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.

Discussion
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80 Responses to “10 Things You Need to Know to Be a Better Manga Artist”
  1. mha
    mha

    I really want some help with anime I draw the heads too big and the upper body too long I think that is because I drew lots of chibi cartoons before I started with manga I just…

    Reply
  2. jgkjgk
    jgkjgk

    thnx my parents and friends always say my drawing is beautiful although my hands look like hopless blobs

    Reply
  3. artist
    artist

    Thanks for some other informative web site. The place else could
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    have been at the look out for such info.

    Reply
  4. Aynomonus
    Aynomonus

    Hmmm I am horrible at every thing, I am a digital animator that is just trying to get better at drawing, that is my only weakness, Seeing other people work of art just makes me doubt myself. I try practicing but nothing works, it only gets worce. When i saw manga characters i was like ” im gonne keep doing it. but that dosent work. I bad at, Hair, Hands, Body, etc. And I know what your gonna say. “your a beginer so just keep going at it. Im not even that much of a beginer. pls help me

    Reply
    • Demon1x
      Demon1x

      Hey! Don’t feel too bad – I fully relate to that… Find new ways of drawing guidelines… like for example if you draw sticks and circles for your guidelines, use separated shapes like triangles, rectangles and ellipses. Find ways that other people draw guidelines and hands and bodies, and try to copy their process and find what works for you. Alternatively, you could mash a few up and try that.

      Reply
    • Matisse
      Matisse

      Thanks for the tips I will definitely be using them in my art lessons

      Reply
  5. unknown
    unknown

    thanks for the tutorial! it really helped me with my anime! (add shading in people might need it!)

    Reply
  6. Makaela
    Makaela

    Hi, My name is Makaela but I’m only 12 Hi, and i really want to know how to draw

    Reply
    • Ariana
      Ariana

      Hi Makaela, my name is Ariana, i am 12 too, and i love to draw so much, how much experience do you have with drawing?

      Reply
      • Mika
        Mika

        Hi I’m also 12 and I really like drawing anime but I cannot draw from memory , I draw MHA charters

        Hi I’m also 12 and I really like drawing anime but it’s also soon frustrating when I can’t get it right

        Reply
        • Demon1x
          Demon1x

          Hi I’m Qila and I’m 14 turning 15 – I love animes like MHA/BNHA and Haikyuu. If you have discord, I’m ChuuniDisease#6742 and I would be happy to draw with everyone or help you guys with drawing!

          Reply
          • Hello_World
            Hello_World

            I’m 12 and I love to draw anime and watch anime: specifically MHA.

  7. Ariana
    Ariana

    Hi, My name is Ariana but I’m only 12, I love drawing so much and I only just discovered my love in manga drawing about a year ago. Since then I bought many drawing books on manga. My problem is, i got a drawing book full of my manga drawings but most are copied by a step by step drawing book. I tried doing one without looking at the book but it wasn’t as detailed and there was no story about it. I keep on practising but I’m worried that if someone sees one of my ”practice” drawings they would thin i am a bad drawer. I don’t want to put all my practice drawings in my book because i want my book filled with “good” and detailed drawings. I hope someone can reply to me and help, one day i want to grow up being an amazing painter and drawer and hope some of my art would go into a gallery.
    – Ariana

    Reply
    • Rafael
      Rafael

      Stop looking at the steps try finding your own style not other people style when you draw as I said many times focus on your shaps that’s the most important thing plus detail doesn’t matter you add detail at the end as you see fit try drawing the same head after head over and over until they look the same plus when you draw don’t worry about messing up and going to erase it just go along with it and keep drawing the charter the hard thing about drawing manga is drawing the same charter again so keep trying even when you mess up!
      Good luck tell me if you need more tips!
      Rafael.

      Reply
    • Emir
      Emir

      All i wanna say is… keep improving like me and find your own art. Anddd dont do anything that make you to give up. Like showing it to your dad (if your a boy), believe me you will not get any support. Atleast its my dad but i had a few things that told me to not do that anymore. Bye!

      Reply
  8. Rafael
    Rafael

    I will be working on The rising of the shied hero anime for about 3 months so if you have a question ask. This is the last day I will be here to answer questions I love answering this but I have to go back we have to meet our deadline.

    Reply
    • Delta
      Delta

      I was wondering if it were possible for you give me a few virtual lessons (prefer them being free, but I’m more than okay with paying) with on the fundamentals? Though I believe I have a basic understanidng on them, I wish to see the difference in how I approach these skills/principals as to how a professional does.

