Category Archives: Articles

6- Tip: Line art (Inking)

(Pictures to be added soon.)

Hi, everyone~~ ^v^/ Today I’d like to talk about line art (inking).

Line art is an image consisting only of lines–no sketch marks are visible, and the image is not colored, though the line art itself can be colored. “Linearting” is a process in which an artist inks over a sketch; it is also commonly referred to as “inking”, even digitally, where no actual ink is involved. Often it is the second part of a three-part process: sketch -> ink -> color.

Since you can achieve different looks with different lines, they help to express different moods and create a wide variety of unique art styles when combined with that individual touch. ^^

Line Art Styles and Techniques
Colored Lines
I mentioned just a moment ago that line art can be colored. This can be done to lines without coloring the rest of the image, or as a type of coloring style in which the artist fills in all the color in the image and then goes back over the black lines in whole or in part with colors similar to what they are surrounding, in order to make them softer.

In SAI, you can color over lines by changing the layer mode to Selection Source, creating a new layer and Clip it, and then going over the line art with the color you choose. ^^

To color your lines traditionally, you can use different colors of pens (for example, Copic Multiliners) to achieve a similar effect. Plan out your drawing in advance so you know for sure which parts will get which color.

Thin Lines
Using thin lines in your artwork can help give it a soft or delicate feel. Thin lines on a background can help it recede and give more focus to the foreground, which could be inked with slightly thicker lines. With different types of coloring, thin lines can mean more realistic-looking artwork. Thin lines are more often associated with shoujo manga (comics for girls), but lately I’ve seen both shoujo and shounen manga (comics aimed at boys) have more of a medium line weight. Maybe that’s just me, though. XD I think this also depends on the medium used.

Achieve thin lines by 1) pressing down lightly; 2) selecting a super-fine-point pen; or 3) selecting a small brush size on your digital art program of choice (ex. smaller than 2 px).

Thick Lines
Thicker line weights give a bold appearance to artwork.

Achieve thick lines by 1) pressing down harder (not too hard!); 2) selecting a normal- to larger-than-normal-sized pen; or 3) selecting a larger brush size on your digital art program of choice (ex. larger than 4 px).

Flat Lines vs. Lines with Depth
No, “flat lines” this doesn’t mean lines that aren’t 3D. Lol. Flat lines are lines drawn without much change in line weight and no depth (I call it “extra shadows” if that makes sense??). While flat lines are fine, adding in those “extra shadows” can help to add a little extra visual interest to your art. It seems like such a small thing–that’s what I thought at first too–but it really does make a difference! All you have to do is add a little bit of extra ink to small parts of your line art where shadows will fall.

You can also do this around parts that have a roundness to them, such as the curve of a cheek, hip, or nose. Even adding a teeny tiny shadow to an eyelid enhances it a lot.

How to Make Good Line Art
Tips to reduce shakiness and make smooth lines
When inking, unless you’re going for a specific look, don’t “sketch” with your pen. Even if you digitally go back and clean up the lines, it won’t look as clean as it will if you let your lines flow. Be patient with it. ^^ You can rotate the paper or the canvas if you can’t quite get the right angle to make a smooth stroke.

In SAI, you can adjust the stabilizer to help, well, stabilize your pen strokes. The higher the number, the slower your stroke will be, but the line will be all the smoother. (I usually keep mine set at 7; the default is 3.) If you “ink” with the pen tool, it will also automatically remove small “bumps” in the stroke.

If you have unsteady hands…try to brace your arm, wrist, or hand (depends) against something and/or make shorter, quicker strokes. That may help. ^^

Don’t be messy
It may be obvious, but line art should generally be clean and neat. Make sure your pens are working properly and watch out for smudging. >< Vary your line width
…Not sure how to explain this. It needs a picture! >< ~ So, which do you like better...sketching or inking? What do you think is the hardest part about inking? What do you think is the easiest part? Got any tips you'd like to share? (I'd really like to know!) Leave them below! ^^/

This post is a part of my August Art series. I’ll do a Q&A post at the end of the month, so if you have an art-related question or just want to ask me something, ask away! *(*´∀`*)☆

5- Livestreaming

Several artists I know (including myself) use Livestream or Ustream for their live broadcasts. I really enjoy watching other artists draw, and being able to do so through a live stream, even though you may be on opposite sides of the world is amazing. There’s just something really cool about that–I feel like it unites the viewer with the artist in a unique way. It’s almost like you’re sitting there with them, chatting.

