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Harvey Bunda

Top 10 Tips for Drawing Killer Manga

Learn How to Draw Manga Like a Pro in Less Time


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So, maybe you have some natural drawing talent. That’s great, but there’s always room for improvement. Whether you draw just for fun, or are looking to become a professional manga artist, the following tips should help you move in the right direction.

If you are interested, queue up our overview tutorial on drawing manga to read right after this.

1. Study Anatomy

Before you dive into a drawing, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics. The human body’s design might seem intuitive (I mean… you have one after all), but it’s actually much more complex than you’d think.

Study Anatomy

On the surface, a body is just a torso, head, two arms, and two legs. Simply stick those together on a sheet of paper and there you go – a person.

Unfortunately, there’s a bit more to it than that.

If you want to get things like proportion, shape, and weight displacement correct, spend some time learning anatomy. Even though you’ll be ultimately drawing “cartoons”, you still want your work to look somewhat realistic.


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2. Follow Guidelines

A lot of people overlook the benefit of using guidelines (basic lines and shapes to plan out placement, size, pose, etc) at the start of every drawing. Some folks just think it’s a waste of time, but it really makes things much, much easier in the long run.

Follow Guidelines

By lightly drawing the rough shape of each part of the body, you can play around with the basics before committing to anything. Even something as simple as a stick figure can make it easier to visualize the pose you want your finished character to be in.

3. Variety Is Key

Drawing the same thing over and over again will make you really good at drawing that one thing – but that’s not very exciting.

To really improve, you need to break out of your comfort zone and create a whole plethora of drawings. People, animals, cars, buildings, trees, you name it.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with creating a character you really like and drawing it often, but when all of your other character’s start looking the same, it gets boring. Add a little variety and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with.

4. Take Your Time

Some of the best life advice I’ve ever heard is to just slow down and take your time. Rushing through things severely lessens the quality of anything you do, and drawing is no different.

If you are in the midst of a drawing you’re really proud of and feel yourself getting anxious to complete it, stop and walk away. Take a break and get back to it later when you can commit to pacing yourself. Slow and steady wins the race.


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5. Accept Criticism

It’s important to share you work with others to get their honest feedback, but don’t take criticism personally. If someone says your manga character’s eyes seem a bit off or the way you draw poses could use some character study, take this as a challenge for yourself to do better.

There is such a thing as negative criticism, however. If someone looks at your work and their only comment is that is looks like “trash”, simply ignore them and move on. Getting discouraged by mean comments won’t do anybody any good. Focus on your end goal and keep working until you get there.

6. Experiment with Perspective

Being able to draw awesome looking manga characters is great and all, but things tend to get tricky when placing them in environments and having things look normal.

Experiment with Perspective

Perspective is super important if you want scenes to feel alive and not appear dull and flat. By understanding how objects appear smaller when further away, and larger when they’re up close, you can add a tremendous amount of depth to your panels.

One of the more interesting aspects of perspective in anime and manga is something called “foreshortening”. Foreshortening is an exaggerated form of perspective where parts of the body or fast-approaching objects are drawn much larger than they would be in the real world. This gives your image very dramatic focal points and really draws the eyes to where the action is taking place.

7. Copy Other’s Work

Now, I don’t mean steal someone’s style and call it your own. You should absolutely try and come up with a style all your own, but for practice it’s beneficial to try and mimic the work of others.

Choose a character or scene from one of your favorite mangas and try your best to recreate it. Once you feel comfortable creating a duplicate, try it again, but this time add some of your own elements – a slightly different background; a different character in a similar pose; anything to give it your own twist.


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8. Repetition

You can’t expect to master something overnight (unless you’re some sort of prodigy or something). If you really want to become a great manga artist, you’re going to need to draw, and draw often.

Even taking 15 minutes a day sketching new characters and objects will help to improve your manga drawing abilities. Remember, if this is something you really want to become great at, you’ll find the time to practice.

9. Find Your Own Style

Copying the work of your favorite manga artist is great for practice, but the real fun begins when you find a style that works best for you. You don’t want your work to be lumped in with everything else – you want to stand out and be known for that specific “something” with your manga.

Whether it’s the way you draw hair, the expressions on your character’s faces, or even the unique way you apply color, having a style that people will recognize as your own is extremely rewarded.

10. Enjoy Yourself

When it comes right down to it, you have to have fun with what you’re doing. Why bother drawing manga if it just frustrates you and puts you in a bad mood? To truly succeed at a hobby, you have to love that hobby.

So stop reading, grab a pencil, and get to work. Who knows, maybe in the next few years you could have some published work that you’ll be proud of for the rest of your life. And if not, who cares? Keep drawing and having fun.


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