Cre­ate manga with a twist

Gen­zoman com­bines two dis­tinct gen­res to cre­ate a dy­namic manga com­po­si­tion in a Wild West set­ting, com­pete with a bar-room brawl

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Yee-haw! Gen­zoman paints Wild West manga.

West­erns are some­thing I’ve al­ways loved. In this tu­to­rial I’ll cre­ate an im­age in the typ­i­cal manga style but set in a Wild West sa­loon. The main char­ac­ter, Rose, is a char­ac­ter in The Wan­derer, a comic about the Old West I’m work­ing on at the mo­ment, to be re­leased next year.

There are cer­tain art styles where the main char­ac­ter is the cen­tre of the ac­tion and the back­ground is a sec­ondary con­sid­er­a­tion, some­thing to help bring out the char­ac­ter. But there are also il­lus­tra­tions wher e the back­ground can be con­sid­ered an ex­tra char­ac­ter, be­cause it also in­cludes ad­di­tional per­son­al­ity or rep­re­sents an iconic or pic­turesque set. In this type of il­lus­tra­tion you can of­ten ex­plore new ways to en­rich a back­ground.

Here, I’ll ex­plain the process I use to achieve a style of back­ground that not only con­trasts with the char­ac­ter, but is also dy­namic and ex­pres­sive, with a mul­ti­tude of char­ac­ters, ex­pres­sions and dif­fer­ent at­mos­pheres, as well as dif­fer­ent tex­tures in fab­rics, glass or smoke.

In this im­age we’ll take the depth of the stage and play with the scale of the char­ac­ters in the scene. The light­ing of­fers a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on how close or far they are from the light sources. Fi­nally, we’ll see some tips to gen­er­ate back­ground con­struc­tion el­e­ments with the Lasso and Gra­di­ent tools, as well as cre­ate el­e­ments to de­pict in per­spec­tive with the Free Trans­form tool.

1 Sketches, set­ting and pose

The Wild West has many pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions and in­ter­est­ing sce­nar­ios. I make sev­eral sketches try­ing to find what will be the most in­ter­est­ing or the most strik­ing, some fo­cused on the char­ac­ter and others on the en­vi­ron­ment. I set­tle on the idea of draw­ing a clas­sic Wild West can­teen area, that fea­tures sev­eral char­ac­ters and some ac­tion.

2 Ink­ing the el­e­ments

I do this part of the process quickly be­cause ev­ery­thing will be cov­ered by colour and much of the ink­ing will be lost in the fol­low­ing steps. I fo­cus on closed ar­eas, where it’s eas­ier to make se­lec­tions with the Magic Wand than it will be later when de­tail­ing. I use the Lasso tool to make quick se­lec­tions of ar­eas, then fill them with the Paint Bucket tool as I’m ink­ing away.

3 Gra­di­ent and cel-shad­ing

I use two tones for adding light and shade be­fore get­ting into colour. I use the darker tone as a base, and add light­ing with the lighter one. I use a Ra­dial Gra­di­ent to ap­ply vol­ume to rounded parts of the im­age such as the face. I cre­ate light ar­eas that later I’ll fill with paint us­ing the Paint Bucket tool, achiev­ing an ap­pear­ance sim­i­lar to tra­di­tional cel-shad­ing. Over this, I’ll paint a halftone in a new layer set to 50 per cent Opac­ity.

4 Blend­ing tones and adding shad­ows

I flat­ten all the colour lay­ers into one and use the Smudge tool with a tex­tured brush for smooth blend­ing, paint­ing with this in one di­rec­tion from top to bot­tom and side to side. This tech­nique gives the im­age soft­ness and vol­ume, and adds dy­namism to el­e­ments such as fab­ric – I love draw­ing fab­rics mov­ing. When this is done, I add shad­ows by se­lect­ing ar­eas and ap­ply­ing a Ra­dial Gra­di­ent with my base colour but in Mul­ti­ply mode, ap­ply­ing this from out­side to in­side the im­age.

5 Colour­ing and bal­ance

With vol­umes sorted, I turn to colour­ing my mono im­age, se­lect­ing ar­eas that will have the same colour, us­ing the Magic Wand tool. At this stage I add just large ar­eas of colour – de­tails will come later. I du­pli­cate the char­ac­ter im­age, add a yel­low­ish hue (Ctrl+U) and set the du­pli­cate layer to Mul­ti­ply mode with low Opac­ity for an an­tique look. I merge all the char­ac­ter lay­ers and use Color Bal­ance to bet­ter de­fine a fi­nal colour.

