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Submitted on
July 27, 2013
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Artist's Toolbox: Creating your own manga!

Before we start, I think it's important to keep in mind that drawing manga pages is a very demanding task that requires a lot of time but also, a lot of knowledge in many aspects of illustration such as general drawing, perspectives, anatomy... but it also requires writing skills, for you will need to come up with an interesting plot, dialogue, narrative and more things that will guarantee that your storytelling will go hand in hand with the art in each page. This might seem complicated, but don't fret :D It is a very fun and rewarding experience that no one should miss! Give it your best shot!

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

Using traditional tools to create your manga include specific paper, pens, markers, brushes and screentones.

  • 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.

how to work with screentones by demoniacalchild Traditional Screentoning by FOERVRAENGD Manga Tutorial: Mesh-Hatching by LOOMcomics How I work on my mangapages by demoniacalchild How I making manga part 2 by pandabaka

Using only Digital tools

Drawing manga using digital programs has become very popular among artists. All the tools can  be found in the same program and it's very useful to people who have little or no access to traditional screentone sheets, for example.

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.

MangaStudio 101- Creating A Story by YKajitaka  Video tutorial 02 by inma  MangaStudio EX 3.0 process by CodenameParanormal

  • 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.

How To Make Screentones by xxcrossmaniac  SCREENTONING MANGA ON PHOTOSHOP by Noiry manga bg from real photo by pandabaka COMIC+MANGA Bitmap Halftoning by fox-orian

Using both traditional and digital tools

It's also very common to use both digital and traditional tools to create manga. Usually, the traditional part involves sketching and inking while the digital part involves scanning the work, panelling, screentoning and adding text with specific programs such as the ones mentioned before. It's a valid method just like any other, but it's a good choice if you are more comfortable drawing with physical tools but have no access to screentone sheets and thus need to apply them digitally.
How to basic screentone on PTS by pandabaka  How I making manga part 1 by pandabaka 

Formatting your manga

Before you start your manga it's important to decide the format in which you are going to present your story! :)

  • 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).
[Midwinter] Battle Between Casters by Deus-Nocte   MLTY:: Page 1 by saiyukiluver
  • Strips they usually come in sets of vertical or horizontal panels and the length ranges from a few panels to a whole story.
 Kenji's true disability by yukira0 Story Of A Boy. by 89pixels

  • 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.

Grey is - Chapter 013 by deeJuusan Grimoire 2 Preview Comic by demoniacalchild

Hope this guide was useful to you! Starting Monday July 29th to Sunday August 4th, Manga and Anime Project Educate Week will take place and we will be covering all the aspects of creating a manga in more depth! Stay tuned! :love:

Welcome to Artist's Toolbox! Keep reading to learn about the tools used to create manga chapters in both digital, traditional and tradigital media!
Add a Comment:
juriTanaka Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I need to use screentones? I have not money to buy it, so I use my pencil to add volume effect. But I think that I'm the only person in the world who do it. Is my technique wrong? Is it blames the manga?
PS: I haven't a tablet.
rydi1689 Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Nope, you're not the only one who does it that way ^^ though the most common way is to do it using either real screentones or digital screentones. But according to some other manga artists I know, you only need to shade it grey and the printer automatically converts the greys to screentones.

You don't need to use screentones if you don't want to or can't afford them (I can't afford screentones but I do have a tablet) there are many well known mangakas who create their mangas without using a single screentone, they focus on the mood black and white create and that's more than enough in most cases.

Manga is an form of self expression, so do it the way you feel more comfortable with :heart: You're not doing it wrong at all :heart:
juriTanaka Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't use screentones, I use pencil to make volume effect, like this page. I said that because I don't know if people like manga with smokey shadings.
Thanks for your gentle reply
rydi1689 Featured By Owner May 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Don't worry, your style looks gorgeous and stylized, people will definitely like it even if you don't use screentones :heart:
juriTanaka Featured By Owner May 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. I'm planning to make my pages colored to be more beautiful
mizarwen Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
still trying to get a hold of my mangastudio...i use the debut. Anyone can give me some tutorial using the debut version? Really appreciate it guys
GoryBlueCat Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
This is helpful! I plan on working on my own comic book series soon, and these are great tips. :)
rydi1689 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So glad you found it useful <3 there will be more tutorials along the week, so stay tuned <3
RedSwordman777 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
whoaaa! helpful information!
helps me a lot!

(but apparently low motivation, can't buy screentone & low appreciation from the country itself often destroy
 my urge to draw a comic made from my new story before I scrapped it months or later. :iconmingtearsplz:)
rydi1689 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There are many digital art programs that allow you to use digital screentoning at a very low price! There's low appreciation for it in my country too, even in my house my mom keeps asking me why I don't stop drawing chinese people and start painting flowers xDDD

Don't let anyone get in the way of your dreams <3
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