Manga is a Japanese word that means comics. Japanese comics are quite distinct from the standard style of comic strips and books you are exposed to in the west. Manga comics (for want of a better phrase) are graphical stories usually running as long serials published in newspapers or magazines or as full-length stories. What makes manga unique is the style of artwork used. They are mostly pen-and-ink drawings based on clean outlines, characters are more often than not created with large eyes or body parts that are out of proportion with one another and emotions are conveyed by playing around with facial features while drawing. If you are interested in learning how to draw in the manga style, read through the instructions listed below.
Materials required. For beginners, the materials needed are pencils with different lead grades, drawing or plain paper, a standard small ruler and a kneaded eraser. Advanced artists can make use of various grades of quality drawing paper and a copic set which includes pens, markers, paper and ink specially suited for manga drawing.
Creating the basic shapes. Geometric shapes such as circles, squares, rectangles, cylinders and cones make up the basic structure for under-drawing manga style. The second basic factor to remember when drawing in this style is the source and intensity of the light falling on the images, which is highlighted by various shading and shadowing techniques. Practice drawing the basic geometric shapes and learn to create shadows or the shading effect by using an imaginary light source placed at different points.
Drawing human shapes. Under-drawing plays a very important part in creating human figures in manga. A basic under-drawing will consist of an circular/oval shape for the face and a skeletal line drawing for the body. Supplement the skeletal framework using cylinders for the arms and legs, spheres where the shoulders and various muscle joints will be placed. Connect the joints and refine the lines to create a full figure, and then add facial features, hair, fingers, toes, etc. Erase the under-drawing lines, cylinders and spheres to get a clean image.
Drawing eyes. Large wide-open eyes are a special characteristic of manga drawing. Both eyes should be of the same dimensions. Start with drawing a line which curves upwards, below this curve draw an oval shape which will be actual eye with the pupils and iris (place another oval in the first oval towards the top part). Highlight the top curve to give the appearance of eyelids. Draw the eyelashes following the curve, for the lower eyelid you can use a line curving downwards. Add eyebrows and shade the entire eye using the imagined light source technique such that some areas are darkened while others could be lighter.
Drawing the face and head. Instead of using the traditional oval for the face, manga makes use of the circle, which is split into 3 parts horizontally and in half vertically. A downward curving line should be drawn below the circle to depict the chin and lower jaw line. Fill in the eyes, nose and mouth using the underlines as a frame of reference. On the top of the circle you can add hair or a cap or hat or other such embellishment.
The above steps give guidelines in drawing basic manga figures and features. Practice these techniques until you are reasonably proficient, before moving on to more complex techniques such as drawing action scenes, making story panels and transitioning from one panel to another creating a story.