      Reply
  9. NeonJellybean
    NeonJellybean

    I can’t even draw the right shape of head! My forehead is so tall (lol) and could I have some advice? I look so dumb compared to the professional drawings I look online. I watched a video called ‘A Day in the Life of a Japanese Manga Creator’, and the drawings look so cool in the workshop. He even has a wall that is a chalkboard, and it is full of impeccable manga drawings. I wish I was better…😔😔😔
    I’ve tried like a million times to get everything right, but I get no better than a noob. *Sigh*

    Reply
    • Rafael
      Rafael

      Hey man, Before I became a professional artist and make thousands off of animes. I had to draw at least 4 hours a day! I was not good at making heads or bodies at all like my little brother could draw better than me. And that was frustrating that nothing would come out the way I like it but 7 years ago when I was 14 I found out my problem was my shapes weren’t right and that the most important part of a drawing. So I went and practiced my shapes noting too advanced circles and squares 3d shapes straight lines and all that then I started to draw just the frame of the body as they said also if you can buy one get a Mannequin Woodman human there like $7. Then when I got good at that I started to do heads and then the body. Man, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up but I didn’t. I know that this may sound crony but practice makes perfect. If you still don’t get it to respond to this and I will give you free zoom lessons I love helping new artists.
      Rafael.

      Reply
  10. NeonJellybean
    NeonJellybean

    I think this will really help me in the future, because I’ve been very frustrated with my drawings.

    Reply
    • Rafael
      Rafael

      when you refer to manga/anime the clothes don’t have to be perfect but they do have to have creases in them grab a shirt or pants or whatever you have and make creases in them and then draw it and with time of doing that you will get good at it and you will be able to draw without looking at clothes because it will be natural.

      Reply
  11. Alukie
    Alukie

    The only thing I’m not good at is the hands. I hope I will figure how to draw hands soon. :>

    Reply
    • Rafael
      Rafael

      when you are drawing hands refer to a square for the palm and a circle for the fingers when you got that down draw 3 circles for each finger and then what you want to do is connect them it will take time to get the dynamics right but you can start with a mannequin.

      Reply
  12. Minty✨
    Minty✨

    Got any tips on drawing hair? I’m a new artist and look up bases for hair, but I feel like I am just copying them.

    Reply
    • mila
      mila

      i’m pretty new to drawing manga and in anime styles too so i have some advice, start with the base colour and then build on top of that, if you’re doing a traditional drawing use mixed media such as a pen and a pencil together, it builds texture! and don’t be scared to experiment! 🙂

      Reply
  13. Logan
    Logan

    How do u draw with guidelines? I feel like it will just get in the way. Do u just erase, then draw better, erase then draw better over and over again to different parts of the body? (I’m a beginner, trying to learn how to get better)

    Reply
    • IUSH.
      IUSH.

      Draw the guidelines with pencil and ink with pen later. Then only ink the most prominent lines you feel suit the picture. Erase away the rest of the lines. These are the processes of an Analog mangaka.

      Reply
  14. Eleanor Bays
    Eleanor Bays

    I love drawing manga eyes, especially with lead pencil! I don’t know how to do anything else so this website is super helpful. What would be more helpful for me is step by step guides to how to draw certain things for beginners.

    Reply
  15. Angelo
    Angelo

    The tips here are true but there are artist that are better, the people that doesn’t need to sketch making solid outlines… But still, sketching still helps people to draw poses! pretty helpful tips here!

    Reply
      • amsev1960@gmail.com
        amsev1960@gmail.com

        You need to find something you love above all else. If it’s staring into space like I am doing right now, thinking about what to do next, that is okay.

        Reply
    • amsev1960@gmail.com
      amsev1960@gmail.com

      Do wish this site had a manga class. I know basics about drawing a face, but translating that into the exaggerations in manga is a step beyond 🌹🌹🌹

      Reply
  16. elysa
    elysa

    I’m so bad at drawing anime faces, that when i draw eyes it looks like a ghost, lol. And i also need a picture of a hand to draw anime hand. I just don’t know how to draw hands properly. lol (*-*)And also have any advise on how to draw clothing nicely and neatly. cause mine looks like crushed up paper.(Basically what my trash can is right now. lol)

    Reply
  17. lance rashed c. beniten
    lance rashed c. beniten

    Yep, I was doing a shortcut because I am bad at drawing fingers but still I am bad at drawing fingers after watching a couple of tutorials

    Reply
  18. Glitch
    Glitch

    Any advice on hands, either? I need all the help i can get-w- (ehhehehh…) I never get the exact heights or widths the same, either.

