I love looking at the amazing artwork posted all over the internet by people who use nothing more than a mouse and a keyboard…or a drawing tablet, that helps too.
I’ve always wanted to get some practice in making some gorgeous digital art but I’m held back by my own laziness. Recently however I’ve been making more of an effort, I couldn’t figure out what to draw but seeing as it was the coloring I wanted to practice I decided to give one of my favorite black and white manga a bit of color.
The manga I chose is called Rosario + Vampire (it’s also an ecchi/harem type anime), it’s about a human named Tsukune that accidentally enrolls at a school for monsters all of whom have to remain in their human forms, he makes friends with a vampire named Moka and have all sorts of wonderful adventures.
Before I start, I personally prefer to have the scanned pages vectorized to make them easier to work with. It essentially helps clean up an image by scaling the graphics and making them more distinct. You can find some vectorization programs online although you usually have to pay for the result.
From afar it may not seem like much has changed, but if you look closer you can clearly see the image has been cleared up, with virtually all noise (graininess) removed giving a cleaner picture.
When I’m happy with the result it’s time to start coloring. Many people use Photoshop but I’m not willing to fork out hundreds of dollars for it and my philosophy is that if you can get practically the same thing for free then do it, so the program I use is Gimp, a free program that’s very similar to Photoshop, it doesn’t have all the features of course but for the simple images I want to do it’s more than good enough.
I select my source colors for the characters from the anime and play around with what I think works for the environments, but of course anyone can color in a picture and if all your motor skills are developed you can probably stay within the lines too, the challenge is making the picture vibrant and dynamic.
Shading helps give the image depth, creating the illusion of a three-dimensional world on a 2D page, but it has to be consistent, figure out where you want your light source coming from in each scene and stick with it.
In the scene above there are multiple light sources, the windows and the lights illuminating the inside of the building, I decided to have my main light source coming from the buildings interior lighting. I wanted to keep in mind the world these characters are in, a school for monsters in human form, so I pictured the outside of the school as being dark and gloomy. But what’s going on in the scene itself is also important, the first confrontation between two main characters, it felt appropriate to use the lighting to emphasize their front rather than their back, particularly their face considering that both characters are very beautiful. I did things differently with the environment however, many panels have only partial borders so I wanted the color to fade as it got closer to the edge of the panel and since the school interior is almost entirely blue, I used different shades to keep the interior more interesting, I’m still playing around with the colors to see what works better. The middle panel however I did differently, since the background was undefined I used red to help it stand out from all the other overwhelmingly blue panels, I think it really helps draw the readers focus and helps establish it as a key scene in the storyline.
I’m working on more of these pages too, kind of a hobby to keep me busy when I have time and perhaps I’ll share them here at a later date.