The Search for the Girl with the Takahashi Eyes

Developing an image of an original character (Cinderella) for a fanfiction story, using the style of the series. 

During the artistic frenzy accompanying the onset of writing Ashes - A Cinderella Story, it occurred to me that it would be a 'good thing' to create a picture of Cinderella.  I cannot explain this impulse - believe me, if you are only an occasional artist like I am, you don't get these urges very often and you have to follow through or lose the indulgence of the Muse.  So, I decided to draw a Cinderella character.  First efforts were disheartening - I had been out of the art for many years and my fingers were rusty.  To get back up to speed quickly, I decided to practice by tracing, a technique I had always considered cheating.

First rule:  You don't take someone else's image and claim it as your own.  Not good.  (This complicates things if you are lazy like me, because it means you will have to work.)  In my opinion, untutored in law, tracing an image is roughly equivalent to scanning in an image.  This also means that simply tracing over a picture and adding a few embellishments is not considered legitimate art.  You simply cannot go claiming the results as your own original work.  Not, and get away with it, I mean.  If someone else does not call you down on it, your own conscience will complain.

First caveat:  However...tracing remains one of the fastest means of producing a likeness of a character.  

Since, for the purposes of this story, Hiroshi plays the starring role (and the female counterpart), we will want to have a picture that does justice.  It will not be necessary to reproduce the male Hiroshi for the benefit of the reader - besides, the manga/anime has already done that.  What we want is Cinderella.  Here is how we go about finding her.

For the purposes of this project, we will produce a legitimate drawing of an original character bearing a resemblance to characters in Rumiko Takashahi's Ranma 1/2.  The methods used will include tracing, 'borrowing' features from different characters, and analysis of the Takahashi style in order to build a distinct, unique character.  Is this possible?  I will attempt to find out.

The Project:
We will need a picture of a girl face, preferably Ranma-chan, since she is probably the cutest example of 'Takahashi girl' we can find.  Now, trace the face.  (Note: this is a reproduction of their copyrighted material, and as such belongs to them, not you, get it?  So, don't get carried away with this.  We will get to the good stuff, later.) 

Tracing of Ranma-chan

Next, we add another face, scanned in from the manga, in this case Hiroshi, since he is the main character for the fanfiction story, Cinderella.  Note the difference in appearance between Ranma-chan and Hiroshi.  You can tell the difference, can't you? ^_^

Besides the obvious - female/male, black/blond hair - notice the amount of detail allotted to each one.  In the manga, Ranma-chan's eyes, hair, and face have more expression than do Hiroshi's.  This is because Ranma is the main character and Hiroshi is a supporting role.  Hiroshi serves as a sort of foil for Ranma, teasing Ranma for not doing what any normal, red-blooded boy would want to do given the same circumstances. 


The hair:
The differences between the many cute girls in Ranma (aside from the hair) are often subtle but telling, so we worry about them later.  Let us get the hair, first.  Hiroshi's hair is his most prominent feature - the unruly blond mop is a trademark, along with his usual sardonic expression.  

Retracing the above picture, substituting wild, fly-away blond hair for Ranma-chan's pig-tail, we get the result shown:

Now, make a few minor changes in the jaw-line and cheek, a little difference in the ears and eyes, and you have a person who might resemble the one we would call Cinderella.  (You also have a very smudged drawing, but hey - we are still very much in the rough on this.)

Study of Cinderella, using Ranma-chan and Hiroshi for a model.
Composite sketch, using tracing of Ranma-chan and Hiroshi, with minor changes to eyes, ear and jaw.

What do you think?  When I look at this picture, I see (1. A blond Akane, (2.  Hikaru from Kimagura Orange Road.
Yes, we definitely have more work to do.  Acck!  Did I say work?

We are obviously not there, yet.  What we have now is a sketch/tracing of questionable legal standing.  But we do have a beginning.  In order for us to be able to call it our own, we must have a unique character, we must be able to reproduce that character without means of props, tracing, or reference to any other character, and the character must not be recognizable as being derived from a copyrighted subject.  In other words, a character who would not be grossly out of place if dropped into a panel in the Ranma 1/2 manga. 

And that is it, as of 03/21/2001.  Next step: isolate features and practice drawing eyes, face, hair, body, etc, etc, etc.

About this time, Lyn Daniel created a drawing that has me in awe.  It is perfect.  The only problem is, do I keep searching, or do I give up and run with her example?
Simple answer: Grab Lyn's picture and use it to make the Cinderella web page look good.  
Borrow shamelessly from Lyn's sketch while I continue trying for my own interpretation.  
What the heck.  I need the practice.  ^_^

First Efforts: Stages in the search

This is an actual original sketch, very freehand and apropo nothing.  It does have the benefit, however, of being totally original and shows how disorganized the artist is.  ^_^ Early rough sketch.  Lots of work to be done.
Sketch of Hiroshi's little sister, Hainoko

This is a freehand sketch of a little girl, done in magic marker.  I call her Hainoko, just for the sake of the story.

After much effort, this picture emerged, shamelessly based on Lyn's version.  I think maybe we have the basics of a Cinderella image.  Of course, I have trouble with some small parts of the drawing - hands... fabric on sleeves... faces... eyes.. .noses... chins...^_^
And, of course, I have to try my hand at drawing the character in various poses.  This is a 'remote' shot.  I noticed that Takahashi has a wonderful way that she draws characters in less-detailed shots.  Next time you're reading the manga, notice the roughly drawn eyes and mouth of the smaller shots - not exactly super-deformed, but cuter than ever. (I have a problem with proportions.  Have to keep trying.)