Tools don’t make the creator, but they do give the work a feel and a voice. In this time where western manga is still finding it’s place and voice, I find it important to consider the tools of the Japanese creators we read and love.
I recently watched Manben, a Japanese tv show where Naoki Urasawa visits a variety of manga artists and films them working for several days. Then they sit down together, watch the footage and discuss it. It’s an amazing show but can be very difficult to find subbed as it hasn’t been released (and NHK flags and takes down subs). I cannot express how illuminating it is to hear artists discuss their work, inspiration tools, methods etc. I felt like I learned a lot and was freed from the restrictions of a “Deleter Manga Pack”
Ball point pens, brush ink, digitally flipped faces, digitally manipulated photos printed out and drawn on. I realized that while there is a baseline of standard tools, there is also an interesting selection of personal choices that may give a manga it’s specific flavor.
TLDR: The basic set of tools to make traditional/analog manga feel right would be dip pens with a G-pen nib (main), Maru (fine point), Spoon (soft for hair) and school nib (hard, good for detail but not as fine as Maru. Anything else is a bonus.
Paper: The Name (Japanese for Manga rough draft) and sketches can be on any paper. Once you start inking, you’ll want comic or manga paper. If you plan to tone by hand, you’ll want paper that is thick enough to handle the scraping.
Pencil and eraser: .5/.7 mm mechanical are popular, but plenty use an HB or 2B wood pencil, even a blue pencil if you are delicate. Mono makes a consistent appearance, probably due to location, much like Stadler here. Find an eraser that removes the pencil well, without smudging or making your paper pink. I accidentally bought a box of “soft” erasers once… wouldn’t erase shit and just crumbled. I’m still mad. I’ve never tried mono, but I still have a big box of pentel poly-erasers that worked well. If you find your paper gets badly smudged, consider gloves – oil and sweat can cause that.
Multi liners: Those are great for detail, line work and outlines. I personally can’t stand the squared nib on multiliners and - until I went digital - I only used them for frames or the tiny 0.1 nib. I found Pilot G2 roller balls work easier for line details and are easier to control. If you use multiliners regularly, copic reusables are a little bit more expensive but worth it as the nib and ink is replaceable. I went through MANY fine nibs, but I’m a brute (I broke my Maru nib).
Rulers: Those are a naturally personal preference, though I recommend getting quilting rulers because they are clear and flat. French curves and circle stencils are worth exploring, too.
Tablets are more personal based on needs and budget.
I use an XP Pen but I know people who use Huion, Wacom and Ipad or Ipad Pro, so it depends. I implore you to do your own research and find something that fits your need and budget. Tablets come in a variety of sizes, some have extra buttons, others are stuck to a PC and some are more mobile. Wacome is generally considered the reigning brand of tablets but their prices tend to be out of reach for most artists. XP pen and Huion are fairly similar in price and use the same software, Xp is Japanese made and Huion Chinese. I went with XP after a side by side video of how the screen holds up over time.
Digital: I love and hate digital for color. My love for Sui Ishida's abstract digital is undying, and you really can’t go wrong with cell shading. However, when used by many web comics artists they look shiny, boring and gross. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is I hate so much about it, but it almost always ruins the line art… Perhaps it’s the *over rendered* digital look or the uninspired color choices. At least with Copic, the limited pallet forces you to be creative.
I’m discovering through digital that coloring comics or manga is a specific skill set all in itself. In the hands of some artists it has the fluidity of watercolor with the punch of oil, and a solid power in the colors only acrylic can bring.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.