This is a section of a book I am writing called “Mangaka on a Budget” I decided to write one day. It’s my first tutorial, so please enjoy ^.^
Some people want to wait ’till they can afford all the right tools or wait ’till they get older to start creating manga. My advice to you; don’t do either. You don’t have to wait ’till you’re older (in fact, the younger you start, the better!) and you don’t have to have all the essential tools. No one will automatically just start drawing eye-pleasing manga. Like everything else in this world, practice makes perfect. Don’t feel bad if your first manga ends up a disaster. If you don’t start producing any manga, you’ll never start making epic manga. Your first manga will teach you how to create manga. It’ll give you drawing and story-writing practice. If you don’t want to start an original story, that’s fine. Do a doujinshi then. Doujinshi comics are EXCELLENT practice as you’re already working with pre-created characters and plot line, and all you have to do is think of an original arc to plop them in. Do this for fun, and eventually you’ll be able to move up to making your own, original manga.
[u]THE FIRST STEP: The Amatuer’s “Essential” Manga Kit[/u]
Why wait ’till you have the money to buy the essential kit? If you don’t have practice, you won’t be good enough to draw professional looking manga anyway. Consider your first manga an experiment and practice run. The more you draw, the more you’ll become skillful. Here’s a run down of all the basic essentials the beginner will need:
MANGA-MAKING GUIDE BOOK
Wait, I thought this WAS a manga-making guide book? Why do I have to buy another one?!? Well, I’m not really going to teach you how to draw manga. I will give a few tips, but seriously, get a real how to draw manga book because it was written by a professional. They will really tell you how to draw! I use them, too, and they are really helpful. At least get one. I’m not going to provide you with many drawing tips. As an amateur myself, I’m still learning and I barely will be able to teach you anything in this area! So please, get a real guide book!
PHOTO COPY PAPER
Indeed it’s true. Read most how to create manga books and they will tell you that using photo copy paper is a bad idea for creating manga with. I won’t deny that it’s true, that it’s flimsy and hard to erase if you apply too much pressure (not to mention crumples and ink bleeds). But they didn’t deny it’s good for practice. So for your first manga, feel no shame in using photo copy paper! It’s easy to find, cheap, fits all standard scanners, and most of them are pretty smooth. Be sure to try different brands, as some are thicker than others. Also, check to see how fast ink dries on it. You don’t want to start erasing and get smudges! On some papers, it’ll dry fast, others, you gotta wait!
Do not use sketchbook paper for manga-making! It’s often the wrong texture and doesn’t erase very well if you apply a lot of pressure. You will be needing the sketchbook to practice your drawing. Try drawing random characters or fan art to get the hang of drawing. Since most sketchbooks have thick paper, you’ll be able to ink your illustrations as well. Sketchbooks are also good to store designs of characters you want in your manga. Though a bit more expensive, a hardback sketchbook is very handy if you need a hard surface to start drawing your actual manga.
I typically use 0.7mm BiC mechanical, as it’s a standard size and very cheap. If you apply too much pressure (like I do) then they snap off pretty often. For details, use a 0.5mm. The best brand to use is Pentel, as the lead doesn’t break so easily. You can use a standard #2 pencil if you want, but the draw back is the constant amount of sharpening. Mechanicals require no sharpening and create nice, sleek lines that aren’t too bold. However, if you like to pencil-shade and use mechanical, break the lead off once you’re done so the lines can remain sleek and thin when you return to your normal drawing.
To start off with, you can use a typical pink eraser. You can easily find a two pack for under a dollar at any grocery store and they get the job done. If you want a cleaner erase, use Pentel erasers. For erasing small details, use the Pentel pen-shaped erasers. They work wonders and is essential for any mangaka!
These fine-line Sharpie markers are a great tool to start practicing your inking. They’re a bit on the thick side, but thin enough for making manga and concepts (besides, if you’re making shounen manga, you need thicker lines anyway). They also don’t have a terrible bleed, like the other Sharpies.
Now I started off my inking with using Pentel gel pens, as they write very smooth and come in a 0.5mm size. You’re better off using pens specifically made for manga inking, but if you can’t make it to the craft store and need to use something quick, you can find these at any grocery store. They at least get the job done fairly well, even though they weren’t intended for it! But sometimes you do run into the problem of it stopping midway.
PIGMA SAKURA MICRON
Even amatuers like ourselves need a few professional tools. If you want varied line width without having to get a calligraphy set, the best inking pen (in my opinion) is Pigma Sakura Micron. They come in all sorts of sizes, from 0.3mm to 1.0mm. You can find them in craft stores, and sometimes they even come in sets! I like the set with four different sized pens, plus an eraser and 0.7mm pencil!
Whether it’s wooden, plastic, or rubber, a ruler is one of the most important tools in manga making. Without the 12-inch ruler, you’d have flimsy and crooked looking squares and wobbly lines. With this ruler, you can create straight lines at whichever angle you desire. This, my friend, is the required tool for paneling! And the best thing is you can find them at the grocery store, many times under a dollar!
Okay, now we’ve got all the tools we need (most of which is inexpensive). So now you can start drawing. But what comes next after you’re done drawing? You’ve already created panels, sketched in the scenes, inked the lines, and erased any remaining penciling. After this comes the cleaning, toning, and typesetting! Here is the technical aspect of what you’ll need:
Any old scanner will do if you’re using photo copy paper. Be sure to use your scanner’s “Advanced Scan” option so you can be sure that your scanner won’t automatically crop out anything. You want the full picture here. Also make sure it is set to scan black & white (unless it’s a color illustration). Using the advanced option usually already cleans your pages for you (’cause even when you erase, there’s still some remnant of pencil marred on there).
Who needs Photoshop, anyway? GIMP is a freeware program that you can download to your computer and doesn’t take very much space. You are able to upload digital screentone and brushes to it (but keep in mind; this causes the program to take forever to load, so don’t panic!) and digitally color your artwork as well. You can even clean your pages and make the lines look more sleek via the Contrast option (if you have a faded-looking scan). Also, use this to type in your dialogue and resize your pages if you plan to post your work online.
If you have a PC, this program is already on your computer. If you do not like drawing your own panels, MS Paint has many line and square shape tools where you can easily make your own panel layout and print it out. This program is also good for resizing if you want to post your work online (just be sure to save it as a PNG image).
You can find many free-to-use patterns on various DeviantArt accounts (some people ask you give them credit back, so remember which screentones require that so you can credit them back later). Digital screentone is very simple to use on GIMP when you add it as a fill-in pattern.