Art Of Otaku Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, August 17, 2006
Release Date: Thursday, December 01, 2005
Writer/Artist:Snow Fox, Rodbere, Milky Cat, Karen Lyon, Sarah Maeder, Ranefea, Chibi Jazine, GTK
What They Say
Art of Otaku is a personality-injected "how to draw anime" solution from the creators of theOtaku.com, one of the world's largest anime websites. It's fun, different, and will help you create art you can be proud of...
The reason that I have not rated this title for packaging is because it is not a book. Art of Otaku comes in PDF format. You have the option of downloading it from a web site or ordering a CD with the PDF, ergo the two different prices. The download version costs $19.95, and the CD version costs $29.95 (free shipping). You can order it through the Art of Otaku website: http://www.artofotaku.com. This format does make sense as the document really is 852 pages, and it saves on shipping costs, etc. However, if you're planning on printing out the whole thing after you get it, keep in mind that 852 pages is a lot of paper (almost 2 reams), not to mention all the ink.
Have you ever seen a piece of anime or manga inspired art and wondered, how did they do that? Well, you can find out in Art of Otaku! Some folks from the fanart community at theOtaku.com got together and put together this compilation of tutorials that was written and drawn by fans for fans. This guide to drawing the basics of fanart drew upon the talents of eight of theOtaku.com's top fan artists: Snow Fox, Rodbere, Milky Cat, Karen Lyon, Sarah Maeder, Ranefea, Chibi Jazine, and GTK. From what I understand, all of these artists are purely fan artists and not professionals.
The guide begins with some general instructions and tips on how to navigate through a PDF and guidelines on software and tools necessary to get started. The introductory material is then followed by eight chapters of tutorials. Each chapter is drawn/written by a different artist, and these tutorial modules are arranged in the following structure.
Introductory Tutorials. These tutorials focus on small things, such as eyes, hair, shading, profiles, and poses.
Male Tutorials. These tutorials show you how to draw a full-bodied male character. Instructions are provided on how to draw the male character from two different angles.
Female Tutorials. Same as the male tutorials, but with a female character.
Complex Tutorial. Each artist finishes their chapter with a complex tutorial, which includes a background. This tutorial is theoretically the culmination of all the techniques covered in the chapter.
Each tutorial is preceded by a cover page that includes introductory notes, the number of steps required, requisite tools, and a picture of the finished product. This setup is designed such that you do not have to read the document from end to end, but you can choose the type of picture or technique that you want to work on and just read that tutorial as a standalone document. A couple of artists also include reference sheets in their chapters. Tools utilized in the tutorials include pencil, various pens, markers, a color pencils, CG and imaging software, watercolors, and screentones. Sprinkled throughout the tutorials are comments from the guide's mascot cat and random anime related trivia.
This is essentially an introductory manual to creating fan art. The selling point of this guide is that if you are a beginner looking for an instruction manual that really breaks down the process into several steps, this document does just that. It's the reason why it is 852 pages long. For raw beginners that need a little extra help, you have the option of printing out the images of the artwork as it goes from rough shapes and guidelines to final product and tracing all the steps. One of the more amusing things I noticed is that if you press and hold the right arrow key while viewing the pages on Adobe, you can watch the drawings "draw" themselves. They also have some nice snapshots showing how to apply screentones step-by-step. It should be noted that this manual focuses solely on the basics of drawing single pieces of art and does not go into more extensive uses of this art, such as creating your own doujinshi or manga.
Instructions are clear for the most part. However, because eight different individuals are authoring/drawing each of the different chapters, there is a huge variation in drawing style, techniques used, and instruction style despite the fact that the chapter structures are the same. For instance, Milky Cat and Ranefea use computer software for coloring, while Snow Fox and Sarah Maeder stick to watercolors and color pencils. Karen Lyon's instructions tend towards the goofy side while GTK's are more conversational.
If you are not a beginner, this might not be the best tutorial for you. So much of the document is devoted to the basics of drawing that if you are have established your own style and are looking to learn the finer points of certain coloring, software, or screentone techniques, you're probably better off looking to another source. Something else to consider is the drawing style of the individual artists. The tutorials will certainly show you how to draw in those artists' style, but their styles may or may not appeal to you. For instance, I was most interested in a chibi character tutorial. However, only one artist had a tutorial on chibi characters, and her particular style did not appeal to me (nothing personal, I just don't go for that particular chibi look). What I would recommend for those considering this tutorial collection is for you to go look at samples of the artists' work and decide for yourself if this is artwork that you would like to emulate. You can find the art portfolios of two of the artists here:
And you can find the art portfolios of the other artists by typing in: http://www.theotaku.com/portfolio/[insert username here]
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Released By: Velegant Media
Orientation: Left to Right