Every Wednesday in Young Post’s holiday pagination, our staff will attempt to recreate a famous piece from different genres of art to the best of their ability. In today’s YP Nails It, our reporter Kelly Ho tried to copy a drawing from renowned Japanese manga One Piece.
Manga are comics or graphic novels originally from Japan. Manga stories are typically printed in black and white, with detailed drawings bounded within irregular frames that direct the flow of the story.
If a manga series is popular enough, it may be adapted into a TV series or movie, and One Piece is one such comic. The manga was adapted into an anime series that has been running in Japan since 1999.
One Piece is written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. It was first published as a series in a Japanese magazine in July 1997. So far, the manga episodes have been collected into 94 individual books. And with more than 460 million copies in circulation worldwide, One Piece has become the bestselling manga and the best-selling comic series of all time.
The story follows the adventures of the protagonist Monkey D. Luffy, a teenage pirate who travels around the world with his crew in search of an extremely valuable treasure called “One Piece”, so he can become the next King of the Pirates.
I have read some manga before, but I’ve never been interested enough to finish an entire series. This comic genre is very popular among children and teenagers, but is frowned upon by schools in Hong Kong. I remember manga was banned in my school and some others because they weren’t considered “real books”.
But back in primary school, some of my classmates, mostly boys, would sneak in some manga and share them among their group of friends, enjoying them during reading period or recess.
I haven’t read or watched One Piece before, but I am definitely aware of its popularity in Hong Kong. The theme of friendship in the series is perhaps one of the reasons why it is so popular among young people. The unusual and daring experiences faced by Luffy and his crew members form the backbone of the series, and make young readers wish they could go on exciting adventures with their friends, too.
Copying One Piece art was not easy at all. It was especially hard when it came to filling the frames with so much detail. The biggest challenge for me was making the characters’ facial features come alive.
I first did a rough sketch with a pencil, before using a marker to trace my lines. But my sketch was not detailed enough, so it didn’t help me much and I ended up freehanding most of the smaller frames. That’s how I accidentally turned Silver Rayleigh, the “Dark King”, into Pepe the Frog.
I was only given a pencil and a marker to work with, and while I could copy most of the drawing with my pencil, I couldn’t add a lot of details because the marker was too thick. I had to adjust the pressure I put on the pen, so that I could control the size of my strokes.
Because the ink in the permanent marker would bleed through the regular, thin printer paper, I had to place an extra sheet of paper underneath to ensure the permanent ink wouldn’t mark the table.
Professional manga artists tend to use pens with various tip sizes for more precise illustration. Many of them use Sakura Pigma micron pens, with tips ranging from 0.15mm to 0.8mm. These pens are also acid-free and the micron ink does not feather or bleed, which makes them perfect for manga drawing as you often have to draw on both sides of the paper.
What makes this Japanese-style comic stand out from other genres is how vividly it conveys the characters’ emotions, and is able to put readers in the heads of the characters, making the story all the more compelling. You can find a lot of frames in a manga in which the artist zooms in on the characters’ eyes or mouths to reveal their inner thoughts.
After attempting to copy Oda’s drawing style, I realised manga artists have to be very creative, patient and good at planning.
Creativity is key because there are no boundaries in the world of manga. It is a medium that covers a wide range of genres, such as action, drama, horror and sci-fi, and manga artists are known to tell their stories in the most unusual way.
However, breaking down the story into each frame takes a lot of hard work and time, therefore manga artists must have a lot of patience and be able to plan their storyline carefully to ensure the series can continue for a long time.
I don’t think I possess the above-mentioned qualities to create my own manga, but it was definitely an amusing experience to attempt to try drawing manga art. I would probably do it again in the future, but perhaps with a friend, so we can compare our work and have a good laugh.
I’d say I nailed the largest frame in the One Piece manga, but please ignore the bottom two!