#7 of 33 Art Projects: Summer Cover of the Ryukyu Star

“How do digital artists take drawings from pencil to fully-colored images?” I’m always wondering this. In every digital art project, I’m looking for a breakthrough, and even if I flip through magazines and tutorials on the subject, the best way to learn is to practice.

This was the first image I colored without converting the inks to vectors. I deleted the negative space, going in as far as pixel by pixel, and darkened the inks with some level adjustments.

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I created a separate layer and colored it as the base color.Maybe it’s just habit from painting, but putting down a bright base color makes the other colors brighter, especially if the colors are placed using around 80 percent opacity. In this project, I used a bright orange-yellow that would lend itself to dark and light colors.

rs-summer-cover-baseI made different layers for each color, usually starting with the medium color followed by the dark colors and highlights.

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What do you do to digitally color images? I really like to get constructive feedback and how I can improve my art!

Calligraphy and Art (書道と美術)

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In black is the old way of writing. In red is what each kanji means.

In today’s class, everyone went to the calligraphy and art classrooms. There were many beautiful calligraphy and art pieces. Some of the art pieces were impressive, so I decided to take a picture of them. Later on, I’d like to try to make a bag calligraphy.

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日本語の日誌:

今日の授業に、みんなさんは書道教室と美術教室へ行きました。たくさんの美しな書道も芸術作品がありました。いくつかの芸術作品はとても印象的ですが、私はそれを写真することにしました。後で、鞄に書道を作りてみたいです。

If my Japanese is wrong, please correct me! I’m still learning!

 

 

Snake Shoe of the Student Council President

He tapped me on the shoulder after class and pointed at his left loafer with a small smile. “It’s a snake,” the student council president at my Okinawan high school stated, the snake’s tongue slithering happily towards the concrete floor. Although I expected a joke or a chuckle to follow, the student council president ascended the stairs alongside me.

“Can I take a picture of it later?” I asked him, and the English teacher next to me asked him in Japanese. His smile widened, and he replied that it was OK.

Five minutes, I was taking this picture with my cell phone. Even his shoe snake smiled at me.

In my head, I thought, “You’d never see this kind of creativity and loafers on Western shoes.” Of course, there are spikes, but they’re a bit overdone. I’d take these shoes any day.

Buying Anime Gifts on a Budget

‘Tis the season to be jolly–or to be more exact, to be mall-y. It’s the holiday season, and that means, buying gifts for friends and family. Unfortunately, if you’re still new to shopping for your anime-lover friend or brother or sister, the mall is the last place I would go to shop. Why? Because it’s expensive! Imagine paying $10–whole price–for a manga volume! Well, if you’re on a budget and paying that much for manga, anime, or Japan-related gifts isn’t something that’s on your Christmas list, I would heed a few points that I’ve learned from buying some great gifts.

Before you head out there, actually make a list of who you’re buying what for. If you make a list, you’re likely to stick with that list instead of buying impulsively and spending all of your money. Also, you should set a price limit as to what you want to buy for each person.

Now that you know more about what to do before shopping, on with the tips!

1. If you have time, go online. There are a lot of websites out there that offer deals just for buying merchandise from them. Websites like rightstuf.com and jlist.com offer savings on anime, manga, apparel, and Japan-related items. And before you decide to roam their pages, sign up for an account with them. You can get additional deals just for making a new account. Re-sell sites, like ebay.com and half.com, offer new manga and anime for cheaper prices outside of regular retailer websites. For instance, you could buy a Bakuman Volume 1 manga for less than $3 on half.com, versus getting it at $7.49 (rightstuf.com) or $9.99 (retailer). The only thing about shopping online is making sure the shipping fee is reasonable, if any, and that the package will arrive on time.

If you’re worried about receiving the gift by Christmas, I would suggest getting a gift certificate. If the gift certificates are still shipped, the shipping fees are really low and it’s more likely to arrive on time because it’s not a box. On some websites, gift certificates aren’t sent out, like on jlist.com. They are sent to the purchaser via email, and all you have to do is print it out (on nice paper, I hope!) and wrap it like a Christmas gift. It takes the hassle out of buying a specific gift for your anime friend and they’ll appreciate not having to return an item they don’t like.

