☆ anime/manga,  ☆ artsies,  ☆ being a mangaka,  ☆ i heart japan

How to be a Mangaka, part 2: Learn the tools!

☆ Part one was written a LONG time ago, but I was finally inspired to continue this series! You can read part one here. 🙂

I finally reached part 30 of my manga assistant chronicle, where I pass the 6th month mark of working for Konomi-sensei on The New Prince of Tennis, and chapter 1 finally comes out in stores. I felt like this deserved a special celebration, hence this post. 🙂

Earlier, I covered the basis on how you can become a mangaka in Japan. Now let me go over the materials that we used in the Tenipuri studio to make our manga!

Click through to read more!



[Deleter, IC, and Maxon manga paper]

Manga paper. The most common manga paper brands are Deleter, IC, and Maxon. (In Tenipuri, we usually used IC), and they come in different weights. A higher number means thicker paper, and most pros seem to prefer the thicker paper (I don’t really care that much).All of the brands are pretty much the same. You can buy some of them online at JetPens, or in pretty much any art store in Japan. There are other things that you can use, like bristol board, but I am only covering what we used in the production of The Prince of Tennis, since that’s where my professional expertise lies.

[Digital paper image]

By the way, I have a digital manga paper that I created for anyone to use/print out! You can download it here for free! It’s not the same as a real physical pack of paper that you bought in the store, but it’s created to be the same size as manga paper and help you understand what I’m talking about, and hopefully go on to create your own manga! 🙂

In Japanese, manga paper is called 漫画原稿用紙 (manga genkou youshi). It generally comes in two sizes: B4 and A4. Professional mangaka always use B4 paper for their manga, unless they’re doing something special (ie: an essay manga or cut art). Who uses A4, then? Doujinshi artists, of course!

[doujinshi picture]

Doujinshi (同人誌) are self-published manga. Usually a doujinshi artist draws their manga and then scans/mails the pages into a printer, whom they pay to print a number of copies of their book. There are a lot of different doujinshi printers, and they will either deliver the books to your home, or right to a doujinshi event (like a big dealer’s room at a convention, except the whole convention IS a dealer’s room). The convention will even put the books right behind the table that you’ve reserved. Oh, and a lot of big artists make their own doujinshi even though they’re famous, like Arina Tanemura, Maki Murakami, Nao Yazawa and Milk Morinaga!

Obviously we need more than paper to make manga!

[mechanical pencil]

Obviously, a pencil (えんぴつ) is good. Use whatever you like, though I prefer to use a thin 0.3 HB lead mechanical pencil. The cuter the pencil, the more it helps me concentrate (ymmv)! Really, any kind will do, so pick your favorite. (^o^)

Next, an eraser (消しゴム). I used four different erasers when I worked with Konomi-sensei. They were:

[Mono plastic eraser]

1. White plastic eraser. This is still my standard, favorite eraser! They are soft enough where they don’t rub the paper raw, and they are white, so they NEVER leave behind those terrible pink marks that pencils did when I was a kid! They erase really well, too.

[Big plastic eraser]

2. Giant plastic eraser. When you’re erasing an entire page, a big eraser can really save your arm a lot of effort.

[Kneaded eraser]

3. Kneaded eraser. I play with these, and they get dirty easily. They don’t erase all that well, either. But they’re kneadable, which makes them essential for getting into small spaces. Handy but not necessary. I went through a few.

[Tone eraser]

4. Tone eraser. This is a hard, sandy, rigid eraser that’s only for erasing screentones. Yes you heard right…. screentones! I didn’t use this very often, as there are other methods that work better on tones, but we used this when making clouds and sometimes sunbursts in the studio.

Alright! So, say that you have drawn out a page, and now you want to cover it in beautiful black, permanent lines of ink. You’ll need a few things:


Multiliners (ライナー). These come in various brands and thicknesses and we never stuck to any particular brand. I love them because they’re easy to draw with and they don’t bleed when you use markers to color over them, but they tend to fade a little bit when you erase over them. This, in my opinion, is a BIG drawback of these markers. For that reason, I could never draw exclusively with them.

