You can't draw unless you have the proper materials. Here
we'll go over some basic, necessary, and optional materials
you may want to try out or get for yourself.
Must Have Basics
Everyone needs a pencil to start off drawing. Most people
like to use the #2 or HB pencil. It's standard and it's
Artists pencils are classed based on the lead
used. B refers to soft lead and tends to easily smudge
while H refers to hard lead. H pencils are less likely to smudge
but are more prone to making indents on your paper. These types
of pencil are optional and ranges up to 5, meaning the
softest/hardest type of lead.
Another option from the common pencil is the clicky pencil
which saves you from constant sharpening by just replacing
the lead. If you draw a lot, it's best to get a clicky pencil
with a cushion. If you can't get one with it already attached,
you can buy the grips separately.
For those using regular pencils, you can extend the life
of your pencils by using a pencil extender which tends to be
metallic and looks like the end of your pencil sans eraser.
Just attach and screw it to the end of you pencil and you're
good to go.
2) 8.5"x11" Paper
The most cost effective paper to use is regular printer
paper. For one ream with 500 papers, it's a deal at about
$3-4 each. For that amount or more, you can get only one
sketch pad with about 30 pages +/-. If you're really tight
on budget, use printer paper but I would recommend you eventually
get regular sketch and doodle pads. The paper in them are
thicker and can handle erasing more than printer paper.
Not to mention, if you like coloring your work with markers
and so forth, the paper won't warp and bend.
Sketch and Doodle Pads come in various sizes. Choose a
size that will work for you (i.e. handle markers, size is
easy to transport, etc):
3) 12" Ruler
Standard ruler. You'll need one if you want to draw things
- especially buildings and items with straight edges. It's
also useful for setting up perspective lines.
4) Work Space
In order to work properly, you need a place to draw your
stuff. It's best to draw on a desk but worse comes to worse,
floor space is all you need. Some people specifically buy
the artist's desk which slants and may have additional features
such as holders and so forth. If you're tight on budget
or space, an ordinary computer desk or table will work just
You can't draw without an eraser to fix your mistakes. The
most common eraser is the pink one (aka Pink Pearl) but the
better eraser is the white one. When you use the pink eraser,
it tends to leave a pink mark especially if you rub it really hard
on the paper. Avoid that by getting the white eraser.
For ease of use, some people use the clicky eraser. Like
the clicky pencil, the eraser can be refilled as you use
each stick up. Other erasers include the kneaded eraser
which is like handling putty or clay. You basically put
it over the parts you want to erase and it'll pick it up.
To "clean" it, you just need to knead it (i.e.
pull it over itself like dough).
Manga Purposes: Starting Off
1) Inking Pens
The are various "inking" pens and the most basic
of those that are in pen form (i.e. it already has ink in
a tube and is just like using a pen). Whether you used refillable
inking pens or not, they all come in various tip sizes.
The tip is what determines the size of the line that is
drawn. Sizes include: 0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, etc.
2) Light Box
The light box is a useful tool to have when you need to
re-do an image. It comes in handy when doing manga, pin-ups,
clothing designs, and even if you're into animation. Light
boxes may be bought at the store for about $20+ depending
on it's size.
The poor man's light box is to use outside light via the
window or use a glass table and shine a light underneath.
You can also build your own light box using a wooden box,
a glass or plexi-glass, and a bulb. Just visit your local
hardware store for the materials, take the time to assemble it,
and viola! - instant light box.
Templates come in various shapes and sizes. The most useful
of the templates are shape and curved templates. Shape templates
have pre-cut shapes stamped into the form such as circles,
ovals, squares, diamonds, and rectangles. Instead of wasting
your time in measuring and perfecting these shapes, the
template saves on time and effort.
The other useful template to have are curved tamplates which
are used for making motion and action lines.
You can get more templates such as lettering and other
fancy designed outlines but the shape and curved templates
are the most important templates to have on hand.
