Manga Drawing Books

August 31, 2022

Time to get real. We’re several months into the Pandemic Times. We saw the rise of trendy TikTok recipes like Dalgona coffee. We watched Tiger King, The Untamed, and Unsolved Mysteries. We named our sourdough starters. Maybe it’s time for a new hobby. Let’s say you picked up some new manga earlier this year. Are you feeling inspired to create your own? Even if you don’t want to make a full-length manga—and I feel you because that’s intimidating as hell—some manga-styled sketches could be fun. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, these manga drawing books can help!
Even though this is a list of manga drawing books, I wanted to start it off with this translated volume of advice from Hirohiko Araki, the creator of the long-running shonen manga series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Creating a manga involves more than just drawing. It also involves writing a story and he offers a lot of advice on that topic. Remember: some of the best manga have powerful stories in addition to beautiful art. A boy without superpowers in a world where everyone has superpowers wants to become a superhero. A girl discovers she’s the reincarnation of a moon princess. Don’t get me wrong. Manga contains a large visual component so art is important, but story is unforgettable.
Despite the title, this guide is handy for any beginning artist, not only those interested in the manga style. The book begins with tips about drawing anatomy. It even walks you through body proportions! That might seem funny since some manga styles favor unrealistic body proportions—like the long legs that walk through the pages of many a shojo manga title—but even stylized designs still use proportions to keep things balanced.
Many manga drawing books focus on one specific aspect of manga art. How to draw facial expressions. How to draw action. How to draw romance. But sometimes we want an overview from start to finish. This book delivers on its title’s promise. It begins with tutorials about drawing manga characters and ends with advice about how to pull everything together and create actual scenes and panels.
One of manga’s most recognizable traits is the dynamic poses of its characters. There’s a sense of movement throughout the pages, especially in the more action-oriented series. I know I always notice when characters look stiff in manga because it’s not the norm. Not only does this book address how to avoid that, it also tackles the all-important facial expressions we all know and love in our manga.
Christopher Hart has written tons, and I do mean tons, of how to draw manga books. You could do a lot worse than pick up one of his manuals. The first volume of The Master Guide to Drawing Anime series tackles how to design original characters by breaking down popular anime archetypes and offering budding artists templates to use.
Speaking of action manga, this book breaks down the various poses you find in the genre, from the basics like running and jumping to the more complex like fight scenes. And when I say fight scenes, I mean all the components. Weapons, hand-to-hand-combat, throwing a punch, dodging a punch—this manual covers it.
Remember how I talked about manga characters’ all-important facial expressions? There’s an instruction manual about that too! This book includes over 900 expressions that an aspiring manga artist can add to their arsenal. Word of warning: this book isn’t for the new artist. You want to have a solid foundation of human anatomy and perspective before applying the advice in this book.
Maybe you’re not interested in drawing people. Maybe what inspires you most are Pokemon and the cute kitties in Chi’s Sweet Home or A Man and His Cat. This is the guide for you. But if you’re not into cute animals, don’t worry. This book walks you through drawing some of the more fantastical creatures that walk through manga, like kitsune and bakeneko.
All right, let’s say you like manga art. You’re interested in this art style. You also have absolutely no desire to create a full manga. That’s fair. This volume coaches you in a manga-influenced art style. Again, I wouldn’t recommend this book to beginners, but if you already like to draw and want to add a manga-inspired spin to your style, it’s worth checking out.
If you like beautiful illustrations with your instructional manuals, pick this book up! To be clear, it’s not just an artbook. Ladowska includes advice and tips for artists who want to take their drawing to the next level.
I hope you’re feeling inspired by these manga drawing books. And if you’re still a little unsure about what kind of manga style is for you, check out this guide to manga and see which category appeals to you the most.