Multiliners come in a variety of widths, from 0.03mm up to 1mm. In Tenipuri, we used 0.03mm or 0.05mm to draw little background details, and  always used 0.1mm to draw speech bubbles and 0.8mm to draw the lines between panels. Other artists use different widths, but this was our studio rule for consistency.

You don’t need multiliners in order to get a good manga, but they are useful. But what’re more useful are: Black drafting ink and nib pens.

[india ink]

Ink (墨、インク) preference is a personal thing, much like the nibs. There are a million different types of manga ink and regular ink. What we used on Tenipuri was this drafting ink. You can pick whatever you like the best, as long as it makes a dark, black line. (^_~)

[G-pen and Kubura pen]

G-pens (Gペン) and Kabura-pens (カブラペン). These are two different types of pens that are used to draw larger things, mainly characters. Maru-pens are used for details. Most artists swear by G-pens, but I prefer kabura-pens, and this is what we used in the studio, too, when inking characters.

[maru pen]

Maru-pens (丸ペン) are tiny, straight little pens. We used them ALL THE TIME drawing backgrounds and speed lines. They’re great because they can draw really thin lines and they taper off nicely. BUT it’s easy to rip the paper and you have to replace them like crazy because dull nibs don’t make good lines any more. They’re also really expensive. But because they’re the best there is for making small details on paper, we went through boxes like crazy in the studio. I can’t afford to do that now, which makes me sad, but it’s okay.

[brush pen]

A brush pen (筆ペン), sometimes called a calligraphy pen in English, is what we used on hair to get that nice, smooth quality. I had never seen one of these before I started in the studio, and I’m still not used to them. I feel like they’re necessary, but it takes a LOT of practice to be able to make anything look good with them. We often looked at other manga and judged who was better at making pretty hair. >.>;;

[Big fat marker]

Big fat markers of varying varieties (マーカー). We used these, any brand (even Sharpies), to fill in giant areas of black. Why color in with a tiny, expensive marker, when you can use a big fat cheap one to do the job more quickly? It’s a no-brainer. 🙂


We used white-out (ミスノン、ホワイト) on any mistakes. It’s great because it’s fairly opaque, and you can write over it. Be careful using a nib pen over this, though, because sometimes it just digs right through the layer of paint, and can also clog your tip. Also, don’t get a cheap brand. They clump and go bad quickly.

[correction tape]

Correction tape (修正テープ) also works, and we got in the habit of using this as well.

[gel ink pens]

I also used gel ink pens (ジェルペン) for small touch-ups, but I was the only one who did so. I still use them all of the time in my art. They’re so easy to use! The hard part is finding one that will cover well, though.

[white drafting ink]

Another thing that we used a lot was white drafting ink (ペンホワイト) in G-pens or maru-pens. It’s hard to get a good, opaque line this way sometimes, but we used it a lot when drawing backgrounds and even when drawing eyes and other effects.

[metal rulers]

We put our rulers (定規) through the grind and back again, and often used them with knives, so a metal ruler (メタルルーラー), preferably with a cork backing so that it couldn’t slip and wouldn’t smear the fresh ink, was essential!

[metal rulers]

We also used a variety of templates (テンプレート) to help us draw curves and lines because nobody can do that freehand! Don’t ever believe someone who tells you otherwise.


Thumbtacks (鋲)! These were used to help draw speed lines, flashes and the likes! I’ll explain as we go. 🙂


We worked completely analogue (non-digital), so screentones (トーン) were a necessity for us. If you work digitally, you won’t need physical screentones, and trust me, it’ll be cheaper since they can cost upwards of $5 for one sheet!

[utility knife, tone pusher, feather brush]

Utility knives (カッター) are used to cut pages and to cut and scrape screentones. Scrape, you say? 😉
And don’t forget tools to smooth down screentones (専用へら) and brush away the dust!

[scotch tape]

You’d be surprised at how many uses scotch tape (セロテープ) has! It can tape together two pages if you’re drawing a 2-pg spread, it can fix mistakes, temporarily tape tacks in place, and more!

