Marcylittleninja: Digital Artist | Illustrator Inspired by Japanese Art

By | 7:22 PM
I am pleased to be presenting Digital Artist and Illustrator Marcylittleninja, also known as Ma-chan. She created her artist name over the years, originally known as Littleninja, later attaching her name 'Marcy'.  Ma-chan, her second name was given to her through Japanese pen pals.  So, as she explains "both names are a part of me."  If you look to her Artist Watermark/Logo both names are there.

Although her style of drawing has changed at various times in her life, the unique visual quality of Manga or anime-styled drawings became her focus during her high school years and has continued. Marcylittleninja adapted certain styles from different artists who were in the 'Shoujo' genre of Manga comics (Shoujo: Aimed towards female audiences and the style has the males drawn very attractively while the females are drawn cute and delicate looking).  Despite her deep interest in manga, her favorite artist, Yone Kazuki, is not in the Manga Industry but in the Visual Novel 'Otome' / 'Maiden' game industry and does the character designs and artwork for visual novel games. Kazuki has the biggest influence on Marcylittleninja's artwork because she credits her as the inspiration to keep improving and to move forward in her artistic career. 

Marcylittleninja has been drawing for more than 13 years and has studied around 4-5 years of Visual Art. She started out with modest means and so was self-taught at first. Regarding her formal artistic training she tells me,

"I didn't enjoy using charcoal or painting [these caused headaches]. Every time I went to classes I was always going just for the digital class... and for the life drawing classes which helped me a lot with my anatomy drawing. It wasn't until 2012 that I started creating Digitally after I received a grant through a local youth centre for funding help towards getting a graphic tablet. I'm still sitting here crying tears of happiness for that help.  After a week of using it I improved 10 xxx as much as I was originally drawing."

selfportrait, Japanese style
Artist Self-portrait  © Marcylittleninja
When did you first come to think of yourself as an artist?

This is a hard one to answer because being an artist is the one thing that’s always existed for me. I never once thought otherwise. I grew up with the artist lifestyle which I didn't choose, or have it chosen for me since it was just the way things were for me to begin with. I actually never even said "I'm going to grow up and be an artist for my career of choice," I personally felt that I've always been an artist. I look at the word artist as just a word that describes what I am, what I do, how I live and Drawing has always came naturally for me. I always have these moments or urges to draw something. When those urges happen, the entire world gets put on hold, sleep can wait, food and water can wait, even friends and family can wait because when I start drawing, it must be complete before I continue with other things. I cannot remember if there was even a time before this lifestyle for me so to put it bluntly, I never thought of myself as an artist, I knew from the beginning of this life that I am an artist. When it comes to actually speaking about careers, I did waver at the age of 13-14 because I was made to believe that being who I was, wasn't a career and that I should be working at places like supermarkets and whatever. Even now, if I hear people speaking to me like that I become protective of my art and you might even call it being selfish because I personally won't work anywhere that isn't relating to art or where I cannot draw, create or design something. "If it's not art, it has no interest to me, nor does it hold any meaning to my life." I've always been stuck on art with determination to keep on improving.

Why Anime/Manga Styled Illustrations?

I don't really look at it as 'anime/manga styled' but that’s how others view them seeing it's influenced by Japanese Artists.  I think this is also going to be hard to explain because this has always been something for me, I can't remember what I was like before I started.  I've always been interested in Japan and its culture since I was very young so you could say that I've always been immersed in that culture. I wanted to read manga in its original language so I took up learning Japanese from a young age.  I watched a lot of Anime, and read a lot of Manga, too many to count or name. I'm a very visual learner so I can pick up on differences in styles from reading or watching in very little time at all.  I felt drawn to the styles of drawing in Japanese Manga. When it comes to art, I like to draw things that I can emotionally become attached to in some kind of way, or express anything. You can do that with any art but for me, this was my thing that I was drawn to and felt natural with.

