The iDOLM@STER’s third Key Visual Collection volume is similarly as praiseworthy as the second and first – the basis of what composes the many lovable characters can be examined in depth, and their traits analyzed.
Yayoi happens to be one of the better specimens of moe illustration to observe – she exemplifies cuteness, and the significance in this is that “cute” is a style or appearance usually achieved through more sizable distinctions, such as colossal eyes, whereas “sexy” or other modes of fashion may be more heavily dependent on intricacy, gothic lolita in particular being a splendid instance of such.
While one can’t see what developments were made leading up to the completed key visual, minus coloring, seen above, the final lineart sketch is alone enough. In respect to this artwork of Yayoi’s visage, the focal point is her visage – no one should struggle with such as it is quite blatant, yet do notice the more subtle yet significant underlying aspects of preference, emotion, and scene relevance which aren’t as easily read on the surface, even if naturally aware of their existence.
A setting acts on what is contained within – and then there’s also the matter of what the subject matter itself provides visually. In the case of our above image, it’s a rather direct portrait – the face isn’t hindered by any lacking lighting, and in fact, is quite lit up. Light is shining straight upon her from a forward and overhead direction, which is the most typical arrangement of subject and light source – resulting in that the more detail dependent crevices of the illustration are darkened for a depth factor.
With a minimal presence of shadow, and such strong light, it doesn’t simply physically reflect upon Yayoi, yet it also symbolically acts in synergy with her personality – a harmony of subject matter intention and actual portrayal results in a very potent picture. The mood is based off of that truth – and it is under such reasoning that Yayoi looks innocent, versus having a shady appearance, for which there is a fine point of reference below, image number 50.
Layering is incredibly vital to achieving specific outlooks – and this, as with any perspective effect, is all simply a collective extension of shadow, as well as possibly line and shape depending on the artist and art piece.
Notice that Yayoi’s hair is the absolute top level of the image, or at least a portion of it till rounding alongside her head’s diameter – also see that there’s three sections of hair, each varying in their visual altitude, the bangs, straight and simple portion, and lastly, the childish twintail curves she’s so recognized for. Abstract shapes are one aspect central to her uniqueness – irregular polygons make the bottom-most layer of her hair, yet even then, see that the layers above it are still immensely precise, despite being more common to the eye.
It wasn’t through random scribbling that the artist drew her head, but careful consideration.
Her straight section of hair has curvature to a definite degree which even defines the shape of her skull – likewise, her bangs differ in width, length, and end shape. Features as these go realized subconsciously, even if not consciously distinguished by the onlooker, and are a major component of how individuality is achieved and managed by the character in question – something particularly critical for The iDOLM@STER, a series where the cast is a hefty group of females who already have much shared amongst themselves.
Serving the role of center of attention, the most prominent facets to be found in this artwork are her eyes – establishing the basis of an adorable face through ample pupils, as well as glimmers of light, as is defined by shadow. One should have likely taken realization of this by now, yet nearly everything is revolving around shadow – reason for that being that light is the very essence of sight. Depth could be accomplished through line alone – yet the result would be planar. We’re not living in a world of grid wire.
On that note, see how her ears and neck both recede into the image – all dark tones retreat inward whilst light advances outward towards whomever is glaring, a rule of our world which is ever-present.
Turning to focus on line, see how it communicates to us – Yayoi’s head consists of an outline, and the outline shows a head tilted at an angle ever slight, which being neither the standard upright at which any healthy human being’s head stands, nor a sort of sporadic jolt, the delicacy of the maneuver works in conjunction with other elements to give spirit to a cute and curious appearance. Art heavily depends on interaction amongst its many building blocks.
Now when speaking of animation in particular, consistency and dynamics need be understood by the animator – whilst one can thresh out an anecdote, and extensive compositional information, based on a single image, this is but a mere frame of many thousands in regards to a complete animation. When turning still images to a motion reality, a knowledge of what remains and what reacts is necessary – as well as to what, and how they do whatever it is they do.
Mixing random ingredients will more than likely result in disaster, rather than a gourmet meal – and in a mathematical equation, two variables will result in a single answer.
A comprehension of what answers are found when the appropriate properties collide is what will make a successful animation. Below, take notice of the more obvious fluctuations, such as eyes and facial expression, yet also see the more discreet kinetics visible in the hair and apron. Being more specific in example, see how the hair changes in shape, best noted at the bottom ends of it nearest the floor, whilst sustaining a similar form – and in turn, this pivots the alteration of other elements as well, like shadow.
To gain proficiency in this realm of arts is to perceive the world from a creator’s perspective – although that’s another subject. On the matter of how The iDOLM@STER fairs in all this, we perform the injustice and call it simply “spectacular” – putting the otherwise near-infinitely admirable recreation of reality into a more effortlessly understood vessel of meaning.