[rubber cement]

Rubber cement (ペーパーセメント、のり). Obviously used to glue things. 🙂 Usually, we’d glue backgrounds into panels (photocopy the background that had been drawn previously and then paste it on and cut around the characters), or to paste on photocopied rackets. We had huge, thick folders of drawings of every character’s racket from all sorts of angles, and ever time a new character came up, we’d pick a racket from a catalogue for them and get to drawing it from every angle to use later. Once a racket was picked, that was that. Check the manga and see for yourself– each character uses a specific brand and type of racket! (Their shoes are also the same way :))

[light table]

Light tables (ライトボックス). Because we did a lot of traces (exactly what it sounds like. Copy a photograph, then draw on the back of it to make a copy in ink), we needed light-tables to see through the paper. This came in handy for glueing pre-made backgrounds into place, too.


Speaking of references… YES! We used references for EVERYTHING from poses to copying backgrounds, scenes, and specific bags! I even once used a real pet beetle (Japan is weird, okay?) in a cage on my desk to draw Shiraishi’s pet beetle in the manga. We never worked without referencing the real thing so that we knew what it looked like. I’ve heard people say that “pros never use references.” That’s bullocks. Pros always use references. Plus, some fans will appreciate the eye to detail!

[copic markers]

When we did color pieces, we used Copic markers (コピックマーカー). They’re expensive, but top of the line, as well, and a lot of manga artists use them. I looooooove them, as you’ve seen.

[printer or copy machine]

We had an entire copy machine (コピー機) in our the office. It broke down all the time and we always had to call in techs to fix it. I became skilled at replacing the toner, and using all of the cool features to alter scans, and this was really necessary in the Tenipuri studio. However, most of us mortals can’t afford a copy machine in their home office. A scanner, printer, and Photoshop will do. 🙂

[Prince of Tennis]

Remember, manga is an evolving art form, and the techniques that we used in the studio occasionally changed. Many mangaka also use other ways of creating their art. This is just what we used while I was working in the Tenipuri studio, so don’t feel bound by these rules and restrictions at all!

Get out there and make some manga (and then show me)!

[Prince of Tennis]

And stay tuned for more of my assistant story tomorrow!

(60,561 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • Ebanreb

    Hello! May I ask something? What is the name of the books you used for referencing backgrounds, poses etc. particularly the photo above with varied books with japanese titles and different portraits of places. Sorry I don’t know much about Japanese.

  • Justin

    Any possible way of getting misnon whiteout in America without crazy shipping prices? I’ve tried everything but can’t find anything as good that can also be used in a dip pen with overwrite properties.

  • Luffy


    im facing a bit of a problem here and would like a little help. Im somewhere faaaar away from Japan. Ive got a beginner level skills in Manga. I know little about manga tools and that kind of stuff is unheard of here. Still is it too far a dream to be a managaka?

    I know that i can make it if i try. But my parents have little interest in the field and i havnt been to any art school. But its my greatest dream to be a managaka and im ready to go to hell for it. Can you PLEASE give me some advice on what should my next step be?

    • Aditya Mangaka

      You should probably increase your art skills, and get these materials.
      You can still do it, if you think you’re ready.
      Create a plan and goal.
      then get to japan, if you can’t go to japan, become a doujinshi artist.
      Use references and recources, and even if your art is bad, but you have a good story you can make it.
      An examples of an artist like that is Oda sensei

  • Takashi Kazuya

    Hey Jamie,
    Thanks for the amazing post but i have a question…
    When using a G pen i can’t seem to get the thickness of lines i want.
    They are always too thick to too thin. How do I fix that( aside from practicing everyday)
    Thanks.Awaiting your reply!

  • Isaac

    I just found this page and it’s just great. Very useful information, great job!!

    I also wanted to ask you if the paper used when doing a colored piece is the same or if it’s different (in that case, what characteristics or brands do you recommend). I’m asking because I just got some copics as a gift and I’m looking for good paper that works with them.

    Thanks! ありがとう!

    • Isaac

      btw, i’ve also read that the pilot ink is not compatible with copics markers. is it true? which ink did you use when coloring with copics?
      Thanks again

      • Derrick

        You don’t use pilot ink when you wanna color with copics. You use fineliners and stuff like that. Most of the people and myself use a 0.3/0.5 thickness for them.

      • Yuuko


        With the inks, you should try copic liners or uniPin fine line (Mitsubishi Pencil co, Ltd.). They’re both reasonably cheap and easy to find at local stationery or art supply stores.

