Manga, or Japanese comic characters, has a very distinct look that makes it instantly recognizable by everyone that sees it. If you enjoy reading manga, you may want to try your hand at drawing your own. Learning how to draw manga is not difficult once you learn the basic style guide that can help you get the characteristic features and look.
The Basics of Drawing Manga
Manga is a relatively easy drawing technique to learn, simply because the faces and bodies of the characters don’t vary very much. There are typical male and typical female faces that have subtle variations between them. Once you learn these faces, you can begin to experiment with changing the hair, eye color, and other characteristics to set your drawing apart.
Learning how to draw manga clothing is a bit more challenging. If you’ve ever studied a manga comic at length, you’ll probably see that the faces are relatively simple with few features and little shading. The clothing, however, is usually highly detailed and stylistically rendered. You may find it helpful to take a course in anatomy to see the way that clothing drapes over the body to help you construct your manga clothing, otherwise, you may need to start with very simple outfits and proceed from there. You may also want to take a class in drawing for beginners if you have no previous experience.
How to Draw Manga Male Faces
As you learn how to draw manga, be prepared to practice drawing faces over and over until you feel comfortable with the technique. Once you have the face perfected, you can begin experimenting with hair and bodies. Try taking your manga drawing one section at a time, perfecting it before you move on to the next component.
Male manga faces are slightly longer and more oval than the female faces, which tend to be a little rounder or more heart shaped. Always work with a pencil and lightly sketch your shapes first; you can always go back over your lines with ink once you are satisfied with the finished design. Be prepared to make several passes over one area with the pencil, widening and narrowing the shape until you are satisfied with it. By sketching lightly, you can erase the extra lines easily, leaving only the one you want to ink.
- Begin by sketching an oval to get the basic shape of the face.
- Divide up your oval into four sections by drawing a line about 1/2 of the way down from the top, and bisecting this line from top to bottom. Try to curve these lines slightly by making the ends of each line higher than the middle. This will begin to give your face a three-dimensional look. If you don’t want your character looking straight at you, make your vertical line slightly off center to help give your character a 3/4 profile.
- Begin to shape the chin area of the face. Leave the top half of your oval alone, and bring the bottom half in to a point at the bottom.
- Widen the near side of the head slightly just below the horizontal line to accommodate the ear.
- Draw a neck and chest and shoulder line by drawing two vertical lines that come down just on either side of the chin. Most manga characters have an oversized head for their neck, so keep the neck small.
- Sketch in some shoulders curving out away from the neck on each side, and lightly sketch in a curved collar at the base of the neck to help give it some shape. Keep in mind that every manga body is in proportion to the head size; the body should equal approximately 6 heads in height when you are finished.
- As you sketch in the chin, neck, and shoulders remember that the male manga figure is more angular than the female. Work in straight lines that intersect one another, rather than in curves. Square off the chin slightly at this point to help give it a more masculine look.
- Draw in the eyes just below the horizontal line on either side of the vertical line. Remember that manga eyes are exaggeratedly large, taking up a big percentage of the face.
- Keep the tops of the eyes rounded, but use straight lines on the sides and edges, as well as across the bottom to give it a masculine appearance.
- Sketch in eyebrows above the eyes keeping your lines very angular.
- Draw the nose right on top of the vertical line you drew. A male nose in manga is basically a slightly angled line that curves under at the bottom. Make it 3/4 of the length of the eyes.
- Draw the mouth a good distance below the nose. The mouth can either be a simple curve, or an open, boxy shape. There are no lips or other details to draw.
- Sketch in the details of the ear, focusing more on the ear shape and the dimensions of the inner ear than on actual features.
- Lightly erase the horizontal and vertical lines from the face so they are no longer visible.
- Add some hair; male manga characters typically have longer, spiky hair that extends in a variety of different directions.
- You can now complete the body if you choose, using angular lines that overlap one another slightly. Once you have the body lightly sketched, you can add details such as clothing on top.
How to Draw Manga Female Faces
When you begin to learn how to draw manga, you may want to experiment with drawing the male and female faces and bodies next to one another. This will let you see the basic differences between them and ensure that you are making enough changes to the figures so that they can be easily recognized as male or female. If you’ve ever taken a course in drawing stylish ladies, you’re probably already familiar with some of these techniques.
- Begin by sketching an oval like you did with the male face. Instead of making this a very long oval, however, make it closer to a circle so the face is both shorter and rounder than the male.
- Make your bisecting lines across the face and begin to narrow in the lower portion of the face and jaw. The female face is closer to a heart shape than an oval and has fewer angles than the male. Concentrate on bringing in the jaw line to a point at the chin as if you were drawing the lower half of a very wide heart.
- Widen the upper area slightly for the ears even if they will not show behind the hair; having the basic architecture in place allows you to perfect your technique no matter what angle or position your characters are in.
- Add a thin neck, shoulders, and chest beneath the chin. Remember that the lines of the female should be curves, not straight lines or angles. The female figure may also be slightly smaller than the male, but because the head isn’t as long, it can still be about 6 heads tall without competing in shape.
- Draw the eyes onto the figure on either side of the vertical line, just below the horizontal line. The eyes of the female should be larger and rounder; rather than curving at the top and having angular sides and a straight bottom, the female eye should be one large sweeping curve for the top and sides, and a smaller, more gentle curve on the bottom.
- Add in eyebrows that follow the curve of the eye, positioning them just above the horizontal line.
- Draw in the nose right on the vertical line. The female nose is a single line that curves gently upward into a slope before curling under. This is a little different than the two lines that make an angle for the male.
- The female mouth is wider and larger than the males. Keep in mind that if the mouth is open, that it should be curved slightly on all sides, rather than the sharp angles of the male mouth.
- Add some hair to the head. Female hair can be long or short, but it needs to be smoother than the males. If you choose to have short or spiky hair, make the individual pieces slightly curved and smoother than the male’s hair.
- Lightly erase your vertical and horizontal lines from the house.
- If desired, draw the body, making sure to use curved, smooth lines both for the body and for the clothing you put on top. The female manga’s clothing is usually more detailed and intricate than the male’s, so keep that in mind as you draw.
Practice Your Skills
The best way to learn how to draw manga successfully is to keep drawing. Practice drawing heads and faces over and over again until you get comfortable with the method and can do it without using the vertical and horizontal line markers. Once you get used to drawing the heads and faces, turn to the bodies and work on perfecting your technique on them. Draw your characters from several angles to help you get a better feel for positioning and to help make your characters come alive. Once you get started, you may want to take a course in drawing comics to help you get some background for your characters and to help you get ideas for how you can perfect your craft. Learn how to draw manga and get started on a fun new hobby or career.