Today I want to share my thoughts on Livestreaming and share a tip (that I found out the hard way) to make your Livestream experience a better one.

1. Does LSing help you focus, or does it distract you?
I do think this really depends on the person, as it can go both ways. It can be both at the same time, too. For example, when I Livestream, I’m more likely to keep working on the same picture because I want viewers to see visual progress. However, the chat box can be distracting if you have to LS using an unusual setup like I currently do (that will be changing soon, though, hopefully!) where my laptop’s iSight camera is recording my Windows screen and I can’t see the chat box without craning my neck around to see. ^^;

2. The Pros and Cons of Answering Questions via Mic
Pros: You can glance at the question, and answer verbally without having to stop drawing for more than a few seconds, and the question can be answered faster because you aren’t taking time to type it into the chat box. Also, everyone can hear the response, even if they weren’t paying attention to the chat box.

Cons: When some viewers come to your Livestream, they might mute you. Why? Sometimes they’re at school and don’t want to disturb others (or get caught? Uh…lol); sometimes it’s super late (or super early) and they don’t want to wake anyone else in the house. Or you may be playing music they don’t like so much. These viewers won’t hear answers to questions, so you’ll have to pay a bit more attention to the chat box to know that and reply there.

3. Tip: Pay Attention to Your Settings!
Speaking of music…if you’re playing any while you have your mic on, watch your settings! You don’t want to make the mistake I did and have your music recorded louder than your voice. >< Make sure the mic is being recorded at a higher volume than your computer if you LS using Livestream Procaster’s screen recording, or turn off recording of your computer’s audio so any music you may be playing will just be picked up through your mic and thus not crazy loud.

4. Drawing while watching/listening to other artists’ Livestreams
Some artists like to have some company while they draw, especially if it’s late at night and their muse is still going strong, which makes Livestreaming or tuning in to a Livestream a great solution. I like to draw while I watch someone else’s Livestream for basically the same reason–it’s like I have company and we’re drawing together! Of course this means I won’t be seeing the entirety of their Livestream, but I definitely don’t ignore it either, since it’s always interesting; seeing the way other artists do things in real time is a great way to learn new tricks and techniques! In fact, it’s how I learned about layer clipping in SAI–something I’m very grateful I came across!


Do you have a Livestream or Ustream account? Do you Livestream yourself drawing? If so, what do you usually like to work on while you LS (sketches, coloring, one picture at a time, etc.)? Or, what do you like to watch artists work on while they are Livestreaming (sketching, lineart, etc.)? Which artist “channels” are your favorite to watch? Let me know in the comments!

My LS -> fireaangel
(I haven’t Livestreamed in a while, but I will post when I do! Please look out for it. ☆)

This post is a part of my August Art series. I’ll do a Q&A post at the end of the month, so if you have an art-related question or just want to ask me something, ask away! *(*´∀`*)☆

4- Tip: Sketching

(Pictures to be added soon.)

Here are just a few tips on sketching you may or may not have encountered before!

->You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, but sketch lightly. It’s hard to erase sketch lines from an inked drawing that has the “sketch” embedded into the paper. ^^;

->When you have a specific pose in your head, try gesture sketching it quickly. That is, don’t spend a lot of time on each part of it and let the lines flow into one another. It’ll look like a mess at first, but that’s totally fine. All you’re trying to do is get the pose down, indicate the gestures going on. Then you can go back and refine it with proper proportions and details and such.

->Try sketching using another color besides black or gray. It can be fun to experiment with and sometimes can make it easier to ink because the sketch color and ink colors generally won’t be similar.

This post is a part of my August Art series. I’ll do a Q&A post at the end of the month, so if you have an art-related question or just want to ask me something, ask away! *(*´∀`*)☆

3- An Artist Organized with Evernote

The simplest way to explain Evernote is that it is a great way to keep track of things that syncs across all your devices, is really easy to use, and is super convenient! I use it all the time to organize bits of info I encounter through the day as well as larger projects like stories.

