Windows of the Soul

I was excited this evening to return to the Manga Artist’s Workbook and practice sketching an important facial feature. Before I move to drawing expressions, the workbook provides opportunity to focus on the most expressive part of the face…the eyes.

I had missed this section of the book when I peeked ahead. I thought the next assignment was the drawing of expressions. I understand, though, the importance of spending time capturing the eyes. So much of what we are feeling and thinking is reflected here. The eyes are the first thing I notice about a person. I can tell whether the person I am looking at is open or guarded, happy or sad, fearful or confident, by studying the eyes.

As I prepare to create an upcoming cartoon project, I know that much of what I hope to convey will be made evident through the eyes.

Tonight’s exercise was to sketch in the eyes, on a teen girl and teen boy, using the manga style. The girl’s eyes are drawn overly large.

I lightly sketched in guidelines.

I tried darker irises and lighter ones. I definitely like the darker better, as they are more distinct.

For a boy, the eyes, while still oversized, are not as large as the girl’s eyes. There are less details too.

As with the girl, I prefer the darker eyes.

William Shakespeare wrote “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”

Not only are we given a peek into the soul through the eyes of another. Our souls gaze out through the eyes as well, in all its states of being, from joyful confidence to beseeching invitation to hardened defiance.

As I sketched this evening, I was grateful for a lesson in mindfulness about what story my eyes are telling.

Manga Perspectives

I enjoyed a couple of quick lessons in the Manga Artist’s Workbook this evening. As my confidence grows, my sketching is more rapid and precise with less erasures! I am finding that this prep work for a larger project is fun.

Tonight’s focus was on the teen girl’s face still, with upward and downward gazes. It is all about perspective and the guidelines I am using really help.

The first lesson…the up angle. The workbook provides the outline of the face over graph paper. My task is to add the guidelines to correctly place the features and then draw in the details.

With the gaze looking up, the guidelines are curved upward.

Adding the facial details.

Completed sketch.

Lesson 2 this evening…the down angle. The angle is exaggerated sharply, with the features all close together in the lower part of the face.

The guidelines are curved downward. Sketching this one, with the oversized manga eyes, made me think of a gray alien! As before, the nose and mouth are only hinted at.

The completed sketch.

I am loving this practice. As a youth, I struggled with perspective and the human body and head. So all of my people stood facing straight ahead. That’s not real life, and that’s not how I want my project to look. Even though I am using the medium of cartooning, I desire more natural poses.

By allowing these lessons to pave the way, I am one step closer to creating something bigger. The next lesson is on a variety of facial expressions. I am ready!

Manga Three Quarters View

This evening I enjoyed a return to the Manga Artist’s Workbook, for another lesson on cartooning.

Take a look at my three quarters view sketch!

The workbook provides detailed, easy to follow instructions, and the outline of the head and face, using basic shapes.

I began by adding the guide lines so that I could correctly place the eyes, ear, hint of a nose and simple mouth.

With those features in place, I erased my guide lines. Using the ear and eye brows, I added the hairline.

While the mouth and nose are left as suggestions, rather than completely finished features, the eyes get more details added. I blocked in the hair.

Reflections are added to the eyes, to create interest and depth, along with pupils that are darkened at the top of the eyes. Dark lines suggest eyelashes. And the eyebrows get filled in. The hair is drawn in, with more detail, giving this teen girl a shaggy looking cut.

This is what I loved about tonight’s cartooning exercise…for the first time I sketched very quickly and confidently. I am getting the hang of this. I didn’t over think the process or labor over it for long.

And that makes me smile. A month ago, I was inspired with an idea that I wasn’t sure I could bring into reality. But the truth I believe is being proved in my life. If inspiration gifts me with an idea, it is because I am capable of creating it.

I only have to ask for guidance. Sometimes the answer arrives unexpectedly, and looks like a manga workbook with detailed lessons in it. Soon, I’ll be creating a storyboard. By then I’ll have the ability to create this cartoon story that offers a peek into my magical life.

Manga Profile

I grabbed a few minutes this evening, and my manga workbook, to practice this new-to-me art form. The little flip style book is proving to be a fun way to learn and hone my drawing skills.

Tonight’s lesson was sketching the manga profile.

Here is my progress tonight, captured in a series of black and white photos.

My first lesson was drawing a teenage girl’s face, as she looked straight ahead. Lesson two is the profile, which feels trickier to me. Using graph paper, guides and basic shapes, such as circles, triangles and ovals, helps me get the proportions and placement right.

The workbook page provides the outline of a face in profile. I liked the suggestion of using a circle with a triangle attached, to designate the lower face. I added the guidelines.

The guidelines helped me to place the eye, ear, nose and lips.

The eye gets filled in. And a general outline of the hair is added.

A bit more detail to the eye area, and more adjusting of the nose and lips, which are kept very simple. The hair was fun to add. I erased my guidelines. The page’s basic profile remains, with my sketching added.

I am enjoying this manga workbook. In 30 minutes or less, I can complete an assignment. When I have more time, I can progress through several lessons easily. And that will bring me one step closer to my envisioned project!

Manga Art for Beginners

Several nights ago, I posted about an exciting idea that was given to me, for a creative project. Reflections on my magical life earlier in the day led to that inspirational invitation. (Read that post HERE.)

