Manga is a style of drawing that originated in Japan but which has now become very popular and can be found in practically every country throughout the world. Similar to American comic books, Manga comics consist of panels, sequential strips, and storyboard-type layouts.
What sets traditional Manga art apart from American comic book artwork is the extreme simplicity of lines and shapes, especially in the faces of its characters. Manga characters usually have large eyes and mouths, tiny noses, triangular heads, and exaggerated expressions to convey emotion.
The first place I really noticed Manga (obviously I’m a few years behind the curve) was at DeviantArt.com where there’s literally a whole world of art waiting to be discovered – and not just Manga, although that’s pretty prominent.
At DeviantArt I started seeing questions posted by young artists about how to draw better Manga and Anime figures (Anime is a term used almost interchangeably with Manga, but actually refers to animation instead of comics.) A lot of the Deviant artists are looking for tips, or special tricks, to make their artwork stand out.
The solution is of course to become a better artist overall. Like any style of art, you need a firm understanding of the basics first.
Yes, looking at Manga, studying Manga, and copying Manga will help – BUT – ultimately Manga is figurative artwork, so artists who study the human figure will do better because the proportions and expressions are all taken from real life and then altered.
Drawing from real life and using pencil and paper will also help. Too many Manga and Anime fanatics spend most of their time on the computer trying to create finished works of art without learning to draw. The mouse, or even a Wacom Tablet is no replacement for constant sketching.
And here’s something for all of you Manga artists to think about as well: if you want to be a great artist, well-known and remembered, which should you use – a style that blends in with everyone else’s or a style that’s personal to you?
Perhaps Manga IS what you want to create. If so, I’d challenge you to put your own spin on it. Make it different and unique.
In fact, these are words for any artist to consider. Use a specific style only as long as it doesn’t use you. Evolve your art. Make sure it’s truly your own.
That’s what will make your art worth remembering.
Special thanks to bothFrankmanandMitchu, two amazing artists from DeviantArt.com, for the use of their artwork. Click on either of the images to be taken to the complete work.