Manga Teen Boy Profile

I made the decision early this morning to get into my manga workbook this evening and continue my sketching lessons. That proved to be a good decision, as I had a busy day. I have a story I want to tell, by way of drawings in a cartoon panel format. Manga is is preparing me for that project.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

This practice has been valuable for me. My skills are increasing. I am much more at ease as I sketch and I’m finding the sessions fun and even relaxing.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

Here is tonight’s lesson.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

In contrast to the teen girl profile, the boy’s features are more angular. The eye is smaller and set back a bit more from the edge of the head.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

I drew guidelines to help me correctly place the eye, nose, lips and ear.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

The jaw is more squared off. The mouth is suggested with a simple line. The lips protrude slightly.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

The eye gets a highlight and definition is added to the ear. The hair flops over the forehead and eye and closely follows the contours of the skull.

I truly am enjoying these creative sessions. I have been able to draw a face looking straight ahead or at a slight angle. Profiles, looking up or looking down were more challenging. These easy to follow lessons are helping me tremendously with perspective and placement.

I was impatient to move to the next section of the workbook, but the additional practice has been great for me. I have a couple more lessons featuring the teen boy and then it’s on to drawing the body. I’m looking forward to sketching a whole person!

Manga Teen Boy Profile

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

I spent hours in the car today, as Greg and I drove to pick up our grandson Dayan and bring him home for spring break. It is wonderful to have this college aged young man home for a few days. As we neared Joplin, I considered what to write about tonight. I realized I had not practiced my drawing for several months.

Last year, with Inspiration as my word and theme, my artistic side explored creating art in many mediums, including sketching. This year I have focused on written stories. But of course, stories can be told in many ways, through words, films, photography, vignettes, plays, music, songs…and drawings. In fact, an idea came to me last year, to tell a magical story through several sketches, something akin to cartoon panels. Cartooning is not one of my natural gifts, however, I knew I could learn. I found a fun book called The Manga Artist’s Workbook that has been perfect for me to work through.

I decided this evening I needed to get back into the lessons. After all, I have a story to tell.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

Returning to my manga workbook, I remembered, with a slight pang of guilt, that I had skipped a section. When I finished with the section on drawing the teen girl’s head, in a variety of positions, I jumped over the next lessons…drawing the teen boy. I was in a hurry to move on and feel accomplished enough to create my own sketches that will tell my own story.

Tonight I saw this as an error. I’m playing by my rules. I can do what I want here. However, what I truly want is to gain expertise in this form of drawing, and storytelling. I can’t rush that. I will benefit from the additional practice that these lessons provide.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

Here is my progress tonight, drawing the teen boy.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

Beginning with the basic shapes for the head, I learned that males have a more angular jaw than females, a square chin and a thicker neck. The eyebrows are thicker as well, with less arch and while still large, the eyes of a manga teen boy are smaller than those of a manga teen girl.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

A simple shadow creates a hint of a nose. The hair follows the contours of the head. And the mouth is indicated with a couple of lines.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

And here he is, facing forward, a completed sketch of a manga teen boy. This lesson took me a few minutes to create. I sipped hot tea as I studied my work, feeling satisfied.

I am enjoying manga. Beyond the joy I receive from drawing, I am learning important lessons about body anatomy, placement and perspective. The sketches are drawn more quickly each time and with greater confidence.

I have four more lessons to complete, in this section on the teen boy’s head and face, and then I can move on to expressions, for both males and females. No more skipping around. I’m happy I backtracked and drew this manga boy. He looks happy as well.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

You can order this fun workbook by clicking the link below.

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Draw a Memory

I’ve been in the mood to draw the last couple of days. Which is why I was delighted to select the Inspiration Starter that I did today. More than just an invitation to draw, this slip of paper instructed me to Draw a memory. Immediately a fond memory from my early childhood came to mind.

I was ready to sketch.

I looked through an old photo album, for a photographic representation of my memory. I found it. The black and white photo captures my four year old self perched atop a clothesline pole in the backyard of my childhood home.

I was a climber as a child. By age four I was climbing furniture, shimmying up poles, scampering up trees and sitting on rooftops, the tiny queen of my world.

The photographer, probably my mom, lopped off the top of my face and head in the picture. However, there’s a hint of a smile on my lower face and the relaxed pose of my body suggests this was not the first time I had scaled the clothesline pole.