6 Paint­ing over ink

I be­gin adding de­tails to black ar­eas, such as cloth­ing and hair. I cre­ate a new layer, which I place over the char­ac­ter layer, and select ar­eas of hair and other el­e­ments with the Lasso tool. I fill th­ese us­ing a slightly lighter colour to show the con­trast. Once th­ese are de­fined, I con­vert the layer to the fi­nal colour (Ctrl+U) and re­peat step four, blend­ing to smooth for the fi­nal re­sult. Then I merge the layer with the char­ac­ter’s layer.

7 High­lights and de­tails

I be­gin adding de­tails to clothes and other items, giv­ing them ad­di­tional vol­ume and shine. I add sec­ondary high­lights in­ter­act­ing with the char­ac­ter – some­times a bit of light can make a big dif­fer­ence. I add light to the hair on a sep­a­rate layer, then merge it to the char­ac­ter’s layer. I use Liquify to fix phys­i­cal de­tails. On a new layer I paint her cheeks and nose in pink, then add Gaus­sian Blur and lower the Opac­ity to give her rosy cheeks.

8 Adding glasses and bot­tles

I don’t draw bot­tles as such. I do a Rec­tan­gu­lar Mar­quee and mod­ify it with the Lasso tool. I fill the se­lec­tion with the Paint Bucket tool, add high­lights us­ing a Ra­dial Gra­di­ent and then Colorize (Ctrl+U). With quick se­lec­tions, I cre­ate the im­pres­sion of liq­uids in­side. I use the same process for the beer, mak­ing a se­lec­tion to add foam, paint­ing with a brush and then ap­ply­ing Gaus­sian Blur. Lastly, I add a few drops on the glasses and bot­tles for de­tail.

9 Back­ground char­ac­ters and per­son­al­ity

The set­ting is a bar, so I need to add some sec­ondary char­ac­ters to the back­ground to add life, va­ri­ety of de­sign and ex­pres­sion. I need char­ac­ters of dif­fer­ent ages, eth­nic­ity and sex, each one in dif­fer­ent dress, pose and ac­tion. A fight in the back­ground will help ground the bar in re­al­ity, as will chairs and tables for cus­tomers to en­joy a freshly tapped beer.

10 Char­ac­ters and colour back­ground

I paint the back­ground char­ac­ters in a sim­i­lar way to steps three to five. I start with a base colour, and add high­lights sim­i­lar to the cel-shaded ones. I add a new layer at 50 per cent Opac­ity and paint on it with a light colour to achieve a halftone. Then I ap­ply the Smudge tool lightly in some ar­eas. I paint char­ac­ters hop­ing that colour brings out their per­son­al­i­ties, but I need to choose more muted and monochro­matic colours, so Rose can stand out a lit­tle more.

11 Pil­lars and cur­tains

To make the pil­lars, I do a quick se­lec­tion with the Rec­tan­gu­lar Mar­quee tool, then add depth us­ing the Gra­di­ent tool. I paint a few de­tails, then bump up ex­tra light for the look of a deep carv­ing in the wood. For the cur­tains I make an­other se­lec­tion, draw light ar­eas and re­colour them with Ctrl+U. I re­s­e­lect the cur­tain area and add gra­di­ent shad­ows in dif­fer­ent parts to cre­ate con­trast be­tween them. I merge both lay­ers, then du­pli­cate this to make the other pil­lar and cur­tains on the right.

12 Floor, stair­cases and chan­de­liers

To cre­ate a wooden floor, I draw sev­eral ver­ti­cal lines in a sin­gle layer, then use Free Trans­form to add per­spec­tive. I do the same for the handrail as well. I use the same pil­lar as in step 11 to cre­ate the roof and the wall, then use Bevel and Em­boss for a small bor­der. The chan­de­lier is done with se­lec­tions and the chains with Bevel and Em­boss for quick vol­ume. On a new layer I add a green tone and set the layer to Color mode.

13 Fore­ground char­ac­ters and smoke

I add two char­ac­ters in the fore­ground, both with heavy inks be­cause they’re far away from my light sources. I add colours, then draw light bounc­ing in a new layer and du­pli­cate it, adding Gaus­sian Blur to pro­duce a fuzzy light. For smoke I use the Lasso tool, fill the sil­hou­ettes with a Gra­di­ent and use the Smudge tool to pro­duce ir­reg­u­lar shapes. Then I use Gaus­sian Blur to re­move any hard­ness and make it look more ethe­real.

14 Fi­nal ed­its to the scene

I tweak the colours a lit­tle with Color Bal­ance (Ctrl+B) and cor­rect the con­trast with Lev­els. I al­ter some de­signs from pre­vi­ous phases that don’t look so good now, and clean up some ink­ing er­rors. I add some ex­tra items such as bot­tles on a ta­ble and some ex­tra bounce light on the chan­de­lier. I use the Blur tool in some ar­eas, to add a slight blur and pro­duce a greater sense of depth. Af­ter this I can call it a fin­ished im­age.

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