Converting Photo Image to Manga (Line) Art

A recent comic book project has led me to do some research on how some manga (comics) artists both in Japan and America created the backgrounds for their comic book. At the same time, a friend (James Tan) showed me some nice documentaries on Youtube and these led me to notice a manga ka named Inio Asano 浅野 いにお , who uses photo image for his backgrounds. He did some demo and this got me interested to find out more. There are many tuts on Youtube regarding this technique of converting a photo image into something that resembles a line art for manga, but it is the principle that I am interested in.

Here's a test created from a photo I took while I was in Shinjuku. I think this is apt because I am going to use this to make a test page later, and Japanese scenery would make a good resemblance to a manga.

I would say this is fairly successful after a few trials and error. What I am more interested in is how the buildings look in the converted image. The outline of the buildings are shown quite clearly. The humans would be too realistic to be used in a comic and that would give away the source of my image. Usually readers are not keen to see photo like humans in a manga. I wouldn't myself.

The following is a test page I created using Manga Studio.

By using different parts of a larger image with appropriate cropping, this becomes a workable page in a comic book.

I "pasted" the dialog bubbles from Manga Studio and the panels are generated from a template provided. A page like this only took like 10mins. Of course the consideration is mainly the flow of the panel, the placement of the elements for good composition and design and even readability.

More work has to be done to make the converted image more like a drawing.

Even Inio Asano would put in some hand drawn line work and tonal adjustment for contrast on his converted image. This would be my next step and test.


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