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*Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures* by J.C. Amberlyn- young adult book review  
Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures
by J.C. Amberlyn
Ages 12+ 160 pages Watson-Guptill November 2009 Paperback    

This author knows how to take a realistic drawing of a rabbit and turn it into a cute manga character. She can explain how chibis are like a flour sack, and how to draw a dragonís foot in four steps. She can take you through the process of creating characters on a PC or Mac and give you ideas about making your own manga characters.

Of the eight chapters in Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures, the first five focus on drawing heads and eyes, animals, chibis, and mascots. The last three chapters are devoted to mythological creatures and creating manga on the computer.

When drawing, the author gives many examples of characters, shows different views of the characters, and when necessary explains why they are drawn as they are and how the drawing can be changed to capture or express a feeling. To make a character angry, add a plus-shaped mark on the head to indicate a popped vein. Widely spaced eyes show innocence, and a fang hints at mischievousness. Chibis are drawn with props to show their personality, and animals are drawn with the help of action lines and anatomical outlines.

Award-winning artist J.C. Amberlyn has been studying and drawing manga and anime since she was a teen. To help readers understand more about the manga stories they read, the author gives background information about different animals that have appeared in Japanese stories. The Fu Dog looks like a lion and acts like a guard. Nine tails on a fox may indicate its age, color, and intelligence, and raccoon dogs are often drawn with a straw hat and bottle. One story tells of a raccoon dog turning into a teapot and running away.

Following a one to two-page description of the animals, illustrations exemplify how different each animal can look depending on the illustratorís imagination and attention to detail.

As I donít have a lot of experience drawing manga, I appreciated all the steps the author included in the first drawing. The front view of a cat is created in five steps, each complete with written instructions and guide lines to show proportions and spacing. I could easily add the eyes and nose and ears to the basic round head, or as suggested, change the shape of these features and make a mouse or elephant.

Chapter eight also includes detailed steps so readers can learn how to draw, ink, and highlight their characters using Photoshop and Corel Painter. Unfortunately, beginner manga artists like myself might find this book too advanced because many characters lacked these detailed steps. It is still an informative book, though, and will appeal to plenty of manga and anime fans, both teen and adult.

Amberlyn is the author and illustrator of the book Drawing Wildlife, and she is the creator of the manga characters Space Chicken and Space Weasel, both of which make appearances in this book.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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