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The Tools You Need For Drawing Manga

Updated on August 2, 2013

The tools and art supplies that every manga artist needs...

There are so many different products and art sets available today, from office supply stores to specialist artshops. But what are the tools that you need if you want to draw manga, the japanese form of comicbooks? You've got your pencil and your pens, but something's lacking. Have you got the right tools for the job? And what are the tools the pros use? Read on!

I'm going to go over the basic, must-haves for any manga artist. You'll find these to be not only the most useful, but also the most affordable manga art tools available!

Mechanical Pencils

Your first tool! Pencils are needed for sketching out your drawing. While there is no problem in using wooden pencils, mechanical pencils are the go-to standard for manga and comicbook artists, as mechanical pencils give clean, sharp lines that are very easy to trace over with a pen. They are refillable- all you have to do is buy a packet of leads!

Pencil Lead Hardness

The most common hardness of pencil is 'HB', which is pretty good for manga. However, there are sets of pencils of varything hardness targeted at 'artists' and you may be tempted to buy a set of these. That's probably a mistake. It is better to buy pencils targeted at architects or tecnhical drawing, not 'artists' as these softer, darker pencils are usually intended for sketch artists who like to use dark, easy to smudge pencil.

Manga requires light, easily erased pencils from the harder (H) end of the hardness scale. Black (B) pencils are not suitable for manga as they are soft, dark and difficult to erase.

Manga Artist's Guide for Pencils

  • Buy 'drafting', 'technical' or 'architect'
  • Do not buy 'artist', 'sketch' or 'designer'
  • 'H' means hard and is light and slightly harder to erase, but erases cleanly.
  • 'B' means black and is soft, dark, and smudges easily.
  • Chose a mechanical pencil with a tip of 05 to 0.7 mm in diameter. These are the most precise and easiest to find refills for.
  • When buying refills for your pen, the only thing that needs to be the same is the size of the tip (the lead). 0.5 mm leads fit inside 0.5 mm tipped pens. You can use any brand or hardness that you like.
  • Traditional lead pencils are better if you're sketching artwork that you intent to ink with a brush or brush pen, because the lines are more similar.

Artist's Tip

If you like to sketch out basic shapes or guidelines before filling in details when you draw, you may find that your lines get messy and hard to decipher. To avoid this, buy two pencils of very different hardnesses. You can use the light, hard pencil to do you sketch, and then the darker, softer pencil to fill in the details and tidy up the lines.

Inking Pens

There is a huge variety of inking pens that are all very useful for a manga artist. The best color to use is (of course) black. Try to buy pens with ink that is quickdrying and water-resistant, as this will not smudge if you decide to color over it.

Fine tip/liner porous pens

'Fine' 'porous' pens are very popular and easy to use pens with a fine, solid tip that does not have any moving parts.

The most noticeable thing about these easy-to-use pens is that they come in a variety of sizes, and give smooth, precise lines which are great for manga artwork.

They are non-specialist, available in shops all over the world, and come with ink already inside (they are non-reffilable). They are cheap and easy to use, but also have a limited use (so it's good to buy more than one of the size you'll use the most).

Artist's Tip

Buy at least 3 different sizes of pen for your manga artwork. One for outlines, one for hair, details and backgrounds, and one for frames. Inking this way gives your pictures a lot of extra texture and definition!

Here's my gratuitous example, using FIVE different pen widths!

Rulers, French Curves, and Stencils.

These tools are often overlooked when you decide to try and draw manga, and if you forget them you'll soon end up making horrible mistakes!

Your ruler is needed to mark out frames, draw buldings and make all sorts of measurements, and there are certain rulers more suited to manga artists.

Your french curves are great for speed-lines and a full set can be used to draw any shape atall.

Your stencils provide a variety of simple shapes such as circles and stars, which are great for repeated patterns or accurately drawn objects.

Manga Artist's Guide for Rulers, French Curves and Stencils

  • Buy a ruler, curve, or stencil with an 'inking' (beveled) edge which prevents ink from splotching when you use a pen on it. Only the cheapest rulers lack this edge.
  • Transparent rulers, curves, and stencils, are highly recommended, as you can see your art through them and see exactly what you are doing.
  • A 30cm ruler is your basic, straight ruler. This is your basic (required) equipment
  • A 60 cm ruler (or longer) is needed for artwork on larger sizes of paper. If you buy B4, A4 or lettersize paper, you'll want this.
  • A 'bendy ruler' is a ruler which you can bend into any curve you need. Use this to draw curved lines, including manga-style speed-lines and shock-lines.
  • The most useful types of stencils for drawing manga are ovals. Ovals can be used to accurately draw clocks, plates, cups and car wheels.
  • Despite their odd looks, french curves are very useful, especially for manga style speed-lines.
  • Never let your ruler, curve, or stencil get damaged. The tiniest chip on your inking edge will cause a glaring misake in your line.


Yes, it's unbelievable, I know. How can there be different kinds of eraser?

Manga Artist's Guide To Erasers

  • A soft vinyl eraser is the rectangular and white eraser you're probably most familiar with. They work well with the hard leads suited to manga drawing. Try and buy one which is just soft enough to leave a small dent in with your fingernail. If it's any harder, it will damage your paper and smudge softer pencil-lines.
  • Kneaded erasers have an appearance similar to chewing gum. They're soft and maleable, and most suited for small areas or for lightly erasing lines so they can be redrawn. They're often called 'artist's erasers'.
  • An 'eraser stick' or 'eraser pen' is something you're unlikely to have seen. It is a thin eraser held in place by a plastic pen case. It is very similar to using the eraser on the top of a pencil, but it lasts much, much longer. It is very useful for erasing fine details.

Well, That's All You Need...

I've listed all the basics and useful gizmos, but wouldn't you like to know about the more niche, advanced tools? I'll soon be writing lenses on more advanced, and exotic manga art supplies! Pens with japanese names, tones, makers and more! Check back soon!

Can't get enough art advice?

Like this lens and visit back later! I'll be covering the following topics:

advanced manga tools (tones and digital manga suites!)

comicbook tools

and copic and prismacolor markers

all coming soon!

My Guestbook - Please leave a comment

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    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      oic, different tools for different art, i thought all pencils are the same

    • boneworld profile image

      Jackson Thom 

      5 years ago from West of Left South Lucky

      This is some guide. Great job!

    • boneworld profile image

      Jackson Thom 

      5 years ago from West of Left South Lucky

      Great resource. I'm bookmarking this one!

    • craftycollector profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @ruaridhmcdonald: I hope she enjoys them ^_^ Thank you for the fun comment! My deepest apologies for the late reply!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'll be giving all my B pencils away to my wife now. Excellent lens, will be back reading this again and again.

    • craftycollector profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thank you. I've tried to be as helpful as possible to people wanting to start drawing Manga.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      what a brilliant lens


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