The Ultimate Mangaka Starter Pack I: Pencilling and Inking

Manga is the most popular and influential form of comic book art in the world today. And while most western comic books rely heavily on digital methods (more on that here) over in Japan manga authors (or mangaka) stick to the old-fashioned methods. And the results are staggering!

Bakuman
Bakuman by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba is an amazing guide to the world of manga.

But before you can join the likes of Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), Takeshi Obata (Death Note), or Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) you’re going to need the right tools for the job!

Paper

  • Daler-Rowney 70gsm Manga Sheets A4 (£6.75) UKUS
  • Winsor & Newton Extra Smooth Bristol Board Gummed Pad – A3 (£13.20) UKUS

If you’re planning on using colour it’s hard to beat Daler-Rowney. Their products are incredibly high quality for the price and their manga sheets are designed to prevent markers leaking through the paper (more on markers in part 2).

But if you’re not planning on using markers (or even if you are and can afford the best) I’d recommend Winsor & Newton Extra Smooth Bristol Board. Bristol Board is the comic book industry standard and is incredibly high quality. Ink won’t leak through but it’s main strength is that it’s perfect for scanning onto a computer for digital work (more on that in part 3).

Bristol Board
It’s just so beautiful… *sobs*

Pencils

  • Pentel Graphgear 500 Mechanical Pencil (£5.73) UKUS
  • Faber-Castell 9000 Art Set 12 x Pencils (£9.74) UKUS

A lot of mangakas use mechanical pencils and I’m a diehard fan of the Pentel Graphgear 500. It’s considered to be one of the best, and I have to say it works like a dream.

Graphgear 500
Behold the sword with which you conquor the world of comics! Or like, draw dicks in textbooks and stuff…

If, however, you’re looking to keep it old school (or opting for pencil shading over colour) I highly recommend the Faber-Castell 9000 Art Set. Faber-Castell are consistently amazing for affordable art and this set is no different. Offering a range of softness, from 2H to 8B (more on that here). The best choice if you’re not into mechanical pencils. (Just don’t forget your sharpener!)

Inking pens

  • Deleter Manga Starter Kit (£8.85) UKUS
    • Deleter Comic Pen Nib G-pen 3pc – 2set (£26.08) UKUS
  • Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Markers x3 (£5.99) UKUS
  • Kuretake Japanese Brush Pen (£3.28) UKUS
    • 4 pack (£11.91) UKUS
  • Kuretake No. 40 Fountain Brush Pen ($36 USD or £28.08) Global

Not all pens are created equal (learn more here) but some are truly outstanding. Manga artists over in Japan are in love with the G-Pen (more on those here) as you may have noticed if you’ve read manga like Bakuman (Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata). But, in all honesty, they’re super hard to use. If you go down that route I recommend the Deleter G-Pen. The starter pack will have you ready to go before you know it. (It might also be worth picking up some spare nibs too for when those wear out but it’s not a necessity just yet).

Fine liners are a more modern tool but no less important. They’re less fuss than the G-Pen as you don’t need to worry about ink or cleaning out your nibs. So, if you’re not committed to going old school they’re definitely a fantastic way to go. The Deleter G-Pen pens are even specially designed for manga! They’re available in most craft stores or you can pick up a pack online. (Just make sure you’ve got a spare so you’re not caught short!)

Kuretake Fountain
If you don’t find this absurdly cool you’re probably on the wrong website.

Kuretake brush pens work amazingly alongside either a G-Pen or fine liners. They’re available in both disposable and refillable versions and even western comic book artists like Ryan Ottley (Invincible) swear by them. These things are not only a joy to use but make you feel like a Shaolin monk while you do!

Next Time: Getting Colourful!

So that just about covers everything you’ll need for pencils and inking. Come back next week for The Ultimate Mangaka Starter Pack! Part 2: Colour and Screentones!

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