Tools of a Traditional Manga Artist

No tutorial today folks, sorry. I’d like to share with you some information about manga materials. The reason it is called ‘traditional’ because I think that refers to using actual art materials and not the computer (which is obviously digital art). I liked art at high school. I picked the subject and did art for 3 years. I had an exam in art. I had to create this ugly hat thing and send it off. I had to draw this picture of a vase, some flowers and a silver teapot and submit it along with my portfolio. I had to write about a three-legged lemon squisher and how ‘revolutionary’ it was. I showed my teacher an Inuyasha manga book and he said ‘What cute little drawings’.

I never went to a proper art school and I never took proper art lessons in anatomy or painting etc. I’ve always liked drawing, so I did a lot in my spare time and gradually I saw an improvement. I did use some manga books though, to help refine myself in some areas I was struggling with. Aside from that, no-one told me what materials to use and what I should be looking for, so I thought I’d like to pass on my knowledge to anyone who wants to learn.

To be honest, if you have looked at those ‘How to Draw Manga’ books, then you would have a brief idea what kind of materials you’ll need to create or draw your own manga, or a manga picture, anything. Obviously you’ll need a pencil and an eraser, then you’ll need some inking pens, some ink, markers… the list goes on. For my case, I started out using everything they had in in schools; you know, oil pastels, colouring pencils, colouring felt tip pens, acrylic paint, and these:


And these too:


One word:


If you want to look more professional, then don’t use these. Don’t even think about it. Whatever you learned in high school won’t do you any good. Go to an actual art store, research on the materials, try different things out. Everything they teach you at school is a LIE!!!! Or at least, it’s not everything. It’s the basics; it’s elementary. We want to go from amateur to pro, right?

Anyway, here’s a picture of all my stuff:

my stuff

I spent a fortune on all the above. That’s basically where my student loan went during my university years >_> Believe me, these things are pricey. To draw good pictures, you need good paper. If you want to use Copics, then you’ll need a bleedproof marker pad and not regular paper. Therefore you will see the different marker pads I own which are used for colouring in the picture below.


It’s not in any order by the way, and I’m not sure if you can see, but basically the above pictures show…

1. Bristol board. Apparently this is good for blending Copics but it will suck out more ink from your pens. It’s also thick paper, like card, so you cannot use the paper to trace over a drawing you did already, so whatever you draw on that bristol board, stays on the bristol board.

2. Letraset marker pad. Okay, so this is an actual pad for drawing and colouring manga pictures with markers. It is my favourite pad so far. Less runny, bleeding results compared to Copic.

3. Copic Marker pad. My first copic pad but after 2 or 3 copic markers go over one spot it began to bleed far too easily

4. Daley Rowney. This pad yielded good, average results.

Even the pads were not cheap, and I spent a lot of money trying different brand of pads. I started off using the Copic Marker pad because they are the official pad for Copics but I actually like the Letraset bleedproof marker board the best. As mentioned above, I had less runny results with those paper. Daley Rowney are good too, but its up to you which paper you like the most.

You will also need a wide variety of colouring markers. I like Copic the best. Below is a picture of the Copic markers I own (as you can see I don’t have a lot).

my copics

I mostly own Copic Ciao markers. I have some Sketch markers because some colours are/were exclusive to Sketch and not Ciao, like E0000. In general, Copic markers are expensive. For beginners, I recommend Ciao because they’re cheaper and easier to control compared to Sketch. Even then I still struggle with basic Ciao, which is kinda sad since I’ve had Copics for quite some time now but I don’t see any improvement on my behalf at the moment TT_TT” I wouldn’t recommend Copic Sketch markers for beginners, because they are more expensive and its harder to control the ink flow so if you dabbed a tiny circle on your picture, it will expand and expand, and the colour will possibly going over your lines, and you’ll be left scratching your head or roaring in frustration.

My biggest investment on art supplies were the Copic Ciao Set A, which cost more than £50. I got them quite a long time ago so the price was considerably lower than they are now. Be prepared to spend a shitload of money, because even something as simple as colouring a pair of denims will require 2-4 shades of blue! No kidding. Colouring skin is almost the same; I use about 4-5 colours just for skin! @_@ And with each Ciao pen at about £2+, that’s over ten bucks. So imagine you want to draw this marvellous multicoloured collage; it won’t be cheap, that’s all I can say.

I actually tried Letraset markers first (I bought a Letraset Marker Set 1), but these markers do not come with a brush tip, just a tiny nib which I found impractical when it comes to colouring, so I favoured Copic over Letraset markers immediately.

Here are more of my stuff on display:

artist tools

The picture above shows the rest of my gear in bigger detail. I’ve numbered them from top to bottom, left to right. I hope you can see the numbering okay!

1. Deleter ink. You will only need this if you want to start inking using a nib and not an actual inking pen.

2. Inking pen. Very important, because after you draw your picture in pencil, you should go over it with an ink pen for the lineart and hopefully you have chosen a pen which is bleedproof. I use the Copic multiliners but like the official Copic marker pad, they aren’t very good so I use Uni-Pin Fine line. I’ve also tried Sakura micron fine liners and have been impressed with their results.

3. Same as Point 2. The black pen is the Uni-pen one, the silver is Copic multiliner, and the brown one is Sakura.

4. Copic ink refills. You will be using a lot of a type of colour, so I have a couple of refills which will save me some money.

5. Copic markers.

6. Ink pen refills.

7. Colourless blenders. I don’t like using them to be honest. They’re not as helpful as they sound.

8. White gel pen. I use this for drawing the white dots in a character’s eyes or to correct mistakes lol.

9. Deleter Ink nib-holder pen and pen nibs. I have maru pen nibs at the moment, but you can get different types, like G-pen and Saji.

10. Letraset promarkers.

As long as you have these, then you can start drawing and colouring whenever you like! 🙂

vamp and werewolf copic


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