The venue has been redesigned to resemble a school festival, featuring works from Chigusa's Shino to Ren series as well as some of her light novel illustrations.
After graduating from vocational school this spring, Chigusa has embarked on her career as a full-time creator. What's her secret to drawing cute yet sexy female characters? Read on to find out!
- Tackling the differences between illustration and manga through trial and error
- Drawing the ideal relationship in "Shino to Ren"
- Bodies shouldn't look too realistic
- Fleshing out settings from what you want to draw
- Third time's the charm: a defining exhibition
- Minori Chigusa's solo exhibition, "Chigusa Academy: Year 1, Class 3", is open through September 20th!
- Merchandise is also available online!
Tackling the differences between illustration and manga through trial and error
── Thank you for joining us again today! We first interviewed you back in 2021 when you were still a student while also active as a mangaka. Have you since graduated from your vocational school?
Yes, I graduated this March and now I'm a full-time creator. The art school I attended offered a flexible curriculum that allowed for both job searching and making a professional debut. So my lifestyle hasn't changed too much after graduation.
It's amazing to think that I made my mangaka debut with characters I doodled in high school! Looking back, both my art skills and storytelling could use some work, but I'm still very proud of how it turned out.
── What did you learn from publishing your first series?
I learned so much about time management! In the beginning, I was always scrambling to meet deadlines, much to the chagrin of my editor. Now, I make it a priority to work ahead of schedule. I'm not tech-savvy, so I handle everything using an old-fashioned physical planner.
── Before your mangaka debut, you first gained attention by sharing illustrations on X (formerly Twitter). Have you encountered any challenges stemming from the differences between illustration and manga?
Definitely. I find it challenging to capture certain nuances when drawing in black and white. When I approach manga in the same way I do rough sketches or line art for illustrations, the panels often end up feeling empty. I'm always playing around with different ways to make black-and-white images more impactful by using solid shades and other techniques. But what I've learned about drawing in black and white is also helping me with my light novel illustration work.
Drawing the ideal relationship in "Shino to Ren"
── You seem to have a soft spot for romantic comedies, whether they involve straight couples or female couples!
── Is there a specific type of relationship you really enjoy?
── Where do you get your inspiration for drawing high school girl characters?
Bodies shouldn't look too realistic
── You've always enjoyed drawing cute and subtly sexy female characters, haven't you?
Yes, that's true. I'm all about cute girls, whether in 2D or 3D.
── Your female characters have a natural rawness to them. They have plump forms, moles near their cleavages, and so on.
── The charm of your female characters seems to come from the way you balance that 2D cuteness with a sense of realism typical of 3D. It sounds like a hard skill to master and use consistently. How do you do it?
I try to keep the skin color consistent between the face and body, but I don't go overboard with body details to make it too realistic. I'm tempted to add a lot of shading sometimes, but with the anime-style faces, less is often more. I don't really have a set method; I just go with the flow and try to keep everything balanced.
── In our previous interview, you mentioned how you practiced a lot of still-life drawing to prepare for your high school entrance exams. Back then, you said: "I feel that my efforts to practice still life drawings is reflected in the way I apply shadows and highlights to my illustrations of girls."
Yeah, I feel like some of that hardcore practice has worn off a bit. (laughs) But I do think that my shading style adds a touch of 'rawness' to my characters.
── Are there any specific parts of your female characters you focus on when you're drawing?
Fleshing out settings from what you want to draw
── What does your current setup look like?
It hasn't really changed since vocational school. I still use an iPad and Clip Studio Paint.
── You're posting illustrations of Shino and Ren on X (formerly Twitter) about once a week, right?
Yeah, I've got work-related illustrations too, but I push myself to keep posting because I feel like if I take a break just once, I feel like I'll get lazy.
── Are you a fast artist? How long does it generally take you to finish one piece?
── That's quick! Do you have any time-saving techniques?
── Which part of the process takes the most time?
Coloring, for sure. Also, I'm not great at brainstorming, so my rough sketches can be pretty time-consuming.
── With the variety of situations you draw, I thought you'd be the type of artist who's overflowing with ideas.
── When you post illustrations on social media, some probably receive a lot of attention while others do not. Does that bother you?
── Even your casual illustrations often include intricate backgrounds. Is this something you pay close attention to?
I just really like illustrations with a clear scenario, so I end up drawing characters in their entirety as well as backgrounds. I'm not practicing in the traditional sense anymore, but striving to make even my casual illustrations up to a standard I'm happy with is sort of like practice for me.
Third time's the charm: a defining exhibition
── Could you tell us about your solo exhibition, Chigusa Academy: Year 1, Class 3? How did you come up with the title?
── The key visual features Shino and Ren, right?
── You've been holding one exhibition after another, with the last one being this past February. What are some unique features we can look forward to in Chigusa Academy: Year 1, Class 3?
Oh, and don't miss the merch! The lineup includes body pillow covers and fragrances, so make sure to check those out.
── Your first art book dedicated to Shino to Ren was published by Kadokawa on August 23rd.
The book features all my art so far, in full color and in order of when they were made. Plus, there are also 100 pages of brand-new manga. I hope you'll take a look!
── Between your third solo exhibition and the art book, your summer is jam-packed with events! What are your future plans as an illustrator and mangaka?
Minori Chigusa's solo exhibition, "Chigusa Academy: Year 1, Class 3", is open through September 20th!
pixiv WAEN GALLERY by TWINPLANET × pixiv, a gallery jointly operated by pixiv and Twin Planet, is currently holding Minori Chigusa's solo exhibition Chigusa Academy: Year 1, Class 3 through September 20th, 2023.
The exhibition greets you with a fun interior, designed to resemble the school that the characters Shino and Ren attend. The exhibition includes a wide range of Chigusa's work, including book cover illustrations, original art, and brand-new illustrations. The exhibition provides an in-depth look at Chigusa's artistic journey thus far.
Dates: Friday, September 1st, 2023 to Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
Days closed: None
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 5 Chome-46-1 TWIN PLANET South BLDG. 1F
Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.