Manga is an incredibly popular drawing style. It’s the style used not just for manga comic books, but also anime and a number of mascots. It’s a simple, distinctive, and pleasing style that leaves a lot of room for creativity and experimentation.

Drawing manga characters. Photo Credit: kallu at Flickr.

However, before you can start experimenting with your manga style, you need to learn the basics. While practice and using references by other artists is a great way to start, there are a lot of great books out there that can help you learn how to draw great manga art.

1) Manga for the Beginner: Everything you Need to Start Drawing Right Away! by Christopher Hart

This book is a step-by-step guide for drawing manga. It details how to draw almost everything you can think of, including the head, eyes, body, clothing, and more. It also helps you to draw dynamic poses, as well as lighting and shading, two aspects often overlooked by beginning artists. This book does not go into philosophy behind manga design and mostly consists of simple how-to drawing guides. However, this makes it a great choice for someone who wants to learn the basics of the style. Buy it here.

2) Draw Manga Faces for Expressive Characters: Learn to Draw More Than 900 Faces by Hosoi Aya

Facial expressions are critical for good manga art. The style can be highly expressive, but it’s surprisingly hard to use simple lines to convey what a character is feeling properly. This book can help you understand how to do that. It provides over 900 sample illustrations for a variety of expressions and types of characters. This is not the best starting point for a beginner, but it is a great reference book to keep on hand, even for an experienced manga artist.

3) Beginner’s Guide to Creating Manga Art: Learn to Draw, Color and Design Characters by Steven Cummings and Gonzalo Ordoñez

This book is a comprehensive guide by Steven Cummings, an American comic book artist who works for the Udon Entertainment in Japan, and Gonzalo Ordoñez, the manga artist behind the popular Legendary Visions: The Art of Genzoman. This book doesn’t just explain how to draw characters in a manga style, but gives you a guide to designing them from the very first stages. It focuses more on traditional media than digital media. It won’t spoon-feed you steps, but is a great overview for how to design and draw manga characters.

4) The Master Guide to Drawing Anime: How to Draw Original Characters from Simple Templates by Christopher Hart

Manga and anime share an art style and a number of character archetypes. This book details the six most popular manga/anime character types, both human and inhuman. It also provides step-by-step drawing exercises as well as some inspirational images to help get your creative juices flowing. Like many of Hart’s drawing guides, this book is meant for beginners. There is very little breakdown of how certain things work and why. This is a nice beginner’s guide, however, and can teach inexperienced artist’s some basics of the style. Get it now!

5) Manga Crash Course: Drawing Manga Characters and Scenes from Start to Finish by Mina Petrovic

From a popular Youtube artist, this book gives you a guide to creating manga characters, environments, and even scenes. It provides over 25 step-by-step drawing guides and more than 130 lessons on various parts of drawing manga. It also contains some fun games to play with yourself in order to challenge your creativity and artistic skill. This a good book for beginners and experienced artists alike.

6) Mastering Manga with Mark Crilley: 30 drawing lessons from the creator of Akiko

Photo Credit: Amazon.com.

Mastering Manga” contains lessons from a master manga artist. It provides a lot of information, from basic drawing lessons for characters to tutorials on how to create realistic settings. It’s simply packed with useful information for a manga artist. The book is easy to follow, but it does go into some pretty complex art concepts. This is not a how-to guide on drawings basics, but it is a great guide that features a lot of different kinds of characters.

7) Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures by J.C. Amberlyn

A lot of books focus on ’normal’ manga styles and human characters, but this one is different. It teaches you how to draw cute animals, a staple of the genre, gritty gothic critters, also a staple of the genre, and the ever-popular chibi human characters. It details the basics, provides references, and offers a step-by-step guide for creating these characters with Photoshop and Corel Paint. This is a delightful and fun book that will help you create some of the most adorable pictures ever. Buy this book here.

8) The Manga Artist’s Workbook: Easy-to-Follow Lessons for Creating Your Own Characters by Christopher Hart

As you learn more and more about how to draw manga, you’ll probably want to create your own characters who have a distinctive personality and look. It’s one of the appeals of the style. This book provides a guide to basic proportions and also explains how to draw several manga hairstyles. This is not a book for people with no experience drawing manga at all, since it does not break down how to draw a character step-by-step, but it’s very useful for people who are still early on in their manga drawing experience.

9) Pop Manga: How to Draw the Coolest, Cutest Characters, Animals, Mascots, and More by Camilla d’Errico and Stephen W. Martin

More than just a how-to guide, this book provides lessons in how create amazing, emotional, striking characters. It details the character design process, the basics of body construction, and even explains how to capture action in drawing form. The lessons on drawing hands, one of the hardest parts of the body to draw in any art style, stand out. This is a fun and helpful book for artists of any level.

10) The Manga Fashion Bible: The Go-To Guide for Drawing Stylish Outfits and Characters by Christopher Hart

The striking clothing of many manga characters is what draw many people to the style. Clothes are hard to draw, however, even simple ones. They move more or less with the body and have to obey physics (to a degree) to look right. This book explains how to create and put on paper amazing clothing for your manga characters. It also provides a troubleshooting guide to help you resolve issues you might be having with your drawings. This is a useful reference book, though it contains less step-by-step lessons than you might like. Collect this book!