【Illustrator/Manga Artist】前嶋重機 (MAESHIMA Shigeki)

Part Six. The more I write about this artist the more I love his work, which is why I guess I wrote so much. Sorry.

Sara from Dragon Fly. Click for full version. (Ages 16+!)

前嶋重機 (MAESHIMA Shigeki) is a professional illustrator and manga artist best known for his artwork and character designs in the 戦う司書 (Tatakau Shisho/Armed Librarians) series of light novels, as well as for his full-colour manga, Dragon Fly, serialized in the Robot and Gelatin full colour comic magazines. Maeshima is married to manga artist 伊藤悠 (ITOU Yuu), was born on February 6th, 1974, and usually draws his artwork by hand then colours and finishes it on a PC. He is also part of an illustrator+publishing unit called 42, along with three other professional artists.

Maeshima’s style is mature, slick, super-sexy, and kind of violent. All his female characters exude womanly vibes, with narrow eyes, thick eyelashes, actual lips and mouths, and very generously proportioned bodies clothed by provocative, well-designed attire. As well, they all give off a high sense of strength and independance, and most look as though they’re not to be messed with. His male characters number few when compared to his female characters, but they are also just as mature and strong, and all seem to have quite a bit of muscles. His character designs are unique, recognizable, and distinctly Maeshima-esque, thanks to how incredibly creative he is with hairstyles and costumes, but even though they all look like his work, they don’t look repetitive or recycled at all. There’s so much variation that they all look truly individualistic. As well, facial expressions usually quite varied in his manga since Maeshima knows how subtleties, like wrinkles, in the human face works to express emotion, but in his illustrations, his characters just usually pose for the picture and put on a pretty face. Another part that makes me love Maeshima’s work is how he actually draws noses and lips, and colours them realistically. Most of the lips on his female characters are luscious and full, a feature that I very much appreciate. Vague lines for mouths just doesn’t cut it sometimes, and even his teenage female characters have actual lips and nose.

Artwork from the novel 蟲忍 (Mushinin). Click for full version.

His colouring style also significantly adds to the cool nature of his artwork, but is slightly hard to describe. Although at first it looks like he lays his colours on thickly, he actually only has sharp, deep shading in the hair (Which gives it a thick, solid look) and some types of clothing, but for everything else, he does quite a bit of blending to make the shine look natural and more realistic. The lighting in most of his pictures is dark and muted, and the overall effect is somewhat similar to taking a photo without using flash in a softly lit environment. He is also very good at colouring skin, especially on faces, and they always have a shine that is similar to an actual person’s face under differently lit settings. He can even make faces look practically realistic as well. The colours he usually uses are whites, dark greys, cold blues, deep browns, and soft purples, but he can definitely do lighter colours as well. Another thing to add is that his work is really detailed, even in his full-colour manga, and his compositions and planning in both individual illustrations and a full manga is action-packed, well coordinated, and fully completed.

In short, Maeshima Shigeki is a superb illustrator and manga artist who solidly defines his own style and shows a real grasp of all the fundamentals of art (depths of field, anatomical proportions, lighting, cropping, etc) not seen enough in the highly stylized world of anime-type art, and the few, low-quality example pictures I provided above really, really don’t do justice at all to Maeshima, whose work (especially the manga Dragon Fly) is best seen on paper and at the highest quality. I understand that his style isn’t to everyone’s preference, but Maeshima is the real deal, in my opinion.

Maeshima Shigeki at Wikipedia: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/前嶋重機 (Japanese)
Interview with Sync Future: http://p2.pixiv.net/2009/05/13/1582.html (Japanese)
Brief profile at Sync Future: http://www.lpei.co.jp/sync_future/profile/#creator19 (Japanese)
Dragon Fly Website: http://www.wani.com/dragonfly (Japanese; At Wani Magazine Press)