ac­ters’ hair never looks right. Where am I go­ing wrong?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imagine Nation -

Alice Daniels, Eng­land

An­swer

Jia-Ying replies

Hair is al­ways a tricky com­po­nent to any char­ac­ter draw­ing. When­ever I be­gin a por­trait, I usu­ally have two things in mind when it comes to hair: the start of the flow (es­tab­lish­ing the point of ori­gin on scalp), and its over­all move­ment – will it stick up in all di­rec­tions, or form a gen­tle slope down the char­ac­ter’s neck, for in­stance.

Plan­ning the flow and move­ment, and mak­ing it con­vinc­ing to the eye may seem like a chal­lenge at first. Start off by look­ing at hair in sim­ple sec­tions, as op­posed to at­tempt­ing re­al­ism by paint­ing ev­ery strand – which is a pretty re­spectable tal­ent on its own, but not quite what we’re look­ing for in manga style. De­tails like hints of stray strands can be added in later on.

As crazy as some manga hair­styles can get, it’s im­por­tant to play be­tween fan­tasy and re­al­ity care­fully. Es­sen­tially, what we’re look­ing for is to cre­ate a be­liev­able hair struc­ture that will not only com­ple­ment the char­ac­ter’s face, but also help in giv­ing ap­peal and iden­tity.

Fo­cus­ing on sep­a­rate por­tions of the hair in­stead of fuss­ing over de­tails sim­pli­fies the process.

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