Coloring Manga-style Characters Part 1: Skin

Posted On: 11/05/14

Copic tutorial manga-style skin by Chihiro Howe Today's tutorial by illustrator and manga artist Chihiro Howe is the first in a four-part tutorial. Today Chihiro explains her process for coloring skin on manga-style character with Copic markers. Enjoy!

In this series I'll break down the image above in four parts: skin, eyes, hair, and clothes. This first part covers skin. I'll be showing you how to color two different types of skin, light and dark. Chihiro Howe Copic tutorial coloring skin - lines

I start out with a sketch on regular copy paper. I then transfer the image onto a nicer paper (whichever types of paper you feel comfortable using. I like to use Canson's Bristol paper) with the Multiliner, using a light box. This way, you'll still have your original sketch along with the colored image.

With Copic markers, start out with the lightest colors first—darker colors can bleed when you use a lighter color over them. The exception is when you are blending the colors. I start with the darker color first, then blend it with the lighter color. Chihiro Howe Copic tutorial coloring skin - blending For the light skin, I used R00 for the blush and YR000 for the base color. To get the really smooth blending, I use the R00 first and immediately blend it out with YR000. For the darker skin, I used E13 for the blush and E31 for the base color. If the blush looks faded, do another layer of E13 before E31 dries. If you want a even darker skin, just use a darker reddish brown for the blush along with the darker base color.

It's best to work on one blush at a time, because once the ink dries it won't blend seamlessly. When using markers, work fast! Be bold! Don't be afraid to color, because if you color hesitantly it'll turn out blotchy...if you are afraid of going over the lines, use a masking tape or sheet to cover up the areas where you don't want the ink to go. Chihiro Howe Copic tutorial coloring skin -base This is what the skin will look like with the base color. I usually use the blush on the characters' cheeks, nose, tip of the ears, chin (very lightly), fingertips, shoulders, elbows, and knees (basically the pointy parts of the body). In real life, if a person has red cheeks and red nose it means they have a cold or allergies...but for a cartoon, I personally think they look healthier with a blush.

To differentiate a red face versus healthy looking face, use a darker reddish color for the red face and light pink for the healthy face. Chihiro Howe Copic tutorial coloring skin - shadow The next step is the shadows. Determine where the light source is (for this particular drawing, the light source is where the arrows are – from above, veered slightly to the left). The shadows will go opposite of where the light touches.

For the lighter skin, I used YR00, and the darker skin I used E55. Wherever I want the shadow to go soft, I blend it out with the base color (YR000 for light, E31 for dark). Chihiro Howe Copic tutorial coloring skin - shadow 2 I then enhance the shadows on the areas where the object sticks out the most (nose and neck), and where it is closest to another object that causes the shadow (right below the mask, right below the hands, right by the sleeves). I used E02 for the light skin, and E34 for the dark skin. highlights-600x403 Now that the skin is all colored, I finish it up with some highlights. I use Prismacolor's white colored pencil, but any kind of pencil will work if it's white: Crayola, Lyra, Sakura, etc. (ed. note: or Copic Opaque White.)

I put some highlights on the nose and cheeks, and also along the parts where the lights touch the most. Highlights give the characters more shine, and also make them look more three dimensional.




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The next tutorial will be on how to color eyes. The third tutorial details Chihiro's technique in coloring hair. She completes the series with a tutorial on manga-style clothing. Please leave your comments and questions for Chihiro below!

Tags: Artists, Chihiro Howe, How To, Illustration, Inspire, Manga, Guest tutorial,