Archive for category Subject: Manga

Manga – the mega guide || Samantha Gorel

I know nothing of Manga, but I do know a well laid- and thought-out book when I see one and this is first class.

It’s the usual big-eyed kids, which are a bit cutesy for me, but the book seems a lot more solidly grounded in the practical aspects of drawing than many. I often remark that this kind of book is usually handy if you want to draw figures – I think the authors are somehow less hung up on the artistic side of things and therefore simplify the practical aspects. Samantha is particularly sound on the basic shapes of bodies, hands, feet and so on. If it’s clothed figures you’re interested in, there’s plenty here too. I also like the fact that there’s a lot of discussion of the properties of materials – inks, markers, watercolours, acrylics and their practical uses.

As long as you can get past the very particular style, this is a really good primer on figure drawing.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

Leave a comment

How to Draw Monsters & Mecha! || Keith Sparrow

“Classic kaiju meet mighty mecha in this action-packed guide to drawing monsters and giant robots, suitable for all abilities.”

If you understand a word of that, which is from the cover blurb, this may well be the book for you. As the cover also splashes “Manga Now!”, I’m going to assume it’s that and also that the exclamation marks are essential. Honestly, I have no idea. There’s lot here, though.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

Leave a comment

Draw Manga Now! || Christopher Hart

Manga not being totally my thing, I’m going to review the six titles in this series as one.

The thing about Manga drawing is that it’s a style in its own right and it has very specific conventions, one of them being that the figures have a very simple, comic-book structure. This has a lot of advantages for figure drawing, because all the books come with a simplified guide to anatomy which is aimed at both keeping it easy for the artist and also at paring it down for the drawing itself. It also features a lot of action, so you get figures in all kinds of poses and making, or preparing to make, all kinds of moves. Not all of them involve fighting.

So, if you want a very basic guide to get you started in figure drawing, I’ve always maintained that a Manga book is going to be really helpful. Christopher Hart is an established author in the literature of figure drawing and I’d have to say that he makes a pretty good fist of this particular style. There’s a lot of material here, so you’re spoilt for choice, too.

See the series on Amazon

Leave a comment

Massive Manga || Yishan Li

I’ve had this a while, and I’m trying to work out whether or not it’s a larger-format, one- volume version of the Mini Manga series that’s previously appeared. If it is, and you have any of them, then there’s going to be some duplication going on. You’ll also be annoyed that you can now get what you’ve previously been peering at in a more manageable format.

Moving quickly on from that, and my reservations about it, let’s say that this is a very handy guide to drawing Manga characters and artefacts and that it has quite a lot that carries over into general art – some nicely simplified ways of drawing figures, animals and clothing that will answer a lot of questions without going into greater detail than necessary.

As a basic guide to the main elements of Manga drawing, the book is nicely comprehensive and excellent value. I do with they hadn’t printed it on a paper that dulls the colours, though.

Leave a comment

Basic Anatomy for the Manga Artist || Christopher Hart

This is a nice, simple guide to anatomy which is perfectly suited to the Manga artist, who has very specific requirements about what they want to draw and how they want to draw it. Its content is absolutely summed up in its title.

And that’s all I really need to say, except that, if you’re not a Manga artist, it’s also worth more than a cursory glance because Christopher provides a basic guide to drawing figures for people who don’t want to draw figures. How so? Well, let’s assume that you’re not looking to produce muscle-accurate representations of the human form, but rather to include figures in a painting and have them not look like statues or waxworks. As long as they’re convincing, they’ll pass muster.

If that’s you, then this has much to recommend it. True, you’ll have to get past the big-eyed kids that are the staple of Manga, so you may need to do a bit of work of your own on faces, but, apart from that, you get nice simple instructions and demonstrations of male and female figures in a variety of poses and moves that you should be able to adapt for more general purposes. It’s important to emphasise “adapt”, because, if you don’t think you’re capable of a little lateral thinking, you may struggle. If you think you’re up for it, though, you’re quids in.

Leave a comment

Super-Cute Chibis to draw & paint || Joanna Zhou

Personally, I can’t stand this book. I don’t like the style and I can’t help feeling there’s something just slightly wrong about the whole thing.