        Hope that helps.

  • SadLifeBruh

    Hi! I’ve been wondering this for awhile, I write stories in this app called wattpad. And I love shoujo anime and manga so I write shoujo. My ideas for stories are amazing (if I say so myself XD) but….the only thing missing from me now is the talent of drawing. I can easily copy the works of other mangakas though but I can’t do an original one…

    And so we have this project to make a manga…so like we draw the panels first, then the characters, then the speech bubbles? Then we ink it and make the background too?

    Though I don’t have all those inks or supplies I might just use a normal ballpen. Also we don’t have those kind of papers nor inks here in my country. And our teacher told us to draw the manga on oslo paper (which is so uncomfortable to draw and erase on >.<)

    Sorry that I wrote so much. Now one last question. Will a mangaka turn a story into a manga if they wanted to? Like me messaging them about a story or so…

  • Infinite

    Hey! Becoming a mangaka has been a dream of mine for a long time! Your tips have helped me a lot on what materials to get so that I can make manga. I am working on a mystery one shot right now, and owe a lot of it to your tips. Would you mind looking at it once i finish?

    • Yuuko

      Hey there!

      That sounds like a great dream!
      (I have the same dream ahaha……)

      I offer feedback to aspiring comic/ manga artists (for free) in my spare time, so if you want, shoot me a dm on my social media and I’ll see what I can do.
      (Instagram: @yuhagane /Twitter: @yuhayuyu)

      Good luck!


  • GuitarFreak

    Saw some copic markers in the art shop today! They sure were expensive!! $10.95 each in Australian dollars!! WHAT?? R U KIDDING ME?? I guess they must be good ^.^


    Thanks for this post, it was really useful!!

  • Kaiden Ho

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and advice.

    I would really like to become a mangaka, but I am not a very good artist. I really want to become a better artist, and I’ve looked around on the internet a lot, but most of the advice that you find is either overly simple description of how to draw manga faces, or the endlessly frustrating “start with the basics”. I’m not adverse to hard work and practice, but I just don’t know what I’m suppose to be practicing.

    There is consensus advice that you should start with anatomy, but what are the steps between drawing anatomy, and drawing manga? Is it common to learn mostly through copying? Do you find a private instructor? Selling you soul to reverse entropy?

    Things like paneling, inking a finished sketch, and generally making it look like a finished product, I have no clue how to do, when the only advice people give is “anatomy”.

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  • Moni

    Just out of curiousity, is there a difference between IC Manga Manuscript paper and Deleter Manga Paper in quality?

  • Sunny

    Hi Jaime i really really want to become a manga ka but is it posible for me to work for a shouen jump in Japan even though im not jappaness 1 moré thing im alreddy 27 im i too old to be a manga artist thank u for yr time

  • Jinn Ryuu

    I’d like to personally thank you for this blog and all the valuable information about starting up as a Mangaka. I’m 16 and have dreamed of being a Mangaka since I was like 11, and thanks to this I’m getting closer to reaching my goal. I’m currently writing a Manga called “The World’s Strongest!” which centers around the adventure of a young martial artist who’s dream is to become the strongest fighter, meeting lifelong friends and learning valuable lessons along the way. I hope that when I can finish the first chapter or so I can show it to you if you’re interested. Once again thank you for the recommendations and professional tips!

  • Shimiharu

    I wanted to ask how you make speed lines with thumbtacks now? Actually, I’ve searched for it, but could not find anything q.q Please help me! o-o

      • Shimiharu

        I’m asking for the way mentioned in this post (actually whatever way, I’m so curious now and I could not find it.)

        • Jamie Lynn Lano

          Okay! I was thrown off by the “now” in your question. It’s the same now as it has always been, lol. Basically, I take a flat thumbtack, and stick it through a piece of tape (the tape side facing the top of the tack), and tape it to the paper where I want the center/vanishing point to be. Then a use a ruler and set it against the tack, rotating it after every line. This makes it easier than lining up the ruler to the vanishing point every time I move it.

  • Aakash k Singh

    Are u Japanese ? Cause u don’t look like one. Also is it really possible for non Japanese speaking foreign manga enthusiasts to publish and become a mangaka??!

