Full title, since LJ cut it off: Part 6 - Aging Characters (Hiromu Arakawa, FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, Ashinano Hitoshi, YOKOHAMA KAIDASHI KIKOU)

Taking a slight departure from the usual essay this time. My previous ones all concerned page layout and flow, but not the actual drawing.This is mostly because there's plenty of How to Draw Manga books and websites out there, and very few How to Lay Out Manga books and websites. The few books that deal with it only give it a few pages, and concentrate on the drawing. Drawing is important, of course, but you can have a beautifully drawn but still unreadable comic page if you screw up the layout.

That being said, this time I'm going for a classic drawing-only analysis. Well, a teeny bit of layout at some point, but mostly drawing.

On to How to Age Characters.

Let's start off by explaining the changes in the head as a man ages. I didn't find a diagram like this with the female figure in it in a quick scan of my shelves, but the same general ideas follow, except that the female head is more gracile - delicate - and in general, smoother and rounder. Adult human women do not have brow ridges, while some adult humen men do, and their jaws are usually smoother and less heavy. (One of my anthropology teachers told me that as I possessed no brow ridges and no wisdom teeth, I was on the cutting edge of evolution. I feel so superior now.) Before puberty, boys and girls are very similar; it's only at puberty that the marked differences between men and women show up. However, in general girls hit puberty earlier than boys do, so in middle school and high school, where a lot of manga are set, it would be realistic to draw the girls as slightly older-looking than the boys. There will, however, always be outliers in both sexes who look younger or older than they really are.

I also didn't find a picture that showed a non-white male with features other than standard-Caucasian. The bone structure underneath is similar around the world, and the changes described below will still happen, just to not such and extent, or to less of an extent. For example, a man with very full lips, as tends to happen in some people with African ancestry, will not have his lips grow as thin while aging as the diagram below, although they will be thinner than they were as a young man.

You will always benefit from finding photographic reference of anything and using it.

This picture is from Jack Hamm's Drawing the Head and Figure, a pretty good basic book on figure drawing and constructing the figure.

The younger you are, the softer and rounder your features. As you age, your forehead flattens and in men, sometimes brow ridges develop. The nose is small and tilted as a baby so the baby can breathe while nursing, and slowly straightens. A baby's lips are everted, or turned outwards, and thin out and turn in as the baby grows up. The chin gains in prominence, more so in men than in women. The cheek starts out full and round, and gradually slims down and the cheekbones often become visible, depending on how much fat padding the person has. The head shape in general is rounder in babies, and a bit more squared-off in adults.

You get treated to my quick-and-dirty digital sketch of the differences from the front, because I didn't find a decent one when I was looking through my books.

Eyes in babies tend to be at or a little below the midline of the face, while adult eyes are at or a little above. This is one of the simplest ways to age a character from adolescence to adulthood. The eyeball itself is also larger in proportion to the infant and child skull than it is to the adult skull. This means that the younger a person is, the bigger their irises will be and the less white of the eye you'll see. This is one of the subtle changes used to age Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist:

Younger Ed:

Older Ed:

Older Ed's eyes are slightly smaller in proportion to his head, and his irises are slightly smaller. Older Ed's neck is also slightly thicker, although it's kind of hard to tell. Because Younger Ed's head is tilted forward and Older Ed's isn't, you can't really tell for sure in these pictures what other proportions have been changed in this picture.

In other pictures, such as the ones below, you see that Older Ed's eyes are drawn slightly higher on his face than Younger Ed's are.

Younger Ed:

Older Ed:

If you go back to my sketch, you'll also note that the baby's face is round and the man's jawline heavier. And remember from the earlier scanned picture about the forehead, nose, and chin? Here's Ed again:

Younger Ed:

Older Ed:

Older Ed's eyes are smaller, his forehead flatter, his nose less tilted, his lips and chin more distinct, and his jawline heavier.

As you can tell, it doesn't require a whole lot of lines to age someone, just sharper and more defined lines. Here are comparisons of the aging process in one of the characters of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, a lovely manga set in a rural postapocalyptic world, where the characters spend their time living their daily life having coffee, chatting, suffering puppy love, talking about the neighbors, and wondering about the people who lived before them. As befits the type of story it is, the artwork is simple but moving, with not a line wasted.

I have forgotten this boy's name, but I'm sure one of you will know it and tell me. In the first row of pictures, he's in early adolescence, and in the second he's old enough that he's thinking about moving away from the area where he grew up.



The primary diffrences here are subtle. His jawline is heavier as he ages - see where it joins his ear? In the younger pictures, the jawline curves right up to the ear, but in the older ones, it has a distinct angle to it. His nose is slightly bigger in the older pictures. It looks like it's placed lower, but it isn't -- it's that his eyes are placed ever-so-slightly higher in the older pictures, although they're still big. This artist's style is to give almost everyone really big eyes, except for characters the age of grandparents, so very little has been done to change them. The other difference - maybe so subtle that you didn't notice it - is in the neck. The younger version has a smooth, slender neck. The older version has a thicker neck, with his neck tendon prominent. This is another difference between men and women - for the most part, women's necks are thinner and smoother. You often won't find much of a tendon in a woman's neck in art unless she's feeling some sort of tension.

This is it for Part 1. I'm working on Part 2, featuring Death Note and Hikaru no Go.

(Thanks to ninjashira for getting me the scans of older-Ed from a recent chapter of Fullmetal Alchemist!)

Index to the Series
Tags: manga_analysis
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