Digital Manga Techniques is one of the few books out there focusing on manga CGing. Published in 2005, this book is a bit dated but tutorials on this topic can generally stand the test of time just as long as you have Photoshop; the premiere software of choice in this book and mostly used graphic software in general; and can follow directions. This book is credited to Hayden Scott-Baron whom I suspect wrote the text in the book but I will say that the images and examples used throughout the book are done by various artists specifically Selina Dean, Emma Vieceli, Laura Watton, Sam Brown, Fahed Said, Shari Hes, Sonia Long and Haydon Scott-Barron.
The book starts off with an intro about manga, covering a mini-history and the popular manga genre’s: shoujo, shonen, fantasy and sci-fi, comedy, and action. Next, character creation is covered which lists several archetypes of people you would find in certain genre’s ranging from children, teens, adults (i.e. 20s – 30s), and sidekicks. This gives you a range of inspiration and idea of the characters present in manga. The second chapter ends with a talk on costume design and creating a setting.
Each of the sub-topics in each chapter are allotted around two pages with more pages allowed for the CGing tutorials later in the book. For example, in chapter 3, all the sub-sections talking about peripherals, Photoshop basics, layers, resolution and software are all covered in eight pages. One page for resolution and Photoshop layers and two pages for everything else.
I talk about the pages so you can get a gist of what is covered and how fast. There are only 128 pages in this book and most of it is covered on basic topics that you probably already know about. For intermediate artists and above, this is very disappointing and a waste but for beginners, this may be alright.
As mentioned earlier, there are various artists contributing in this book. It allows you to see various manga drawing styles from realistic, cute chibi’s, and somewhere in between. Most of the art is done by intermediate-skilled artists which may put off the more critically-eyed artists out there. Most of the “problems” I see are anatomical in nature from too flexible characters, proportions, and a few other issues.
What this book covers is cel-shading, lineless, airbrush and natural media-like digital painting. Scott-Barron unfortunately does not teach you how to ink digitally; rather focusing instead on traditional inking via an inking pen and paper and scanning your work. I’m not terribly concerned about this little over-sight since the other digital painting books don’t cover it but it would’ve been a nice surprise to find one especially on using the pen tool.
The last chapters are dedicated to making manga page layouts, tone creation, toning and printing your work online or traditionally published in comic format. It’s has nothing to do with CGing technically but it’s solid, good info on self-publishing if you’re aiming for that goal.
Overall, the good outweighs the bad on this book. There isn’t anything in here that would be a put-off for younger readers (i.e. no inappropriate images) so I can safely recommend this for older elementary children and up. Since technology materials was briefly covered, there isn’t much of a disconnect with the recommendations presented except with the lack of info on tablets like iPad which came after the book published, and no mention of GIMP, Sketchbook Pro, and Manga Studio as possible software alternatives. I think what the deciding point of whether to pick up this book or not is whether you are interested in the topics covered in the book. Picking up a used copy for $10 or less isn’t so bad either.
Digital Manga Techniques
by Hayden Scott-Baron
Chapter 1: Analysis of Style
-What is Manga?
-Fantasy and Science Fiction
Chapter 2: Character Creation
-Creating a setting
Chapter 3: Digital Foundations
-All About Software
Chapter 4: Digital Techniques – Line Art
-Digital Line Art
Chapter 5: Digital Techniques – Coloring, Screentone, and Effects
-Simulated Natural Media
Chapter 6: Creating Pages
-Planning Your Pages
-Adding Tone and Color
-Adding Speech and Sounds
-Concept to Completion
-Printing and Publishing
Index & Credits