  • Isabelle

    Have you heard of NOUVEL DESIGN INK? I see that a lot of other artists use it for manga like Arina Tanemura, but I don’t know where to buy it?

  • SerpentsStarRDR

    I just finished reading this, and i must say that im extremely greatful that someone took the time to give tips to people who don’t know how to become a mangaka (myself included) and that i wish you great luck :).

  • Jacyntha Simon jess

    Thank you so much for your blog.. This really helps. I’m currently on a small step of beginning to create a manga representation of a novel. Its a 19th century theme romance novel entitled Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught. The story insipires me to start making a manga art. I just want you to know that your blog is amazing. I’m only from a humble origin in Malaysia currently taking a degree in Marine Sciences. I hope to become a mangaka in my spare time in the future. 🙂 And I will know these efforts i owe it all to your blogs. Wish me luck ^_^

  • Kitty

    Hi Jamie!!
    I really like reading your posts, I’m am inspired!! I was always wanting to create my own manga and I read your posts recently, it really helped me a lot, thank you heaps for sharing!! 🙂

    I was wondering if I should buy the B4 with the measurement lines? Is it necessary?

  • Lauren

    Hi Jamie,

    Thank you for putting up these entries!. They are very useful!. \(^ – ^)/
    I just wanted to know, I have some Deleter paper size B5 Dojinshi, would this be the suitable format for sending a manga to a Japanese manga publisher?.

    Kind Regards,

    Lauren 🙂

  • Tony Park

    Hi Jamie! I love your blog and my dream is to become a mangaka with my twin brother! I’ve been drawing alot and do I really need the nib pens for manga? Can’t I just use the multiliners?

  • Yunus

    Hey Jamie I wanted to ask you some questions
    1) how did you became a mangaka??
    2) did you take part in the manga compition then you got recruited??
    3) the link of the compition that you gave was of 2011 and now it’s 2015 so will it work now
    4) I have come up with a story I of manga but I have no idea what should I do to send to and where to send because I live in UK so should in send the story somewhere in UK or in Japan if UK can you give me
    List, if In Japan the can you give me list name
    5) will they accpet some who is under 18 cuz in 15?

    Please can you answer me this questions
    Thank you

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      1) I became an assistant by answering an ad when I lived in Japan. You can read more about it on my blog here.
      2) Nope, though I may do something like that in the future.
      3) You should check out their pages and see if the contest is still running.
      4) Do you have a finished manuscript? You will need one first.
      5) Yes, most places will.

  • JoLeigh

    I really appreciate this SO MUCH. I’m 16 and I’ve been wanting to become a mangaka in my future for several years and I’ve been working to achieve that. I’ve always been so confused and ignorant to the process and the world of manga making, though, which has been a big setback for me. It was extremely discouraging and made it seem like an impossible dream.

    But these posts that you’ve been writing have gotten rid of that uncertainty and now I have so many new tools to work with!! Thank you so much, and I want you to know that your efforts really are making a differnce in people’s lives.

  • Jason Z

    I simply love your blog, I haven’t found a single manga resource as helpful as this site.

    Since the entire page discussed various tools that manga artists use, I was curious as to works done entirely digitally. I’m 16, and I’ve been working on writing and illustrating manga for the better part of the last two years. However, I only use paper (printer paper) to sketch and play around with concept ideas. In fact, all of my manga work is done digitally via. Manga Studio V Ex, Photoshop, and MS Paint (outdated, but helpful at times). This is beginning to seem like a big problem for me especially as it seems that almost all manga artists use traditional or hybrid methods to complete their works. Moreover, I have no idea how to enter competitions like JUMPS treasure and new artist awards with digitally made manga. Shoud I be concerned?

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Not at all!! I don’t work digitally very much (though I have been using Manga Studio to screentone my drawings), but I know that some artists do it all that way, even in Japan. When submitting to a contest, just print it out at full size and send the pages in, since most places only accept physical copies.

  • Justin

    actuallly I do have a question, maybe you posted about it somewhere else..
    but since I’m better at writing I always have too many words per panell and Im not sure how to balance the imagery and the text to make it fitting for the story. Was there ever a part in the process where the mangaka’s cut out words or how do you normally handle that kind of thing?

