Skip to main content

10 awesome new tools for illustrators this month

In this month's review of the best tools for illustrators, it's all about the manga! With the new season of Attack on Titan starting, I decided to look around my studio, and round up my picks for making manga.

Getting started 

Whether you're just learning how to draw manga or a seasoned professional, these four tools should be on-hand. Hit the arrow icons to move through the gallery. 

Image 1 of 4

01. The Master Guide to Drawing Anime


In this 144-page book, Christopher Hart breaks down six of the most popular character types. With step-by-step drawing exercises, you'll learn how to create different heads and body types. You'll even learn how to draw accessories and outfits to help bring depth to your characters.

Note – Hart was a guest on Roundabout: Creative Chaos. Listen to the episode to find out more about Hart and his poplar how-to draw books.

Image 2 of 4

02. Obitsu Manga Manikins

$49.99 each

Drawing from reference images is great, but nothing takes the place of an old-fashioned, posable manikin, especially when you need a specific pose. Although I use a traditional manikin for most things, when I'm drawing manga, it's the Obitsu Manga Manikin that sits on my desk. 

What makes these manikins special? Their flexible joints! They come with interchangeable body parts, which earns them some bonus points.

Image 3 of 4

03. Canson Manga sketchbook


Now you have some reference from which to work, it's time to hook yourself up with a mighty manga sketchbook. I like the top-wire sketchbook from Canson for two reasons: first, it has micro-perforation, making it easier to rip out pages. Second, the top-wire layout allows for more flexibility when laying out your manga panels.

Image 4 of 4

04. Essentials Sketching Pencil Set


It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Royal & Langnickel. This 21-piece set is all you need to lay down those sketch lines. It includes eight graphite pencils (4H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B), three sketching sticks, three charcoal sticks, three charcoal pencils, a woodless graphite pencil, white eraser, kneadable eraser, and sharpener.

Inking and colouring tools 

With your sketch done, you're ready to move on to ink and colour. Here are my picks on what to buy (click the arrow icons to explore the gallery):

Image 1 of 3

05. Faber-Castel manga pens: Shades of Gray


One of my most essential pen sets is the Faber-Castel Shades of Gray. With this pack, there isn't a shade of grey you won't be able to achieve. For a few bucks, you get three black pens (199: small nib, medium nib, brush nib), and five shades of grey (232, 233, 235, 272, 273: all brush nibs). It also includes a 6x3-3/4in storage pouch, although I personally don't use that.

Image 2 of 3

06. Prismacolor colored pencils: Manga set


First up for colour options are pencils. This 23-count set is perfect for blending and shading. It includes eight Soft Core pencils and five Verithin pencils. The colour selection is perfect for manga art – or any kind of illustration, for that matter.

Image 3 of 3

07. Prismacolor double-ended markers


For the marker enthusiasts, check out this Prismacolor Premier set. These dual-ended markers give you plenty of options for line width. The fine-point end is great for those intricate details and sharp lines; while the chiseled end allows for endless possibilities with line width.

Manga and the digital world

You didn't think I would forget the digital world, did you? For those of you who work on a computer, here’s some options for software. Click the arrow icons to scroll through the gallery.

Image 1 of 3

08. Clip Studio Paint: Manga Studio


If you're serious about manga illustration, and you're not using Clip Studio Paint, then you're absolutely missing out on a fantastic way to up your game. Clip Studio is – at least in my opinion – the best digital drawing tool out there. It's pencil engine, alone, blows the others out of the water.

Image 2 of 3

09. Clip Studio Paint Pro tutorials


Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to try Clip Studio. Now, you just need to learn how to use it. Luckily, Smith Micro has an entire library of tutorials, for free. And soon, Clip Studio tutorials will be available on Day Of The Indie.

Image 3 of 3

10. Manga Comic Pro set


Even if you plan to do most of your work digitally, grab the sketch book mentioned earlier, and then get yourself this combined sketching and inking set.

Why do you need this? Three reasons: first, it's always nice to have a back-up or a place to start with your ideas. Second, despite being a huge fan of digital art, there are times when it's nice to return to the traditional arts. I believe it helps us be more creative too. And third: road trips and dead batteries! Seriously, sometimes my digital tablet can't keep up with me.

Related articles:

Tammy is an independent creative professional. She enjoys working on projects from content creation – including books, tutorials, videos, and podcasts – to the design and development of cross-platform applications and games.