Make Manga!: Create Characters and Scenes

Make Manga!: Create Characters and Scenes

by Karolina Larienne Heikura


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Wednesday, June 23


How to Make Your Own Exciting Manga Story!

An artist's greatest gift is his or her imagination. By learning how to create manga characters with personality—and place them in engaging backgrounds—you can tell any story you want to! First, learn the basics of sketching: how to draw faces, figures, expressions and clothing. Then, practice inspirational prompts on coloring, composition and creativity to inspire endless story ideas. Use symbolism, mood and accessories to draw fantastic or realistic scenes. Use both traditional and digital coloring techniques to find your own engaging manga style.

More than 30 step-by-step tutorials teach you:

   • The basics of human anatomy and manga-specific proportions
   • The fundamentals of coloring skin tones, clothing and backgrounds with markers, watercolor and digital enhancements
   • Compelling character ideas, like Gijinkas—cute personifications of food, nature and objects
   • How to incorporate all of those various elements to build a cool and complete scene

"Bring your own visions to life!" ~Karolina "Larienne" Heikura

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440353017
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/17/2018
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,198,801
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 10.80(h) x 2.50(d)

About the Author

Karolina "Larienne" Heikura is a self-taught artist from Poland. She started drawing professionally in 2014 and has been focusing on self-development as an artist ever since. In her youth, she was inspired to draw by manga titles like Dragon Ball and Chobits. Later, her inspiration would come from the world of fantasy, particularly from playing World of Warcraft, as well as watching Disney and the Lord of the Rings movies. She loves to draw conceptual pieces, magical surroundings, elves and other such whimsical characters. She always aims to tell a story with her artwork.

This is Karolina's first instructional book. She has also made two self-published dojinshi books, created content for adult coloring books, and worked on numerous commissions for various clients including DeviantArt, Blizzard and Volition. Visit her DeviantArt page at

Read an Excerpt


The Basics

Possessing knowledge of basic human anatomy can be incredibly helpful, especially if you are just starting out on your artistic journey. For this reason, we will take time to study fundamentals of anatomy and practice applying them while drawing manga and anime characters.


Human bodies can be quite simplified in the manga style, but they still must follow the rules of anatomy. The more anatomical rules you apply, the better the figure will look. Before you can begin playing around with body proportions, you must learn the basics. As manga style continues to evolve into more and more detailed forms, you will be able to bend and adjust as needed, so long as you have a solid foundation in the basics of body anatomy.

When drawing the human figure, we measure the body height in heads. A male figure of average height should be about seven heads tall. The average female figure height would be about six heads tall. A child might be only three or four heads tall. Simply add and remove "heads" until you get to the height you desire for your character.

• • • Drawing the Female Figure • • •

A woman's shoulders are narrower than those of a man. Women also have more delicate, thinner necks than men do. Use small circles to represent the major joints.

• • • Drawing the Male Figure • • •

Males have wider arms, thicker necks and broader shoulders than women, so their shoulder joints should be drawn larger. Note that both male and female arms should reach the upper part of the thighs.

• • • Using an Anatomical Puppet • • •

One of the easiest ways to draw a figure is to use an anatomical puppet. Practice drawing a random character using an anatomical puppet as a basis. Study the puppet and you will notice that it consists mostly of circles (green), curved lines (red) and straight lines (blue).

• • • Experiment! • • •

Take a look at some of these random poses. Experiment with using them to draw your own characters. Your figures don't always have to look polished and detailed. Sometimes it's just about getting enough practice time in.


Doodling and sketching to create various concepts is an important step in coming up with ideas for illustrations. Sketching should be the moment of absolute freedom for your artistic creativity, when your ideas are released and transferred to a sheet of paper.

During the sketching phase, don't be distracted, limited by space or pressured to make everything look neat and clean. Here are a couple of tricks that will make the sketching process much more fun for you.

• • • Crosshatching • • •

One of the most common shading techniques is crosshatching, which involves covering an area with intersecting sets of parallel lines. They can be messy. A variation of that style has been introduced in this illustration. Use crosshatching to add shadows and texture to your characters.

