PostSailor Moon Composition Notes

| Posted under Tips & Tutorials


My most recent Sailor Moon piece is my largest Copic marker piece to date, and I’m really pleased with how she turned out. Here’s some of the behind-the-scenes thinking that went into creating her.

I started out on an 8″x 10″ piece of Strathmore bristol I had laying around, and I just started sketching. When I draw I don’t always pay attention to how my character is centered on the paper. Sometimes it works out nicely centered, and other times it doesn’t. This time it didn’t. Below is my original drawing, and you can see that her foot is almost touching the bottom of the paper, and she’s off to the left quite a bit. I also felt like she was a bit large for the 8″x 10″ piece of paper.

Sailor Moon - Rough draft

I really liked how she turned out though, so I decided to use tracing paper to transfer her to a larger piece of paper where I could center her nicely, and give her some room to breathe. To transfer her, I traced my original pencil drawing onto a piece of tracing paper, and turned over the tracing paper and traced all the lines in pencil on the back side of the tracing paper. Then I trimmed a 9″ x 11″ piece of bristol, centered the tracing on that piece right-side-up, and traced all the lines over again, pressing hard enough to transfer the graphite on the back of the tracing sheet onto the bristol. This would be MUCH easier if I had a light box, but I don’t, and I’m honestly not sure if you could trace onto bristol using a light box because of its thickness (I could be wrong, though). Edit: I AM wrong about that–yay! A reader just let me know that you CAN trace onto bristol with a lightbox, which is awesome to know!

Sailor Moon - Trace

Once I had her traced all nice and centered onto the new piece of bristol, I used my Copic multi-liners to ink her. I used my fine liner (0.1mm) to line facial features, switched to my 0.3mm for the rest of the lines, and went around the outside lines with my 0.7mm to give her a nice thick outer edge outline.

Sailor Moon - Inks

Going back to the original 8″x 10″ piece, I decided to outline it and use it to test out some color and background ideas. Initially I toyed with the idea of coloring her using gouache paints, but after trying it I felt I wasn’t confident enough in my gouache skills to get the look I wanted for the final, so I decided to stick to Copics for the final.

I colored the rough draft Sailor Moon in using block colors so I could see how they would hold up against my idea to put a pastel night sky with a full moon in behind her. I wanted to make sure the bold primary colors wouldn’t clash against the pretty pastels I had in mind for the sky. Here again I considered using watercolors for the background initially, because I love the look of loosely blended watercolors especially when I’m aiming for pastel colors. But I ultimately decided against it because I didn’t like the way the bristol took the watercolors (watercolor paper absorbs water well, allowing the colors to mix and blend beautifully, but on bristol the colors just kind of sat on top of the paper and collected–not really what I was going for). So again I decided to stick to Copics for the background, and went about testing various colors and deciding what kind of gradient I wanted for the sky, and what kind of treatment I would go with for the moon.

The rest, as they say, is history! You can check out the two videos I did of the final draft here:
Part 1
Part 2


  • Love this piece! Just wanted to let you know, you can trace onto Bristol board with a lightbox. I do often because I have the same centering problem (aka I don’t always pay attention) when I’m sketching. Your work is lovely, I’m happy to have found it and started following along!

    • Awesome! Thanks so much for letting me know that! Even more reason for me to finally break down and get myself a lightbox. So many art supplies. So little…money… LOL Anyways, welcome, and thanks for sharing! 🙂

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