Saturday, April 24, 2010

The promised land for fans of Japanese artists - Pixiv

 Recently I read a lot about something called "pixiv". It´s said to be a great place with tons of Illustrations and many well known artists around. When I heard more and more people talking about it I finally wanted to see for myself.
As someone who loved Artbook since a long time, it seems I found something like the biggest Online-Artbook you can think of.

However, Pixiv may not be interesting for all of you. I guess figure lovers give a damn about it :)
Online archives with tons of Illustrations are simply not something everyone likes.

For myself I have to say I prefer my Artwork in printed form. No online high-resolution pic could keep me from buying the actual book, since the printed stuff looks the best to me most of the time. (maybe except for very pixelated printing)

Still, there are many artists where collecting their printed works would be very expensive. Even more since many good artists only release Doujinshis. :(
And do not forget all the great artists who still did not printed anything! All the artists only drawing 1-3 pictures for magazines! Or the Chinese artists, some already very famous on the internet, but a pain in the butt to get hold of a book of them. For example Nardack, Illustrator of the opening picture of this post.

I won´t say the good ones are all on pixiv. But there are many.
Expecially from the "fanwork for different series" department. Not all professionals, but who cares. Big Names also started at the bottom.

Of course there is also lot of "trash" up there, since everyone can just go there and upload their work. Though I think not everyone thinks of the same stuff as trash (that´s why there are ""). It´s just..let´s say quality/style of the Illustrations there vary a lot.

Through pixiv I even learned about a series I had not known of before and which I really like now. Durarara!!
It seems to be very popular at the monet since there is a lot of, quite good, artwork for it up there.
(this sample is by Java)

There is also lots of  R18 stuff up there. Sometimes not deserving the "18" tag and sometimes really Hardcore stuff. Hentai aswell as lots of Yaoi stuff. And not only single Illustrations but also short-comics, b/w and colour.
You are more into the funny stuff? No problem. Like artist "コニー楊" shows us here you will find on pixiv whatever you wish for. (at least I found this pic to be hilarious XD he is like "wordless fear", don´t you agree? XD) 

All this sounds like paradise to you? And you are sure there has to be a catch? 

Sadly yes, you are right. A pretty big one, as long as you not happen to be a Japanese native speaker or have some basic Japanese knowledge.
I think you got it with that. However, I will write it down in clear words: The whole pixiv community is in Japanese. and only japanese. So, not even a main-navigation in english..
There is one small exception to that; since all artists can give tags to their work like they feel like you have good chance of finding roman letters in the SEARCH field.
Even more since there are also artists that are not japanese, and decide to give a romaji tag to their pics.
For example: searching for Vocaloid will give you even more pics then searchin for ボーカロイド. This is because the romaji are more often used in this case.

And no, I cannot speak or understand japanese >.< I once had a course for basic japanese and while I didn´t learn enough to understand I learned to read Hiragana and Katakana. As you may now, this are only the simplest japanese characters so I can´t use it to be able to read anything. Maybe beside the moaning sounds in Hentai mangas XD (n and aa are not that hard to memorize XD)
However, I also already forget many of the characters..and as written above be able to read a character does not mean to be able to get the meaning of the word.

Still I have to admit that minimal basic knowledge, while not helping with the side itself, helps with the SEARCH.
When I want to search for a certain series, let´s say above mentioned Vocaloid, I choose the following helpful tricks:

1. Just search for the roman-letters. Then look through the tags pixiv is suggesting you to maybe be also interested in. (It´s possible they are just similar search tags that people who searched the same as you liked..or whatever.)
And now guess. Look through the tags and make a guess which one could be the series name. Since I can read the one or other letter here I have it easier to guess. Still most of the time I just click on a tag to see what kind of pictures show up and then decide if I may have clicked the right one XD
May sound idiotic, but works very well.
Also works through using tags above pictures; eg you found a pic of Miku by accident or roman-letter search and then look through this pictures tags, and you should be able to find the one leading you to tons of Miku based Illustrations.

2. Use sites that give you the roman-letters and the japanese characters. For example wikipedia often listens both. I also use benippon since they write the series name in japanese often.

3. Buy books like "Pixiv girls" to get the ID numbers of artists you like. (I still have to buy >.<)

4. Browse around without any specific tags. Found a lot of nice stuff with that. Though you will never admire to browse through all illustrations on pixiv. That I can guaranty.


OK, now that´s more than enough talk. Or, to be honest it is only the beginning. There is one big catch I didn´t mention up to now - a catch making it hard for non japanese like us.

To be able to surf through pixiv you have to make an acount!

Not a big deal in itself; you have to make an acount everywhere nowadays. But have you ever made one in a japanese form?
I think you know the biggest problem now.
With the help of a guide and a youtube video I found on the internet I was able to register at least.
Still I was very afraid of clicking on the wrong buttons on pixiv since the guide does not describe everything >.<

As for you - you got luck. Stay tuned for my "How to get started on pixiv" post.
Highly recommended by Seto Kaiba XD (pic by Yomogi)

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