Excellent art doesn’t come from nowhere. One interesting thing about the production of Yusei Matsui’s latest series The Elusive Samurai has recently come to light: some of the art is based on 3D models.
In a blog post from 24 May, 3D production company Melta detailed how they were approached by Weekly Shonen Jump editor Higashi to see if they could use computer-generated graphics to lessen the load on series author Yusei Matsui. More specifically, Matsui wanted help with weapons, armor, and horse equipment: this is what he found hardest to draw.
After discussing the idea further, Melta and Yusei Matsu came up with a system whereby the author would request certain items at certain angles. Then, the company would create 3D models accordingly and export the model into Clip Studio to turn into line art for use in The Elusive Samurai. Of course, these models weren’t set in stone, and Matsui often provided feedback and requested changes.
You can see Matsui’s notes on a particular armor model and the process of converting it into line art below:
In his official comment on the blog, Matsui stated that it would be impossible for him to serialize The Elusive Samurai without the help of 3D models. ‘This manga is set in an era where the most annoying thing to draw ever often comes up: armor. Without Melta’s help, I wouldn’t be able to do it.’
Indeed, it’s not exactly unusual to see 3D used in the otherwise 2D medium of manga. An article from Myjitsu points out that both Hiroya Oku and Inio Asano made use of 3D models in Gantz and Goodnight Punpun respectively, as well as Ken Akamatsu in Negima!. As a result, The Elusive Samurai is hardly unique in this regard.
At least one thing’s for sure: making manga on a weekly basis is pretty damn hard, so we’re in favor of any tools that make it even slightly easier.
You can read The Elusive Samurai for free via VIZ Media, but good luck trying not to figure out where 3D models were used now that you know the secret!