However, it’s a well-established form and it’s very popular so, is this book any good and will it help the budding practitioner of the style? Well, yes and yes. Joanna gives you forty different demonstrations of both children and animals. Each is presented in a double-page spread with the outline shapes and a series of development drawings that show you the build-up as well as a variety of poses and facial expressions. It’s neatly done without over-complication and, if this is what you aspire to draw, there’s no doubt this forms an excellent primer.

Leave a comment

How to Draw … Style

How to Draw Tattoo Style || Andy Fish & Veronica Hebard
How to Draw Graphic Novel Style || Andy Fish
How to Draw Manga Style || Ilya-San & Yahya El-Droubie
How to Draw Fantasy Style || Scott Altmann

I’m going to review these as a series because they’re all from the same stable (the packager Quintet, who generally specialise in quite elementary books) and have a broadly similar approach.

The cover blurbs imply that each of them is pretty much the complete guide to their subject and that they’re all you need to master drawing in the style covered. Well, yes, up to a point. The problem is that, although they all give some useful background material and ideas, this is about where the good bit leaves off. The “how to do it” sections are more or less reduced to a description of the sort of things that are possible and some sample illustrations. True, there are a few step-by-steps, but they hardly amount to any kind of coherent progression and certainly wouldn’t form a complete guide that would enable you to master the subject.

If you were buying a book for someone else, perhaps someone who had expressed a mild interest, you might think that these were good value. However, if you have a serious interest and you’re looking for something to get you started or to give you a reasonable amount of ideas, look elsewhere. “Superficial”, that’s the word I’m looking for.

Leave a comment

Draw Shojo Girls and Bishie Boys || Inga Semisow

OK, this is definitely one for the Manga specialists, but it’s worth observing that it’s as well done as these books so often tend to be and contains much that anyone wanting to draw the clothed figure might benefit from. I can’t tell you what you might get from it because this is not my area of expertise, but do give it a look.

Leave a comment

Mini Manga series

Regular readers of ABR will know of my allergy to pocket-size books. This is art, fer goodness sake, make it big so we can see it, will you! Small is NOT beautiful, it’s hard to see and you have to force the pages back till your hands hurt in order to see them. The pages, not your hands, don’t get smart with me when I’m having a rant, it makes me angry.

However, just once in a while something comes along that doesn’t just float my boat, it launches a whole navy, kersplash, all at once. And these little books are one of those things. No, they shouldn’t work and, yes, at a fiver a pop, they are expensive, but what they do, really rather neatly, is offer you a single idea on a spread. Nothing so very unusual in that, I’ll grant you, but this is minimalism taken to its absolute limit and it really is just one thing, not even a whole concept. I like that. I like that you can have just Men’s Jeans or The Female Mouth just on their own. In fact, I’d recommend Manga Tips to anyone who wants to draw the human figure because it’s full of basic ideas (like the more comprehensive and better value Mega Manga). The other one that comes at the same time is Mecha Manga, which is more specialised, concentrating on that I take to be robot figures you can’t do without. Both books are arranged by category, so finding things is very easy, though flicking through and trusting to serendipity is a good approach too.

Like I said, a fiver’s a lot for a tiny book, but it’s not a fiver wasted, I’d also say. And I don’t say it often.

Mini Manga series on Amazon

Leave a comment

Mega Manga || Keith Sparrow

Once again, Search Press have managed to come up with a book that’s a great deal more than it first appears. This may or may not be any good as a guide to drawing Manga; I can’t tell you because I’m just not qualified but, on the basis of its layout and presentation, I’d be prepared to guess that it is.

However, almost accidentally, what you also get is a near perfect primer in drawing people. Leave aside the stylised hair and big eyes that are (this much I do know) characteristic of Manga and what you have is very easy to follow and laid out to show you how figures are built up from a starting point of basic shapes. All the different parts of the body are covered and you get figures that are both static and in motion, as well as wearing a variety of clothes (including the inevitable martial arts but, hey, you never know…). The additional sections on vehicles and weapons are going to be superfluous for the general reader, but some of the animal drawings can be easily adapted to more domestic creatures.

I think the reason this works so well in the way that it does is because it’s not trying. Its prime aim is to introduce the more general reader to Manga drawing and it therefore operates for the most part on a basic level. By doing this, it becomes an absolutely invaluable primer for anyone looking for a basic guide to figure drawing and is a lot easier to follow than many more specialised guides. You just have to be able to see past the big-eyed kids.

Leave a comment

  • Archives

  • Categories