PrintE-mail Written by Julian White

Review: 101 Top Tips from Professional Manga Artists / Author: Sonia Leong / Publisher: Ilex / Release Date: April 1st

Are you a budding manga-ka, eager to become the next Katsuhiro Otomo or Hayao Miyazaki? Then here's a bright, colourful how-to guide that might well help you on your way.

Sonia Leong and her fellow contributors are all practising artists. They take you through a solid foundation of drawing basics before moving onto more advanced and interesting stuff such as character design (the importance of a good silhouette and great hair), telling your story through panels, creating movement with action lines and 'chibis' (cute, miniaturized versions of manga characters).

It's a sign of the times that much of the book is given over to digital media (and guess what they call good old paper and pencils these days? 'Natural media'.). There's plenty of detailed advice on getting the most from a scanner and programs such as Photoshop, PaintTool SAI and Manga Studio. The last section – on how to assemble your art into a finished comic, be it in print, online or as an eBook – is particularly strong, flagging all sorts of potential pitfalls. (Apparently, screentone – the dotted shading used in most b/w manga – can be particularly fiddly to get right.)

Reading this attractive guide makes you appreciate just how much premeditation goes into even the most humble manga story, something we all might want to bear in mind the next time we tear through one in a quarter of an hour. By the way, here at Starburst HQ we tried out some of the tips and ended up drawing something that looked like a samurai Mr Potato Head, but that isn't to say you won't have better luck.

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