digital graphite

Digital sketching doesn’t feel the same as using physical media. There’s no question about it. As a sometimes-sketcher-of-things (by which I mean probably once every six months) I don’t do a lot of drawing, but I can tell the difference is as clear as night and day. That isn’t to say that the digital experience is horrible–far from it actually–but there really is something great about the feeling of a real pencil and its tactile feedback as it glides across paper. Not to forget the fact that there’s absolutely zero lag! Ah the joys of physical media.

Anyway. I found myself curious to experiment a little to see how closely a digital sketch was able to mimic the looks of a real pencil on paper, so I started to play around with Photoshop’s brush tools. Seeing as I’m still nowhere near skilful enough to be able to draw things from imagination, I picked a reference frame from the currently airing anime Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, featuring the ever so lovely antisocial bookworm Kawai Ritsu.

Kawai Ritsu

For me, the overall look manages to be fairly convincing, but I allowed the greys for the head to get a bit too dark, lending a charcoal-like feel at points. Also, there are limitations with the technology that make it difficult to make strokes as precisely as I might otherwise make using a mechanical pencil (in the previous drawing of Shiina Mashiro, I shaded with very fine crosshatches that gave shaded areas an extremely even and almost smooth look). I tried crosshatching here the way I normally would, but the outcome is most definitely different. It’s sketchy and much less precise. That’s okay though. I wasn’t expecting a 100% emulation of reality. Overall I think the result is pretty cool and I had a lot of fun playing around with the settings. I’d like to tinker a little more to get an even closer simulation of a physical pencil, but I’m impressed by the ability to get this close already.

pick up a pencil

So I feel like learning how to draw in a manga style. Having not drawn much for a good few years, it isn’t too easy (surprise, surprise!). The sharp and decisive line-work that is key to this type of artwork is pretty different to the style of drawing I’ve had experience with before. It’s in a whole different boat compared to realism, with its own set of challenges. So anyway, I’m starting by copying some characters from anime because it’s probably my most accessible place to start. Both pictures  were drawn on cheap A5 notebook paper with a standard 0.5mm HB pacer. 

The first image is supposed to be of Mashiro Shiina from Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. I tried shading using a sort of cross-hatching method, except really finely, so as to get rid of any sense of directionality of the lines that you’d normally have. It seemed to work fairly well, but makes progress slow. The second image is a quicker sketch of the heroine from Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita. I wanted to see how long it would take to copy something and get the proportions right. It took a lot longer than I would have thought, but I’ll cut myself some slack; I’m still a beginner at this style of art=). I’ve got no idea when I’ll do more practise, but I’m planning to try to do a little whenever I have free time.