Let me start by saying that, although my own art style has been influenced by manga and anime to some extent, I can’t really draw “genuine” manga very well (as the picture above demonstrates).
Still, by taking inspiration from this art style, I’ve been able to use some – but not all- of the advantages that come from it. I know that I’ve (sort of) talked about this subject before, but it seemed like it was worth mentioning again.
Whilst I would personally recommend discovering and creating your own unique art style, there are quite a few advantages that come with learning at least a few manga art techniques. So, what are they? Here are a few of them:
1) Quick comics: Like all comic-based art styles, manga art is designed to be drawn relatively quickly (albeit, in some cases, by a team of artists).
Unlike in lushly-animated mega-budget anime movies, the art style that you will often find in manga comics is designed to be made relatively easily and quickly. After all, most manga comics are meant to be published in monthly or weekly instalments.
This means that they use all sorts of clever techniques to speed up the comic-making process. Although western comics use some of these techniques too, manga takes a slightly different approach to them.
For example, one of these is that manga comics are almost always drawn in black and white, whereas mainstream western comics are often in colour. Although learning black and white ink drawing takes a bit of practice, once you’ve got the hang of it then you can create impressive-looking comics in about half the time it would take you to make colour comics.
For example, when I got back into making comics occasionally in 2015, I switched to using B&W artwork and this really helped me to keep up the momentum of my comics. It also had the effect, in at least one of my comics, of unintentionally giving the comic a slightly more manga-like sense of humour too.
In addition to this, the manga style also contains great examples of a lot of other general techniques that can be used for making comics quickly, such as using relatively simplified backgrounds in many panels and only using hyper-detailed backgrounds in a few panels.
2) Easy expressions (and other quick techniques): Learning how to draw realistic facial expressions can be kind of a tricky thing and, although it’s something that I know a lot more about than I used to, it’s something that I still haven’t quite mastered.
Still, manga art styles contain a few easy shortcuts that allow you to learn how to draw a series of emotional expressions fairly easily. The earliest ones that I learnt from watching “Pokemon” when I was a kid were that you can show happiness by just making your characters’ eyes look like the top half of a circle.
Likewise, you can show your character’s frustration by placing a small symbol on one corner of their forehead and you can show exhaustion/embarrassment by drawing a large sweat drop on the corner of their forehead. Here’s a diagram:
You can also learn a lot of other quick, but cool, drawing techniques from manga art too.
For example, if you want to draw shiny dark hair quickly then, instead of drawing every individual strand of hair, just draw a squiggly horizontal white (or shaded) line across one or two parts of the hair (usually on the side of the hair that is facing the same direction as the light source in your picture) and just fill in the rest of the hair with solid black ink or black paint, like this:
3) It teaches you everything else: One of the cool things about manga art is that, although some parts of it are fairly stylised, it’s also a very realistic art style in many other ways. If you look at almost any manga comic or anime movie/TV show, you’ll see that, apart from the characters’ faces, almost everything else is drawn fairly realistically.
Although it contains a lot of things that I still haven’t quite mastered (eg: realistic proportions, realistic actions etc..), if you want to learn how to draw realistic art then you can’t go wrong with learning manga. Seriously, manga comics contain realistic perspective, realistic backgrounds, realistic hands etc….
Likewise, if your background is in another art style, then switching over to manga art isn’t really that difficult since, when it comes to basic technical stuff, it (mostly) shares a common knowledge base with many other art styles (eg: this is how I was able to create the little drawing at the beginning of this article, even though I don’t normally draw manga).
4) Tutorials: Because manga is such a popular art style, there’s no shortage of free online manga drawing tutorials out there on places like Youtube, DeviantART etc… Not only that, there have also been countless “how to draw manga” books published over the years too.
So, thanks to this, it’s one of the easiest (and cheapest) art styles to learn how to use. Yes, it’s popularity comes at the cost of individuality (when compared to, say, creating your own style) but if you just want to learn how to make comic art relatively quickly or you want a first stepping stone on the path to creating your own style, then manga is one of the easiest things to learn thanks to the abundance of tutorials out there.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