Book review: Mastering Manga

April 5, 2012 at 16:19 (Blog, Books, Video) (, , , , )

When I started drawing a few years ago I spent a lot of time looking at YouTube videos, both for tutorials and inspiration. One of the persons I immediately subscribed to and have kept on watching is Mark Crilley, an american manga artist I’ve come to admire, both for his art and for his excellent drawing tutorials.

A short while ago Mark wrote a book called “Mastering Manga“, and I though I’d write a little about it to let you know what my thoughts about it are. But first, here’s a quick flipthrough of the book so that you might get a little hint of what’s inside.

As you can see, the book is in full color and beautifully illustrated, both with step-by-step instructions, poses to use as references, and examples of various styles of manga. The book is divided into three parts.

Heads and Faces explain the proportions of a manga-face ang give you several examples of how the face is drawn from various angles. The author has included notes and examples of both older and younger faces, pointing out various pitfalls you’d like to avoid.

Proportions and Poses zooms the view out a bit and focuses on the body as a whole. The first part of the chapter focuses on getting the right bits in the right place using relatively static poses, though he does keep things fresh by using various body types and ages.
The latter part of the chapter have to sketching out bodies in motion as well as giving you several poses to use as reference. He also shows you how to draw people interacting with each other. The chapter ends with a part about drawing clothes and how wrinkles form.

Setting the Scene, the third and final chapter, is more varied than the first two chapters. It start off with several pages explaining and showing how to use one-, two- and thre-point perspective to build up scenes (with many examples, naturally).
Mark theen writes a few tips about inking; how to use the pens, a little about crosshatching, how to use your wrist effectively, that kind of thing. He also mention a staple of manga, speedlines.
He finishes the chapter off with a piece about panel layout, proper placement of text/balloons and sound effects.

So, is the book any good?
Yes… And no. A bit of both really. Let me explain…

The book does an admirable job of showing you how various characters are drawn and give you enough info to let you start out yourself. Everything is picture-pretty and his step-by-step instructions ARE actually step by step unless certain other books I know off where you draw a stick figure and are told “…then add some details” and you’re shown a fully fleshed out figure.
Mark’s writing are good and to the point, conveying the maximum of information with as few words as possible.

So, what’s not to like?
The title. It feels misleading . “Mastering Manga”. To me that sounds like it’s supposed to go a little deeper, explaining a little of the hard stuff and advanced concepts. Instead this book gives your the bare minimum.
Mind you, it is a GREAT book as an introduction. It’s just not a book about MASTERING manga. He explain everything a beginning manga artist would want to know about, he just doesn’t dwell much on any one subject.

An example is hands and feet, something most newcomers will have a hard time tackling. Instead of giving detailed step-by-step guides to various poses for both hands and feet, the author has simply added two pages of hands and two pages of feet/footwear in various poses and tells you to reference them when needed. Maybe I’m just ungrateful here, but this just seems a little lazy to me.

I’m also a little befuddled about having the tips of drawing and inking at the BACK of the book when most of the time you’re going to use them are at the BEGINNING of the book. Minor niggles, though.

All in all I really liked the book, though it also was a little diappointing. Would I recommend it? Heck yeah, if you’re starting out and don’t have any experience drawing it’s an absolute steal! But, if you DO have some experience behind you, I’d rather look for a different book.


Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Impact
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440309310
ISBN-13: 978-1440309311
Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches



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