This tutorial by our in-house mangaka, Chihiro Howe, leads you through the detailed process of inking and finishing your manga sketch in black and white. Her helpful list of tools for the trade, and easy-to-follow progress photos are not only inspirational, but educational as well.
- Prepared sketch ready for inking
- Smooth paper
- Copic LED Tracing Light box
- IC Dip Pens Nibs
- Copic Gasenfude
- IC Progear Razor Knife: screen tone cutter
- Box opener (or any cheap cutting knife)
- IC Progear Screen Tool: screen tone burnisher
- IC Premium Black Ink and Super White Ink
- IC Screen Tones
- Masking tape
Many Japanese mangakas ink directly onto the sketch and erase their pencil sketch afterwards. I like to keep my sketches separate, so I tape the inking paper over the sketch and use my light box to trace the image.
Since I’m not inking to the edge of the paper, I taped the edge of the drawing with masking tape as a reference, so I have a nice crisp line when I’m done.
Unlike regular inking pens, you have to dip the dipping pen into ink in order to draw. Make sure to not cover the hole of the nib with ink. This hole helps the ink to flow.
I start inking the hair beginning with the bangs, because they go over everything else on the face. It depends on the style of your drawing, but when I’m using a dipping pen I like to add a lot of lines to make it look more sketch-like.
Next I work on the eyes. With manga, especially shojo-style, the eyes are the most detailed part of the drawing. I typically draw shojo-style manga, (translated as girl-style) which is a type of drawing created for younger girls.
I used the mapping pen for the hair, since I wanted to make the lines very thin to show the delicateness of the hair.
With a mapping pen, I started with the outlines – the top lid, the bottom lid, the iris, the highlight, and the pupil.
Then I used the crosshatching technique to put details into the eyes. By changing the angle of the lines little by little, you can show a gradient.
I used the G pen for the rest of the lines. It’s easy to tell the difference between the two pens: the Mapping pen creates thin, delicate lines, while the G pen makes strong lines. The Mapping pen is stiffer, so it’s harder to draw a line with varying thickness, whereas the G pen is very flexible so you can draw lines with different thicknesses.
After the inking is done, the next step is to do the “beta” and “tsuya-beta” coloring. In Japanese manga terms, “beta” means to color in black. “Tsuya-beta” is to color in black, leaving some parts uncolored to show the highlights. This technique is used for coloring black hair.
For “tsuya-beta”, the best pen to use is the brush pen. Leave the highlight area blank and color in the dark areas with strokes. If you’re afraid to do this freehand, you can mark the areas you want to leave blank with a pencil and erase afterwards. I add an ‘x’ to the sections I want to color black as a reminder to myself. This is also helpful if someone else is coloring the sketch for you.
I used the Copic Gasenfude to color. This pen has a brush tip, so I can use it to color small areas and big areas all with just one pen.
I also colored the top half of the eyes with the brush pen, so I didn’t have to do all the crosshatching.
After beta coloring, the next step is to do some touch ups before moving on to using the screen tones. Here I used white ink, Super White from IC. The ink itself is very thick, so in order for me to use it with a dipping pen I mixed it with water. It dries fairly quickly; so I used a small container to hold just the amount of ink I’m going to use (same goes with the black ink, unless you put the lid back on after every time you dip the pen).
With the white ink, I made some highlights in the eyes and hair, and fixed little mistakes.
Screen tones are sticker sheets with patterns printed on them. Every pattern is made of black dots, even the ones that look gray, so they show up on print. Each sheet has a semi-transparent paper back, so you can see through the image underneath.
There are many ways screen tones are used, and for my image I used them for shadows, color, and pattern on the clothing and background.
First thing is to make sure the surface of the image is clean and dust-free. If you use a screen tone on a dirty surface, it shows up on print. Then place the tone onto your drawing, without peeling it off from the paper.
Cut out the tone bigger than the area you want to use it on, and peel it off.
Place it onto the image, and cut it into shape using the tone cutter. Any type of cutting knife is good, but the tone cutter has a small thin blade that makes it easier to cut out intricate shapes. For the shadows of the girl I used Y-1062, a fine dot tone. Screen tones are very thin, so you can cut them without putting too much pressure onto the tone cutter. Make sure the pressure is gentle enough to not cut the paper underneath.
Tones are sticker sheets, but the glue on the back is very weak unless you rub it on. This allows you to peel off and stick it back on if you want to move it. In order to really apply the tones, place a scrap piece of paper over the tones and use a tone burnisher to rub. The plastic burnishers leave black marks on the paper, so always make sure you have a piece of paper between it and the image!
One of the techniques I used with this image includes making gradients on parts of the tones. You can achieve this by scraping off the printed dots with a cutting knife. Use a cheaper cutting knife, because this causes the knife tip to become dull. Just like the crosshatching in the eyes, you use the crosshatching technique with a knife here. With the ink, the more lines you add, the darker it gets. But with the screen tones, the more lines you add the lighter it gets.
After the shadows were done, I moved on to the clothing. I only used three different screen tones this time, but there are a lot of things you can do with it. I wanted to make her clothing striped, but instead of getting a stripe-patterned tone, I placed strips of Y-1062 tone, and another layer of the same tone over the whole area. The parts where tones overlap make it darker. Depending on how you angle the sheets, Moire appears. Moire is the pattern you can see when you overlap screen tones. Usually you want to avoid this, but for her clothing I liked how it looked so I purposefully left it there.
I used Y-1238, a fine dot gradient tone, for the sleeves, potion, and the hair. This is a gradient tone, so depending on which area you use, you can get a darker or lighter colored tone.
I also used a part of Y-1531, lace doilies, for the lace on her shirt.
For the background, I used parts of Y-1531. Make sure the screen tones are securely attached, and voila! The image is done.
For the background, I used parts of Y-1531. Measure, cut, and burnish the selected screen tones onto the piece, then make sure the screen tones are securely attached, and voila! The image is done.
As always, leave questions in the comments below! If you're interested in learning more about drawing manga, read the following article.