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  1. #1
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    An interesting view of pen and ink in Japan...

    Those of you fascinated by pen and ink, especially used in comics, might be interested in this. It's a web site for Mori Kaoru, the mangaka who does the currently running comic "Otoyomegatari," a piece I consider a modern masterpiece in comics. By the way--it's MS. Mori, for those of you with your heads up your asses that think Asian WOMEN can't draw worth a damn either...

    http://natalie.mu/comic/pp/otoyomegatari

    The site's in Japanese, but there are four or five videos scattered over the four pages that don't need translation and some other interesting stuff as well...things like this are extremely rare on the innerwebz, so check it out.

    And here's a teaser on her work (I'll be posting more later)...

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    Wow just wow, thanks Ilaekae
    This is my first time with something like this!

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    The amount of detail and patience in each work's just staggering. I can't believe how precise her strokes are.

    Thanks for sharing! Watching the third vid now.

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    I ran across a note on one site (which I can't find now--%$#@*&) that states Mori executes one page every 3-4 hours. I'm assuming that refers to the less "cluttered" pages, because I don't know ANYONE who can do some of the pages I've seen of hers in less than a solid 10-16 hours. I'm guessing with the speed she's capable of working at, the two spreads at the end of the pic post probably took somewhere around 10-12 hours each.

    One thing I'd like to mention...the artist follows the "big-eyed" manga approach to some degree, especially for the younger female characters, which makes it hard to use facial expressions easily to convey meaning. In spite of this, the artist has developed a little stock-pile of "tricks" that allows a lot more communication and emotion than you would normally expect. And be fore-warned...the story revolves around a young married couple--he's TWELVE...and she's a...bit...long in the tooth...at TWENTY. Hey...it's 19th century Eurasia and appropriate for the times...but still a bit funny by modern standards.

    Ten chapters of the manga have been translated so far and posted online if you'd like to see the entire thing...just remember it reads right to left even though it's in English.

    http://www.onemanga.com/Otoyomegatari/

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    Dang...nice find. She must eat bottles and bottles of ink.



    She starts inking in this video.


    Make a sketchbook happy, feed it a tip to improve!

    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=85628
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilaekae View Post
    I ran across a note on one site (which I can't find now--%$#@*&) that states Mori executes one page every 3-4 hours. I'm assuming that refers to the less "cluttered" pages, because I don't know ANYONE who can do some of the pages I've seen of hers in less than a solid 10-16 hours. I'm guessing with the speed she's capable of working at, the two spreads at the end of the pic post probably took somewhere around 10-12 hours each.
    Isn't it common for the more famous artists to have assistants? Maybe that's counting assistant help, because I can't imagine it either!

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    Whoa...

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    Quote Originally Posted by himlayan View Post
    Isn't it common for the more famous artists to have assistants? Maybe that's counting assistant help, because I can't imagine it either!
    Actually, seeing her work in the videos convinces me the 3-4 hour claim may not be out of line. She has no wasted motions, especially when inking. For example, when drawing criss-crossed patterns on the head cover for example, she "knows" where to chop the lines to prevent touchup later. And she's not a precision inker in the sense of everything being perfect. She's more of a "natural" with a pen--doing what "looks" right, rather than being anal, and appears to work on an area until it's nearly done before moving on. This would result in a lot of little savings in time that would add up to a real chunk at the finish.

    She probably does have assistants, but they may be relegated to the "screen work" and finishing her backgrounds, because her characters are too dependent on her style to be turned over.

    Last edited by Ilaekae; March 20th, 2010 at 09:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilaekae View Post
    Actually, seeing her work in the videos convinces me the 3-4 hour claim may not be out of line. She has no wasted motions, especially when inking. For example, when drawing criss-crossed patterns on the head cover for example, she "knows" where to chop the lines to prevent touchup later.
    That makes sense, I just can't imagine anyone having both the patience and the energy to churn out 4 pages in a day (and without the page being riddled with white correction paint). But considering what she managed to finish in the span of those vids, it does seem very plausible. Hot damn.

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    Kaoru Mori also wrote the manga "Emma," right? I'm still amazed by the amount of historical detail stuffed into every little page of Emma. The woman is very good at what she does.
    Also since Emma's one of her older books you can really see how her style changes from the first to last books.

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    After watching the 1st video above halfway, I stopped, because my jaw dropped and my heart pounded with fear.