There are many genres and sub genres for Manga (Japanese Comics) that means depending on the genre and targeted audience would also determine what kind of art style it would have. Personally I've always been attracted to Shoujo Manga. Shoujo manga is targeted at young female audiences and contain mostly romance. There are two main genres 'Shounen for young males: usually has fighting/Action as a base genre, and Shoujo for young females: usually has romance as a base genre. The style of art in shoujo was intriguing to me. Both shounen and shoujo (which is Seinen and Josei when targeting older audiences) have different art styles. Shounen is more roughly drawn while shoujo is soft in appearance. Romance Scenes in Shoujo manga literally grab onto you and you feel yourself overwhelmed with the emotion from what you can see on the page. That’s what I fell in love with and I wanted to be able to draw romance scenes that would grab onto you with emotion. The Mangaka (what Manga Artists are called in Japan) tend to draw the male characters very ikemen in shoujo. Japanese ikemen:  good-looking man/Attractive Man, they usually are taller than the female characters and are masculine but not over the top with body mass, its more the looks that are an important thing for shoujo- Males are slim and handsome, while the females are petite and have large eyes because large eyes are 'cute' for shoujo. I love to draw anything and everything handsome or pretty.

asura, marcylittleninja, ma-chan, Japanese
An interpretation of the buddhist 'Asura'
Random Drawing  © Marcylittleninja
The difference between American Comics and manga would be the art. It’s very obvious, when you look at both comics there’s literally nowhere to compare. For me Japanese comics would win hands down with both story and art style. I was never into American comics and I refuse to ever even try to draw like that. It’s something that I despise very greatly.  I adapted certain styles from different artists and eventually I feel as if I have created my own style to fit how I feel when I draw.  I'm also mainly focusing on Visual novels with my art. Otome games which are the visual novel version of Shoujo manga, is my main interest. Visual novels are like a choose-your-own-adventure book in a game format. It’s mainly story and art, the music helps the reader to become more immersed into the game and feel closer, emotionally with the characters they may have relationships with. My favourite artist who does Art for visual novels is Yone Kazuki. She has done art for Hakuoki, Hiiro no kakera, kamigami no asobi and a few others. She is my most favourite person in the world and I look up to her the most. Most of my art is influenced greatly by her work. She is the reason I am attracted to visual novels and Also her art intrigued me so much it became the reason I would like to do artwork for Visual novels as well. So I started from manga and went to Visual Novels. Same style, just more colour and more beauty come out in the art when it’s in a visual novel. It’s a great experience.

What is it about digital that makes you prefer to work with it the most?

Colour. With digital, I have a bigger advantage for colour because I can choose any colour and use it. Being able to use any colour and many different types of tools on the software that I use give me more freedom to let my imagination out and create characters.

I feel more comfortable drawing on my tablet. I can draw traditionally but when I've been drawing on my tablet for so long and go straight to paper and pens I feel lost and confused.

 shoujo, color, colour, digital art
Cool  © Marcylittleninja

What other types of media do you use?

I use three different software programs to draw: Manga Studio 5, Paint Tool Sai and Photoshop CS6.

I mainly draw on MS5 because it’s different to Sai and PS. All three are different and unique, I find MS5 works best for me. Sometimes I use Sai for sketching because I like the feel of sketching on it. I use Photoshop for touch ups only. I don't feel comfortable using it for drawing; I prefer it for Editing and watermarking my art.

I like to use Textures in my art as well. I find any excuse possible (example: Clothing patterns) to use a texture on a layer.

When I draw traditionally, I prefer to use mechanical pencils, liners and ink brushes. I always colour digitally but sometimes I feel like doing mixed media by drawing and adding coloured inks, scanning and adding onto it digitally.

What exposure has your art had?

I've featured in a few youth magazines and online many times. I've won a few 1st place awards through school conventions for traditional works.  I got a grant for my graphic tablet.  I've never held any exhibitions. I draw on livestream every now and then; I've also had YouTube speed paint videos (I took them down.)