• • • Vary Line Thickness • • •

Try to vary the thickness of your lines. Use stronger and weaker lines to make your sketches more dynamic.

• • • Vary the Number of Lines • • •

Instead of creating one line, draw a variety of lines and strengthen the one line among them you like the most. It will give your sketches more life.

• • • Use Yourself as Reference • • •

Use your own body as your guideline. It is very common among artists to use their own hands and feet as references.


Let's take a look at how to approach sketching the upper body of a basic figure to serve as the foundation for a character.

1 Start by drawing an oval with a cross in the middle for the head. Add smaller circles in the joint areas, such as the shoulders, elbows and wrists. Connect everything with straight or curved lines. Use straight lines to form the neck and connect the arm joints. Use curved lines in the face and shoulder areas.

2 Now use the basic figure as a foundation for a character. It makes it much easier to add all the details in the correct places.


The eyes are the windows to the soul when it comes to drawing people, because the eyes are one of the first things to draw the viewer's attention. The following steps will show you how to draw an eye that leaves a lot of room open for experimentation.

1 Draw a curvy line and a small straight line below it. Then draw a circle to fill the space in between the lines. This will form the iris of the eye.

2 Draw three smaller circles — one in the middle of the iris to form the pupil, one in the upper left area of the iris and one at the left end of the bottom curved line. Connect the right sides of the bottom and top curved lines with a straight line, creating a sharp corner.

3 Draw another line above the top curved line to form the eyelid.

4 Color in the iris with a colored pencil. Leave some white space as shown. I used blue, but you can use any color you want.

5 Color in the eyelid using the color from Step 4. Then use a darker hue on the upper part of the iris. Quickly blend into the area with the lighter color. Do the same thing in the right corner of the eye.

6 Add straight lines in the middle of the eye. Use a gray marker to color the sclera (the white space surrounding the iris). Use a pink hue to color the small dot in the left corner of the eye.

7 Use a multiliner to darken the lines and make them stronger. Add shiny effects with a white gel pen. Feel free to add some other decoration, such as a star, a heart or a diamond shape. Add blush lines with pink and draw an eyebrow above the eye.


Follow the steps to draw a simple manga-style nose.

1 Draw a vertical line.

2 Add a curved line to the left side of the vertical line. It should now look like an archer's bow.

3 Add a small dot to the bottom right side of the nose.

4 Add some shading between the vertical line and the curved line to complete the nose.


Drawing lips might seem difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Follow the steps to create manga lips.

1 Draw a wavy line with two "hills." Add small dots on each end of the line.

2 Add a small, slightly curved line below the wavy line to create the lower lip.

3 Add a small M-shaped line above the wavy main line to create the upper lip.

4 Add shading to both the upper and lower lips to finish.


Follow the steps below to draw anime and manga-style ears.

1 Draw a curved line, somewhat like a C-shape.

2 Develop the bottom of the ear by extending the line around and back upwards, following the shape of the original curve.

3 Add two curved lines going the opposite direction near the upper part of the ear. Draw a rounded line to connect them.

4 Add shading into the upper and lower parts of the ear.


Drawing hair can be lots of fun. There are many styles and variations you can play around with. Follow the steps below for a place to start.

1 Draw a curvy line that goes around the head. Make sure there is some distance between the top of the head and the line.

2 Draw lines above the eyebrows to create bangs. You can start from either side of the head.

3 Add shading and individual strands of hair to the sides for a more natural look.

4 Add shading and individual strands of hair to the sides for a more natural look.


Drawing faces can be fun. While drawing the head from the forward-facing perspective, focus on keeping it symmetrical. Be sure to position all of the facial elements an appropriate distance from one another. Following the guidelines presented in the steps below will make the process easier.

1 Start by drawing a circle. Don't worry about making it perfectly round. It will serve as a guideline and will be erased later.