    This Mori is truly a legend. Just when I thought art legends can't get any better, the video proved me wrong. She's like, drawing the entire figure and the horse straight out, without thinking, no construction lines, no planning, no nothing.

    The part where she starts drawing the horse's head just freaks me out totally. I always thought you need to at least block in the basic shapes or use the geometric solids (cubes, cylinders) to construct first, then add details, but she goes in immediately and draw the entire thing out with details simultaneously. I've heard of this mythical human sense called "preposition" or something, whereby for certain folks, when they look at the blank paper, they can already "see" what they want to draw, and just need to use the hand to physically trace out the image (it was discussed in some other thread).

    I'm gonna throw out all my art books now. Maybe Japan has their own methods of drawing that isn't widely known, and all those Bridgeman, Loomis, Vilppu are just a tiny part of all the drawing methods in the world.

    Thanks for Pigeonkill for posting this shocking vid.

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    Actually,most Anime/Manga artist don't use Construction lines,etc from my experience.
    so its Comes with the style I guess.

    but man,Her detail is mind numbing,I'd die trying to ink like that.

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    I always thought you need to at least block in the basic shapes or use the geometric solids (cubes, cylinders) to construct first, then add details, but she goes in immediately and draw the entire thing out with details simultaneously.
    Well, you don't need to block everything out literally... (I know I don't, I just scrawl all over until something emerges.) (Not that this is necessarily a good thing, but everyone has different approaches.) And it doesn't look like she's exactly setting down the final outlines all in one go, though she does seem to have a lot of confidence in getting things close to what she wants right away. There's still some figuring-things-out type of scribbling, and a little bit of construction (like where she starts with a center line and eye line for the heads.)

    There's just less of that than usual. She's obviously had tons of practice and knows exactly what she wants when she starts to draw.

    What makes my jaw drop is how she's apparently putting in all the patterns and fiddly details IN INK completely ad lib. THAT'S some serious confidence right there. Whoa. (And I envy her control, man. No wonder she's fast.)

    Note aside: Fingerless gloves! What a great way to keep your page clean! Why didn't I think of that...

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    Her working habits apparently do have at least one drawback...

    In one of the photos on her website, you can see a bandaid on her finger. The non-stop working causes her to develop a sore spot where the pens and brushes lay across the finger muscle on that finger, so she uses a bandaid as a brace to cut the pain. This is now a normal part of her equipment, as are the fingerless gloves.

    The gloves are similar to photographer's cotton gloves (you can still find them at some photo and electronics stores. There are also variations in how the fingers are cut off on the gloves--I've seen some where only the first two fingers and thumb were bare on each hand, and some artists cut only the glove parts off that would normally cover the first finger joint only. Others cut them at different points all the way down to the finger base.

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    What kind of a nib is she using? It looks like a syringe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    After watching the 1st video above halfway, I stopped, because my jaw dropped and my heart pounded with fear.

    This Mori is truly a legend. Just when I thought art legends can't get any better, the video proved me wrong. She's like, drawing the entire figure and the horse straight out, without thinking, no construction lines, no planning, no nothing.

    The part where she starts drawing the horse's head just freaks me out totally. I always thought you need to at least block in the basic shapes or use the geometric solids (cubes, cylinders) to construct first, then add details, but she goes in immediately and draw the entire thing out with details simultaneously. I've heard of this mythical human sense called "preposition" or something, whereby for certain folks, when they look at the blank paper, they can already "see" what they want to draw, and just need to use the hand to physically trace out the image (it was discussed in some other thread).

    I'm gonna throw out all my art books now. Maybe Japan has their own methods of drawing that isn't widely known, and all those Bridgeman, Loomis, Vilppu are just a tiny part of all the drawing methods in the world.

    Thanks for Pigeonkill for posting this shocking vid.
    I"m not sure what you're talking about, because she clearly uses construction lines to make the horse's face, and almost the entire picture. Her construction lines just aren't that in depth. She has a lot of experience/practice in drawing those things and she doesn't need to figure things out with 'boxes' or whatever. I draw like that all the time. It's what happens with experience.

    No need to throw out the books. You'll get there eventually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar View Post
    I"m not sure what you're talking about, because she clearly uses construction lines to make the horse's face, and almost the entire picture. Her construction lines just aren't that in depth. She has a lot of experience/practice in drawing those things and she doesn't need to figure things out with 'boxes' or whatever. I draw like that all the time. It's what happens with experience.
    No need to throw out the books. You'll get there eventually.
    LOL, ok, it's just that this is the first time I see people drawing with such unparallel confidence....it's just so amazing. When I watch the vid, wild things raced through my mind, like "HTF did she do that?", "WTH is happening here??!!" and "She makes all master artists look bad!".

