Anime, two-dimensional Japanese animation, has exploded with popularity in the United States since the 90s with countless numbers of television series, films, and genres. Examples include the long-running television series Pokémon and Academy Award-winning film Spirited Away, which according to Variety, has grossed $330 million worldwide and is the highest grossing Japanese film. Anime has unique style and complex plot lines, which separates it from the Western “cartoon.” For freshman Emma Place, anime is not only her favorite genre to binge-watch, but also to recreate scenes on paper.
“Anime always has a bit of comedy somewhere in the series. There is also a serious part of anime, which is what you can’t find in many cartoons. What I also love about anime are the facial expressions and reactions, especially from completely oblivious characters,” Place said.
Place started watching anime two years ago with her sister. After a couple of episodes, she began outlining the scenes on her sketchbook.
“At first, I just wanted to recreate characters and scenes that I liked. Then after I drew my first picture of anime, I realized that I was actually pretty good at it,” Place said. Place has sketched over 75 anime drawings of her favorite characters.
Her sketches include characters from the shows Naruto, Sailor Moon, Sword Art Online, One Piece, to name a few. When drawing her pictures, she darkly outlines the character and then lightly shades in the skin to accent facial features, making the characters bold and almost identical to the ones that appear in the show.
Place draws only with her pencil.
“It’s too distracting to constantly be switching colors. I think pictures look better with shadow and light, and shading can make people’s expressions look more intense,” she explained.
Her fellow students praise Place’s work.
“It’s very inspirational to younger artist starting out, and Emma draws her pictures with a sense of creativity, and her drawings are very realistic. It’s like I’m in the scene or with the character she draws,” said fellow freshman Brenna Roberts.
“The shading is amazing! I really like how she draws hands, and her drawing proportions are really spot-on,” said freshman Phoebe Moreno.
Place has two different ways to perfect her sketches. She either draws the basic outline first, or details first and then working her way through the drawing, usually starting from the head. She also has a process to check if any of the characters’ attributes are slightly off. After drawing a rough draft, she takes a five-minute break, and then comes back to check if anything looks odd. However, if the drawing is crooked or not similar to its anime counterpart, she will start over. Depending on the size and complexity of the picture, it usually takes about 1½ to 4 hours, even days to finish. However, the end product is absolutely worth every minute of her time.
Characters that are simple yet have several distinct traits are ones that are most present in Place’s sketchbook.
“I like to draw characters that have their own special features. I just like drawing simple things, but sometimes I like the challenge,” she said.
An example is her favorite character to draw, Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece.
“There are a few reasons to why I like to draw Luffy so much. One big reason is that I can draw anime characters better if I have seen them more. Since One Piece has over 700 episodes, and Luffy is in almost all of them, I really know what he looks like.” Place said. “Luffy is fairly easy to draw and simple and not very complex. He only wears a vest, shorts, sandals, and a straw hat.”
She plans to keep drawing anime as hobby in the future. Place stated that she will remember how some drawings stressed her out, how many One Piece drawings there are, and be sad that One Piece will most likely be over. She also predicts that she will be a better drawer thirty years from now.
Her piece of advice to those trying to draw a perfect picture is, “Take it slow and don’t worry too much about it looking exactly as you want it to right away because it won’t.”
When it comes to drawing, Place is a committed artist who will take on any challenge to sketch a detailed, flawless character.