2 Add two intersecting lines, one vertical and one horizontal, close to the bottom of the circle. Draw in the jawline. It can be pointy or square, whatever your preference. Just make sure that the point of the chin is aligned directly below the point where the intersecting lines meet.

3 Form the eyes by drawing two circles above the horizontal line. Be sure to place the eyes so that they are an equal distance from the vertical line. Add eyelids and eyebrows above the eyes. Draw in the nose towards the bottom of the vertical line. Add lips slightly below the circle guideline.

4 Add hair around the face using the circle as your guideline. Keep some distance between the line of the hair and the circle. Add the neck below the chin. Add detail to the hair.

5 Erase the guidelines. Add dots in the middle of the eyes. Begin shading the forehead, neck and lips. If they are visible, add ears on both sides of the head. They should begin around the same height as the eyes.

6 Shade above the eyes to add some more life to them. Use a white gel pen to add white dots for highlights. Add more shading to the ears, hair and face. At this point, you can also add some accessories if you wish, such as a bow or earrings.

• • • Experiment With Expressions • • •

Play around with other facial expressions. For example, if you close the eyes and open the mouth, you can achieve a cheerful expression.


Drawing profiles might be a bit trickier than drawing a front view, but there are a few things you can do to make it much easier.

1 Draw a circle.

2 Draw a vertical line in the middle of the circle, then draw four horizontal lines that are at the same distance from one another. These will be your guidelines.

3 Begin the eye by drawing an ellipse, then add lines above and below it. The pupil should be on the first guideline. Add an eyebrow above the eye. Draw the nose and the jaw between the second and fourth lines. Place the lips on the third line. Add an ear between the first and second lines.

4 Add the back of the neck and the hair by following the circle guideline. The hair adds some size to the head, so remember to keep distance between the line of hair and the circle. I've added some detail to the hair and a hair bow, but you can wait until Step 6 for that.

5 Erase your guidelines. Fill in the upper half of the eye to add detail. Add some shading under the hair on the forehead.

6 Add more shading to the ear, neck and hair using straight lines. You can add any accessories you want, such as earrings or hair clips.

• • • Experiment With Expressions • • •

Experiment with different expressions. In this example the eye is closed, and the lips are slightly open. This indicates the sleepy or melancholy state of the character.


Drawing faces at various angles is essential to adding more dynamism and variation to illustrations. Additionally, drawing at such angles is not as difficult as it may seem!

1 Draw a circle.

2 Add a horizontal curvy line close to the bottom of the circle, then draw a vertical curvy line close to the left side. Add the jawline, keeping its middle below the vertical line. It may look a bit funny at this point, but keep going.

3 Draw two ellipses above the horizontal line and add curvy lines on their upper and lower sides. These will form the eyes. Begin the nose at the point where the curvy guidelines meet, and add lips below. Next, add an ear on the right side of the head. Start at the same height the eyes are placed and end where the nose ends.

4 Now add the hair. Place eyebrows above the eyes. Add the neck by attaching curvy lines to the head. It is okay to remove the guidelines during this step.

5 Draw pupils in the middle of the eyes. Draw some sunray-like bursts coming out from the pupils towards the lower half of the eye. Add shading to the hair, below the chin, on the lips and around the eyes.

6 Keep shading until you are satisfied with the amount of shadow. Darken the upper half of the eyes. If you wish, add a dot with a white gel pen to make the eye look more alive.

• • • Experiment With Expressions • • •

Experiment with different expressions. In this example the eye is closed, and the lips are slightly open. This indicates the sleepy or melancholy state of the character.


The differences between manga or anime style and a semirealistic one are quite vast. Take a look at these examples to learn how to transform your anime- and manga-style drawings into semirealistic ones.

• • • More Depth in Semirealism • • •

The image on the left was drawn in a manga style, while the image on the right applies semirealistic elements and rules to add depth to the face. What other differences do you see?

• • • Female Eyes • • •

The main difference between these two styles of eyes is the shape. The manga style on the left features an oval shape, while the realistic eye on the right is rounded and shows more detail. The eyelashes are lusher as well.

