- Posted by Johanna on April 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm
- Category: Books and Prose
- CREDITS: by Christopher Hart
- PUBLISHER: Watson-Guptill; $21.99 US
(subtitled) Everything You Need to Start Drawing the Super-Cute Characters of Japanese Comics
I find Christopher Hart’s books to be very light on the basics, enough so that I would not recommend them to a young artist who doesn’t already know the foundations of drawing. However, this book does have some value as an idea generator, and if you want to replicate the kinds of characters shown, you’ll appreciate the structure breakdowns.
The promotional material calls chibis “easy to draw and the perfect subject for beginning manga artists”. That’s entirely the wrong approach. Making something cute and simple and small works better the more you know about the standards. That way you know what to adjust and tweak. Starting with these because you think they’re simpler is an attempted shortcut that will not benefit your art. But then, the PR also claims that “without [chibis], manga would barely exist,” another wrong statement. (There are plenty of manga with super-deformed characters, but there are also plenty of manga without them, especially once you look outside manga aimed at kids.)
On the plus side, there are lots of pictures of cute, big-headed characters throughout. Just flipping through the book will provide plenty of funny pictures that catch the eye, and some might inspire ideas for stories or characters of your own. In fact, I don’t recommend reading much of the text. Just the introduction had me gritting my teeth, wanting to argue back. But the pictures are adorable, and some of the individual tips will benefit the reader, like how to draw hair highlights or eyebrows to make a sly expression. There are plenty of samples of color schemes, school costumes, shoes, props, smiley flowers (?), and a ton of character types, including five kinds of magical girls and lots of fairies and pets.
I found the copyright page particularly interesting, because Hart lists 12 contributing artists, one of which is himself. I found myself wondering just how many of these drawings were his? (The publisher provided a review copy.)