This little post is going to cover just how I use Evernote for my art-related projects, but like I said, there are so many things you can use it for! Check out their ambassadors for more tips and ideas. ^-^

The way I organize my notes in Evernote is not with tags so much as with notebooks and notebook stacks. I have a few notebooks related to art in my “Writing and Drawing” notebook stack:


It’s convenient how they all start with “a” and so are organized together. ^o^


In the Archive notebook, I have a note that lists the original dates of my digital artwork. Why? Because when I transfer them to another computer, the “original” or “created” date becomes the date that I transferred it and a copy was created on the other hard drive. I want to save this information so I have a better idea of when I did what picture.

In my Art notes notebook, I have a note listing artwork that is unfinished, whether traditional or digital, and if it’s digital, what type of file it is (SAI or PS). Each item is color-coded based on whether I intend to put it in an artbook, make it a print, or if it’s finished and the SAI/PS file hasn’t been deleted yet. (It’s a good idea not to immediately delete the “WIP” files [SAI/PS/etc.] because you might have to make edits later. I just move them into a folder titled “Finished”.)

There is also a note outlining my artbook progress, including a page count, types of art currently in there, and which pages are finished.

My Art reference notebook contains just that; art references! Not only are there image references (or links to them), but there are links to inspirational articles and videos, links to tips and color info websites, and much more. Notes I have regarding printing are also in this notebook.

That’s about it! There’s not much to it. ^^
Do you use Evernote to keep yourself organized? Let me know in the comments and leave your tips below!

This post is a part of my August Art series. I’ll do a Q&A post at the end of the month, so if you have an art-related question or just want to ask me something, ask away! *(*´∀`*)☆

2- Traditional Art Storage: Binders

I happen to draw a lot of my traditional art on regular printer paper. ^^; This means that not only have I gone through a lot of printer paper, but also that I have a lot that needs to be kept somewhere. For me, I think binders really make a good storage solution for stacks of 8.5”x11” paper! Just get some clear sheet protectors and a few large binders and organize away!

I have divided my traditional art up into five binders, each one containing a specific category of art. (Now, of course not all of my traditional art is stored in these binders, but a good lot of it is.) Can you recognize some of the drawings?



First up is the “WIP (Work in Progress)” binder, which contains (obviously) works that I intend to finish at some point. Once they are completed, they will be moved into the Finished binder, or the Portfolio binder if I feel it necessary.


This is one of the two pictures I sent in with my first AIS lesson. They were kind enough to make copies of them and send them back! (I’d been told I wouldn’t get them back).


Drawn at my mom’s work carefully after recovering from my slight hand injury that Thanksgiving weekend (so…late 2011). It’s a part in Urami’s story where she actually does duel, and that duel disk is a borrowed one, thank you very much. To the left you can see something I drew on vacation that same year.
Never uploaded.


Left – old sketch I revived upon finding it again; Right – an old YGO! OC, Kayla.
Never uploaded.


The “Finished” binder contains art that is, of course, finished. Usually this means that it’s been uploaded to dA or somewhere else, but it can also mean that it was simply scanned into the computer. It includes WIPs and sketches that I scanned in and finished digitally, or recreated entirely digitally. The dates of the work in this binder vary greatly, since it even includes art from 2004 and earlier, before I even knew manga existed.


These sketches can be found on my Tumblr.


Left – drawn during a thunderstorm (2010, I want to say…); Right – 2009
Never uploaded.


Left – probably seventh grade? Right – tried out some plain “liner” markers a few years ago (maybe 2009 or 2010?)
Never uploaded.


2010. I was trying to solidify Urami’s design and experimenting with different eye shapes and things like that~ I didn’t want her to have eyes like she has now, but round eyes just didn’t suit her personality. (And yes, Yami was basically mad at her from the get-go.)
Never uploaded.


I drew a lot of horses and not-so-realistic people before I discovered anime. Here’s a sixth-grade example. The unicorns were for a short story I wrote in Reading class, and the other page is something I drew in Social Studies class–it’s basically a handful of pseudo-book covers.
Never uploaded.


The blobs down there are people…….. Again, likely from sixth grade. Never uploaded.


“Who are you?” Pretty sure this one is from either late sixth grade or early seventh grade. Never uploaded.


This picture was one of the best ones I drew in this style in sixth grade. I was so proud of it at the time. Never uploaded.



The “Ideas” binder contains art and info related to original manga projects, stories, characters, and designs. The dates of the work in this binder also vary greatly. (You can tell from the drawing on the front, which I drew in seventh grade.)


These two pictures are from seventh grade, when Tokyo Mew Mew was a heavy influence… Never uploaded.