  • Justin

    Hi I am in America and I am writing manga. I am not the best artist though. I don’t have any questions really I am just glad this is here and want to say american mangakas are on the rise!! maybe you could start a magazine? Either way I would like to share my one shot with you once I can get it finished the art style and story are going to be very different than anything I have read so far (more so the art since I have to make a new style because I cant draw) and that worries me because maybe no one will want to print it. . thanks!

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      I am actually talking right now with someone about starting a magazine! It is a huge undertaking, though, and will take a LOT of money. So we are going to have to secure a lot of funding. I’d love to see your one shot! You can email it to me at jamie@jamieism.com

  • fonajas

    I am an English speaking person and I want to publish my manga in japan, but I don’t know any Japanese. Do I need a Japanese person to translate it?

  • Uriel Lujan

    Hi I have a quick question. I preferably use pencil. Must the artist use ink? Does the black and white change to the surface on the computer through photoshop not please the publishers? There are some styles of art and tidbits I do with pencils that I can’t do with ink and it’s important. Thanks!

  • LalaLulu

    You said you drew the speech bubbles in yourself… how did you do the text? Did you scan it in on the computer? Sorry if this seems like a dumb question, I just always thought the speech bubbles were made digitally with the text.

  • elin

    Hi, thank you for the post! I have used the nib-pens you mentioned, but I like to use maru-pen for drawing characters ( face, body..etc) because of the thin lines ( i like thin lines.. ) Do you think I should change to drawing characters with the G-pen instead? do you know if any mangakas draw characters with the maru-pen instead?

    and just one last question, do you know where you can by a good brush pen ( for hair), and the marker to fill in black areas? I have buyed from http://deleter-mangashop.com/ before but I don’t think they have these..?

    ahh, so many question, I’m sorry!
    and excuse me for my bad english.

  • Connor

    Hello Jamie!
    Thanks for the information! I’d been looking for it for a while since I’ve started to get really serious about becoming a Mangaka!

    Although I’m nowhere near good yet, I hope that my method of having a drawing a day to improve speed and quality, I will be enough to improve my skill. I’m 16 and have had access to anime every since I was little (still am little, but little-er :P), but have recently gotten interested in becoming a Mangaka. I know it isn’t a phase since I’ve been at it for almost 2 years now and have had a passion for drawing at a young (-er XD) age, but I feel ‘behind’ skill-wise if that makes sense. That’s why I’m doing said method ^.

    But I really appreciate the information! At my age going to a different country and having to learn a new language seems like a pretty big leap. I’m hoping that my rag-tag method of learning Katakana, Hiragana, as well as the Japanese classes I will be taking in college, will prep me for the Kanji required to write manga. >.<

    I guess I'm wondering how one can become an apprentice to an artist, since I think it is the best way to start out.

    And again thanks for the information!!

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      If you read through my blog, it’ll tell you exactly how to become an apprentice. ^^ I hope that you find what you’re looking for, and I bet that you’re getting a lot better at drawing if you do it every day!

  • Alec Bunting

    Hey Jamie! Thank you so much for the information, I’ve been dreaming of being a mangaka since i was 7! All this information has helped me understand more on where to get started, Im so excited to get out there and try to make my own manga!!!! I’ve had thousands of ideas, but i didnt know where to start, however from today on I making my manga! :)))))

  • Hisoka

    Hey, I absolutely love reading your posts! I was wondering is there a difference between Copic Markers and Finecolour markers? I mean they look almost the same and everything.

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Thank you, Hisoka!

      Well, I haven’t ever seen or tried Finecolour markers, but I looked online and they seem to not be refillable or have the brush tip. For me, the brush tip is the most important thing, since that’s what allows you to blend best and to vary the width of your lines. I think that it’s essential. Finecolour markers might be alright to fill in some things, but I don’t think they really compare to copics.

  • Suyeon Han

    This post fascinated me!!!! And I’m really happy that I could read a post about understanding a life about mangaka!!!! But I have some questions to ask~!! So many magakas use references to draw all the backgrounds and other real life things??? And do you have to be able to draw everything good to become a mangaka????

