How To Ink In A Manga Character (Basics)

So you have your manga character sketched out, what’s next? This drawing tutorial shows you how to ink in your manga character using a variety of pens and inks to perfectly finish off your stylised anime character.

The artist Luis Miganishi decides to demonstrate using a time lapsed video spread over 9 mins and place still freeze frames of content at each step guiding you through his current process and upcoming steps for inking in his manga character.

The first part he demonstrates a few tips and techniques to make the drawing process much easier for you whilst you undergo your creation and big step from pencil drawing to finished pen character. On his test sheet he practices with two pens which he uses for his drawings, these being the G-pen and the Kabura pen. If you do decide to use either of these pens (which are a lot like a traditional fountain or calligraphy pen) then it is important to heat the tip of the pen for around a second and a half to allow smoother flow of the ink as it’s transferred to the paper. He draws a variation of different shapes, long and short strokes, shaded areas and writing to test the nib of the pens making sure it is ready to be used for the pencil manga character.

Once satisfied that the pens work as they should he moves onto the manga drawing and begins with the hair using his favored choice of pen which is a Maru-pen. He confidently commits himself to every line using this thin tipped pen and quickly establishes the shape of the hair and even takes on some minimal shading where shadowing naturally occurs under the hairline where it meets the head. He moves on to the inking in the rest of the body including the coat using a G-Pen. A mixture of long confident strokes and short strokes with the pen quickly bring the character together and it’s not long before it is time to allow the ink to dry and use an eraser to rub out the original pencil drawing which once existed on it’s own.

The next step is where he selects the areas which need heavy black filling and shading with the ink pen to create 3D effects particularly on the large black trench coat which his manga creation is sporting. He uses a brush pen to fill in large areas and explains how it is a handy tool for applying both thick and thin lines which are extremely common within manga drawing styles and artwork. The other pen which he uses to block fill large areas is a TT permanent marker and is a great pen for filling in large sections quickly and precisely.

The tutorial is very thorough and shows first hand how quickly a manga character can take shape throughout it’s transition from pencil to ink. No artist can say he/she is done without the finishing touches so what Miganishi does is a few further cross-hatched lines to represent less prominent shading around areas like the trousers and the base of the coat which gives the manga creation that completed look. I hope you enjoy this art tutorial and you have found it useful to further your knowledge within the world of anime and manga drawing techniques.

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    1. Thank you! If you want to see more stuff follow me on my deviantart (link in my channel’s description), I’m more a DA user than Youtuber , so there you can find some stuff. I’m uploading a one-shot right now and I have another one shot from Madeath, my main manga.

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    2. How do you know which areas to darken and which areas to indicate light on the coat. aside from the light hitting the back, i also see bits of light on the front. Do you look at reference from real life or actual manga characters with similar clothing?

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    3. I just take light into consideration. The key is this: “If light comes from the right, highlight whatever’s facing right, color normally whatever is in the middle and shade whatever is facing left” So in this drawing’s case the light came from upper behind the guy. I’ll get camtasia or whatever that software’s name is to make a tutorial on that through screen tones. I’d do it on real life but my camera sucks hardcore and I can’t afford one right now lol Yet, I don’t use any reference at all ^^

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    4. Thank you! I know where the white goes due to the light. In this case, the light comes from above behind him, so whatever part of the coat facing that way must go white as a highlight. I was planning to add screen tones… but the paper was too big for my scanner back then (I have a bigger scanner now) and by the time I got my new scanner I couldn’t find this drawing TT__TT That’s why it may feel incomplete, but well… check my deviantart for more stuff, link in my channel 🙂

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    5. The ones I use in this video are Tachikawa G-pen, Tachikawa School-pen and Tachikawa Maru-pen, but nowadays I go for Zebra G-pen and any brand of Maru-pen. You can use whatever nib you like, each one of us adapts to a different kind, all depends on your style, how much you press the pen, how fast you draw and what kind of feeling you like (in my case I like it in between rough and smooth, perfect for Zebra G-pen, other people go for rough (Maru-pen) and others for smooth (Saji or Spoon pens)) 🙂

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    6. How do you get your ink to last so long after just one dip? Mine always runs out quickly. My art teacher said there was nothing I could do about this, but she wasn’t a good teacher so I don’t trust her. Anything I can do to keep my ink lasting longer?

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    7. I’m not really sure, it probably was the pen itself that couldn’t hold a lot of ink, or maybe it has dry ink all over it. Or maybe the ink you used was too thick while the pen was too thin? What kind of pen and ink were you using? My pens always worked this way except for one, a relatively large and curved nib, that always left a lot of ink on the paper, making thick lines, it took way longer to dry and you can imagine the rest.

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    8. Hmm Higgins, that doesn’t sound familiar but I guess the paper you use has something do to with it. The rougher the paper the less your ink last but the less it takes to dry. In my case I use a type of special bristol paper that’s not really smooth nor really rough and the ink lasts pretty well. Or probably you’re just not dipping them deep enough? I’ll experiment a little to see what the problem is and if I find it I’ll tell you 🙂

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    9. Emm,i use flo-gel waterproof ink,but when im done,i wait for like 10 min. and then try to erase the pencil work,but i end up ruening all the picture,the ink goes every where and my erasers all black..what should i do?(sorry for my bad english,hope u understand what i mean. :P)

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    10. miganishi -kun tremendo ink el que hisistes te felicito nunca e tratado de hacerle un ink a mis dibujos pero ia tratare aver si me sale al igual que el suyo , aparte cual es el nombre de su cancion queso mui buena en su video

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    11. You think so? Thank you ^^ when I made this video I was 16, now I’m 20 and think it’s crap XD well, answering to your questions:1. I’m not that good…2. Back then, 5 years, today I’ve been drawing manga for 9 years and still going.3. Draw… a lot… an epic lot… and analyze each individual drawing, detect mistakes, redo it without those mistakes, analyze again and repeat, 3 times each piece, works for me.4. If you like my stuff check my da 😀 (link in my channel’s description).

