Depict a classic male manga face
Create a youthful and charismatic male face with a touch of the distinctive manga style. Pin-up artist Cris Delara provides her expert hints and tips
Cris Delara creates a charismatic visage.
Creating a fresh-looking male face in the manga style is an exciting challenge, because there are so many aspects of the style that you can play with. I always start out with the intention to keep the concept simple, but once I’ve thought through the various possibilities I usually hit on a creative mixture.
I’ll take the look of male characters from anime-based games then add a hint of manga-influenced American comics characters. This kind of combination offers plenty of potential for experimentation, in terms of both the anatomy and the painting technique. But the most important consideration in such a project is to try to stick to the main style – in this case the manga look. If you’re to stay true to the style then there are some characteristics that can’t be changed, but others are more flexible, so you can play around with them more freely. The most important thing in the process is the opportunity to enjoy, learn and appreciate the outstanding art of manga.
1 First ideas and sketches
Manga-style male faces offer so many possibilities. I like the look of male characters from games based on anime/ manga, so I’ll use this as my starting point. After many sketches I narrow it down to three of my ideas. My final choice is number three and I decide to apply a realistic painted finish to him, following the look of characters from video games.
2 Sketch values and colours
My next step is to decide the best scale of tonal values for my image. This involves putting on canvas all the ideas I can think of with regard to light and shadow. This exercise is fascinating because it enables you to visualise how the final image might look like, so you can learn a lot from it. Next, I repeat the same exercise, but this time I add colours over the scale of tonal values I obtained from my preliminary studies.
3 Skintone base
With a large, hard-edged brush I fill in the skintone area of the face. Then I soften the edge of this brush, reduce its size just a bit and block in the light and dark areas. Next I paint the shapes of the lips, nose and eyes. I add the shape of the hair, then the shadow of the hair over the skin. During this process I’m trying to follow my previous studies of the tonal values and colours.
4 Skin texture
To create the skin texture, I go to the Brush panel and set the standard Photoshop Soft Round brush to 6px in Size, Hardness 0 per cent and Spacing 118 per cent. Next I go to the Scattering option and set the Scatter to 55 per cent and Count to 2. These settings will give my brush an appearance similar to the pores of human skin. Then I paint by hand all areas of the face, varying pen pressure to create natural-looking skin.
5 Skin texture adjustments
During this process I choose colours for the pores according to the light and shadow on the face. The important thing is to follow the transitions of skin tones and create the most natural look possible, adding depth and roundness. Make-up technique photos are great for reference, especially high-definition close-ups.
6 Painting the eyes
Using the same Soft Round brush on the eyeball, I lighten the existing tone and add the shadow cast by the upper eyelid. I then darken the corners of the eye and add a warm colour close to the tear duct, to enhance the roundness. Increasing brush Hardness slightly, I paint the iris and pupil, and add small dots of light for a moist look.
7 Add details to the lips
Now I need to work on the details. With my Soft Round brush, I enhance the dark and light parts of the lips. I reduce the brush size to 5px and cover the line between the lips; then with an irregular dotted brush (with Spacing at 1 per cent), I add some lines to create the texture of the upper lip. Setting the Round brush to 70 per cent Spacing and with Scattering enabled, I paint on small lines to give the bottom lip a more irregular appearance.
8 Texturing the nose
Using an irregular brush with 22 per cent Spacing, I begin to paint the texture of the nose area. Varying pen pressure is key to creating a naturallooking texture. I work most of the time with the same brush, just varying its size and colour. The next step is to swap to the Soft Round brush, trying to balance the artificial effect of the over-textured painting and soften some areas.
9 Depict a character’s stubble
To create the texture of the stubble I use the same process as for the skin, but first I prepare the area by adding a subtle yellowish tone to replicate the natural look of hair on the skin. To paint the beard, I use my Soft Round brush with the same settings as for the skin texture, except with the Scattering set to create dots with a more irregular appearance. After I’ve covered the whole chin area I reduce the Opacity of this layer slightly and also add a subtle blur effect to it.
10 Creating the hair base
Here I block in the mass of the hair with a specially configured blurred brush. In some parts, I use a Soft Round brush to balance or soften areas between masses of hair. Using a brush customised with irregular dots, I enhance hair spikes and add small details and loose stray hairs that match the direction of the light.
11 Hair sections
All hair details are painted with one regular Round brush (which I change to an oval shape), one irregular dotted Standard brush (present in most versions of Photoshop) and the two customised brushes I created for this image (A35 and B52). I begin by selecting the A35 brush, going to Shape Dynamics (increasing the level of Pressure of the brush) and creating a brush stroke with pointed edges to paint the spiked sections. Always adjust them to match the lighting and the shape of a manga-style hair.
12 Final hair details
Now I set the A35 brush Spacing to 13 per cent, the Angle to -55 degrees and opt for no Pressure to change the brush shape. Using this, I add looser layers of hair with a soft look – this helps give hair a look of natural movement. To create the effect of stray hairs highlighted by lights around the head, I set the dotted Photoshop Standard brush to 140 per cent Spacing and enable the Texture and Scattering options in the Brush panel.
13 Overhead lights
I add a new layer set to Color mode, take a Soft Round standard brush (also in Color mode) and add a reddish hue to areas of hair lit by the main light source. Using Levels, I change the light intensity and, with a cool colour, turn to areas that will receive reflected lights and shadows. I create one more orange/red layer (in Color mode) and with a large Soft Round Eraser I reduce the effect on areas that won’t receive this light directly.
14 Final effects
Because the main light source is behind the head, I decide to enhance the tones in some areas of hair. I select the areas I want, feather the selection, then intensify their lightness and darkness using Levels. To help with this, I use a black layer at the top of the layer stack set to Color mode. When visible, this can show me the tonal values during my painting process.
15 Last-minute detailing
Whenever I finish an image I always take a couple of hours away from the canvas. Then when I return with fresh eyes it’s easy to see things that I hadn’t noticed before and should be improved. Here I decide that I could add more detail to the eyebrows, more saturation to the eyes, and more lightened dots to the skin. I also add more hair to the beard and increase the texture effect in the lips.