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      I think that if you want to be a manga artist, it’s important to be able do draw at least decently well. I mean, that’s the job, right? An artist who tells stories. 🙂 You don’ have to be the best, but you have to be at least halfway decent. 🙂

  • Iwashi

    Hi! Thanks for the very informative post! It’s really helpful 🙂 I’m inspired to learn to ink traditionally after reading this! (I’ve been doing it digitally although I usually draw using pencil) It’s really awesome that you work as a mangaka assistant though! 😀 Looking forward to see the continuation! ^_^

  • Zhao Zo

    I have drawn alot of my own characters (female) and I want you to give me your comments and advice on how to draw better. How should I send you?

  • Aman Agarwal

    Your blog is the best thing that’s happened to me this week, and I’m not kidding. Please write some posts about how to start drawing manga as well! The basics I mean.

    And from the way you write I can see why that producer called you a ‘natural’ in front of the camera. It’s damn obvious!

    Do I need a degree in art? I don’t draw THAT well, and I’m just learning the basiscs of good drawing right now. I’m an engineering student(I’ve already said that in a different comment ^o”) and I really, really, really REALLY REALLY dream to have my own Anime franchise someday. Does every Anime HAVE to start out from a manga? If yes, I’ll work myself to dry bones learning how to draw and then in becoming a mangaka.

    Thanks SOOOOO much for writing this blog and about your experiences in Japan, they are invaluable to me.


    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      And from the way you write I can see why that producer called you a ‘natural’ in front of the camera. It’s damn obvious!

      Really? Awww! I get a lot of compliments on my writing recently. Maybe it’s because I write all of the time. It’s second-nature to me by now! 😀 Thank you!

      You don’t need a degree in art, I just happened to have one! 🙂 It depends on what you want to do. It’s perfectly plausible to work as an Engineer, and do manga on the side, or just write and have someone else draw. 🙂 If you have enough money, you can even fund your own anime production, or form your own studio! Actually, in Japan, a lot of anime are adapted from light novels. Light novels are basically short (usually serialized) novels with a few anime-style drawings thrown in there. They are cheap and easy to read, which is why a lot of Japanese people read them. There are quite a few that are adapted into anime (Shangri-La, Slayers, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and Full Metal Panic are good examples). You could always just try writing great novels and getting them published instead! 🙂

  • Punch

    Where can I buy reference books? I always thought pros drew it strictly from memory cause they’re insanely talented and skilled.

    I should be studying but your blogs are interesting/ *_*

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Noooo way! Maybe some pros do, but pretty much everyone uses reference. That’s the best way to make it turn out realistic and to get ideas.

      In Japan, they sell reference books, but overseas I haven’t really seen any. That’s not a problem, though! Any book of photos can be a reference! Just go to the library or bookstore and look through them all to find one that you like. 🙂 You can also, of course, find reference for nearly anything on the internet, or even take the photos yourself. 🙂

  • Gaby

    I love this blog! .<
    3- The chances aren't too big… :I

    But I'm still young (I'm becoming a teenager in a few weeks) and my art isn't terriable, so that's good! XD
    I recently got an Intous manga graphic tablet and Manga Studio 4, so that's boosted my confidence a lot. <3
    I really love manga. Especially Arina Tanemura. I guess the first time I saw any manga/anime was when my older brother watched Pokemon… X)
    Do you have any advice? 🙂

    -Aspiring Mangaka

  • Luke Wall

    Hey Jamie!

    First off hello and thank you for the informative post! I’ve done a lot of research but I still found some things here that really helped me out, so thank you!

    I’ll be heading to Okazaki, Aichi-ken, Japan to attend the Yamasa Institute and learn Japanese this October (although I’m already studying it on my own right now), and my goal is to pursue a career as a manga artist! I’ve been seriously drawing for a little under two years, and I’m not anywhere near having professional quality artwork yet, but I’ll keep drawing during my two years of studying Japanese and hopefully get where I need to be!

