Work­shop: Char­ac­ter de­sign in Copic mark­ers

Dis­cover how Asia Lad owska ex­pertly blends pen­cils and mark­ers to cre­ate an orig­i­nal manga char­ac­ter whose in­no­cent ap­pear­ance be­lies a ne­far­i­ous streak…

ImagineFX - - Inspiration Books -

Asia Lad­owska blends pen­cils and mark­ers to cre­ate a manga char­ac­ter with a ne­far­i­ous streak.

Copic Mark­ers ap­peared on my radar al­most two years ago and I haven’t looked back since. It was around the time I started my In­sta­gram page, and my fol­low­ers could see how the col­lec­tion of five mark­ers was grow­ing slowly and how much could be achieved with just a few pens. I of­ten limit my us­age of mark­ers; a few colours can cre­ate re­fresh­ing works, while us­ing too many can have the op­po­site ef­fect.

I’m proud and happy to be able to in­spire over 600,000 fol­low­ers with my daily draw­ings. Work­ing in the of­fice and study­ing dur­ing the day, I know how hard it is to find the en­ergy and mo­ti­va­tion to draw af­ter work or school, but I try to tell ev­ery­one to never give up their pas­sions. I started out by spend­ing a few min­utes ev­ery evening on sketch­ing, but the joy that fin­ished im­age brings me is so strong that these days I can spend the whole night draw­ing with­out notic­ing!

For this work­shop I chal­lenged my­self to come up with a sim­ple char­ac­ter de­sign, mostly to fo­cus on and demon­strate how I use Copic Mark­ers, but don’t be de­ceived! The char­ac­ter and the pose may be sim­ple, but I equipped this girl with ac­ces­sories and de­tails that add to her per­son­al­ity. At the first glance she may look in­no­cent and harm­less, but then you no­tice a faint smile and one lifted eye­brow com­ple­mented by a lit­tle patch on her jaw, a sabre cat skull de­sign on her top and claw-like ear­rings. Then you re­alise that she’s up to no good. Blue colours calm the paint­ing and pink glasses add to a dream­like at­mos­phere.

The pal­ette is lim­ited to three main colours: blue, black and pink. If you look closely, they not only work well to­gether, but they’re also com­posed in har­mony wher­ever I’ve added them to the pa­per.

Each colour is fea­tured in no more than three el­e­ments: blue (hair, blouse and rose); pink (glasses, sleeves and ma­te­rial at the bot­tom of the page); black (her top and the two rib­bons ty­ing her twin pony­tails). This adds rhythm and har­mony to the paint­ing.

In ad­di­tion to the step-by-step break­down, my video for this work­shop also re­veals some tips on how I achieve my smooth marker blends. Be sure to check it out!

Asia is a de­signer and il­lus­tra­tor from Poland. Ev­ery day she draws manga, anime and game-in­spired art, and shares it on­line. She says she en­cour­ages oth­ers to do what they love be­cause she was al­ways told the op­po­site. See more at­sta­­owska.

1 Sketch­ing the day away

It’s okay to spend time de­vel­op­ing ideas – sketch­ing them out for a while be­fore de­vel­op­ing a fi­nal draw­ing. On a good day, it can take five min­utes to draw what I want, when hours of labour won’t bring the same fresh and sat­is­fy­ing re­sult. Take your time and keep sketches loose.

2 In­cor­po­rat­ing dif­fer­ent me­dia

Hello Pho­to­shop! At this stage I’d usu­ally choose my favourite messy sketch, scan and open it in Pho­to­shop. Here, I change the im­age to black and white and make use of the Liquify tool. Flip­ping it hor­i­zon­tally re­veals some mis­takes in the draw­ing.

3 Size mat­ters!

My sketches are tiny be­cause it’s eas­ier to con­trol the char­ac­ter’s pro­por­tions. It also stops me from adding a lot of de­tails at the be­gin­ning of the process. I scale the de­sign to A4 size and print out to then trans­fer to a smooth water­colour pa­per us­ing a light box.

4 First layer of ink

Be­fore ink­ing, I make some tweaks and add de­tails with pen­cil, and then put down a thin line mostly with the Sepia Copic Mul­ti­liner. Sepia is a safe choice be­cause al­most all other colours can cover it in the sec­ond stage of ink­ing. Note that ink fades when used with mark­ers, so there’s no need to over­work the line art at this stage.

5 Build­ing colour

Al­co­hol mark­ers tend to pick up ink that’s al­ready on the pa­per, so it’s best to start from the light­est parts of the com­po­si­tion and build up darker colours grad­u­ally. The tip will al­ways find a chance to pick up dark ink and cre­ate smudges. Bear­ing this in mind, I start colour­ing the skin first.

6 De­cid­ing on the colour pal­ette

Pho­to­shop comes in handy again! Dig­i­tal soft­ware makes it easy for me to try out a range of pos­si­bil­i­ties and colour com­bi­na­tions, to the de­gree where I al­most de­cide to use the colours I don’t have as mark­ers! When I’m work­ing out a colour pal­ette, I try dig­i­tal colour­ing first or draw lit­tle five-minute thumb­nails on pa­per and colour them in tra­di­tion­ally. In the end I set­tle on the blue–pink–black pal­ette.

7 Colour­ing the char­ac­ter’s hair

I love us­ing vi­brant gra­di­ent colours to paint hair! Copic mark­ers can blend seam­lessly and to achieve this I reg­u­larly switch be­tween mark­ers, us­ing a lighter colour to cre­ate smooth blends. It takes some pa­tience, but it’s worth it. I would rec­om­mend blend­ing your mark­ers while the ink is still wet.

8 The magic of Copic blend­ing

I’m us­ing the same colours for both the hair and the blouse tied around her waist. I use the side with a brush nib for her hair, which en­ables me to blend softly. For the blouse I use the broad nib of the mark­ers to cre­ate a re­al­is­tic ma­te­rial look. Us­ing mark­ers with dif­fer­ent tips makes it pos­si­ble to cre­ate a range of tex­tures.

9 De­sign­ing ac­ces­sories

This is the fun part of the process. Her top shows a cute sabre-toothed cat’s skull with cat ears. Adding a flower makes the cat look cute and com­ple­ments my colour com­po­si­tion, which was miss­ing a blue ac­cent. Her glasses, ear­rings, patch on her jaw and bows all come to­gether to cre­ate a dan­ger­ously sweet char­ac­ter!

10 Sec­ond layer of ink

Now I ap­ply a sec­ond layer of line work, us­ing var­i­ous colours of mul­ti­lin­ers. Vary­ing the line thick­ness keeps things in­ter­est­ing. The first layer has al­ready faded with the amount of al­co­hol and ink in­volved. Time to bring it back!

11 Putting the fi­nal touches to the char­ac­ter

I use coloured pen­cils to make barely no­tice­able changes to the draw­ing, such as deep­en­ing the shad­ows and adding a blush to the char­ac­ter’s cheeks. Coloured pen­cils com­ple­ment mark­ers well and can cover small im­per­fec­tions and un­even blend­ing.

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