Manga Drawing Process: Sketching

Now that you're done planning out your story and the panels, time to put the plan into work, yes, it's time to draw manga.

First up, we'll start with sketch. I'd suggest new artists to put in effort and take your time in this procedure, keep your work clean and tidy to ease up your inking and erasing procedure later. Below is a sample of a sketch in progress, I've darken the lines so that you can have better view of the manga drawing process.

I start it off by setting up the borderlines, there are two borderlines in manga usually, the inner frame is where all your drawings and dialogues should end, especially dialogues, try not to go beyond this border.
But let's say you have some awesome image of your hero slicing up the villain monster that you want to show, what you can do is to extend your drawings and ONLY YOUR DRAWINGS to the outer frame. Nothing goes beyond this borderline because that is the bleed that your printing house will need.

What I do next, is setting up the frames for my manga. In this example I set up 3 frames. And please, draw your lines with rulers, we're mangaka, not the illustrator artists and yes, we used rulers!
Roughly sketch out the conversation bubbles and allocate your characters or backgrounds to where you want to show them.
Now sketch your manga.
Job's done!

Manga Drawing Process: Draft

This is the very first step of creating a manga or comic, the very first element that determine the direction of your work. A draft serves as a guideline or outline for the manga artist in the manga creation process. It involve the creation of your story, the plot, character design, layout planning etc. There are no exact sequence in this stage though, everything is flexible and even changeable in the future, so just do whatever you feel like doing in whatever sequence that seems suitable for you.

Choosing Theme:
First off, choosing a theme for your manga - what is the genre of your manga? Is it a ghost story? or sci-fi/action tale? is it suppose to be humorous? What is the message you're trying to convey? What do you wish to bring to your readers? What moral value you have in mind? Or is it solely for the sake of exciting, fun reading experience?

Plot (Story Flow/Main Events):
Planning out the plot (story flow or main events) of your manga is important to serve as a wire frame for your work, this is to ensure that you don't run out of your theme and drag your story into another dimension. You can carefully decide and select the events that you want to include in your manga, making your work more organized. But of course, you can always add in new ideas or turning points into your manga in later stage.

A plot can be simply written out in point form, keep the sentence short and comprehensible for you (duh~). For an example, let's look at a story, say Little Red Riding Hood, the plot can be written out as such:
  • Little Red Riding Hood is visiting her grandmother who's living in another village
  • She's courted by a wolf along the way
  • The wolf ran and reached the grandma's house before Little Red Riding Hood
  • The wolf ate the old lady, he put on her dress and lying on the bed, waiting for Little Red Riding Hood's arrival
  • Little Red Riding Hood arrived and was being tricked by the wolf
  • Wolf ready to eat Little Red Riding Hood, a woodcutter passed by and rushed in for rescue
  • The end

Character Design:
Now you have your story, you have your plot, then what is a manga without the characters? Well, some artists created their characters before the story and vice versa, it doesn't matter though.
So, what kind of character you want for you manga? Think of the characteristic, the age, the behavior. Write them out on a piece of paper then create a character base on the list.

A character creation sample

Panel Sketch:
Might not be important for some but this sure helps me a lot.
This process helps you to sort out the number of frames or panels you want to distribute in a page of your manga, how you want to place your panels, the size of your frames so on and forth. It is good for keeping track on important panels, discarding the unnecessary one and keep the story within the page limit provided.


Manga Drawing Process

Here we discuss about the process involved in drawing manga, from the planning stage all the way to the finishing touch.

There are FIVE main stages involved in manga drawing:


SECOND STAGE - Sketching


FOURTH STAGE - Screentone & Touch Up

FIFTH STAGE - Inserting Text

Mangaka's Tools

What is drawing manga without the tools?
The following shows a list of items for drawing manga/comic:
(along with some explanation, just in case you didn't even know what a pencil is ^^)

1. Pencil and eraser

This is what you'll use for creating drafts and sketching. Some might argue if using pencil or mechanical pencil is more accurate but the fact is - it doesn't matter, use whatever that suits you best as long as you draw comfortably with it and the sketches are clear enough for inking and easy enough for erasing.
Choosing erasers should be a little more specific, you ought to choose soft erasers that can easily erase your pencil works while keeping the paper clean. You DON'T want something that'll ruin your manga.

Some argues pencil is more appropriate, but mechanical pencil works just fine for me.

2. Rulers and templates

You'll need a long ruler for straight lines drawing and some templates for drawing curves and conversation bubbles in your manga. A bendable ruler can be a useful tool since you can bend it into any shapes that you desire. But keep in mind that bendable rulers are not suitable for drawing small circle lines; you'll still need a template for this job.



bendable ruler

3. Compass

A compass is a useful tool for drawing full circles in your manga, though it's not used most of the time but you'll find it handy having it around. So just keep one at your side.

4. Light box

A very crucial tool for drawing manga, light box is used for tracing purposes, and there are a lot of time where you can't determine the angle or the amount of content to be placed inside a block or a panel, so a solution is to draw out the entire image without bounding box on another piece of blank paper, then using the light box to adjust the image into preferable angle in your panel, then trace it into your manga sketch.

5. Dip pens and/or fine point pens

This is for inking purposes. The difference is that the dip pen gives you more control over the weight of your strokes, fine point pen however, enable you to draw smooth, fine lines without and difference in the stroke's weight. You can draw lines with different weights with a fine point pen by repeatedly drawing on the area that you wish to put more weight into it, and you'll need to have a set of fine point pens with different point values if you planned to draw your manga/comic solely using fine point pen.

I uses five fine point pens for my manga, a 0.7 size pen for thick lines and borders drawing, a 0.3 pen also for thick lines, a 0.2 pen for medium lines, and two 0.1 pens for fine lines.

6. Ink

You'll find it useful to prepare both black and white ink no matter you're using ink pen or not. It is useful for making special effects such as blood splashing effects, waves and so on. The white ink is also important for correction purposes, to ink out unwanted lines that you find in your manga.

7. Brushes

If you want to use your ink you'll need to have a brush, now make sense?

The brushes are mainly for special effects such as spilling bloods, water flows etc. Now I'm thinking of using it to draw hair for my manga characters.

8. Papers

A4 size paper for normal drawing, but some publisher prefers their mangaka to use B4 size paper, reason is that you can draw more in your manga and you can put in more details as well. But the bad thing is that it is more time consuming, since you're drawing more and on larger scale.
Normally, A4 size will do just fine!

9. Graphic tablet

This is for PC usage, for screentoning and colouring my manga using software tool. The one I'm using is a WACOM tablet, the cheapest one I can find in my area.

Now we're done with the tools, let's take a look at the manga creation process!