Drawing dynamic poses and unique angles is always daunting, specially with no reference materials it can be difficult for those of us with little experience in those fields. There are plenty of art books discussing the methods for drawing perspective with buildings and anatomy, and don’t get me wrong these are a must read for beginners and people looking to start drawing urban and city settings, but it still just isn’t enough for the human form. Over the last few years some figure companies and independent designers have created figures specifically for the art and manga community, it’s time to throw away those ridiculously useless wooden statues and get yourself a real mannequin.
S.H.Figuarts human models
In April 2016 Bandai will be releasing long awaited models that are available as male (Body-kun) and female (Body-Chan) produced by S.H.Figuarts. With a respectable selling price of between 4,320 yen to 6,480 yen, some websites are already listing these for pre-order, and I have a feeling with the growing digital artist community they will be snapped up fast. With about 30 points of articulation and multiple accessories available like extra hands, swords, guns, phones, pens and a clear stand/holder they are a dream for beginner and advanced artists alike. The limbs are meant to mimic human movements so bending something backwards or into a painful looking pose is not possible, so you can keep your actions scenes looking natural. Nothing worse that drawing an action scene where one guys shoulder looks like it’s popped out of place. They will be available in a gray or cream colour, and I am happy to see they included muscle definition on legs, arms and shoulders (and some abs in there too) with facial definition for the nose, eye sockets and ears. The face is very manga shaped, however it is just a guide for underlining the face angle and feature positions for foreshortening and perspective.
This is a fantastic step in the right direction for affordable, quality models for not only the manga industry, but for any artists envisioning a scene they need a little extra help with. Of the other two figures listed, this one is by far the most accessible when released.
1/6 Synthetic Human by 1000Toys
I came across this one a while ago, and the actual website has very little information about it. Stating only the designers and having very few images available, it’s hard to believe they actually promote this product through their website. There are no details whatsoever, so reading reviews of people that have already purchased one is the only way of getting any solid information on it.
After reading a few different reviews, it’s nice to hear the overall body and limbs have a solid and robust feel, with the the neck and feet joints being very well adjustable. Although as with all mannequins the back and shoulder movement is limited (eg. shrug shoulders) it can give quite natural looking poses when you put a bit of effort into arranging the limbs. Overall this is a good quality mannequin to use as an aid for natural and action poses, and the pros outweigh the cons heavily. The ‘Test Body’ version has an opaque mask that can be removed, with the eyes clearly visible and the mouth adjustable with the skull shape underneath (which is kind of creepy).
You can visit the 1000Toys Website but there is not much info, they have a more active Facebook Page where they announced back in October that they will be increasing the production of their scale models in 2016. These are made in limited quantities and hopefully increasing their production will make them more available for collectors who weren’t just the lucky ones to be first in line at conventions.
The Special Fullaction Body Type (or S.F.B.T) is the pinnacle of posing models, with 80 points of articulation the new T-3 version has had improvements made for even more flexibility and pose customization. This is a very extraordinary model indeed, and with limited stocks (only 15 available on the last custom order) it is easy to see why it is such a high demand product. What separates it from the others is the shoulders, chest and stomach can twist so you can get a very large range of movements that are just not possible with other dolls. The fingers are movable, and even the eyes and eyelids can be altered to get a full feel of your pose. There are also clothing and accessories available, but at $300 a pop I think most people would prefer to leave it as is (nekked) with small hand held items for reference. The shape of the face is very anime style, with large eyes, small nose, mouth and chin, so it is not great if you are after realistic body proportions, but perfect for animators and manga artists for perspective and foreshortening for odd angles.
Reviews have been really positive so far, the only thing that irks some are the breasts, which are probably a bit over the top just for a posing model, but nearly all are happy with the materials and fluid movement, so the cons are very low.
If you really, REALLY want one of these (I know I do) you can keep up to date with upcoming releases at the S.F.B.T website.