This memory makes me smile, more than half a century later. Using the the photo as a guide, I sketched out this fun recollection.

As I drew, this memory expanded to include my penchant for climbing tall objects, and also disappearing into closets, crawling beneath beds, and sitting in the middle of a neighborhood field, completely hidden by tall grasses that rippled in the breeze. Beneath all of these activities was an inborn desire to seek out solitude.

I had a bedroom of my own. But I was easily found there. Hiding from view, even in a simple and obvious place like beneath the bed, provided solitude for a time and space to fire up my imagination. The neighborhood kids weren’t as adventurous about sitting on rooftops or climbing to the uppermost branches in a tall tree. So these places gave me privacy and a different perspective.

Sometimes I’ve looked back at my childhood and thought, What a strange and quirky kid I was. Today, I looked at my finished drawing with a smile and the shine of tears in my eyes. I remembered that kid and thought, I love that spirited girl. She wasn’t afraid to be herself, and seek out places to think and dream and study the clouds and the stars.

In embracing her, I embrace some of the best and most courageous parts of myself. And I engage that fun, creative side of me that has reappeared these last few years and grown. What gifts that wee girl has given to me.

Thanks, kid. I am grateful.

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 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.

Drawing Eyes

Moving to the next lesson in my Fashion Design Studio book, I was inspired to focus on drawing eyes. This lesson's objective is to learn to sketch the features of the face. Fashion models have simplified features, so that attention is not drawn from the clothes to the face. However, style is exaggerated on the features as well.

So the eyes are slightly elongated with thickened eye lids and full lashes that sweep upward. A minimal make up look is desired.

Eyes can be challenging for me to draw. Perhaps because I am right handed, the right eye is easier for me to sketch. The left never quite matches the right eye. This is, therefore, very good practice for me.

I learned that the eyes are spaced a single eye-length apart. I found that helpful tonight as I worked my way through the drawing practices. And the closer the image, the more detail is required on the face. The eyes are considered the feature to give the most depth and personality to, rather than the nose and mouth, which are kept very basic.

My first eyes…a side view and front view.

Narrowed eyes and deep eyes. Note the simplified lashes. The most attention is given to the pupils and irises.

Beginning sketch for eyes that will be colored in.

Adding details and color. You can see my challenge with eyes. They don't quite match. The right one feels natural to me as I sketch it. The left feels awkward to draw. It would help if I was ambidextrous! I could simply switch the pencil to my left hand to draw the left eye. I made adjustments to my colored drawing and evened up the eyes a bit.

Although the fashion figures I will be drawing will focus on the outfits more than the facial features, I welcomed this opportunity to practice on the eyes. There are lessons coming up on drawing noses and mouths, hands, feet and hair, but the eyes called out to me tonight. I felt inspired to start there.

Why? Because the soul is glimpsed through the eyes. Intimacy starts there, with a look that sees deeply into another.

"Eyes are captivatingly beautiful. Not because of the color but because of the words they hold within them." Unknown

Communication starts there as well. The eyes can convey humor, love, sorrow, hope, joy and despair. So much of who we are can be conveyed with a glance, through eyes that are clear and full of life, or eyes that are guarded and veiled.

I intend to keep practicing on the eyes. It is important to me. As I snapped a pic of my final work, my iPhone camera, at least, recognized that there were eyes on the page. It struggled to focus on a face that was not there, putting up squares to define where the rest of the face should have been. I'll take that as encouragement!

Fashion Design Studio

It has been a very busy week. What a joy to have some quiet time late this afternoon, to dream and create and play. I returned to the creative activity I selected a couple of days ago:

Design and sketch a piece of clothing.

I am resisting the temptation to rush ahead and draw an outfit or an article of clothing. Instead, I am taking the time to learn the process of fashion design. Oh, it is simplified, compared to the classes one would take in a college course. However, I am learning from an excellent book geared toward teenage girls or young adults. It is perfect for me and part of a very enjoyable journey. I love that these words are printed on the cover of the book:

Creative girls draw.

Yes they do!

My creative studio this evening is my bedroom. My diffuser has Young Living peppermint essential oil in it, which seems to be a great mental stimulant. The setting sun is filtering through the blinds. I am barefoot and bare legged, wearing cool and comfy clothes, in deference to the heat outside. My bed with its lightweight summer linens and fluffy pillows is serving as my desk and my chair.

