Over the past 10 years, the Japanese comic industry has established itself quite a reputable name. Their comics, which are usually referred to as ‘manga’ are now considered a popular thing among teens. From sci-fi, to drama & romance, the manga come in different categories.
However, it is the unique art style of the Japanese manga creators that has caught the eye of many artists and learners alike. Over these past 10 years, and even before, these 19th century manga comics have come to be recognized and applied to a variety of mediums: television (anime), cosplay, and many more.
The following book by 3DTotal Publishing gives users with both little (or more) or absolutely no experience at all an insight into the world of manga and the ways they can create their very own manga characters and artwork that captures the classic manga style. The book not only covers the basics, but covers tutorials ranging from drawing features, anatomy and expressions to more advanced tutorials like clothing, poses and coloring characters.
For those who are interested in getting the book, you can get it at 3D Total’s Online Shop.
Now, time to move onto the book itself and see what exactly the book offers and if it does an effective job at conveying the ‘Guide’.
Let us first look at the very basic elements of the book itself. This 208-paged, photo-printed glossy paper book comes to you wrapped in a beautifully decorated slip-on hard plastic case. The dimensions of the book are 297mm x 210mm. If you sit crossed-leg the book perfectly comes across your lap. A delight as it is much more comfortable to read the book.
As a book-lover myself, I love the fact that for the mere price of $24.99 you get a cover for the book. If you are worried about having to see the colors of the book fade away with time, having to see your book get crumpled over time as the edges bend and the very sight of the book you lose interest, then you can rest assured that the slipcase ensures that nothing such will happen.
Opening the book, we are met with the front page, followed by the Index page followed by a comprehensive “History of Manga” after which the main guide starts. The book is basically divided into three chapters.
The first chapter teaches a person about the different manga styles, the anatomy and poses, clothing and character design, which then transfuses into chapter two, where some of the best artists in the Manga industry teach you how to create specific characters, such as: The School Girl, A Fantasy Elf, and many others (a total of 11 character designs are taught).
Once a person has learned the basics, he is taught the coloring techniques in the third chapter. This chapter too, proceeds in an increasing difficulty: starts with basic coloring and moves on to shading and all other coloring technique elements. As with Chapter Two, the third chapter teaches you how to color the same given characters (A School Girl, A Fantasy Elf and others).
As with a literary novel, it is important that the book must go in a coherent fashion. By using the same characters in Chapter Two and Three, the book ensures that the person reading it learns exactly what he wants to. It might be confusing for a reader to understand the coloring part had it been shown on some different characters or so. The logical approach; from basic anatomy, to designing a complete character to coloring it, is what makes the book understandable to even those who do have little or no skill in art.
The end of the book is graced with the presence of some of the best manga artists found in the industry today.
Such a section not allows inspires the readers, but gives them motivation to move forward with creating their own characters; I was totally impressed by few of those artworks and wished I had the time to spare in trying to make one of my own.
Chapter 1: The Basic of Manga
This happens to be one of the most important part of the book, as this is where the reader learns to draw the basic shapes: anatomy and expressions related with manga characters.
The first chapter and second chapter are in conjunction with each other. It can be said that one is useless without the other. They both teach the user the basic skills required to draw a manga character, while the second chapter gives a more detailed look at creating certain given characters that help explain and fortify the skills of the reader in the drawing of manga characters.
Reading on, I saw that there was no fancy wording being used. Clear and concise English wording made it easier for me to understand exactly what was being done, and how it needed to be done. The approach used in the book (throughout the three chapters) is a step by step procedure.
The user learns to draw the basic face, then learns to draw it from different angles as well as different looks (fat and thin). If you spent a little time on this chapter, I believe you can easily go on to sketch basic character faces, expressions, and even certain postures and characters.
The use of pictorial representation along with concise English wording made it a treat for me to understand just what the author was talking about. If I did not understand something, I would just glance at the given pictorial reference (which is clearly labelled) and figure it out myself.
Chapter 2: Designing Characters
Consider the first chapter the foundation of the building, while the second chapter is the building itself. This section will involve skilled manga artist sharing their creative processes with the readers and demonstrating how one can approach drawing characters and discussing the tools and techniques that can be utilized to make their very own manga characters.
There are eleven characters examples given in this chapter. All of them are by different manga artists, so you can be sure that you will learn different ways to getting around a problem and learn the different elements of various character designs.
I am quite content with this section. The use of not only manga artist, but eleven different allows the reader to get a wider grasp of the creative process that goes around in creating a manga character. Over the course of the guide, the “Artist Tips” give various insights to the readers and these small tips make a huge difference.
While most of the characters made in this chapter are done using traditional methods, I did see a fair share of Photoshop techniques being shared with the reader. This is quite a plus point; digital artists are not forgotten at all.
Chapter 3: Coloring Characters
This is more of an advanced area that allows users to finally give life to their sketched manga characters. The wording of the guide is easy to understand, and nothing very complex. While it may lack labeling, it still has step-by-step pictorial representation and easy wording, which both combined make it easier for the user to understand on how to go about painting their very own characters.
As with chapter two, I saw the use of both traditional tools and Photoshop tools. This ensures that both side of the parties – digital artists and traditional artists.
Also, the use of a high-quality photo page ensured that the color wording and the pictorial representation color matched in reference with each other. It would have been a shame if the wording said “bright orange” and the pictorial representation seemed like a shade of “red”.
To conclude, I believe the book is great for starters and even for those who have little experience in drawing and art. As you might have already seen, Manga art is slightly different from Western comic art and so you still need to learn a few more things: the book helps greatly with that. The elements of the book: such as the order of chapters, the colors of the book itself are chosen very carefully and I believe it all helps in the end. Soft colors, and readable font size ensures that the book is never a strain on your eyes.
The book is not rushed and I believe the people over at 3DTotal Publishing did a fine job at ensuring that consistency and coherence were two of the main principles when making the book. At only $24.99, the book is a treat for anyone interested in manga (comic) art.
I am not from a country where English is the primary language. While my English may be more than adequate, by reading the book I understood that the English was plain and simple. Nothing too hard. Easily understandable by anyone having a basic grip on the English language. This was surely a big plus point.
So, if you are looking for a book that helps you cover the basic and a little advance part of the manga art, I would definitely suggest getting your hands on this book.
Here, have a look at the book itself. Includes all the images shown above and some new ones as well! Cheers
For those of you looking for the technical details: Canon EOS 550D (used for photographing the book) + 50mm f/1.8 lens.