    Now that I watch the vids carefully again, it's not nearly as crazy as the 1st time (I closed my browser window last night after watching the 1st video [00:00 - 01:10 min] due to shock when I saw the drawing speed).

    Sorry for raving like a fanboy.

    Last edited by Xeon_OND; March 21st, 2010 at 11:49 PM.
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    Hunter', "What kind of a nib is she using? It looks like a syringe."

    I'm guessing it's simply a steel nib, and a fairly hard one since she doesn't appear to use a lot of thick/thin variation in her decorative elements. The shape seems a bit funny, though--it seems to have concave sides to the point even though it has a spoon shape at the top. I don't think I have of that shape, so it might be specific to Japan (?)... I'll look into it when I get a chance.

    Xeon', you're having a nervous breakdown because she's doing a pencil with very little guidelineing!?!? I know at least six people who can do either a brush and ink or nib and ink drawing of something like a human face or a building without ANY pencil preliminary guides at all. I can actually do it with portraits/faces as long as they're in profile or head on. It's not all that hard once you have a decent grasp of proportions.

    One of my ex-students actually makes his living doing Rapidograph drawings of accurate cityscapes and major historical buildings loaded with detail and with extremely accurate proportions and I don't think he even owns a pencil.

    Have faith, Young Puppy...it will come with time...

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    Ironically, the concept of SIMPLICITY is most often misunderstood by simple-minded people. --Alj Mary
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    Looks like it might be a G-nib, which is commonly used in Japan, especially amongst female manga artists for their shoujo style. The fact that her lines are really thin and delicate also suggest that.

    BTW, Ilaekae, thanks for introducing her wonderful art. I jumped on the onemanga site and started reading and couldn't stop. Her attention to historical detail is amazing and even more so once you've seen documentaries on nomadic peoples like Amira. I found her style very beautiful and the part with the embroidery actually threw me, because I swore the way how she did it in ink made it look like actual stitching.

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  31. #20
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    I was taught East Euro and Eurasian embroidery when I was a tiny tiny kid and still do it to relax, so imagine how I reacted when i first saw this manga!

    No position or belief, whether religious, political or social, is valid if one has to lie to support it.--Alj Mary

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    Thankyou for sharing.
    her work is staggering i love the amount of detail and her paients it reminds me of my work well in the sense that it takes a long journey and will power to finish it but the outcome is rather nice
    I need one of those gloves she has so the page dosent become contaminated with smudges and all other things of the sort.
    Anyone know if you can buy specific ones online as i can imagine the material choice must be specific rather than using any old glove.

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    When I saw the topic I thought you were actually talking about the publication.

    http://www.amazon.com/Pen-Ink-Comikers/dp/1569709173/

    It's really interesting how much work mangaka have to put into so that they meet their deadlines.

    I have a g-nib too, I get them from Little Tokyo here in LA, though I think I remember seeing them at the stationary store at one point at Mitsuwa marketplace in Torrance. Deleter comic paper is one of my favorite papers since it's not as thick as Canson and makes for mighty smooth lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilaekae View Post
    I ran across a note on one site (which I can't find now--%$#@*&) that states Mori executes one page every 3-4 hours. I'm assuming that refers to the less "cluttered" pages, because I don't know ANYONE who can do some of the pages I've seen of hers in less than a solid 10-16 hours. I'm guessing with the speed she's capable of working at, the two spreads at the end of the pic post probably took somewhere around 10-12 hours each.
    That's pretty impressive if that statement includes toning, especially with the amount she's using. A lot of manga artists - even amateurish ones - use a team and usually another member of the team or two do the toning because it's so fiddly and time-consuming to get right, and the manga pages you posted show that they do have it right quite well. It's very easy to do badly, as most non-Jaqanese "manga" artists prove. That might also be because a lot of Western "manga" to come out in the last couple of years doesn't use large teams either. In Japan you'll often have the main artist, a foreground inker or two, a background inker-developer (the main artist will lay down the basics and the background artist will fill in the details to specifications), a toner or two, and then a letterer or cleaner-upper who scans the stuff into a program and cleans up all the panel edges and stuff. It's an excellent way to do comics, and also helps up-and-coming artists work their way through the different areas involved in manga. Though obviously if the main artist isn't strong then the rest of it isn't going to work well, though there's none of that happening here.

