Needing help with a sketch

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Killerplum2000 2 years ago.

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    I've been doing regular practices and doodling a lot recently, but I have a few issues with how I draw things, specifically the human form. As you can see below, I have a very manga/anime-inspired art style, but the way the skull looks just... Doesn't feel right to me, maybe it's slanted? Or even how the chin seems too far away from the mouth, details like these are hard for me to think of solutions and I commit the same mistakes too many times. It might be a product of "learning it wrong" however and practice can certainly fix it.

    Regardless, I wanted some input on things to pay more attention to, obvious flaws, subtle mistakes I've committed etc. Even though it is a stylized piece, I do want to keep the structure as intact as possible, just with a more eastern aesthetic to it.

    For the sake of clarifying it, I use the Loomis head method to construct the human skull, although it's still tricky for me to get the "shaving" of the sides right and the center vertical line is always somewhat of a struggle.

    Thank you very much in advance!

    • Mihoy edited this post on June 9, 2021 8:08pm. Reason: Removed broken image
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    Gee, Manga style is somewhat hard to help, as it follows a quite distinct formula, as developed by the 20th century japanese illustration industry. And you certainly have more practice with following that formula than I do.

    From what I have seen somewhere on youtube, and definitely not from my own personal experience, it is part of the style, that you should be able to idealize individual parts of the drawing. Like, find an idealized 3/4 frame for heads, that you use for all adult persons, define idealized attributes (hair style, accessories, scars/grubs/skin tone, etc), that you always use for the same character, find an idealized expression for eyes, nose, mouth, for a range of different emotions, then train to reproduce those parts quickly and consistently, so you can assemble them as needed to fill entire story boards quickly and consistently. If you work for a studio, the "idealization" part isn't your responsibility either, as you are required to just reproduce the studio style.

    As for helping you out about "feeling" it's slanted, or that mouth and chin don't align, frankly, even if you used a traditional western style, it would be somewhat hard. If I tell you "that one line should be longer and more to the left" in that one painting, does that really help? Generally "try internalizing the Loomis formula and then practice hard" is the best general advice for portrait drawing anyway. If your target would be to achieve a more realistic rendering, there could be more advice about tones and halftones, coming from the Atelier style, (from the french 19th century illustration industry). If you aimed for more anatomical correctness or more individual expression, there might be other ideas, but manga needs to be simple to be manga.

    If I saw your image in a manga book, it would just fit in and I wouldn't think twice about your drawing. It would'nt stop me from following the flow of the narrative, which, by my understanding of manga, means, you nailed it.

    I think the OG way to go forward for you would be to draw an entire list of just 3/4 frames, then chose your favorite one and try to stick to it as closely as possible. Then repeat that for hair, accessories, eyes, mouths, etcetera, until you are ready to just assemble the parts as needed. In an application to a studio, you would then send in a set of features for one character, and a few example drawings how they work together in a variety of situations.

    Your choice of subject, 3/4 portrait of a young male with a neutral expression, smooth room lighting approx. from top right, would probably be included in the set as a reference point, but to show off, you would need to include some more extreme choices: extreme emotions, extreme angles, extreme lighting, individual attributes or features.

    If you are interested in development of a broader artistic frame, the hard truth would be: drop manga and start experimenting with other styles? Manga is a very tight framework to work within, and it doesn't allow for a lot of individual growth, and that is not a bug, that is its actual feature. You aren't supposed to paint a single million dollar frame over the course of half a year, you should dish out a dozen of pages of story a day, without irritating the customer.


    hey mihoy,

    aunt herbert is right, your drawing is already really solid and i had to look twice to find any inconsistencies.

    however, i think there are three main points you could improve on:

    1. as long as it wasn't intentional, the proportions of the head aren't right. as you know from the loomis head, the face can be divided into thirds from top to bottom to indiocate the forehead, nose and mouth/chin region. of course this is for a idealized head and can be altered for children, superheroes and so on... with your picture i find the nose too long, the forehead to short and the chin seems right to me. oh, and since the nose is too long, your ear is to big as well.

    2. the forehead is too wide. i have the feeling, if you would to look down on your head, it would be almost a square instead of an egg shape. the length to width ratio of a head seen from above is about 2 to 3.