What reaction to your art has most surprised you?

AHAHHA, I once had a client who started crying when they saw their commissioned artwork. I was so confused and worried but it turned out it was from being so amazed. I've never had someone actually cry over my art before. It was very shocking for me because I wasn't sure what they thought of the art.

What current or future art projects do you have in the works?

I formed a group 'Ma-chan Projects' last December and am currently working on a visual novel game. I will be designing and doing the artwork.  I may be entering a few competitions in my city this year.

digital art, Japanese, Marcylittleninja, Ma-chan
Mln  © Marcylittleninja
Do you have any regrets as an artist?

None. Regrets are the past, I look to the future and how I can improve. Mistakes of the past are stepping stones.

Do you have any advice for emerging artists?

Do what makes you feel happy. Stay Optimistic when things become tough, they don't last long and look at it as experience to learn from.  Take every single criticism you can get, good and bad. Learn to handle the bad criticism, don't feel depressed because someone has given you some tough criticism, smile and use that to your advantage because it’s a stepping stone. In the end they're helping you to improve yourself and your art. Tomorrow’s a new day, the more you do something, the faster you improve. If you don't finish something today, continue tomorrow and don't rush yourself, take things slow. It takes time, dedication and commitment to create professional artwork. Remember to take breaks every half an hour with long projects because you want to avoid any health issues, why risk being put off art? Learn new techniques by watching others and then doing it yourself. Drawing from your mind is good artist exercise and should be done every day regardless of what you draw.

Tell me some things very few people know about you as an artist up until now:

Sometimes when I don't feel like drawing, I tend to get lazy and just to scribbles on a random layer.  I find myself doing that once a day at least and I even do it randomly when I'm working on something.

I have a habit of having the same music on repeat for over 100 times whenever I draw. Once I drew a fan art of Team Cloud9 (now called LGRookees) and had ONE of their songs on repeat for 10 hours STRAIGHT until I finished the entire artwork.

I like to draw red haired guys the most because I find red hair attractive.

Sometimes I sit here for 10 minutes debating on if I should put clothes on the character or leave them nude because I drew the body so perfectly and would prefer not to draw over what I already drew.

I like to draw shoulders and eyes the most.

I Fangirl and get excited over my own characters.

I fight constant urges to post about what I'm drawing to avoid annoying my fans with so much spam. I just want to show everyone everything because I like to draw.

When I see someone handsome or pretty, I want to draw them very badly so I try to get courage to approach them somehow and ask if I can draw them. I get very shy.

I've had my art stolen exactly 15 times both online and offline.

lol, asura, shoujo, Marcylittleninja, Ma-chan
 Shoujo Asura   © Marcylittleninja
Is there anything else you would like me to write about?

Weekends are my days off while weekdays I study and work on my art all day for 10-15 hours. I feel, the more I draw, the faster I improve and every single drawing I do I become more inspired. So I keep drawing. It’s a never ending cycle. I wake up in the morning to draw. I go to sleep at night thinking about drawing. I even wake up sometimes and have ideas to draw so I do sketches roughly which are continued later on in the day. Drawing and designing new characters for my art, I find it addictive. It’s highly addictive. If I didn't need food, water and sleep, I would probably always be drawing. I regenerate my creativity on the weekends by relaxing. I make it an everyday ritual to draw and when I got to sleep, I lie in bed and read manga or play visual novels. Every time I read manga, I become inspired and get urges to draw again.

Do you also promote your art offline, if so how?

I promote mainly online and rarely offline. But whenever I go out I make sure to have plenty of cards on me which I tend to hand out to people I may meet. I also sometimes have my work posted in youth magazines.  I always take sketch book and pens with me where ever I go so I can also show them to others or they may see it and ask about it. I try to take my iPad also because I can draw on that as well. I can also draw on my mobile.

How should people find you online….  Artist Ma-Chan's Official Site

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