In such pleasant surrounding, my imagination is free to expand and take flight.

I have started at the beginning, which is always a great place to get underway, becoming comfortable with drawing fashion figures. Before I can draw a skirt or a top or a flowing wrap, I need a form to put it on. I appreciate that this book takes the time to introduce the human body as a series of shapes and connecting lines.

I have had fun tonight, sketching these simple basic figures. I learned about proportion as I drew, and how the body is divided into segments. As I practice different poses, I see how the bones give structure to the human form, how the shoulders and hips tilt in opposite directions, and how truly wonderfully we are made.

It has been very good to spend time this evening familiarizing myself with these basics. The act of drawing is searing these important details about form into my brain. My next lesson will be to flesh out the stick figures, giving them shape through the curve of muscles.

Then I will be ready to study aspects of clothing and style and design a piece.

Did you realize that the shoulders and hips don’t tilt at the same angle, ever? I had to stand up and strike some poses to see!

My next lesson…fleshing out the basic form.

I don’t know, exactly, where this journey will lead me. I hope to a finished article of clothing, that I designed, that I can wear. Beyond that, who knows? Fashion design has long been an interest of mine. I am excited to be taking action steps instead of just dreaming about it.

The Divine has noted my dreams and my actions. The morning after my post about designing a piece of clothing, one of my Facebook notifications was about a new frame I could select for my profile picture. I laughed when I saw what it was. And then tears filled my eyes. The frame makes my profile pic look like the cover of a fashion magazine.

How amazing is that? Yes, it means Facebook is tracking my posts. But more than that, it is a wink from the Divine. It is an invitation to keep playing in this creative area. It is a Divine promise to meet me on this path, if I will keep walking, and show me how far my intentions can take me.

I am willing to keep going. How could I refuse such a playful invitation? That fashion magazine cover looks good to me. I am inspired to make it a reality.

Have fun designing your own fashions with this cool book:


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Pop’s Watermelon 

It is amazing how an ordinary object can unlock memories and strengthen connection with a loved one. Weed-eating in the backyard a couple of days ago, Greg asked me about a plant that was growing near the back steps. He didn’t think it looked like a weed. I glanced at it and agreed it looked more like a flower, or a vining plant, at least. 

He left that small area alone and moved on. This morning I wondered about the mystery plant and went outside to examine it more closely. It had grown in the last two days and I recognized it immediately. It is a watermelon plant! 

Pop's Watermelon
I love watermelon. I have several plants growing in my raised bed garden. This little vine, however, is a volunteer plant, meaning I didn’t plant it…not intentionally anyway. 

I was instantly transported back to my childhood. One of my great joys when we visited my grandparents, during the hot summer months, was eating cold, juicy watermelon slices. My grandfather, whom we all called Pop, was such a tease. “Don’t eat the seeds!” he would call out as my sisters, cousins and I carried our treats outside to the front porch. “If you do, a watermelon will grow in your belly.” 

Pop's WatermelonPop holding my grandson, Dayan. 

As a wee girl, I believed Pop. I was afraid to swallow those pesky little black and white seeds, carefully picking them out of my melon. If a seed accidentally got in my mouth, I spit it into Pop’s flower bed. Every summer, volunteer watermelon plants would appear among the flowers. Pop didn’t mind. He loved growing things. The watermelon plants were allowed to remain. 

Although I no longer believe that a watermelon will grow in my belly if I swallow a seed, I still tend to spit them out. Which, I am sure, is how that little volunteer plant appeared next to the steps. Last summer I sat on my back stoop many times, enjoying a slice of watermelon and the garden views. A seed that I spat out last summer sprouted. 

Pop's Watermelon
Pop's Watermelon

I cleared away the grasses growing around the plant, lessening the competition for nutrients and water. And then I mulched heavily around the base of the vine. Studying my new plant, I felt very tender toward it. Memories of Pop rose, of those balmy summer evenings eating watermelon on the front porch, and also of my grandfather’s love of gardening. 

