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October 2, 2011
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Copy Ninja training guide by mayshing Copy Ninja training guide by mayshing
CD's fun Artistic copy Ninja training guide. Based on my own experience in copying... (I might color a few if i feel like it)

My own style falls somewhere in level 40-50, in the normal anime range. My copy skill is pretty high at this point if i want to spend the time for it...

:police: Don't ask me:

What Level is ________ (insert series) according to this chart?

What level am I? (my style, my work, my etc)

You can figure it out based on the chart, you are smart, you can't be too far off.

OK... ok, if you DO ask, I might answer if i feel like it. ;D

Featured Qs:

"Why not copy photograph?"

- It's okay to copy photograph, but it's not the highest level of practice, it's also easier to make excuses for yourself for not achieving the best result with a photograph than another artwork. (Photographs are better as reference material for original work, not as good as studies samples for leveling up) But this explanation does not apply to all cases, I do use photographs, when they are really good they help. But copying another master's strokes to fix your own is not something you get from copying photos.

"How come some cartoon characters are on lower end of the scale they are much more complicated than that!"


It's a lot faster to learn to "COPY" those characters based on shapes and proportion compare to "realism" or "anime and hero cartoons with anatomy" which you have to have additional anatomy knowledge to copy one really accurately.

Animation character designs ARE DESIGNED to be COPIED! They SHOULD BE EASIER to redraw and copy thus they are on lower end of the scale.

And don't lump drawing skill of copying with animation skill together. They are TWO SEPARATED SKILL SET that has core-relation to one another but you CAN have great animation without a great drawing. (Ex: Animation Vs animator)

That's why an animation with both "great animation" and "great drawing" like Beast in "Beauty and the Beast" is so precious.

"I disagree with your scale"
A: No one said you can't make your own~ :heart: You are welcome to make another and share with me which one is more difficult to you. It varies by different people.
Some who are used to realism will think Cartoon is mad hard, and those who are used to cartoon will think realism is mad hard.

I started in the middle, so I charted it based on the layers of knowledge required and time spent required for the difficulties and levels.


:w00t: How to use:
Use the chart to compare the level where you are at in terms of your own style, and your ability to copy other people's style.

+ When to move up: If you have been copying simpler style, and can do them well, move up.

+ When to move down: When you have trouble with more complex styles, try some really simple lower level ones, you might get a few lessons you have never learned before to apply to more complex styles!

+ note: There are some skills that doesn't come from copying, if you can copy very well but cant apply to your own work when you want to, you need to try other methods (like real life models, and still life.)

+You can skip level practicing, aim for the highest, that's the point of this guide. But if you have trouble with the highest level, doing lower ones help.

+the whole point of copying is to play detective with the artwork you are copying, you have to keep asking yourself and figure out "why is the person making a stroke here? Why is the person using the color there?" If you don't do that, copying is useless.


:dance: Sharing: You are allowed to print this, to use this chart to show anyone who need to know where they are on practice level. As long as it's non-commercial.

+ Benefit of copying: It forces you to get rid of your usual habits and learn to adapt something new, and learn the observation skill of the artist at higher level than you.

People in the past has used copying to practice, it's not a crime.

It's an important skill to level up in!

Think of it this way, when you are at level 99, and you still draw manga/anime/cartoon, you can really tell people "This is my style and I choose to be this way!" because you can also do all other styles and prove them wrong!

:iconwahplz: If you DO copy, do not, DO NOT post it on Deviantart (unless its public domain artwork, like classical paintings.) because this is a GALLERY SITE, not a STUDY site. You can post them on photobucket or facebook, tumblr, blog, no one cares.
Add a Comment:
Yukike Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah question: would characters from animes like Kill La Kill be considered manga/anime characters or mid-level manga/anime characters? The fashion and anatomy of the characters (in Kill la Kill) seem to be very detailed but it's also very stylized as well, almost to the point of being kinda surreal...

Also wanted to say that it was very fun going up the levels of the copy level chart in my sketchbook XD Thanks so much for posting!
mayshing Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional Filmographer
Hmmm..... I would consider it slightly harder than Naruto in the higher ranking for anime/manga because some of its details are hard to keep on turn arounds and different angles. :) 
Yukike Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah, I see! Thank you very much! (recently I've been copying kill la kill frames, so I wanted to find what level I should aim at next...guess I'll be copying stuff from the category right above it XD)
N0ha Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nice work but i have a question: what if i can copy almost anything very well with the proper shading and proportions but when it comes to drawing from my imagination it becomes very hard to do simple poses (unless in the typical front view) ?
do i have then to undergo a different kind of practice ?
mayshing Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Yes, that's in area of gesture drawing and still life drawing from different angles, you need ability to see shapes in 3D in your mind as well as enough gestures to get used to pulling it out fast. 
Copying will train your observation skill for distance, shapes, and color but not forms and structure.
N0ha Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks a lot ... actually i just started gestures and figures 2 or 3 months ago but the improvement is too slow (if there's any improvement!) ... what makes me feel very upset is that i draw since i can remember i mean all the time and that only improved my "copying abilities"since i can do great in copying and coloring but i'm no match for amazing artists in my age ! :(
mayshing Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Gesture wise, you need to match what a normal art student will do in 4 years at least, each class we do at least 60-90 gestures in a session.
And we do this for 3-4 months on minimum. 
We have at least 2 years of figure drawing, (18 months) 1 class on anatomy. (3 months)
Thing about self-study that's harder is potency, kind of really need to do enough to grasp the concept and it may take weeks for an individual. 

Try to match to the same amount as someone in class and get critique weekly, like on a sketches forum tread,
when on forum make your voice of appreciation really clearly, encouraging more comments, and you will get there. 
N0ha Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm highly thankful as it's my first time getting advice in ART ! :) I've been uploading a few of my art please have a look at my gallery.
Thanks again for your time and the precious information :) 
mayshing Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  Professional Filmographer
I just took a look, you def have good sense of shape, the next step is form, so try this youtube channel and best wishes:
GirlAnimePrincess Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm pretty sure I'm somewhere between 32 and 37.  Gonna start grinding hard!
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