I have tried those “how to draw books” and I hated it. I’m not here to just draw pretty pictures. Instead, I’m going to share something truly useful by pointing out some essential tips along with beginner mistakes to avoid to help you successfully start your manga drawing journey!
Want to learn how to practice manga? Then you’re in the right place! I call it “how to practice manga” because if you ask any artist, the key to getting better is to practice. Most tutorials just show you really pretty pictures that the artist did and it kind of expects you to just copy and redraw the same thing perfectly. This is different — I’m going to share with you actionable tips for drawing manga to help make you a better artist…
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Sometimes this is hard to do because it takes up extra time, but if there is something you do not know how to draw, go online and look up a reference. It will make your art look so much better. Look up poses, look up props, look up environments. Do not try to draw something out of your head, because you will miss important details.
Any “How to Draw Manga” tutorial that says you don’t need to know actual anatomy to draw proper anime is lying and you should burn it immediately. For any stylized art, you need to know how the real body is put together before you start exaggerating. This is a fine line between making something look stylized and something that looks like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Friends and family will always say your artwork is perfect, and I’m here to tell you they are lying. Sometimes, artists end up feeding into too much positive feedback and they get too content with their artwork and they stop improving. Always seek out people that will give you an honest feedback instead of “oh, that’s cute” or “that’s really nice.”
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Getting better at art can be frustrating and sometimes it may feel like I’m scolding you, but drawing should be fun! Unless you are getting paid by someone else to draw something, no need to panic. Just relax and do your best.
Here are 10 things you must know in order to successfully drawing manga!
You shouldn’t just avoid drawing any parts of the body that you don’t want to draw, such as hiding the hands or always drawing characters from the waist up. It’s better to at least draw it, be bad at it and keep improving than ignore it altogether.
Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged when you see other artists who are better than you — especially the younger artists. But trust me: everyone had to start somewhere. Try to use them as inspiration instead of getting yourself down.
If I had my way, I’ll just draw the same characters all the time. We all have a certain “type” of character like to draw. We also have a specific gender preference we like to draw. I want to tell you there are infinite types of people you can draw; don’t just stick to just drawing pretty girls, pretty boys, teenagers, etc. You should learn how to draw everyone.
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There is a fine line between studying your favorite artist and copying them. What ends up happening when you copy other artists is you end up copying their flaws, purposefully. You need to break down what parts of their art you like and examine why you like it. You don’t want to be a carbon copy of someone else.
With that being said, I will give you two exercises to get started:
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Draw at least 2 characters’ full bodies. They can be whoever you want, but try to pick two fairly different characters.Write down 10 skills or techniques you want to improve in your manga drawing. Focus on those things whenever you draw.
This is probably one of the harder ones. Artists say they are OK with criticism, but what they mean is they are OK with having it go through one ear and out the other. Every critique is valid even if phrased in an impolite way, because it means something was off about your art that made someone have to point it out. Don’t just say, “It’s my style.” Your style may just be wrong. You don’t have to take every piece of criticism, but you need to listen.
I used to hate guidelines when I first started, and it took me awhile to warm up to them — but trust me, guidelines help. They help you quickly put down a pose and compare the body shapes and sizes. Artists who use guidelines are less likely make anatomy errors. Every professional — and I do mean every professional — always starts with a skeleton before they draw their character. If you haven’t been using guidelines yet, I advise that you do.