• • • Male Eyes • • •

As with female eyes, semirealistic male eyes are much more detailed. Note that male characters usually don't have the rich, thick eyelashes that female characters do.

• • • Noses • • •

When it comes to noses, manga style often features nothing more than lines or dots that are enough to hint at a nose. A semirealistic nose will have both nostrils and shading to give it a more three-dimensional appearance.

• • • Ears • • •

A semirealistic ear will have a greater amount of detail and shading than an ear drawn in the manga style.

• • • Lips • • •

Manga lips can be portrayed with a simple line, while a semirealistic mouth has larger and more detailed lips.

• • • Compare and Contrast • • •

The eyes in the semirealistic version on the right are shaped differently and have more details. The nose is also a different shape. The lips are fuller, and the hair is fluffier with more details.

• • • Spot the Difference • • •

In the manga-style version on the left, the hair is softer and the eyes are rounder. The shape of the nose is more defi ned, and the lips have more detail in the semirealistic style on the right. The way the face is shaded in the semirealistic example also helps to create some depth.


Inking, Shading & Coloring

While many character sketches can have a lot of personality, adding color and shadow will bring even more life to your illustrations. Each artist should develop his or her own unique way of inking, shading and coloring. However, you will find that many artists use the same combinations of common techniques despite their differing styles.


Outlining and detailing in ink adds character to a drawing and helps elements stand out. Moreover, it can be used to create interesting patterns, similar to screen tones that appear in each manga.

• • • Ink Adds Interest • • •

Compare these two illustrations. The uninked example on the left lacks dynamism and the lines look dull. The inked example on the right has stronger lines and black parts that imitate shadows, making it far more interesting to look at.

• • • Straight Lines • • •

Using straight lines can be a great way of adding patterns to a drawing. Change the height at which you start drawing the lines to create the illusion of waves.

• • • Lines of Varying Direction • • •

This pattern features lines that go in various directions. It was also made to resemble waves.

• • • Lines Surrounding Objects • • •

Lines surrounding objects can be used to suggest movement or a glow around the object.

• • • Blending Black and White With Ink • • •

A blended effect can be created by adding crosshatched lines to the edge of a black area.

• • • Creating Light Effects • • •

Light effects are used to imitate the rays of sunshine or to create a romantic, fantasy-like atmosphere.


Choosing the right colors for your illustrations is very important. A color scheme can show a lot about your character's background and be helpful in establishing the depth and dynamics of your picture. There is no limit to the number of color combinations that can work together. However, you may have noticed that some color schemes tend to appear a lot more often than others do. This is due to the fact that certain colors simply work well together because they have a natural harmony with one another.

• • • The Color Wheel • • •

This standard color wheel features primary, secondary and tertiary colors. The warm colors are located at the top of the wheel, while the cool colors are at the bottom. It is important to combine various colors from different sides of the wheel so your image won't look too dull. Experiment with various color schemes. Don't limit yourself to just one color range unless you are trying to create a specific effect.

• • • Brown Color Scheme • • •

Brown is a warm color that works well with many other colors, both warm and cool. It often appears with green, orange or pink.

• • • Gray Color Scheme • • •

Gray works well with cool colors, such as blue or blue-green. It can also look interesting with warm hues, such as red or orange. In this example, the man on the left looks like he could be surrounded by snow, while the one on the right could be staring at the sunset.

• • • Pink/Purple/Blue Color Scheme • • •

Pink, purple and blue create an aesthetic harmony that is popular with many artists. The darker variation of this image shows heavier-toned colors that also work well together.


Excerpted from "Make Manga!"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Karolina Heikura.
Excerpted by permission of F+W Media, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 The Basics, 10,
CHAPTER 2 Inking, Shading & Coloring, 36,
CHAPTER 3 Creating Backgrounds, 58,
CHAPTER 4 Inspiration & Creativity, 72,
CHAPTER 5 Putting It All Together, 90,
INDEX, 126,

Customer Reviews