Drawing Manga is hard. Especially when you’re completely on your own and have no one to teach you how to swing the pen in the Japanese tradition every day. As a hobby artist, you can quickly lose motivation and, in the worst case, stop drawing for an indefinite period of time. The frustration is too great, the thought too debilitating that they will probably never manage to draw at a higher level.
But that’s complete nonsense! Anyone can learn to draw well – no matter how old or young, regardless of what we call "talent". It just depends on where you dig. If you try to learn everything alone, you will not get far. But if you develop steadily, through the knowledge and advice of other people who have been dealing with their subject for many years, you will progress frighteningly fast – be it in drawing or anywhere else in life.
This knowledge of others, you can easily acquire, whether for free or for a fee. There are numerous videos on YouTube that deal with drawing manga and there are countless websites that focus solely on it.
But this article is about the (in my opinion) best method to learn how to draw manga fast: books. Especially on Amazon you can find a bunch of good books, with great advice and step-by-step instructions for drawing. You will learn how to develop your own characters and how to set them perfectly in scene – be it through different angles, or the appropriate details. All tailored for beginners, of course.
To narrow down the selection a bit, I picked out the 3 best of these books and looked which one is best for which type of drawer.
How To Draw Manga: Developing Manga Characters
Probably the best-known German-language book, when it comes to the basics of manga drawing, comes from Hikaru Hayashi. In "How To Draw: Manga" you will learn how to develop your own characters. Through sketches and simple examples you learn quickly and even like to deal with difficult topics like "poses" and "dynamics". A verified buyer writes in Amazon’s customer reviews:
If you want to keep up with the great Mangakas, you will get the best instruction here in my opinion!! If you have a real interest in drawing manga, then the editions of "How to draw Manga" absolutely eclipse everything so far and I can only emphasize this again and again.
From a total of 5 stars, this book can get 4.7 on Amazon and is with a price of 17.90 € in a fair cost range. If you want to learn how to draw freehand – without templates and tracing – this is the pocketbook for you.
Manga Step by Step: Unique Basic Course
A slightly less expensive resource is the Manga Basics Course by Gecko Keck, which has a 4.4-star rating. On 160 pages, topics such as character structure, proportions or facial expression are covered – all of course as beginner-friendly as possible. Most of it is taught to the reader mainly through sketches and less through way too long texts without practical tips. A verified buyer writes:
I wanted to get into manga drawing and I’m absolutely new in this area. It helped me a lot to learn about the different styles and how to draw them. Everything is super explained and practicing is a lot of fun. From me there is a clear buy recommendation!
If you are looking for something compact that follows the learning-by-doing principle, you won’t go wrong with buying this book!
The Master Guide to Drawing Anime
The most famous book, around the topic of Manga drawing, comes from Christopher Hart. The entire book is in English, but if you have an intermediate level of English, that’s hardly an obstacle. Who mainly learns by templates and prefabricated examples, should give this work a chance, because not for nothing it was rated with an average of 4.6 stars. A buyer writes:
I bought this book a few months ago because I loved the idea of having templates to help me draw original characters. I’d describe this book as a mix of characters in different poses with some helpful front, back, side and ¾ views of male and female figures and faces in between.
Through beautiful drawings and immediately applicable tips, this book can teach anyone to draw manga, no matter how lost hope may seem. Should you not be put off by the English-only descriptions, this guide is a must for any beginner.
Note: All links in this post are Amazon affiliate links.