Anime and manga: a booming industry in many parts of the the world. The beautiful and unique style of art and its exquisite stories enticed many readers and captured many young artist's hearts. This is how I started drawing; my love for manga and anime led me to a love of drawing. But like any abilities, good skills do not come overnight; and they don't come no matter how long you sit and wait for them.
I've hit a roadblock in my advancement so I decided to ask my favorite manga artists their own personal experience. It turned out, many of them had difficulties that I'm currently countering. Their advices are most helpful, and I hope you find them helpful too.
To those who never picked up a pencil to draw outside of manatory art classes in school: Read and see the process and other aspects of becoming a good artist. Maybe they can spark a drawing interest in you.
To those who are casual doodlers: These tips may turn you from casual to hard-core doodler! (But remember! Doodling in class is BAD!)
To those who hit a roadblock in their manga drawing not-yet-career: Join my club! These tips can help all of us get out of the rut and keep of improving!
To those who are about to give up: Frustrated? It's okay, many of us feel the same way. These tips might be able to help you change your mind. But remember, there are plenty of other styles out there if you feel manga style is not for you.
To those who are far-away admirers: Not sure on where to start? Maybe these advices can point you in the right direction.
And to those who are almost there: Yay! Congrates! These tips may speed you up to success.
(Note: I asked way too many artists! I have a whole list of artists I admire and I asked every single one! >_< It's my fault, I had the strange notion that great artists are too busy to answer my Notes, but most of them replied! I don't regret it, all of them are valuable advices. But to shorten this news article, I'm going to pick what I think is the most helpful answer.)
Thank you to
1.When did you start drawing anime-style art? And how long have you been doing it?
Demitasse-lover: From what I can remember, I started drawing anime when I was 10 then I kinda suddenly lost interest for a while until I started drawing again when I was 12. That was a few months before I joined dA. At that time, I was already 13. Now I'm 17. Goodness, time goes so fast.
Zeiva: Since March 1995, so that's 14 years. I am 24, soon to be 25.
Remocholy: When I was about 14 and now I'm 19,count it yourself : D
But turely speaking,I was not so clear about whether my art was anime-style or something at that time.I just drew what I loved to draw.
Laudine: It was back there, on my 4th birthday, my dad's secretary gave me a Doraemon manga, and it inspires me to draw even until now. (Fujiko F Fujio is my idol forever). Though, for all the time drawing is just a hobby for me, until recently, I have just determined to try to draw seriously (around January this year, I think)
So..basically, I have been drawing manga/anime about 15 years, and have just started to draw seriously 3 months ago xD;
2. How often do you practice?
Demitasse-lover: Um well, if you can call randomly doodling practicing, then quite a lot. But school is starting to take over my life so I'm getting lesser and lesser free time to draw >: joy. So if I count, probably an hour a day? And during vacation probably.. umm I never count. A lot I guess.
Mou-S: I used to practice a lot, doing one or more pictures per day I think, but as school (and life) got busier I started to draw less. Aside from doodling during one of those boring lectures, I barely drew anything during the school terms in the last two years.
Neneno: Hahaha! I've been asked this question before, and I answer it in detail with photographs in my livejournal. You can see it here: [link]
3. What were some difficulties when you were just starting out? How did you solve them?
Joodlez: Everything -- proportions, anatomy, folds, hair, and the whole list. When I was little, I would frequently copy and trace various different drawings for fun. Later on, when I though I was better, I did away with direct references completely, and instead observed real-life and illustrated examples and "practiced". It also helps to return to your finished pieces to scrutinize them and see where you need to work on
Neneno: Difficulties would be... being frustrated at having the end result be off from what I pictured in my head. It still happens to me though, but less and less, I guess 8D? I just learned to accept failure and try to learn from it instead of dwelling on it.
Zeiva: Nobody ever support my idea of becoming mangaka. They all laugh at my inability to draw. Like a brat I am, I wanted to prove them wrong.
Nuriko-kun: I could only draw one particular pose from one single angle, and had no idea how to even start on anything different, so I'd keep drawing that same angle and pose, so I'd never learn anything new, and the cycle repeats. There was no improvement and all my pictures looked the same and boring.
Looking at references really helps. Even tracing and copying is really helpful, so long as you pay attention and remember where things are supposed to go as you draw. Basically, don't space out when you're drawing, or you'll just keep repeating the same errors and there will be no improvement.
Mou-S: Frankly speaking, when I first started drawing in manga-style, I had no standard or expectations in my pictures. Everything that I drew appeared to be perfect at the time. (I even remember getting mad at the people who criticized my drawings.) It's apparent that the biggest hinderance to my improvement was my inability to discern my mistakes. This problem was solved, to some extent, by time and the maturation of my own mindset, as I gradually became open to critiques. Looking at the works from professional artists also helped me to realize my weaknesses in the areas such as anatomy, perspectives, and background construction. (and they also served as good reference materials for me to improve in these areas.)
