How to draw manga characters

Learning how to draw manga art is no easy feat. It has a very distinct style, and sometimes it can be hard to get started. Even if you read a lot of manga comics, you may find it difficult to pick out the subtle differences that make each of your favourite artists unique, and therefore find it challenging to develop your own manga drawing style.

For general drawing tips, don't miss our how to draw tutorials, but when it comes to drawing manga, artist Mina Petrovic, better known as Mistiqarts on YouTube, has made it simple for you, with these clear and concise tips on how to draw manga characters such as the Mad Hatter below. Petrovic's tutorial channel boasts over 150,000 subscribers, and she also penned manga drawing book Manga Crash Course – so you're in good hands.

How to draw manga

How to draw manga art like Mina Petrovic's Mad Hatter

01. How to draw manga eyes

How to draw manga - eyes 1

You should be able to fit a third eye between the two eyes

Getting the facial features proportioned correctly is key to creating a face in manga. "Distance between the eyes is the most important part – always make enough room to fit a third eye between them," says Petrovic. She suggests if you want to mimic the style shown here, you should keep the nostril size as minimal as possible, on both men and women. 

Of course, there are a number of different ways to draw manga eyes. In the video above, Petrovic walks though eight different techniques you can explore.

02. Focus on your lines

How to draw manga - sleek lines

Smooth, thin lines are required for manga

"Line art represents half the style – with thin, smooth lines as the main visual trait," Petrovic reveals. If your initial sketches aren't that neat, try this trick: Petrovic uses a lightbox to trace her sketches and create bold, smooth lines.

How to draw manga - mad hatter shadow

Petrovic uses a lightbox to trace initial sketches

Now it's time to add some details. Petrovic suggests paying particular attention to your character's clothing, and using the details in it to give clues as to their personality. 

How to draw manga - linear textures

Linear textures feature in manga-style illustrations

Once the outlines are complete, add some shading in black – this is the final part of the line art, says Petrovic. She uses solid black for large areas of dark shadow (usually behind the character), and thin lines (see image below) for more subtle shade.

"Textures are simplified, in a form of parallel lines, also a part of the line work," Petrovic says.

03. How to colour manga

manga hair colouring

Mimic the cell shaded look when colouring

Let's move on to how to colour manga. You don't need to fill every inch of paper, says Petrovic. "Some areas are covered in colour only at the shaded parts, for example, light skin," she explains. Be sure to use at least two shades of each colour, in block areas, to mimic anime's 'cell shaded' look.

how to draw manga - leather boots

Leaving white areas is a neat way to add reflections to shiny materials

Another top is to leave a thin, uncoloured border around leather clothes and shoes, or anywhere where light would fall.

"By leaving out white areas in the middle of a bent fabric shape, you get a smooth, satin-like feel to it," says Petrovic. "It's a trick to save up on colour, and get a cool effect." 

04. Add details to your manga art

How to draw manga - the small details

Get the small details right

The final step in learning how to draw manga characters is adding intricate details."Even the smallest details are in need of careful decorating," Petrovic advises. "When doing a pattern on the clothing, make sure the pattern follows the shape of the character's body."

How to draw manga - clothing details

White outlines again add that manga touch to clothing

"And lastly, white outlines can make all the difference, by marking all the objects and parts of the character which are closest to the observer."

For more information on manga, including tips and tricks, as well as full tutorials, subscribe to our best-selling digital art magazine, ImagineFX.

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ImagineFX staff

ImagineFX is the No.1 selling digital art magazine for fantasy and sci-fi enthusiasts! Featuring digital and traditional drawing skills, game design, manga and film art each issue is crammed with training and inspiration from leading artists in their fields. Whether it's learning from comic art's Adam Hughes, fantasy art's John Howe, or digital painting's Loish, ImagineFX has you covered. ImagineFX has been inspiring artists for 15 years!