Pop always had a huge vegetable garden behind his house and beds of perennials in the front and side yards. He used to let me help him weed and plant and harvest, and I am sure that my own love of gardening was born as a result. Coming into the house one day, sweaty and tired after working in the garden, Pop exclaimed that he needed more help with the weeding. “You need a couple of hoers,” my mom suggested helpfully. (Say that sentence out loud and you’ll understand why everyone laughed.) Pop was quick to answer, “I don’t think so!” 

Pop's Watermelon

Pop's Watermelon

Inspiration arrived, joining the feelings of tenderness and nostalgia. This little vine is special to me. I decided to treat it with great care. Using garden twine, and twigs left over from Maple Tree, whose gifts continue to be so useful, I created a little trellis for the plant. The twig trellis is decorative really, yet I had so much fun crafting it, and the young plant looks adorable twined around it. 

When I cleared away the grass crowding the vine, I uncovered a small triangular slab of concrete resting against the steps. I had another creative idea. 

Pop's Watermelon  

Using colorful art markers, I created a memorial for Pop by including his humorous words. The garden plaque reminds me of my grandfather, and those magical summer days of my childhood. It also reminds me that there is still magic to be found in my life, if I just stay open and know where to look. 

I don’t know if this little watermelon vine will produce fruit. I remember that only one small watermelon ever appeared from the many volunteer plants that grew in the flower bed. That’s okay. Pop allowed the vines to thrive and I will do the same, regardless of the outcome. 

I am grateful for my grandfather, and for the plant that stirred such memories today. Pop would be pleased that I still spit out watermelon seeds, and that I love gardening as much as he did. This plant is for him. It’s Pop’s watermelon. 

Pop's Watermelon

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment

Liz Gilbert has a wonderful TED Talk about creativity, in which she compares the curiosity driven life to a hummingbird that flits from flower to flower. I love that image and I wholeheartedly embrace a life driven by curiosity.

Liz says, “The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?”

My attention has been caught recently by fashion design. Inspiration has planted ideas, fully formed, into my head. Curiosity compels me to follow this path for a bit, to see how to get from where I am, in my abilities, to actually wearing one of the designs I have imagined.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment
This is what I love about living the creative life…the Divine never leaves me floundering. This new path of creativity has appeared for me to explore, by way of inspired invitation, and immediately what I need next shows up.

During my last two visits to Barnes & Noble, I’ve found beginner books on fashion design. One was even deeply discounted. I didn’t go into the bookstore looking for these books. I was browsing. One of the books caught my attention, caused me to turn my head an inch, made me pause. And Greg found the other one and led me to it, literally.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment
Tonight I spent time leafing through the pages, captivated…and curious…about this wonderful new world of fashion design. The books work well together. Fashion Design Studio is full of figures to sketch designs on and lessons on drawing techniques. A part of me wants to jump right to those figures and draw, in an attempt to create the clothes that I can see in my mind.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment
That will be wildly fun for me.

However, I don’t want to rush down this path. I am willing to meander, pause, respond. Looking through The Secrets of Fashion Drawing, I found pages and pages of foundational information on basic skills, technical terms, color and drawing. This is where I need to start…at the beginning, learning as I go, spending a bit of time seeing what is here for me.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment
Tight away, I see how important it is to have a designer sketchbook, separate from my art sketchbook. The authors of The Secrets of Fashion Drawing wrote, “…a sketchbook is comparable to a ship’s logbook; it is the record of a creative journey where the destination is unknown, the diary of an adventure.” That is so true and perfect for me that I will be purchasing a sketchbook just for capturing design ideas, drawings and notes.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment
I ended my night of learning by doing an exercise from The Secrets of Fashion Drawing, as a way to refine my eye and hone my drawing skills. The instructions were to take a garment from my closet, leaving it on the hanger, and draw it.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment

I chose a black pullover with a stand up collar, long sleeves and side pockets with white piping. One tip that I immediately found helpful was to fold my paper in half, to better create a symmetrical image.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment
This was a quick, and fun, exercise. I gathered info, instructions and techniques and put them into practice.

I don’t know where this fashion design journey is going. I only know I am curious enough to take the time to find out.

Liz finishes the quote above with these words:

“For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.” 

That’s exactly what I am doing here. I’m picking up each clue, unfolding it, and seeing where it leads me next.

Drawing Exercise-From a Garment
If you would enjoy learning more about fashion design, check out these two books:

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