How to draw a falling figure

Illustrator Sai Foo takes you through his creative process, as he paints a character cheerfully falling from the sky.

How to draw a falling figure

The painting technique that I used for this piece is pretty straightforward, so I'm going to talk about how to draw manga, plus my ideas and decision-making processes that developed while I was creating this character drawing.

I started this image for fun during my free time. I got inspired while randomly watching anime shows one Saturday morning. I wanted to convey a floating or jumping character, on a bookmark-sized canvas. After trying out a variety of poses, I ended up with a female student figure descending from the sky.

The biggest headache during the initial stage was the skirt. I wasn't keen to go down the road of doing what's widely known as a 'fan service' piece, so I moved the left knee a little more to the left of shot. My aim was to depict a character loaded with accessories, so I gathered references for a Japanese schoolgirl's bag, and added it to my vague memory of what other items my school friends carried around with them.

In one of my sketches the character is holding on to her umbrella. It looked a little awkward and so I decided to separate the hand and umbrella. The reason for including the umbrella was to have an interesting shadow cast over the character, and to depict the effect this had on colours that were now in the shade.

01. Capture the best pose

How to draw a falling figure

Start off by producing a series of rough sketches to help finalise the composition

I start off by producing a series of rough sketches that help finalise the composition, character pose and accessories. I create between two and three layers over a sketch before I actually refine my art. I take it slow at this stage so I don't muddy the line art.

02. Layering and cleaning up

How to draw a falling figure

This stage involves fixing every small detail

I love this stage the most, because it involves fixing every small detail of everything in the image. I also have to decide what elements of the image go on which layers. I'll go back to the refined sketch layer whenever I'm uncertain how I should progress.

03. Colouring and lighting

How to draw a falling figure

It's good to have a rough idea about the lighting and colour you'll be depicting

Right from the start of the process I have a rough idea about the lighting and colour I'll be depicting. I prefer to fill in elements using a solid colour, so that any future colour adjustments will be easy to do later on. I also apply a simple shadow here.

Words: Sai Foo

Sai Foo is an artist based at Streamline Studios in Kuala Lumpur. He previously worked in advertising and animation. In his free time he produces personal art a world away from his day job. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX issue 131.

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