These two pictures are also from seventh grade, when Tokyo Mew Mew was a heavy influence… Never uploaded.


Uploaded on deviantART, I think? Characters for a scrapped original story.


2008. Random story idea that I never used. Never uploaded.


The “NR (Nightmare Rising)” folder contains art and info related to KiraKira’s original manga project, Nightmare Rising. (No previews yet, sorry!) ^^;


Lastly, the “Portfolio” binder contains art that I feel represents my very best at different periods in my life. If I am especially proud of a traditionally-drawn picture for whatever reason, it goes in here.


I think this is on deviantART…?


Both on deviantART.


Left – never uploaded (2007); Right – on deviantART


Newest one in this binder. You can see it on dA too. ^^



It’s really fun to look through these binders because it brings back memories of where I was when I was drawing those pictures, or what my ideas for the stories were… It’s also amazing to see how much I’ve improved!

(^-^) How do you organize your traditional art? Let me know in the comments!

This post is a part of my August Art series. I’ll do a Q&A post at the end of the month, so if you have an art-related question or just want to ask me something, ask away! *(*´∀`*)☆

1 – How to Become a Better Artist (+30-Day Challenge!)

If you are an artist, chances are you have stared at a work that seems thousands of times better than what you can do and silently asked “How can I draw like that?” ( ;´Д`)/

I ask that question fairly often, actually, because I follow so many amazing artists. ;A; And there are plenty of lists of tips out there, but in short, there is no singular “easy” way to becoming a better artist. Many people will tell you first that practice is the first thing that comes to mind in the form of advice, and that “practice makes perfect”; I’d amend that to “practice makes you better” since perfectionism can be discouraging if you really are striving that high. ><

Here are some of the things that I’ve found through my own experience that you can do to improve. It’s just a short (sweet?) list that won’t take you too long to read. I’ve tried to list them so that each item builds upon the previous one.

  1. Practice. This basically just means keep drawing. You’ll find that you will improve almost without realizing it.
  2. Identify areas in which you struggle, and work on them.
  3. Stay excited. This is actually very important, because if you aren’t enjoying what you draw, it’s not going to come out as good. Or worse, your inspiration may fail you and leave you frustrated and reminiscing about days when you were excited.
  4. Set a standard, approach it, and then move it higher. Try to do a little better each time you draw.
  5. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. If you’re stuck on a picture, take a break, but come back to it. If you don’t, it may be two or three years before you decide to finish it–that, or you’ve improved so much you’d have to redraw it entirely in order for it to be good enough to post ^^; <– guilty of this; see example here
  6. Lastly, you can try doing memes or mini-challenges. They’re also good for times when you’re bored or feel stuck on something. ^o^

Here’s a challenge that I’m going to do too! For the next thirty days, let’s choose one character* and draw them at least once a day. It can be anything from a quick sketch to a fully-colored picture, as long as it’s the same character. Why do this? For a few reasons:

) You will become comfortable with drawing the character in a consistent style. If you are the type of artist who draws in lots of different styles (like me) this will be especially useful to you.
) You will remember the character’s design without having to consult a reference sheet every time you draw them. Especially if you will be doing your own manga, this will be useful.
) You can experiment with different facial expressions, different clothes, anything you like; the goal is to keep the character looking like themselves.

*You can do this for multiple characters if you want! I’m just doing it with one. ^^

I will post my drawings to Tumblr and dA. Feel free to show me yours!

Related Links (I hope they help too!):

This post is a part of my August Art series. I’ll do a Q&A post at the end of the month, so if you have an art-related question or just want to ask me something, ask away!  *(*´∀`*)☆

Why I Am Interested in Japanese Culture and Language (Essay)

This is the essay I wrote to enter into the JREF 2012 essay contest, the prize of which was one month of studies at GenkiJACS. It had to be between 600 and 1200 words, in English, on the topic listed in the title of this post. I didn’t win, but writing the essay really helped me to realize my real reasons for wanting to go in the first place…along with giving me plenty of ideas for more blog posts. 😀

I thought I would share this essay because a) I spent a lot of time on it; and b) it sums up in five paragraphs how my interest started, which is something not currently found on my profile. It gives a bit of my history, so I thought it would be interesting to share. 🙂

Without further ado, my essay:

Why I Am Interested in Japanese Culture and Language

“Why are you interested in Japanese culture?” If you had asked me this question in an impromptu interview, I would have Continue reading