Artist's Toolbox: Creating your own manga!
Brief summary of steps to create a manga
- Write down your ideas! Polish the plot, analyze the time-space continuum, make sure the idea is exciting and doesn't have plot-holes.
- Design your characters! Give them personalities. Remember to have a nice balance of virtues and flaws to make them realistic. The more relatable that your characters are, the more your story will appeal to the reader.
- Storyboard! Do messy and non detailed sketches for each page. This gives you a general idea of what will go into each page and will help you plan in advance how the story will unfold along the pages or even chapters.
- Sketching & Panelling Decide what will go into each panel of your page. The more impact of the scene the bigger the panel should be! Don't add too many panels or it will be too hard on the eyes.
- Inking Once you are happy with the preliminary sketch of the page, go ahead and ink it!
- Screentoning To add shadows and other effects that help you convey emotions and other effects in your pages, screetones are key! It's a very tricky process because it can make or break your page, so make sure to do it well! ;D
- Adding text When you're done with the previous steps, it's time to include the dialogues in the speech balloons!
Using only traditional tools
- Paper selecting the paper that best suits your needs plays an important role in the development of your manga. You need to find a brand that offers you the thickness and the texture that allows you to draw comfortably without the ink soaking through it or smearing. It's also good to have thicker paper if you plan on colouring it using markers or any other water based colouring tool. Manga paper comes in different sizes and weights but they can also be plain (when there's nothing printed on it) or have a grid (when they come with blue markings to indicate the different areas of your page: bleeding, trim, center, etc).
- Markers and brushes: these are useful when there are large areas of the page that need to be covered in black, painting those with pens would take too much time and effort, so painting them with brushes and markers speed up the process while keeping the quality standard. For colouring purposes, the brands that give the best results are COPIC markers and LETRASET markers but there are many brands to choose from!
- Screentones are patterns and gradients made up of black dots printed onto a clear plastic film with adhesive mounted to paper on one side. Traditionally, comic and manga artists used screen tones and, despite the widespread availability of digital tools, they are still being used today, especially in Japanese manga. One of the major benefits of using conventional screen tones is having more control over the finished product. You can finish the entire page without having to rely on another computer program. When you scan, print or copy screen tones, they reproduce just like the original – unlike digital versions, which look much different onscreen than printed.
Using only Digital tools
Some of the most common programs used to create manga are the following:
- MangaStudio is a software product that allows users to scan, create, sketch, and ink digital and softcopies of their manga and comic artwork. One of the most characteristic features compared to other software, is the ability to create a file with all the pages of your manga, so that you can access them all at any given time without opening each page separately, this is called the "story" mode and it's really useful. Apart from that, MangaStudio comes with countless screentones to play around with, from cross-hatching to full blown ready-made backgrounds, you're sure to find the one that will suit your needs! It also has very easy-to-use tools to create your panels, speech balloons and other nice effects.
- Photoshop isn't a program specifically made for drawing manga but it has all the tools you'd ever need to bring your story to life! The strongest points of drawing manga in Photoshop are the path tools to create the panels, the vast amount of brushes and pens to sketch, ink and add special effects to each page and last but not least, the ability to turn an existing image into a screentone to use it as background for your panels or creating others from scratch using its half-tone options.
Using both traditional and digital tools
Formatting your manga
- Page by page is the most common way to do it. Each page is drawn separately (or sometimes two pages are merged together to emphasize an event).
- Strips they usually come in sets of vertical or horizontal panels and the length ranges from a few panels to a whole story.
- Flash this type of format for your manga allows the reader to read the whole story and navigate through the pages within the same file. It's a bit more complicated to create but the final result is definitely worth it, especially if you want to publish it online.