If you can't use a pre-sized template, the next best thing
is to use a compass. It'll come in handy when you're doing
motion lines such as arcs and bigger round shapes. There
are two types of compasses:
a) one with a point on one end and a clasp for pencils on
b) one with two claps on both ends so you may put pencils
on both ends
Compass A is the easiest compass to get a hold of than B.
Either one will work just as fine so no need to sweat it
if you can't get B. If you'd rather not waste money on a
compass, then you can use a thumbtack and string to make
your arcs and circles.
5) Blue Pencil
You've probably seen a pro's work sporting some blue lines.
If you don't know already, that's what's called non-photographic
blue. Not just any blue pencil will work - it has to specifically
say "non-photographic". Artists use this special
pencil particularly when doing roughs and sketches. They'll
then go over their drawing with permanant black ink. When
their work is photocopied or printed out - the blue lines
will not show up but the black lines will. Be careful though!
If you push the blue pencil hard enough, it will show up
on the final product. The trick is to not draw too heavily.
It's also easier to erase on lines drawn lightly.
This is very useful for those of you interested in animation.
6) Bendable Ruler
The bendable ruler is a flexible piece of material that
you can bend to almost any curved shape you desire. If the
compass and template can't make it, then this baby can.
It's very useful for those weird wavy lines that will take
several steps on a template or compass. You can save on
materials by not getting this but as always, your time is
The T-square is a long ruler with a 90 angle at one end.
It's primarily used for that right angle for backgrounds.
Now that you're starting out as a manga-artist, this will
come in handy for all the backgrounds that you'll be drawing.
If you haven't gotten to backgrounds yet - stop avoding
it and get it over with. Learn how to draw backgrounds with
this thing and it'll make things easier for you... or would
you rather measure things all the time? You can do without
this but it'll eat away on your time.
8) 18" Ruler
This will come in handy for those papers that are bigger
than 12" - and when you start working on submission
papers for your manga, the specifications tend to have one
side above 12" (particularly when you're submitting
to a comic book and not graphic novels). Instead of using
a 12" ruler back to back to measure your stuff, an
18" ruler will get the job done without that extra
9) Doujinshi Paper
When you're starting out, doujinshi paper or "fan-made"
paper is the way to go. Doujinshi paper are pre-lined and
numbered which makes it easier to draw your lines and where
to confine your drawings. If you're short on cash, you can
use standard drawing paper and draw in the lines yourself.
If you don't have the time - just spend that extra money
and get the doujinshi paper. Drawing a comic layout is very
Manga Purposes: Advanced
The brushes is mainly used to apply the correction fluid
(aka white out). You can also use it for inking in large
areas of black background. It's best to get a thin brush
so it may be used for tight areas as well as larger areas.
Tones are used to add depth and interest to a manga. Styles
vary from dots, lines, cross-hatches, and things like feathers.
You can get actual sheets of tones or you can use digital
tones. If you can't find it on the net, you can also make
your own tones.
3) Manuscript Paper
Unlike doujinshi paper, this is the real thing that pro's
use to submit their work. Japanese ready-made manuscript
paper tend to be on the smaller size compared to comic book
paper which is about 11"x15". When submitting
your material to publishers, make sure you check out their
specifications and get the appropriate paper.
4) Cutting Board
A cutting board is used to protect your workspace (i.e.
your desk) from the cutting knife. It's usually a clear
plastic piece but if you can find something that works just
as well, then use it.
5) Cutting Knife
The most reason you will use your cutting knife for is for
the tones. To cut and to scratch it to make effects. Otherwise,
really no need for you to get this item if you're not using
6) Paper Cement
Paper cement is used for one purpose: to attach your tones
to your manga. It's very sticky so be very careful when
handling and attaching tones to your work. If you stick
something to it accidentally - good luck prying it off.
7) Correction Fluid (White Out)
White usually comes in small bottles or in pen format. What
mangaka's usually use come in a bottle with a wide rim to
easily dip in a brush.