    3. the back of the skull needs more volume. this is a common one. it just needs practice till you get it right.

    i had the same problem as no. 1, but instead of a too short forehead i drew a too short chin/mouth area. to get rid of this mistake, i would recommend to draw lots and lots featureless loomis heads just focussing on the proportions and that your parallel lines stay parallel, giving each head an honest feedback as soon as it's finished and implementing your feedback into the next head...

    i did some sketches to illustrate my points, i hope it helps:)


    hmm, that didn't work

    so, here you go


    @moritz: keen eye, but is it still punkrock?.... aaah, manga? The most obvious difference in the drawings is: Mihoy drew the eyes approx. 50% bigger, a lot of the anatomical "mistakes" follow logically from that decision. Which is ofc. 100% in tune with the style.


    @Aunt Herbert: well, yes of course it is still manga.

    i mean, you're right, one can and should change the proportions of the head to fit the needs of the drawing and if the proportions mihoy choose are intentional, i maybe wrong. they can ignore the first point i made and i would just recommend to focus on the width of the head, the volume of the back of skull and the parallelity of the brow, eye and mouth line.

    but i still wouldn't define manga as a style that has to have big eyes. there are many styles of manga and even more sizes of eyes in.

    even if you think of the stereotypical manga girl, the big eye size doesn't substract from the size of the forehead. the extra space of the eyes extent downwards, especially since the manga girl should look cute and beautiful and so leans towards child like proportions, which have a proportionally big forehead.

    so you could have a cute looking manga head with big forehead and eyes and a small nose, mouth and chin, a super hero type manga head with small forehead and eyes, a normal sized nose and a large chin and everything in between you can imagine.

    in mihoy's case, the head has a proportionally big nose, which i would associate with more of a goofy, lanky type. and since it is a fairly seriously looking young man, i don't think that was what they were going for. but as i said, i maybe wrong with this.


    good points, thumbs up!


    Nicest job on your Japanese comic-style 3/4 headshot, neolunare. That looks like a really great work on your goal. Question: what's your first ever current goal?

    If I could make a little bit of a criticism, it would be that though it's a little bit technically, I think, what you're going for in the Loomis method. I completely and totally feel that your Loomis cranium, in terms of your application is the teensier bit too chopped off at the top. Would you please look at a PDF, physical book, or even an ebook of Drawing the Head and Hands by Loomis? There, you'd be able to practice loosening up your Andrew Loomis head construction just a little bit more with 7 minutes of a 5 minute, and a 2 minute study, would you please do that?? While you're at it, would you also please take this image you've uploaded, duplicate it, then you flip horizontally on Preview???

    The reason why you could do this is because of two things: 1) You'd be able to check your own work; to compare and contrast with your manga head with the Loomis head to make sure your head and facial relationships are looking, and feeling correct to you. 2) To be able to look at the angles, proportions, spaces, and edges, for the sake of accuracy, or correctness.

    Sorry if you think that sounds or seems a little bit too convoluted to you, but, I'm just doing the best I can to give you some definitely concrete advice, but all in all, that you've got plenty more practice on your anime and manga style more than me.

    Good luck, cheers, and I hope you'll find these definitely and absolutely practical helpful and encouraging.

    Polyvios Animations.

    P.S. Don't get discouraged that tour studies aren't all that excellent right away. ;)


    Thank you so much, everyone!

    So many good points! It really helped me understand what was wrong with my drawing. As Polyvios pointed out, I should study more of Loomis' methods and more human skulls, and try to compare my drawings to the examples I'm trying to adapt from more often. Polyvios asked me if I had a goal, and I've been recently thinking very hard about it, whether it's going to be comics, or animation, or even game dev. Overall I love telling stories but I'm not against expanding to other mediums if it helps me achieve excellence in what I already love doing.

    Herbert gave so much good advice! I'll work on making more interesting drawings in general, those usually end up forcing me to go outside of my comfort zone and study new things, so it's a win-win.

    Moritz, thank you so much for your explanation and guide! I do see the differences now, and I can see that the thirds were wonky on my part. I do think I like the general aesthetic of the original a bit more though, and I'll try to think of what bothers me, might be the haircut so I'll experiment with it.

    I like how this thread had a very interesting, even if short, discussion about stylization and how it can still follow the principles of "proper anatomy", at first I was a bit hesitant to ask here since it seems to be a place where most artists will be focusing their studies on realism and closer-to-life styles. I was absolutely proven wrong as there is much to learn from those that come from different areas in art and life.

    Again, thank you very much!


    Forehead is pretty small also I would make the eyebrows just a little bit higher! :)

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