Review by Rio
Manga University I-C Background Collection Workbook #2 continues where the first book left off with more backgrounds of city streets, skyscrapers, and shopping centers. This book contains a collection of 16 backgrounds for the first half and tutorials in the latter half of the book. It’s aimed at folks who want to use the backgrounds in their manga, for toning practice and instructions, and for reference into Japanese city streets and buildings.
The book is in black and white with backgrounds represented in lineart and in a toned state. Most of the backgrounds are on a street level view except for one which is viewed from above. Some backgrounds include the front of WcDonalds, an arcade, cafe, and a few sidewalks to name a few. For those wondering about WcDonalds, it was changed due to copyright laws. Something to keep in mind if you are basing your story from real locations and places.
According to the book, the “illustrations in this workbook may be reproduced for private, noncommercial use”. They also encourage you to photocopy, cut out or trace the images within though personally, I think all you should do is photocopy (or scan) the images so you can keep using the book indefinitely. They also note that although you can photocopy the toned backgrounds most photocopiers cannot reproduce the tones accurately meaning that they may turn out blurry or worse.
Moving to the tutorials in the back of the book, I would say that it’s a more advanced how-to in that it will advise you on what tones to use to get a certain look. For example, using gradations for the shine on windows, dot tone and textured tone for trees and other useful finishing tips and tricks. Most basic toning how-to books covers topics like how to scrape, erase, attach tones and so on but very few will teach you which tones to use for what purpose.
The tutorials in back will feature the toned background, possibly a photo of the location the background is from, a list of tones used, and paragraphs to point out what was used where and why. Following the tutorials is an extra section of photos of phone booths, bus stops, vending machines, traffic signals, utility poles and pedestrian bridges making a total of 19 reference photos. The photos are in black and white and some parts of it are hard to see but as with any reference photo, it is up to you how you interpret from the photo to the drawing.
All in all, this book is a good fit for anyone who wants to use it for their manga, toning practice, reference or for the advanced toning tutorials. It’s a short read so it can be for any age group and with it’s wide usage, any drawing level. This book has a lot of value for your buck but I will say it’s a little hard to find at the original manufacture suggested retail price of $7.99USD. The book is even out of stock at Manga University as of this writing so you’ll have to do a little footwork to get your own copy at a decent rate. If you do buy one at a higher price point, it’s one book you can hold onto for quite a long while.
Manga University I-C Background Collection #2: High-Rises and City Streets
by Manga University
Introduction – How to Use this Workbook
Screen Tone Techniques
The Finer Points of Using Screen Tone
Looking Across the Strett/ Wide Sidewalks
On the Road Again
Nighttime Scenes/ Incorporating Characters Into Your Backgrounds
A Bird’s Eye View of Tokyo/Sidewalk Cafe
Amusement Center/Fast-Food Restaurant
More Nighttime Scenes
Street Mall/ Commercial Zone
Shibuya Station/ Sunshine City
Additional Reference Photos