If you live outside of the United States, bookdepository.com offers free shipping to all countries.

2. If you have time and got a dime, get in line. If you already booked yourself to go to a convention, make sure to remember your anime friends and family. For a list of your local anime convention, check out http://animecons.com/events/. If you’re one of those people who don’t go to anime conventions, there’s always the option of going to your local comic book retailer (not a mall one, hopefully), and having them order the manga or anime, if it’s not available in the store. Normally, there isn’t an extra charge for ordering, but sometimes, a deposit of the item’s price will be asked, so come with some cash. In some towns and cities, there are also manga and anime stores. Although they don’t have as many deals as online websites, if you’ve signed up for a point card, you can earn some much-needed points on your Christmas purchases.

3. No dime, no time, draw a line. If you don’t have money but you have some artistic skills, like drawing, painting, or even using Adobe Illustrator, make them a gift. You can personalize it to your choice, and it’s something original for your friend or family to keep. If it’s drawing or computer-generated images, just make sure to frame the piece or put it in a plastic sleeve like the ones used for American comic books (any comic book retailer can sell it to you for less than $1 each).  If you have left over clay or plaster, sculpt a figurine of their favorite anime character, use acrylic paint to color it, and let it dry. Presto! You have a gift that didn’t take hours to construct and zero dollars to make.

Using Anime Influences in the Classroom

I’m a big anime and manga fan. I try to put anime into anything I can: art projects, interior decorum, notebook doodles, anything really. Now that I’m an English teacher, I get to expand all things anime into a new area–the Japanese classroom.
You might be wondering, “How does Japanese animation work in a Japanese classroom with Japanese students?” Speaking English is the first step. Although most students don’t speak and understand English, they know their anime. Using words from the anime puts them on track to understanding something, anything.
For example, I did a Halloween lesson about Venetian masks. I did a Venetian mask of Bleach’s Vizard mask. “The Vizards in Bleach have masks.” Maybe students will recognize the words “Vizards”, “Bleach”, and “masks”, and with the visuals, they can put two and two together. Plus, anime has become a medium for teaching, and students can relate to something within their generation. Already, most things in Japan have illustrative instructions, and you can see some recognizable mangaka’s work on something as mundane as hair dye. Bringing a little bit of their world into a class setting with English makes it all more relatable.
Even grammar lessons, like “Are you…” and “What is … doing this Saturday?” works wonders in getting the students to pay attention. I know for anime fans/English teachers like myself, I have fun with it every class lessons.

Art Helps More than Science

I graduated school as a double-major in art and sports medicine. Even though I spent most of my time doing my science work while art took a backseat, I don’t use science in the real world. As an English teacher, I don’t even need science-but I use my art training every day.
It’s not the ability to draw, as shown below, that makes art an asset in my life. Art goes beyond skill and touches the mind or the heart. In the mind, you learn how to create, dismantle, and improve all aspects of creativity within nature. It doesn’t have to be drawing, painting or sculpting, because creativity and creation don’t come from those skills. They’re a result, a way to combine two ideas together.
I use this kind of creativity to include culture and art into the lessons I help teach in Japan. The visual element peaks students’ interest and the characters become a reference point for students.
The images below are pieces I drew for one lesson, but I ended up drawing four more images for another lesson. “Are you a rabbit?”
“No, I am not.”
Being able to use art to teach “Are you…” makes me happy that I majored in something other than science.

Experiment Bleach

Experimenting with using watered down black acrylic paint for a simple Bleach sketch. I gave it to a 3年生, or third year student (9th grader), at the school I work at, and he freaked out! When I handed it to him, a whole bunch of his classmates surrounded him to look at it. When English class started, the folder got circulated around silently before he placed it on his desk and admired it for most of English class. When class ended, he held up the folder with both hands, went around class trying to figure out if he should post it somewhere, then returned to me and said “Thank you” in Japanese. He went back outside, showed some more students, then came back to me and repeated “Thank you” before showing some more kids. I was really surprised by his reaction, but I was also glad that he liked it so much!