The challenge is bringing that idea to fruition. What I see so clearly in my mind are cartoon panels telling a story, without words. And yet, cartooning is not one of my artistic strengths. Oh, but I want to try. I’m excited to try. I turned to the Source of my inspiration, the Dream Giver, the One who delights in the creative play that we engage in.

And that’s where this adventure took a magical turn.

After I completed the Magical Journey post, I asked for Divine help in being able to carry out this project. Honestly, I feel artistically inadequate. And yet, I know I am never given inspiration for something I cannot do. It may challenge me, stretch me, or push me beyond my comfort zone. However, it will not be impossible for me.

The practice sketches I did the other night did not quite capture the image in my head, the cartooning style. I asked…Show me how to draw this way. Where do I look?

Before going to sleep that night, I opened Pinterest on my iPhone and was scrolling down through pinned photos. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I scrolled…and scrolled…and scrolled some more. Nothing was catching my eye. I wondered why I was still scrolling. And yet, I felt compelled to keep going.

Suddenly, the photo below appeared at the bottom of my phone screen.

I stared, amazed. In all my years on Pinterest, I have never seen sketches before. I’ve never thought to search for any. What was even more amazing was that that image, that style of cartooning, matched the image I was holding in my head. I want to cartoon like that. I was grateful for the answer to my questions. You want to cartoon? Here ya go.

I will be practicing, with this sketch as my model. But before I tackle a cartoon like that, which is my preliminary work for creating my own cartoon panels, I searched for a book to give me some basics. I found two.

Manga is a Japanese style of cartooning. Although it isn’t an exact match for the style I want to create, after looking at every sketching and cartooning book in the store, it is the closest.

In this endeavor, I do not mind at all being a beginner, so the big yellow manual is perfect for learning the basics of manga. Starting with the all important eyes, this book moves page by page through facial expressions, anatomy, perspective, clothing and drawing the human form, from babyhood to mature adults, in a variety of poses.

And the little Manga Artist’s Workbook is just that…a workbook. I’ve had to move past my reluctance to draw in a book. For the pages are designed to be used for practice sketches by the aspiring artist. This is the book I started in this evening.

My first assignment was to use the template, with an affixed sheet of heavy duty tracing paper over it, to sketch a teenage girl’s face. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, with helpful tips. I like that this workbook uses graph paper, a technique my artistic son uses as well. It helps me with spacing and symmetry.

I had fun this evening, drawing a cartoon face. Although the manga style features eyes that are larger than what I will draw in my own cartoons, the tips suggested were very helpful.

There is a part of me that is impatient to do my own thing. However, the finished piece has become very important to me. This is the process to get to that completed project. Whether it takes me weeks or months to acquire the skill to create the images in my imagination, I am determined to learn…and enjoy the journey.

Most significant of all to me is that I asked for guidance…and got it…from a Pinterest post…when I wasn’t even searching for an answer there. I asked…and trusted…and let the outcome go. I followed the gentle nudge to keep scrolling and was able to recognize the answer when it appeared.

It is a magical journey indeed. I am looking forward to capturing a portion of it in this new creative way.

Magical Journey

Driving in the car today, inspiration was my companion. Feeling very joyful, and grateful for all that is, bits and pieces of my past were popping up, snippets of experiences that, woven together, create the story of my life.

I had a realization, as those assorted scenes from my life passed through my awareness.

I have had a magical journey.

Truly, my life has been full of the unexpected, the impossible, and the unbelievable. I’ve kept those stories close to my heart for the most part, concerned that people wouldn’t understand.

As a result, I grew up being so fearful of the magic in my life. Sadly it would take many years of ignoring the magic, hiding the magic and trying to explain the extraordinary away before I could face my fears and standing thus, with an attitude of I am not backing down, move beyond my fears.

I have at last embraced everything about myself…including the magical.

With the realizations that came today, accompanied by a sense of wonder and deep curiosity, came inspiration’s tap. The invitation extended to me is to capture some of that journey.

It would be easy for me to write about it, telling the story with words. But that’s not what this year has been about. Rather, it’s been about expanding, creatively, and expressing myself in myriad ways.

The idea came, and then grew, to sketch out a portion of this magical journey I am on. And not just sketch it, but capture it in cartoon form.

One of the things that can frustrate me is having a clear and vivid idea, and see with clarity the final result, yet feel incapable of delivering that completed project. I can see what this cartoon sequence looks like. I am struggling a bit with my abilities to create it.

All three of my children, and all of my grandchildren, sketch well. My daughter Elissa is also an excellent cartoonist. I have always been more of a realistic sketcher and prefer to have a picture to draw from.

Cartooning is a challenge for me. And yet…I firmly believe that an idea will never be given to me that I cannot bring to completion.

My project this evening has been to practice cartooning. I’ve had to simplify my drawings, step by step. I’m not there yet. I haven’t seen my little girl character emerge clearly yet. But I am working on it!

My first attempt. While this is a simplified drawing without a lot of detail, it is still realistic.

My second attempt. More cartoon like.

My third attempt, and an actual cartoon girl.

This will be an ongoing project. I’ll keep practicing my cartoons until I feel confident enough to capture my idea fully. Or…the cartoon panels will contain stick figures! Hopefully my skills will enable me to capture the story that is even now unfolding in my heart and life.

And then…I will share part of this beautiful journey with you, in a very visual way. And it will be magical.