First up, let’s make sure all of us are on the same page when we ask the question: “What is Shonen?”
Shonen, or Shounen, literally means “boy” or “youth”. In other words, Shonen is a type of manga/anime targeted at boys under 18, not to be mistaken for Shojo, the girls’ counterpart. You might recognise Shonen art from popular shows such as Dragon Ball, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Watamore, and Attack on Titan.
Before delving into the art style and characters, let’s look at what a typical Shonen story is about.
In most cases, Shonen manga and anime features a male protagonist. The story often revolves around adventure, humour, fighting and action. Characters are intense, and the plot is centred around characters bettering themselves as they mature, learn new skills, and make friends; in the end becoming the best of the best.
With that in mind, let’s go ahead and create our own character in the shonen style. Justsketchme has set us up for success with a wonderful 3-D mannequin, so you don’t have to worry about getting the proportions and anatomy wrong.
Start by opening JustSketchMe on desktop or web, and load the “stylized male” under the Anime section. Shonen art typically spotlights dynamic poses and angles, but do not fear, JustSketchMe has many combat, sport and action poses in their library to choose from.
I used the ‘Summoning pose’ under the combat section and tweaked it a bit. For my character, I went for the fantasy genre, but you might want to go for other popular genres, like Sports, Science Fiction, or Horror.
As you can see from the mannequin, Shonen males have muscular and slightly exaggerated bodies. You do not have to draw a huge and bulky character - Shonen characters can also be regular guys. Feel free to make your character any height, and tone the muscles up or down as you prefer. For the sake of this tutorial, I stuck to the typical muscular character.
Ask yourself who your character is. What is he good at? Is he a Samurai, or a hot-blooded do-gooder, pirate captain, or wannabe pilot. Bad boy archetypes are common in Shonen, so I went for a bad boy Warlock.
When drawing your character, be mindful of your line quality and colour tones. The lines should be sharp and thin, and straight to the point. Try to use less detail and lines. We are trying to create a distinct character with as few lines as possible.
- Alida Loubser