And kanji with manga
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

tenbyou 点描

In Japanese, tenbyou 点描 means "pointillism," which is the art technique of drawing using only dots, points. In manga, tenbyou 点描 means "stippling," a monochrome shading technique often used to render lighter backgrounds by drawing dots with ink.

This technique has a lower black-to-white ratio than kakeami カケアミ, which makes it preferable to shade softer things, like sand and soap bubbles.

An example of tenbyou 点描, "stippling," used as a shading technique to render sand.
Manga: Black Jack, ブラック・ジャック (Chapter 2, シャチの歌)

Examples

Although some artists do use tenbyou in manga, it's generally not used as other shading techniques are more popular.

To have a better idea, a character in the series Bakuman. バクマン。 did use stippling when rendering backgrounds.

Example of animation showing the process of "stippling," tenbyou 点描, an art technique used by Nakai Takurou 中井巧朗 to shade backgrounds.
Anime: Bakuman. バクマン。 (Episode 23)
  • The stippling process of Nakai Takurou 中井巧朗.

As you can see above, it's a process that takes time and patience, but the result looks pretty:

Example of "stippling," tenbyou 点描.
Manga: Bakuman. バクマン。 (Chapter 31)
  • The leaf is shaded using stippling.

な・・・なんだこれ スゲーな・・・ 点描で背景とか描いちゃってるじゃん 週刊じゃいくら中井さんでもこんな書き方無理だろ・・・・・・ すっごいキレイな絵だよね
Manga: Bakuman. バクマン。 (Chapter 31)
  • na... nanda kore
    な・・・なんだこれ
    Wh... what's this. (emotive right-dislocation)
  • sugee na...
    スゲーな・・・
    It's amazing...
  • tenbyou de haikei toka kaichatteru jan
    点描背景とか描いちゃってるじゃん
    The backgrounds [and other stuff] are drawn using stippling.
  • shunkan ja ikura Nakai-san demo konna kaki-kata muri daro......
    週刊じゃいくら中井さんでもこんな書き方無理だろ・・・・・・
    In a weekly serialization, even Nakai-san [won't be able to use] this way of drawing......
    • muri
      無理
      Impossible.
      Unreasonable. Unmanageable. That can't be done or that won't work.
    • The character is saying that, despite Nakai's abilities, it'd be impossible to draw using stippling in a weekly serialization, since he would have to render dozens of pages every week using this technique and there just isn't enough time.
  • suggoi kirei na e dayone
    すっごいキレイな絵だよね
    The drawing is extremely pretty, isn't it.

In manga, most patterns made out of dots you'll see aren't created by drawing the dots one by one.

Instead, they're either a pattern that comes in a screentone that's just pasted on the drawing, or they're a digital pattern that's simply filled using software.

The term tenbyou 点描 ends up referring mostly to light background shapes created and surrounded by dots. For example:

元気・・・・・・出して下さいね? よしよし よかったねーあっくん なでなで ・・・優しさがつらい・・・
Manga: Aho Girl, Aho Gāru アホガール (Volume 1, Chapter 3, Page 26)
  • Context: Akkun あっくん, who doesn't have friends, makes his first friends.
  • genki...... dashite kudasai ne?
    元気・・・・・・出して下さい
    [Cheer up,] okay?
  • yoshi yoshi
    よしよし
    [There there].
  • yokatta nee Akkun
    よかったねーあっくん
    [Isn't that great,] Akkun.
  • nadenade
    なでなで
    *pat pat*
  • ...yasashisa ga tsurai...
    ・・・優しさがつらい・・・
    ...kindness [hurts]...

Note that not every dot you see in manga is called tenbyou. For instance, regular dot patterns from screentones like halftones and polka dots aren't tenbyou.

まぁいいわ・・・ 始めましょう
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 5)
  • Context: Vignette ヴィネット just wants to get with the program.
  • maa ii wa...
    まぁいい・・・
    Whatever... (never mind that.)
  • hajimemashou
    始めましょう
    Let's start. (already.)

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