    Reply
    • Glitch
      Glitch

      I say ¨either¨ too much. -w- *also, sorry for …..blowing up this website with comments. ^ ^)||||*

      Reply
      • DEKU Fan
        DEKU Fan

        I have been trying to teach myself anime for about 2 years an it still looks nothing close lol heh…

        Reply
    • DabiSimp
      DabiSimp

      There is a great app for drawing anime. Just go to google play, and search up how to draw anime. Then the first app should appear and it is called “How to draw anime step by step”. Its by Smart Room Apps. I downloaded it and I have dramatically improved. From trash to ok- lol.

      Reply
  19. Glitch
    Glitch

    I really want to draw anime better! I can draw it pretty well, but I normally don’t have proper paper, (lined, usually), and I always get distracted by things like video games. I also am not great with drawing a body without taking forever. It’s like; one day, “hey, I can draw!” another day, “I wanna draw! *tries* oh, that’s awful :)” “oh, hey, i’m good at drawing today- oh, but i feel like being a bum. -_- oh, well.” I have a million stories, too, that I wanna draw, so at least i know what i’m doing. (i think) But then there’s “I only have normal pencils” -w- …Any advice?

    Reply
    • Glitch
      Glitch

      ..-w- there’s also this thing…erm…I like to come up with fan fictions (they’re really cool! Trust me, they’re not in the “questionable” category), And I really want to draw them, too!! I wanna figure out a way I can without having to get people angry. qwq

      Reply
    • DabiSimp
      DabiSimp

      You don’t have to finish a piece of art all at once. You can split it into different parts. Say you can draw the head, and then go take a break, come back later and then keep on working. You can make a lot with a normal pencil. Just look at manga. The manga isn’t colored but it has a lot of details.The darker the original color, the darker you shade. If you think ur art is awful, just remember when you just started drawing. You’ve probably improved a bunch.

      Reply
  20. Nazhan 76
    Nazhan 76

    おはよ…Hai…I want to draw a perfect Anime character…but im feel like its to hard to draw without any advice….Pleaseeee…helppp meeee

    Reply
    • JeffDaBofa
      JeffDaBofa

      Watch some tutorials, it really hepled me a lot, and I would likely recommend Mikey Mega Mega, top-notch manga artist, and I learned most of my skills from him..so yeah…go check him out, peace.

      Reply
    • Glitch
      Glitch

      You should know only what YOU WANT is the perfect you’re looking for, and what people call “perfect” doesn’t exist! 🙂 Try to get what you want, and then boom, you have your perfect.

      Reply
  21. Anime drawer
    Anime drawer

    actually, u can copy it favorite artist’s art! BUT. U have to try to change something in the drawing! U can gradually get better after you prcticed.

    Reply
  22. Samar Salvi
    Samar Salvi

    I am having a trouble in aligning the eyes and nose and the mouth…. And also drawing face shape…

    Reply
    • Anime drawer
      Anime drawer

      ok! So u see, when drawing, u need to identify what shape is needed for your anime girl/boy! First you draw a circle for the head, then, you draw one lines on both sides of the circle! After your done with that, u connect the two lines with a curving line! Remember to do that seperatley on both sides! That will be more easier!

      Reply
  23. Jamie Crawford
    Jamie Crawford

    i have a friend and she is the BEST at sketching and i just cant get my hands or eyes right

    Reply
    • iris Comstock
      iris Comstock

      Hey this is like a late comment or somth @^@ umm I just wanna say, i feel like if you keep reading articles, and watching videos / tutorials you will become a really good artist uwu goodbye.

      Reply
      • Maat Studio Artist
        Maat Studio Artist

        Hey this is like a lot later than your comment but you are tight but that’s not it to be a really good artist. Let’s just say that you have a favourite artist then I would actually recommend you to copy tgat art of his or hers not to call it your drawing but for study purposes. In that way you can gain some knowledge and analysis how this person draws in general and from that you would be able to draw on you own. It’s good to see tutorial and all that stuff but it’s not enough. People need experience by themselves so tutorial wouldn’t be a great help to everyone. So what I just mean is, it’s ok to copy but only for study purposes. And from what you have copied, you can separate it into section so you would be able to anatomy in it. Trust me I am not a good artist myself but I know that this will help and there is a lot of other ways too. If it’s too confusing what I have been telling you guys the. contact me throughout instagram: maat_studio_artist and I will try my best to help you guys. Goodbye and good luck everyone

        Reply