Lines From Center

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Draw the dialogue balloon with a pencil according to the number of lines it will hold.

Mark the center point.

Use masking tape to attach the head of a thumbtack to the center-point of the flash balloon. You can then rest the edge of your ruler against the pin, assuring that the ruler doesn't slip as you draw the radiating lines.


Radiating LinesRadiating Lines Manga

from the outside in the center. Decide the image you want in your mind and firmly draw the lines along the edge of the dialogue balloon.

from the outside in

Draw the lines with a ruler and pen the same way you would draw emphasis lines.

the center. Decide the image you want in your mind and firmly draw the lines along the edge of the dialogue balloon.

Lines drawn from the outside in toward the center. This is an advanced technique where the pens lines sharply thrust in.

While it is easy to draw these with a fine-tip pen, if the lines on the flashes are not sharp, they are meaningless. It is best to use a new pen.


I've heard that it's OK to pierce the page from the underside with a thumbtack to serve as a guide when drawing emphasis lines. Is this acceptable?

If possible, attach the thumbtack to the front of the page to avoid making a hole. However, if there is no room for the tack on the front, it is OK to punch the tack through the back. When you've finished drawing the lines, cover the hole with a piece of cellophane tape. Then cover the hole on the front with white-out. (If the punch mark is raised, press it down with a tone smoothing tool.) Afterward, it will be almost impossible to tell there was a hole.

Is India ink best for coloring in black?

This is a matter of taste. Illustrations colored in India ink look perfectly black on the page, and are therefore very pleasing to the eye. However, pages done in permanent black felt-tip markers look exactly the same as those colored with India ink once the pages are printed. In fact, permanent felt-tip markers have become the standard in manga, probably because of the hardness of the pens. Use fine-tip pens for the thin lines and thicker pens for the heavier lines. Still, it's a good idea to try to use India ink as well. Of course, it doesn't hurt to become proficient in the use of both India ink and felt-tip markers.

I peeked at a friend's manga illustrations and noticed a bunch of Xs here and there on such things as the character's faces and clothing. What are those marks?

The Xs probably mark places that will later be filled with black. Busy artists often use X marks to remind themselves to color in certain areas of their illustrations later on. Such marks are also used to mark areas that an assistant will work on. Red pens, whose ink will appear black when photocopied, are usually used to make X marks.

Why doesn't my pen work when I try to draw thin fines over an area corrected with a water-soluble correction fluid?

If you need to draw thin lines over a corrected area, make sure you use an oil-based correction fluid. If, however, you mistakenly use a water-soluble correction fluid, simply wait for it to dry and scrape it away with a cutter. You can then correct the area again with an oil-based fluid and draw lines over it once the fluid has dried. Be aware, however, that it can be difficult to draw lines over dried oil-based correction fluids as well. In some cases, It might be easier simply to start the drawing over again.

What are grades and what is a grade chart? Are manga given grades like those I received in school? ^^

Don't worry: Your manga won't be given grades such as those you received in school! Grades are the font size of the text. The word "grade" is commonly used in the printing industry. The text used in this paragraph, for example, is grade 13. A grade chart shows several text sizes side by side, and is useful when deciding what size text to use when adding dialogue to a manga. In general, manga on B4-size paper use grade 24 to 28 type, while manga on A4-size paper use grade 14 to 20 type.

I think my illustrations look great, but my handwritten dialogue doesn't look so hot. What should I do?

When you submit your work to a publisher, your handwritten text will be fine. In fact, you can even compose the dialogue on a word processor or computer, print it out and paste it into the balloons. When the manga is ready for publication, the publisher will have the dialogue drawn by a professional text illustrator.

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