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    12. What kind of pen is it? Like mine? Fountain pen? Depends on the kind and the size what you can do about it, but in case it’s like mine simply wash it thoroughly and dry it as quickly as you can so it won’t rust. If it still fails then change your ink, it may be too old and/or too thick.

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    13. Erm I am a beginner with this whole nib pen thingo, I have yet to buy one though, but I was thinking if I should buy one because I use a pigment liner, not satisfied with it though, I can’t create smooth and thin lines. Should I get one(Nib pens)? I presume it is quite expensive

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    14. I say you should give it a try, these things make the smoothest lines ever, and it’s not even that expensive; if I remember right, at Hobby Lobby I got a pack with 2 holders and about 5 nibs for $12 dollars, not such a bad deal. However, it IS kind of hard to use at the beginning and if you press it too hard you will ruin the nib, so try making some practice lines before inking anything because I’m telling you now, you’re gonna ruin your artworks on your first attempts to using these things.

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    15. Oh sorry, another question, I just got one of those dip pens and I tested the pen, my problem is when I am like making lines it will sometimes make like a black spot in the middle of it, is it because of the paper I use or because I draw the line too slowly? Thank you again 🙂

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    16. Hmm, how does the nib look? Since there are several types naturally they’ll be different from one another; I don’t think it’s the nib but just making sure. It could be the paper, if you’re using paper with some kind of rough texture that is not very thick and/or resistant that may happen. Nibs work better on smooth paper so you could test them on copy, bristol (best), marker or any smooth and/or thick paper. What type of ink do you use? Inks vary as well, you could be using a very light one.

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    17. I have a G-pen that I burned for about a second that has a weird scratchy feeling when I try to draw with it. The lines are jagged and gross and stupid and I don’t like it at all. Is there anyway to fix this or this a throw away pen? Both sides of the nibs haven’t crossed over one another and it looks completely fine but it writes pretty badly. Thanks for your time!

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    18. Hmm… maybe it has too much dry ink on it? Try washing it, but don’t leave it wet or it’ll rust. Make sure you clean it thoroughly after using it each time. Burning it is only the first time you use it. Maybe your ink is too old and/or thick, try getting a newer one.

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    19. I tried cleaning it a couple of times and it’s still acting weird haha. Oh I see, I burned it a couple more times after and saw no improvement so I probably made it worse haha! Ah I have used the same ink bottle for awhile and refill it with new ink, I use pilot water based drawing ink and it worked pretty well for the other nibs. I tried a new one and it seems to be working well now. Guess it was just a bad nib combined with bad burning haha! Thanks for the tips!

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    20. I see, well, you’re welcome 🙂 Also, if it’s a g-pen it comes in 3 different brands as far as I know: Tachikawa, Nikko and Zebra. Yours maybe is Tachikawa, it’s kinda rough while Nikko is softer but lines are thicker, as for Zebra… PERFECT, that’s all I can say about it. Well, keep trying, it takes some practice to get used to the G-pen, but once you get the hang of it, there’s nothing better.

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    21. Hahah, it’s not really epic shading, simply make quick and soft lines on the same direction close to one another, you should get used to it with some practice really fast 🙂 I’m a more active DeviantART user, so you can check more of my stuff out there, the link is in my channel’s description :3

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    22. Umm, no it wasn’t, at least not in this video. It says very clearly in the title, “How to INK manga,” so I used pen for the whole thing. Anyway, if you shade with pencil you can scan it as “grayscale”, either “true gray” or “error diffusion”, I rather go with True Gray because it’s smoother.

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    23. Lo siento, pero me da mucha hueva poner subtitulos DX El video se explica por si solo, nomas pruebas las plumillas, delgada para cabello, normal para lo demas, pincel para areas negras delgadas o pequeñas, marcador para areas grandes, esperas a que se seque y listo 🙂 Puedes seguir tambien mi deviantart si te gusta lo que hago, el link esta en la descripcion de mi canal.

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    24. Ah yes! I bought a couple of each brand and some other random types and I think I was using a Tachikawa. I’ve used the Zebra one for a long time and it’s totally awesome haha! I just thought I’d try the other types too but Zebra is the most reliable one thus far. Thanks I’ll keep practicing; always a work in progress haha! I really like these pens and I thank you for telling me more about them :)!

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    25. Hmm, any size actually, I have from small sketchbooks to large 11×17 in paper. It depends on what I want to do as well, I use simple copy paper for normal, boring sketches, B4 paper (11×14) for manga pages and covers, and 11×17 for illustrations and so forth.

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    26. Holy crap, That’s an amazing drawing, I can tell that you’re very skilled at drawing mangas and if you ever get the chance to read this message, I want to ask you if you could draw my story for me, I’m working hard on my drawings but it’s still pretty bad and I wanna see how you would illustrate it.

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    27. coz its amazin 😉 thanks 🙂

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