☆ 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!
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.
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 (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!
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:
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.
2. Giant plastic eraser. When you’re erasing an entire page, a big eraser can really save your arm a lot of effort.
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.
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.
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-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-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.
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 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 (修正テープ) also works, and we got in the habit of using this as well.
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
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 (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 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!
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.
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. 🙂
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)!
And stay tuned for more of my assistant story tomorrow!