The interview from this talented artist gives us some insight on her background, inspirations and tips for beginner’s getting into graphic art, as well as some helpful suggestions for tools to use or avoid.
Q. What inspired you to start make fan art and drawing in general?
I’ve always been drawing, ever since I could hold a pencil, even if I don’t think my work shows that. Fanart in particular has always been something I’ve loved to make, all the way back to when I was little, drawing Yoshi, the Ninja Turtles, Disney characters and such. I have a particular passion for drawing characters I love and I just enjoy doing it.
Q. Do you have a defining artwork or moment that made you think that learning to draw and create artworks would be a passion you wanted to spend time and money on?
I don’t really. It was really just a natural progression for me.
Q. You have some really cool artworks, where would you like to see your artwork take you?
I’d love to become a full time illustrator for games.
Q. What kind of tools do you use, do you recommend any free ones for beginners?
Traditional: My tool of choice is Copic markers. I had been wanting to try them for a long time but they are so expensive. In 2010 my husband (then boyfriend) bought me a basic color starter set, a skintones set and a pack of multiliner pens and on the first use I just clicked with them and haven’t looked back. I won’t use any other markers, but if I have to use a different pen brand, I also like Sakura microns, which are also less expensive and easier to find.
Unfortunately with traditional tools nothing is free, and typically the better quality materials are more expensive. The best thing to do is keep an eye out for giveaways, sales, and other deals.
Digital: Primarily I use Photoshop with a small Cintiq 12WX, although I’m not super happy with the colors on the Cintiq (they’re kind of washed out on the best settings), so I’m hoping to upgrade to either a Cintiq 13HD sometime or just getting a Surface Pro.
I don’t really have any good recommendations for free software, as it’s been a really long time since I’ve used anything like that, for inexpensive Paint Tool SAI is nice.
Q. Do you have any suggestions for subpar tools or so called good tools that you found frustrating or poor compared to others’?
Don’t be fooled by “manga” packs from otherwise good supply lines. They’re typically overpriced from the non-branded materials and marketed toward those who don’t know any better. For instance Faber-Castel’s “Manga pens” are the same quality as their other products. The fine tips are smooth, but you can buy them as non-manga labeled, and the brush tip pens are streaky if you have to fill in areas with them and can dry out quickly. They’re great for beginners, especially if you can get them on sale, but they’re not worth paying extra for.
Prismacolor markers are also very “meh” to me. I’ve seen some great work done with them, but I’ve personally never liked working with them. They seem to dry out quickly and can be very streaky. I don’t like their feel on paper. Their colored pencils, however, are great.
At one point, someone left an Uchida Le Pen at my house. It wrote really nicely, and I had seen some lineart done by those before, even though they’re not really art pens. However they’re not waterproof and bled when I used them with marker. Great for writing, not so much for art!
Q. What kind of music or shows do you play in the background while you work?
Whatever I’m in the mood for at the moment. I don’t really have anything specific that I go for, although I try to avoid watching anything I haven’t seen before that I know I’ll want to pay more attention to (for instance I avoid working while I watch a new Game of Thrones episode, but rewatches are fine, however I can watch new Once Upon a Time episodes and be fine working on something while I watch).
Q. Do you have any advice for beginners who are starting out so they won’t make simple mistakes or be mislead by any trappings of being an aspiring professional artist?
Learn the fundamentals and practice. It’s okay to work on full pieces while you’re still learning the basics because it’s practice in applying those concepts. There are tons of resources online that are totally free, but taking a class or two if you have the chance is a good idea. And on top of that, it’s fine to draw cartoons and anime, but your work will be much better when you have a good foundation to draw from (pun unintended).
Also it’s okay to use references! If you don’t know how a certain pose would look, or need to look at some buildings, or whatever—that’s perfectly fine! Your work will look much better if you have an example of how something should look instead of drawing it and being unsure, or purposely hiding parts like the hands or an eye.
Ask for help/advice and try not to get upset if someone gives you constructive criticism. Being told only happy, positive things won’t help you advance and improve on your weak points. While some people are definitely assholes about it, it’s good to remember most people aren’t and are trying to help you.
Q. Do you have a favorite snack?
Probably chocolate melonpan.
Q. Do you have a favorite anime from this season or in recent seasons?
Nothing I’ve been super excited about since Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works in 2014/2015. I don’t have a lot time to watch as much anime as I used to so it’s been difficult to find something new I really love. I’ve been a Fate fan since about 2006 so at least whenever there is a new Fate anime I have something to look forward to that I know I’ll like. I really like Sailor Moon Crystal, too, even with its flaws. I’ve been starting to get into Akatsuki no Yona, too, as a lot of people have recommended it to me based on other series I like.
Q. Do you have a favorite anime or animation on your all time list?
Fushigi Yuugi is by far my favorite anime series of all time, along with Record of Lodoss War, Sailor Moon, the Fate series, and .hack series.
I love most Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki works, too, and anything by Makoto Shinkai (if only for the stunningly gorgeous animation).
For non-anime, I’m really into Archer (I love the detail they add for such a simplistic style) and Adventure Time.
Q. Do you have any favorite artists for manga books?
Yuu Watase is my all time favorite mangaka and has been since I was in middle school. I’ve collected all of her works in Japanese (minus a few older compliations that are near impossible to find), everything that has been released in English, and even a few in German and Korean. She’s been a huge inspiration to me, and even while I move away from doing manga-styled work as much, I still look to her work.
Q. What are your goals as an artist to continue developing your skills and getting your art out there for people to enjoy or commission you for work?
To just keep drawing. I’m trying new things a lot, especially with lighting, color, and backgrounds. I really need to work on backgrounds a lot as it’s something I’ve neglected. I don’t currently have any new plans to get my work out there as I share and promote my work on a lot of sites already.
Thanks to Ranefea for her time and creating artworks for us to enjoy!
Here is a snippet of her Deviant Art Page so you can see some of her works at a glance!