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Comicbook and Manga Paper - The Artist’s Guide

Updated on November 23, 2012

The right paper for high quality, authentic comicbook or manga art.

What is the best paper type to draw on? What is the standard size used by professionals? These are questions that someone trying to draw inked images or pages of comicbooks and manga often ask!

When you begin your artwork, you begin with a blank canvas! But that canvas has been designed for a specific purpose, a specific type of art- and to get the best results you need to match the canvas to your needs.

This is my comprehensive guide to which papers are good for which types of comcibook or manga art, whether they be pencil-drawn and inked pages, or acrylic painted front covers. I'll also explain what sizes of paper are used by professional comic and manga artists, and how to use guidelines to draw professional pages. If you have any questions beyond that, scroll down and leave a comment, I'd be glad to answer those too!

Paper and Tool Compatibility: - Paper types and how well tools work on them:

This covers the tools and paper types most frequently used by comic and manga artists, and how they mix and match.

Artist's Tips:

  • Thicker, smoother paper is easier to handle for pencil and ink art.
  • Do not use a steel-tipped pen on very textured or fibrous surfaces. The pen and the work surface will damage each other if the tip catches on the fibers.
  • Colored markers tend to completely soak through thin paper (printer, sketch and watercolour). Protect the surface underneath with newspaper.
  • Watercolors can be used sparingly on normal paper, but too much will soak the paper completely causing it to curl up when it dries. Card is slightly more resistant than paper.
  • Marker board is the absolute best for use with markers, but there is a slight difference in markers. Different companies usually supply manufacture different boards completely suited to their needs.
  • Standard computer printing paper works well if you want a smooth finish, and it absorbs ink quickly, which is why it is so suitable for all sorts of ink pens.
  • When using makers, the texture of your paper will show in the color. This is a nice effect, but if you don't want it, use a paper with a smooth feeling surface.
  • Standard computer printing paper tends to let the ink soak through to the back and stain lower layers, so try to use a thicker (heavier) paper when using markers or lots of china ink.
  • If you want to use less absorbent paper that lets you blend your markers, then buy one which is slightly smoother and shinier to the touch.

For Pencils and Inks:

Did you know?

Sometimes manga artists will use high quality markers like copic or letraset to color their cover artwork or pages. They usually photocopy or make a printed copy of their art to color instead of using their original.

Sizes and Work Areas

Comicbooks and Manga are drawn on different sizes of paper- but this is not important, nor is there a true standard. What is important is the area of the paper that is drawn on. This 'work area' is marked out with guidelines. These are very important if you want to create artwork that looks professional, or can be printed.

Artist's Guide To Guideline Terminology:

  • Paper Size (sometimes Page Size): The size of the whole piece of paper.
  • Work Area(or Finished Page, Finish Frame): The size bit of paper that you draw on that will be printed as the finished page.
  • Bleed: When paper is printed, it is difficult to print it all the way to the ege, so some books have a white border at the outermost edges of the page. To make art go to the edge, you need to cut off this white border. This is called a bleed. The cutting is not very accurate, so comic and manga artists draw on the bleed area too, so that no matter how the bleed is cut off, it will look good.
  • Safe Area (or Basic Frame): The part of the work area that is at no risk of being cut off or obscured but the center fold. All vital information goes inside this. This is the part that varies the most for different book sizes.

A Pratical Example... - The area that is drawn on

The area that you see in a comicbook or manga.

Did you know?

When multiple comicbook or manga artists work on a page, they rarely work on the same piece of paper! They usually fax or email the pages to their co-workers, who then print the pages out and draw on the printed version!

Sizes for Comicbook Drawing Paper:

  • The ratio of the page is 2:3. This varies very slightly.
  • Most artists use a work area of 10 by 15 inches.
  • Comicbook artists generally draw on paper that is 11 inches by 17 inches.
  • Comicbook pages can be drawn on C3(the closest match) or A3 paper (slightly bigger)
  • When a comicbook is printed, it is usually printed at just over half the size it was drawn at; which is why the line detail looks so great when you buy a comicbook.