Ink is what you need if you're using old fashioned pen and
nib. It comes in big and smaller bottles. I suggest you
get the small bottle and just refill it with the bigger
bottle. The best ink is one that is waterproof and fadeproof.
Waterproof so your ink won't run if it gets wet and fadeproof
so that your ink stays the same color even after X amount
9) Pen and Nib Inking Pens
These are the traditional inking pens that uses a nib. Much
like calligraphy, the tip determines the width of the line.
There are all types of tips and just as many mankers. Find
and use whats best for you and remember to wipe clean your
nib from ink after each use. And dry it off so it lasts longer
and doesn't start to rust.
These are optional materials you can use if you're interested
in making pin-ups, colored covers, and other handy things
Tortillions are paper wrapped up in a spiral. It's used
to blend pencils and create that smooth looking transition
between black and white. It's a nifty tool to have if you
like doing black and white images.
2) Colored Pencil
Colored pencils are one of the most cost effective materials
to own if you want to color your drawings. Most colored
pencils have hard lead but you there are soft leaded colored
pencils as well. If you can get your hands on them, I've
found that the most vibrant colored pencils to be made by
Prismacolor. They're a bit pricier than the other brands
but the results are fantastic.
3) Watercolor, Watercolor Pencil
Watercolor is a good alternative to oil paints and acrylics.
Watercolors come in tubes, in palettes, and in pencil format.
The watercolors that turn out the best colors are Prang.
Others tend to turn out flat in the end.
If you want to get into painting on canvases, acrylic is
the best way to start. Ventilation is not needed unlike
5) Oil Paint
Oil paints is one of the traditional methods of painting
on canvases. If you want to use these, make sure you're
in a well ventilated area - the fumes are bad for you.
If you're not picky on what to color your drawings with,
then use crayons. They're easy to get and you probably have
them already. They're like soft leaded colored pencils.
There are two types of markers: acid and oil-based.
Airbrushes create a different effect from other materials
because of their spray. Aside from drawing on paper, air
brushes may be used to color other things as well such as
These are those wooden modeling dolls you see all the time
at art stores. They help depict certain poses you may have
trouble picturing or drawing. It's a lot handier than getting
someone to pose for you or you just can't pose on your own.
There are three types of figurines: male, female, and non-gender
specific. Non-gender specific is the most versatile of the
three and offers a basic figure between the two sex's.
10) Color Chart
If you're heavily into coloring your drawings, a color chart
is highly useful when you want to make a certain color.
It helps to keep colors consistant if you mix your paints
on your own instead of buying that particular color.
11) Portfolio Wallet
A portfolio wallet is basically a big folder that you store
and carry your artwork in. Typical portfolio wallets are
made out of paper and have a string to close the folder.
More modern wallets are made out of plastic and close with
velcro. Some may even have a handle at the top for easier
Other storage devices include boxes; in paper or metal;
and wooden storage units - vertically or horizontally inclined.
Computer Related Materials
1) Photoshop, Corel Draw, or similar graphic software
If you want to CG your works properly, you have to get a
decent graphic software which has the ability to work with
layers. Layers allows you to work with certain parts of
your drawing one at a time without affecting other areas.
Use whatever software works best with you be it Photoshop,
Corel, PaintShop Pro, etc.
There are artists out there who use various softwares and
even use photo-editing softwares for some neat filter effects.
Most graphic software has a trial period - look around and
try them out!
2) Drawing Tablet
If you CG artwork on a regular basis and is close to getting
carpal-tunnel syndrome - then get your hands on a drawing
tablet. If you're on a tight budget, you can get tablets
for under $100 but if you have no limit - a tablet can run
to the $1000's. The cheapest tablets are Wacom's Graphire
series which is an excellent starter tablet.
3) CG Illust
This software is specifically for CGing and Anime artists.
Created in Japan, this software has nifty features like
the other graphic softwares mentioned above. This software
also happens to include some CG tutorials from various artists.
Made in Japan, this software is made specifically for the
manga and comic creator. It has all the features you would
want on a manga software from tones, fonts, and more.