4. Have you taken formal art classes (any in general)? If so, did you think it helped your anime drawing abilities?
Kuurin: I've taken art courses in England and New Zealand, so they've helped alot. However, the class that really helped me out was life drawing. It's that class that you have to draw the naked guy/lady in the middle of the room. The first class made me cringe, since I was 16 at the time and fat ladies weren't really something I wanted to draw, but after getting used to it, it helped me get better at anatomy and experimenting with different media. Of course, those things are very useful for anime art too!
Iris-Zeible: Never take any clasees until two years ago, I entered an art college and started to learn something very very basic. Like colors, composition, anatomy... those kind of basic stuff. And yes, basic learning improves me a lot.
Demitasse-lover: Hahah the only art classes I've attended were those where you make pictures out of egg shells and houses out of random sticks back in grade school XD.. well sure, I guess they kinda helped.. my creativity but not my anime drawing skills. I did attend an art workshop a few months ago. Although it only lasted a day and all we pretty much did was draw a circle, I think it really helped me improve my shading skills. :3
5. In your opinion, how much of an artists ability is natural talent? And how much is acquired skill through learning and practicing?
Kaze-Hime: Art is 90% knowledge, 10% skill and talent.
Joodlez: I think what people refer to as "talent" is the natural inclination to pursue something in a particular field. If one is inclined to draw and enjoy it, she/he will do it excessively, thus developing and refining their skills. Nobody is born with the skills to draw, exactly, but they may be born with a keen eye for detail, aesthetics, and colour, with a reinforcing internal and external environment.
Shilin: This question depends on which artist you're talking about. Talent for art in my opinion is just how keen an observer the artist is, and how much he processes what he observes in his mind. Some people naturally think a lot (therefore "talented") and thus makes it a lot easier for them to learn and discover new things, but a lot of people who aren't as sensitive in nature can still consciously force themselves to pay attention to things and think about everything they see. As long as an artist is constantly aware and thinking, he's 90% of the way there. As long as he knows what he's trying to achieve, he will find the skills and techniques he needs to accomplish it. Therefore I think natural talent has little place in determining how good an artist can become, since any well-aware individual can accomplish the same result, it's just that the learning process will be different for everyone.
Nuriko-kun: Um... Say artistic ability is a ladder. The one who is more talented gets to start on a higher rung, and he also has longer limbs. So he will climb faster and go farther than a regular person who is working equally hard. It is entirely possible to surpass a more talented person by simply working harder than he does.
6. What kind of equipments do you use? Are there any particular supplies you would suggest to newbies?
Kuurin: I mainly use Photoshop and Open Canvas to make my digital art. For traditional art, I use coloured pencils, mechanical pencils and sometimes watercolour paints. Oh, and Copic markers. For newbies, I suggest buying Photoshop. It seems really expencive, but it's honestly worth it! Use Photoshop to get used to shading and backgrounds. Even basic sketching is made really easy in Photoshop, because you can move things around however you please, and if you make a mistake it' not the end of the world. After you're comfortable there, experiment! It's no good to stick with just one media.
Shilin: I use a mechanical pencil and any white paper space to draw, and Photoshop with a Wacom tablet to CG. I have no suggestion in tools to newbies; use whatever you have/you feel comfortable using. Using Da Vinci's tools will not make you draw like Da Vinci.
Minjii: I normally use digital media but have a secret love for traditional (note that barely no traditional works are in my gallery but that's due to a busted scanner.) I suggest artists to get their hands on EVERYTHING and ANYTHING possible. From traditional media to digital, even mixed media. That way you can find your niche or whichever, and go from there. You must also note that even though we're in the era of technology, digital is not always 'better.' My suggestion for a basic start? Pencil and paper.
Nefis: I use anything I want, if it draws a line in a paper, or if it give me some color, it's perfect for me. I don't care about brands.
I recomend the pencil, a lot of people try to color in photoshop and they just don't know how to shade. If you can shade with a simple pencil in a paper, you will color and shade perfectly in photoshop.
7. Anything special you do to improve quickly? Anything at all!
Iris-Zeible: i) Learn about realistic drawing. Capture accurate shapes, learn correct anatomy, and learn to do shading, capture light and shadow.
ii) If you don't like realistic drawing, collect some awesome anime artist and copy their style + coloring. (And you will risk yourself becoming a copy cat. )
Demitasse-lover: This is an overused answer but I'll use it anyway. PRACTICE DAMN IT. People who are too impatient to practice and wants to know a more efficient way to improve never will improve. A lot of people always say this as an advice and I know you're probably already sick of it by now but it's the best advice I know.
