Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Going Chibi

"Chibi" Tamahome (the character I was drawing yesterday) and Miaka from "Fushigi Yugi"
When talking about manga comics, one must gain an understanding of the super-deformed or “chibi” character. This is not as bad as it sounds. As cartoon characters are typically pretty plastic anyway, in humorous situations (in manga) they can be extra-exaggerated for additional humorous effect. The other reason to deform a character is to make them more cute. One does this by reducing their basic proportions to that of a child.

When drawing a realistic figure you typically draw the character in a 1:7 or 1:8 head: body ratio. In manga this proportion is played with all the time. In my experience, a typical young, teenage, girl heroine is drawn in a 1:5 proportional ratio while her male counterpart in usually 1:6. These proportions seem pretty normal to us. To super-deform a character is to make them into a 1:2.5 or 1:3 head to body ratio. They are not drawn as infants however, but instead, completely dressed as normal, but with simplified versions of clothes, accessories, weapons, etc. Their gestures are also drawn broader with teary eyes becoming running rivers of water or with their anger setting off bolts of lightning from their eyes.

While I am still having some trouble drawing the eyes of a soulful hero, I find chibi extremely easy to draw. I have always had a knack for it. Perhaps it’s because I can channel cute really easily. Last night, I was complaining to my husband, Matt, that I loved drawing handsome manga heroes and troublesome Shetland ponies and how in the world could those two things ever even exist in the same version of reality? He seemed non-plussed and certain that I could make it all work, somehow. Bless him! At least he has confidence in me. But then again, perhaps he’s right…Hmmm. I'll need to keep thinking on it.

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