    One thing I'd like to mention...the artist follows the "big-eyed" manga approach to some degree, especially for the younger female characters, which makes it hard to use facial expressions easily to convey meaning.
    Actually the traditional big-eyed manga style common in young/girls manga is used for the exact reasons they believe it is easier to convey emotions and facial expressions in the limited media. Given, the emotions displayed in manga across all genres tend to be a fairly small number, but not more or less so than Western comic artists (to pull an arbitrary and vaguely related example out of my arse). I think whether or not this actually works is more up to the reader and their familiarisation with Japanese pop cultural shorthand. The same sort of stock-piles of "tricks" you see in most manga are common also in Japanese drama series, which some argue makes for a dramatic sub-culture with a lot less subtlety and a lot more overacting than a lot of Western dramatic histories, except maybe early silent film and stage theatre.

    I like the attention to the textile detail, though I wouldn't want to read it non-stop for an extended period of time. I've always found that a lot of manga such as this use highly (and sometimes, pointlessly) detailed artwork to make up for a weak story or poorer overall drawing skills (though I am in no way accusing this artist of falling into that problem here), and it often tires out my eyes if I read it for too long. I prefer to read stronger stories sometimes with less developed art, like the Mushishi series.

    Thanks for posting, Ilaekae.

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    OMG A FUCKING MANGA WITH HANDS THAT ARENT FUCKED UP GASP*

    runs away....

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    OMG A FUCKING MANGA WITH HANDS THAT ARENT FUCKED UP GASP*
    If she can draw feet too then major props to her...

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    Ah, I went onto her blog and started clicking through all the pages. Guys, take a look at the references that she's using. I recognize a few of the anatomy books she has.

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    The thing that fascinates me most is just how tightly she holds her tools. I have a habitual death grip that people constantly try to "correct" - I'm a bit tired of being told I'm holding things wrong and how I have to do it this way or that way! You can accomplish good things even with a death grip, according to these videos, so a little part of me is kinda happy.

    However, I hadn't thought of putting a plaster over ye olde drawing finger lump of doom. I wonder if that helps stop it hurting? Maybe I'll try.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudjuice View Post
    The thing that fascinates me most is just how tightly she holds her tools. I have a habitual death grip that people constantly try to "correct" - I'm a bit tired of being told I'm holding things wrong and how I have to do it this way or that way! You can accomplish good things even with a death grip, according to these videos, so a little part of me is kinda happy.

    However, I hadn't thought of putting a plaster over ye olde drawing finger lump of doom. I wonder if that helps stop it hurting? Maybe I'll try.
    People might be a little overzealous with their "advice", but I think it's just of a practical nature. I too tend to hold my pen too tightly sometimes, and it helps me to loosen it. After a while my hand will start to hurt, and that only affects me badly. I don't want to end up with arm/hand fatigue/nerve damage into the future. So it's not about "wrong" or "right" but about protecting yourself (and your asset!)

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    There's just less of that than usual. She's obviously had tons of practice and knows exactly what she wants when she starts to draw.
    But don't forget that you have tons of pages with tons of the same stuff. It's a manga artist, they have to churn out product with an almost impossible speed. You can't reinvent the wheel with every page.

    I've retouched INU YASHA for eight years straight for a German publisher (deleted the Japanese soundwords and drew what I assumed was beneath the signs, so that somebody else could put German soundwords onto the page without worries).
    Because of that I've seen certain patterns emerge: storytellingwise - every 15 pages an action scene, every 4 books more talking to move the plot and artwise - you often times see the same postures and heads over and over. With the exception of action scenes, there was seldom new ground broken.

    Dunno if this directly translates to her work, but I thought I'd chime in. It might explain some of what what we see in the video. It's still an impressive accomplishment and doesn't take away anything.

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    But don't forget that you have tons of pages with tons of the same stuff. It's a manga artist, they have to churn out product with an almost impossible speed. You can't reinvent the wheel with every page.
    Actually, I was thinking that too. That's part of what I meant by "tons of practice". Not only tons of practice drawing, but tons of practice drawing manga in this style. Plus after enough pages, she's bound to have the characters and their outfits and so forth pretty well memorized, so she can knock 'em out over and over. (And like you say she's probably got a large repertoire of tricks and habits for layout, expressions and poses, stylization, etc., which would certainly speed things up...)

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