Kaze-Hime: Be very observant. Like, really concentrate on everyday normal stuff. Like if you want to draw hands better, look at hands a lot.
8. Do you use any helpful websites/books/magazines/anything at all to improve your abilities?
Iris-Zeible: Website? I think deviantArt is very good enough. All the great artists are gathering here, and many of them share some nice tutorials, encouraging each other to do better.
For book and magazine... I think manga is good enough. Don't just read manga for fun, try to observe the way they do paneling/ anatomy/ express storyline.
Kuurin: First things first, avoid those 'how to draw anime' books. They did nothing to help me out when I was starting. Honestly they're a waste of money. One thing that really helped, was browsing through DA and Japanese artists websites to see different styles. After that you can try and develop your own. Tutorials are also helpful, as are critiques (even if they can be harsh sometimes!).
Laudine: For funky perspective and anatomy practice, I really recommends [link] ! It is an awesome site with tons of poses in various angles, it's definitely worth to check! For some awesome Photoshop tutorials, you can check [link] , it got plenty of cool tutorials there ^^ I also suggest to buy some books, like books about human anatomy, landscapes, etc. No, don't buy 'How to Draw Manga' books, most of them are...well, bad.
9. Give one SPECIFIC advice to all the newbies who want to reach your level.
Kuurin: Tracing is a great way to practise when you're a new artist. After tracing a few pictures, move away from that and use refs instead. These'll help you get used to where everything is, and it'll help you know where you needmore help in. After that, draw without any help. It'll come handy, honestly. HOWEVER, don't post your traced and ref-ed art anywhere public. They're for practice and practice only!
Neneno: Practice doesn't make perfect. You can't mechanically just draw whatever. You have to think as you do it, too. Creating a piece of art is very much a process that requires thought. So plan out the picture in your mind first; don't just draw a face and make it up as you go.
Joodlez: Find an inspiration. Keep yourself inspired, whether it be with books, movies, dreams, music, artistic idols, etc. It really helps to find a partner on your skill level who will encourage and inspire you, so that you can help each other out with deficits and problems.
When you come across a day when you just can't draw as well as normally ("art block"), just stop and pursue it later. It's unnecessary frustration. Don't get discouraged, and ALWAYS be open to critiques!
Mou-S: To the newbie anime artists: Practice realism once in a while, and pay attention to the details (e.g. the texture of objects, the folding of clothes, the intensities of different shadows, etc.). It helps you to build up an art foundation and to gain an "artist's common sense." When doing anime-style works, try to incorporate what you have learned from realism whenever you think it's applicable. It makes the picture more natural and detailed.
Nuriko-kun: Don't neglect traditional art. Photoshop has resizing tools that fix up lopsided heads or oversized limbs. Even if most of your art is done digitally, you should make sure you can still draw proportionally on paper without having to rely on those convenient tools to fix your picture. Otherwise, you could end up drawing consistently "off" pictures, and it will become a bad habit.
10. Give some words of encouragement to help all the budding anime artists on their way to the top!
Kuurin: Learning how to draw takes alot of time and willpower. If you think you suck and you're the worst artist in the world, don't stop drawing. ALL great artists were rubbish at the start. It's only by hard work and practice that they got to where they are now. You can't go from newbie to pro over night, yah? You need to work hard at it :U
Minjii: You're an idiot if you get discouraged by 'art gods' or artists 'better than you.' You have to remember that everyone starts somewhere, even these sorts of people. Sure there are obstacles, but what route in life doesn't have them? Challenge yourself to improve and you will! (This also goes for things even outside the art world... Also note that if you feel anime is not for you, there are many other styles you can go for, there are no dead ends. :3)
Remocholy: Don't give up on the half way.
Demitasse-lover: Encouragement eh? You can do it! Don't give up! Don't lose interest! And if a time comes that you can't seem to draw anything anymore, stop. Do something different and inspiration is bound to hit you again. Inspiration is everywhere. Even under a rock.
Mou-S: Keep practising and be patient. Keep this up for a few years and look back at your old drawings, you will be shocked. = )
Nefis: Draw because you want to. Not because you want to be admired.
I draw in anime style because it's easy, not because I want to do kawaii animu girls in kawaii animu scenes. And I do not draw for you, I draw for me.
I'm not saying that you should be an egoistic person, i'm just saying that the only one that can draw the things you feel, is yourself. The most important thing at the end is how much of you will be in your drawings.
There you have it! Advices from successful artists! I wonder when I can be good...maybe when I draw as long as Laudine and Zeiva? Maybe when I start to leak sketches like Neneno? Whatever it is, I definitely have inspiration to improve! And I hope you do, too! Don't give up now!
Keep on trying!