Do Manga Artists Draw Digitally?


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Manga artists do draw digitally, but some artists also use traditional mediums. There are two types of manga artists, those who use pencils and paper and those who solely rely on the digital medium. Some manga artists combine the two by first drawing the sketch of the manga traditionally and then finishing the drawing digitally.

Key Takeaways

  • Manga artists do draw digitally, but some artists also use traditional mediums.
  • Some mangakas sketch the layouts/panels with pencil and paper.
  • Sketches done with the traditional medium are later scanned to art software to continue and finalize the sketches using the digital medium.
  • The final manga pages are drawn with a computer and using art software, even though the first drafts might have been done using a traditional medium.

Manga Artists Do Draw Digitally

Traditionally, both manga and Western comics were drawn laboriously by hand. This process is both time-consuming and prone to error. Many manga artists were (and are still) taught to draw in pen to concrete the importance of avoiding mistakes.

Digital drawing software, however, has sought to replicate the hand drawing process as closely as possible, making it an attractive option to many manga artists.

How Do Manga Artists Draw Digitally?

To draw digitally, manga artists use art software specially built for artists. Popular software includes Procreate, Photoshop, and Clip Studio Paint. The latter is the most popular among manga artists, as it includes specific features that help supplement manga.

Today, with the use of software, manga artists are able to flawlessly create layouts and speech bubbles and add texture (such as crosshatching or dots) to their work.

Art software allows manga artists to effectively manage their pages, volumes, and spreads.

Technical Hardware

If the software is the virtual version of a page, then you can think of a stylus as the virtual version of a pencil.

Styluses are highly sophisticated works of technology. They contain an inner gyroscope that enables them to sense and react to pressure. 

Coupled with settings from a drawing application, the stylus can mimic any art supply or tool.

This is why drawing digitally gives manga artists a huge advantage. Manga artists now have access to an infinite number of colors and tools and some features that wouldn’t typically be available to traditional hand-drawn artists (i.e., the airbrush or effect stamp).

The stylus is how the drawing software aims to replicate the hand-drawing process as closely as possible or make it even better than before.

Art And Artificial Intelligence

Drawing software can be quite intricate, with each tool having its own subset and personal settings. One huge feature of any digital drawing software is the layers tool.

The layers tool enables the artist to work on a piece layer by layer, making adding or removing it from the piece easier. It also allows for more elaborate details than traditional hand drawing does.

With the advent of artificial intelligence, the tools found in drawing software are more impressive than ever.

Some tools are able to instantly produce things like zippers, chains, or clothing textures, which are typically meticulous and time-consuming to do.

Aside from its tools to create speech bubbles and manga effects with ease, another perk to using drawing software is the 3D model. 

Applications like Clip Studio Paint have taken the artists’ manikin and turned it virtual. The user can pose a three-dimensional manikin within the app and use it as a reference.

These manikins can be posed together or in different frames, which makes the drawing process much more efficient. Hand-drawn artists don’t get such a luxury unless they use tracing paper over an existing drawing (or reference a manikin by eye).

The Popularity of Digital Mediums

Today, digital drawing mediums are the leading choice among both anime and manga artists—the reasons why are numerous.

Digital drawing offers a high level of convenience and efficiency, which is critical to manga artists who have deadlines to meet and fans to please. It allows teams to work remotely or simultaneously.

It is also preferred for its ability to manage several pages and manga volumes simultaneously. Hand-drawing manga is an organizational challenge to keep the outlines, storyboards, and finished pages separate.

Most software has a bookkeeping feature to keep finished pages together and easy to access.

Control + Z

Perhaps the greatest advantage to drawing digitally is the ability to undo. Despite the miraculous innovation behind erasers in recent years, erasing can leave behind faint lines, and shavings or even damage other parts of the drawing.

Digital software makes it possible to work with many layers at a time and reverse any mistake. Many artists upload a timelapse of their entire drawing, as the software can record every stroke and movement.

When a piece is saved, the artist can return to it at any point and access these same layers and tools. They can also take a finished piece and adjust the contrast, tint, and other values to their liking.

Using Traditional Mediums

Just because drawing digitally has its perks, it doesn’t mean manga artists shy away from drawing the old-fashioned way.

Many manga artists sketch their ideas or outlines on paper first, which is easier than on a tablet. They take these outlines and scan them into their art software, which they can trace over or even colorize.

Drawing digitally gives the manga a sharper, cleaner appearance, so most (if not all) manga artists use it for some portion of their creative process.

Clip Studio Paint, the most commonly used art software by manga artists, has a tool for cleaning up leftover eraser shavings on an imported drawing!

Feature image credits.



Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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