10 Things You Need to Know to Be a Better Manga Artist

Manga drawing

Big eyes, exaggerated expressions and cute chibi characters are only some of the appeal of drawing anime. But before you launch into a drawing tutorial, it helps to have a few words of wisdom from a manga pro. To be a better manga artist, here are some essential, actionable tips — and some pointers on avoiding beginner mistakes.

1. Study Real Anatomy

Just like with any figure drawing, knowing a body’s anatomy is vital. You need to know how a real body is put together and how it functions — even though the shapes and proportions of manga characters are often exaggerated.

2. Find Reference Images

It’s tempting to skip this time-consuming step, but if there’s something you don’t know how to draw, go online and find a reference image. Look up poses, props, environments — your art will look so much better for it. Don’t try to draw something purely from memory, because you’ll miss important details.

3. Use Guidelines

Outline drawings / guidelines for drawing

Though some artists balk at them, guidelines are super useful. They help you quickly draw a pose, compare body shapes and sizes and avoid anatomy errors. Every professional — every professional — starts with basic shapes before drawing a character.

4. Don’t Copy

Copycat manga illustration

Studying your favorite artist shouldn’t turn into copying that artist — if you start copying as a beginner, you can easily end up mimicking the artist’s flaws. Instead, examine their art closely to figure out what parts you like, and why.

5. Be Open to Criticism

This is tough advice to follow because criticism can feel like a scolding. You don’t have to accept every critique as legit, but you do need to keep an open mind. The other person may have a valid point.

6. Be Skeptical of Praise from Family and Friends

People who love you will always say your artwork is perfect, but here’s the thing: they’re not being totally truthful. Sometimes, artists end up buying into all that praise and stop trying to improve. Always seek out people who’ll give you honest feedback and constructive criticism. It’s the only way you’ll grow as an artist!

7. Avoid Shortcuts

Don't avoid shortcuts manga illustration

If you hate drawing hands, keep practicing! It’s too easy to hide ’em or just draw your characters from the waist up. It’s better to draw terrible hands and keep improving than to give up. With practice, you’ll get better.

8. Draw Different Kinds of Characters

We all have a certain “type” of character we like to draw and it can be easy to fall back on those drawings, whether it be a chibi, a pretty girl or a pretty boy. As you practice your anime drawings, it’s important to branch out and draw all kinds of people and characters. It’ll vastly improve your drawings overall.

9. Don’t Get Discouraged

"Why am I so terrible?" Manga illustration

It’s easy to start feeling down when you see other artists who are oh-so-talented. Before you start comparing yourself to others, remember: everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t let your peers make you feel bad about your skills; let them inspire you to improve.

10. Have Fun!

Improving art skills can be frustrating, but try not to let it get to you. Drawing should be fun. Just relax, do your best, and keep up with your practice.

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76 Responses to “10 Things You Need to Know to Be a Better Manga Artist”

  1. hutao

    I also recommend using real photographs for reference. That way, you can develop your style. Study the drawings of artists you like. Even if you don't have time to use the pictures as a reference, the artist's style will kind of imprinted into your brain, and you will unconsciously add elements that are like the artist's art. Hope this helps! Remember to keep working hard and never give up <3

  2. Ma

    Ok but what do i do when ive never improved after 17 years of drawing

  3. un

    So the thing they forgot to mention, and this is REALLY crucial, is to be consistent, i never got the most results, until i started drawing everyday, now. you don't have to draw everyday to get better, but if you're following most of the steps from above, mix it with let's say, drawing 5 sketches within the week. you're good to go!

  4. Josh


  5. Paimon

    Hi, I'm Chloe, and I am a minor.( not gonna say my age) If you have any tips, or need help with art, I would be happy to listen! Discord me. Chez Paimon#2048

  6. Kitty

    Hi guys! I recommend getting a how to draw anime or how to draw manga book. The one I have has lots of different characters in different series in them and has a step by step tutorial. I reccomend to draw different characters first, and then making ur own. It helps I promise!

  7. Laura

    Hi, i decided to draw comics. Ive liked drawing for a very long time but i decided on getting better and taking art seriously just less than a year ago. Drawing characters is not a problem for me and i think that i am able to draw backgrounds and items too. But my art isnt really good yet so i would like to ask for a tip. Should i start drawing my comics now or should i practice some more before drawing it? Because i dont feel really confident in my art even though i know ive improved a lot in the last few months.

  8. Olivia

    I started drawing anime at the age of 10 when we first started watching Demon Slayer, and, well, I'm 10 right now. These tips were helpful, but copying actually helps. I started off copying frames from epic fight scenes, and then after having "drawn" some characters, I kinda got the idea of what to draw and how to draw it. Comparing yourself to others and critizing your artwork also helps. I would like to add another tip: draw something your level and draw it good rather than draw something way to hard and have the end result be horrible. This helps because you wouldn't be that easily discouraged and these drawings could be used to test your level and share with friends and family without being ashamed at the same time.

  9. Myra

    never mind

  10. Myra

    thanks! i think this helped