Did you know?

Big producers like Marvel and DC all have their own pre-printed comicbook paper for their artists to work with. This keeps everything super-consistent!

Sizes for Manga Drawing Paper:

  • The ratio of the page is around 2:2.8 and varies slightly. (this is slightly shorter, vertically, than comics)
  • Most artists use a work area of 8.7 by 12.2 inches.
  • Manga artists generally draw on paper that is 10.1 inches by 14.3 inches, which is Japanese B4 paper, which is a slightly different size to normal B4 paper.
  • Manga pages can also be drawn on A3 and C3 paper and western B4 paper.
  • When a manga is printed, it is usually printed only slightly smaller than the size it was drawn at.
  • The pocket sized books most westerners buy manga as are not the intended size for manga (which are printed at sizes similar to comicbooks). This is why you sometimes find manga that has important text or artwork is too close to the center binding, or that has been cut off with the bleed.
  • Manga pages can be drawn on smaller sizes of paper, such as A4, if you intend to print them as a small tankoban book (measuring around 5 by 7 inches)

Why Artists Draw Bigger:

Back when my great grandfather used to draw comic strips, he used to draw them at 4 times printing size. This was because in order to duplicate the image, it had to be photographed, and photograph quality was very poor back then. This way of drawing comics continued right through the golden age of comics, though it's progressively shrunk and shrunk. Today, we copy all comics digitally, and so comics and manga are only drawn from 1 and a half to 2 times their printed size. There's no need for them to be bigger, anymore. They just look nicer if they've been shrunk; you can more detail into the lineart.

What Do Publishers Do If The Size Is Wrong?

Publishers who are printing a comic or manga that wasn't intended for their particular book size will crop or resize any image that doesn't fit correctly- so as long as your art matches the suggested ratio it should fit without much problem. If you're using an on-demand-printer (self-publishing) you'll have to make this change yourself.

Draw Your Own Guidelines:

If you want to try drawing your own page guidelines, look no further. Just copy these sizes! You can even draw them up on your computer and print them out, (but remember, your printer adds a small white border and shrinks your image down slightly.)

Comicbook Pages:

For Large (Professional) Size: (use A3 or C3 paper)

Work Area: 10 by 15 inches

Bleed: ½ an inch or ¼ an inch (goes outside of work area)

Safe Area: 9 by 13.5 inches

For A4:

Work Area: 7.2 by 10.7 inches

Bleed: ½ an inch or ¼ an inch (goes outside of work area)

Safe Area: 5.9 by 9 inches

Manga Pages:

For Large (Professional) Size: (use A3, C3 or B4 paper)

Work Area: 8.7 inches by 12.2 inches

Bleed: ½ an inch or ¼ an inch (goes outside of work area)

Safe Area: 7.1 by 10.6 inches

For A4 (Doujinshi/Fancomic) Size:

Work Area: 7.2 inches by 10.1 inches

Bleed: ½ an inch or ¼ an inch (goes outside of work area)

Safe Area: 5.9 by 8.7 inches

Buy Preprinted Guidelines:

Premarked paper is the absolute easiest way to draw your comic or manga pages, as you don't have to worry about marking out all your guidelines, they're already provided for you, and are easy to digitally erase. You also don't have to worry about choosing the right type of paper weight or smoothness- that's all done for you. You can draw, with no fuss!

Profesional Standard Premarked Comicbook and Manga Pages

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    • craftycollector profile image

      craftycollector 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks! There's a lot of information online when it comes to drawing manga, but rarely is the (very important!) topic of paper covered. I hope it helps you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      A great lens, I've learnt a lot about manga from it

    • craftycollector profile image

      craftycollector 5 years ago

      @Frednun1965: Thanks, I appreciate your visit

    • Frednun1965 profile image

      Fred Alb 5 years ago from Uruguay

      Good Lens!

      More interesting!