    What I’m curious about is how people tend to respond towards someone from a foreign country working in the manga field? Is it something that is frowned upon or is it something that they tend to accept? I’m planning on going either way, but I’d like to be prepared in advance. XP

    Thank you and keep posting awesome stuff!! ^_^

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      All of the mangaka that I’ve met have thought that it was a great goal, and tended to be very nice, offering help and advice. I never encountered any discrimination at all from manga artists. Now, that may be because they know what it’s like to be outcasts, or maybe I just met nice people or because I’m a girl, but I would hope that you’ll get a good reaction as well from artists that you meet. ^^

  • セレネ

    Nice to see this list 🙂
    I noticed that the gelpens I bought in Japan are all waterproof (I paint over the gelpen lines with watercolour paint).
    I use multiliners a lot, but recently I’ve started using ink more, as I don’t want to be entirely dependent on multiliners 😛 (they run out when you need them most).
    Brush pens I’ve mostly used for calligraphy-like writing, but I do think a real calligraphy brush works better for that 😛

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      YESSSS on the multiliners running out! They don’t last very long at all. 🙁 At least they’re relatively cheap compared to nibs and ink, but the rate at which they get used up offsets the cost savings. 🙁

      Sometimes I try to do calligraphy with my brush pen. Nobody wants to see the sad results. XD;;;

  • Caroline

    I love this post! It’s fun to see the social shenanigans behind the scenes but I’m completely enamoured by the details of the work like materials used.
    I’m impressed that there was no digital in your studio, although I imagine the technology and upkeep could be quite expensive (although would perhaps save time?).

    I dont plan on making manga but I find this post incredibly useful (and reassuring, I feel I’m on the right track materials-wise after a long art hiatus since high school). I know you posted a digital drawing a while back (I forget if it was on twitter or tumblr)– how do you feel about digital art?

    I find myself to oddly be preferring digital drawing. This is mostly because I’m extremely messy when I draw or paint and it drives my mom mental, with digital drawing everything is clean and stress free.. also I can alter things in the drawing at any point without having to scrap the drawing. I’m still trying to figure out which program I’m more comfortable with. I know everyone is gung ho about photoshop and Sai. I’ve heard good things about manga studio although the interface is overwhelming for me. I’ve taken a bit of a shine to Corel Painter though. (annnd I’m rambling…)

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      I agree that it would definitely save time. I don’t think that it would be too expensive, especially considering that Konomi-sensei already spends a lot to pay assistants every single month.

      As for digital, I often feel that artists that do their manga digitally lack a certain something that makes hand-drawn manga look so good. I think that, maybe, it’s that they’re too clean, too perfect. The lines are too straight, which would make it the flaws that make traditional manga so endearing. But I think that there’s a way to combine the two, or of course, I totally encourage doing completely digital if that’s your thing! I’d like to see more people make manga, in whatever way that they like, because more manga to choose from means more chances to find a really, really good one. <3

      I have never used manga studio, but I've known people who use it and love it. I think that I'll stick to photoshop, because it's quite versatile. Actually, this last week I have been slowly learning to use SAI, and I'm quite impressed! It's very, very easy to get a nice, natural paint look from it, and I think that I will be using it quite a lot in the future. 🙂

    • Gaby

      I have Manga Studio 4 (Debut), and at first I never used it because it was so confusing! But then I had a snow day, so I played around with it a lot. A few tutorials and experiments later, and it became really easy to use! There are still some things I’m figuring out, but I’d say as long as you have a day or two to play around with it, it gets really easy to work with. 😀

          • Crystal Moreno

            I just graduated last year from art school and went through a ton of different programs.

            Having to go back and forth from scanning the sketch/lineart of a drawing then going onto Photoshop and fixing things, then Illustrator to straighten up the lines even more – it’s a bit of a process. I’ve tried Correl Painter before as well while in school, so. . .really learning different programs doesn’t take too long with all of the tutorials from (cheapest to most expensive>) YouTube, Lynda, Digital Tutors, and or Gnomon Workshops (which are super duper expensive X.x” urr murr gurr). It takes a couple months to learn enough of programs between the programs you’re switching to learn it.

            On a separate note! Ms. Lano: So, where the traditional part is concerned I wonder how the lines around the paper for the text bubbles in more traditionally made mangas don’t appear or get picked up between scanning and printing? I’ve met a couple local artists in the city that I went to college to and they work on large bristol boards for comics, and between what you write, pictures you’ve posted, and what they do – I’m just wondering how the page size of the original boards shrinks down to the normal manga book size unless the re-sizing is done through a computer when it goes through the printer?

            I’m super curious about that. . .

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