20 July 08
Over the years I’ve aquired quite a selection of ‘How to Draw Manga’ books. Some were good, some not so good, and some really didn’t help at all. Selena Lin’s Manga School is definately up there in the good category. Aimed primarily at shojo artists and people who have never tried to draw manga, this handbook contains lots of tips and techniques that can easilly be adapted to many artists styles (manga or not).
The book starts with a short comic staring Selena and a very cute (yet very domineering manageresque) monkey, who frequently returns throughout the book. This gives a very short view of what a comic artist goes through in order to try to meet a deadline, but still in quite a positive light. Quite subtly, the book also gives you a chance to see some animation in action (should you choose to progress onto that at a later stage), by using flip-book style imagery. If you look in the bottom right corner of the page, you’ll get to see Selena doing some excercises.
Manga School contains many of the chapters you’d associate with books of this style; body-head proportions and so on. However, there are also chapters within that I’ve yet to come accross in any of the other books I’ve seen; such as story creation and character development. Within the computer screentoning chapter there is also a list of different settings for Photoshop users, so that they can make some of their own tones.
It could be argued that the chapters themselves are too short, and taken up mainly by pictures. However, I personally would say that the text-picture ratio in this book is perfect. Many other books I’ve seen contain excessive pages of text followed by one or two pictures. This is quite tricky to follow if you only know the start and end results of what is being described. The techniques shown in this book are short and simple. So even if you don’t quite now what one step means by reading it, the moment you try it out it should click for you. The fact that the chapters are short also mean that you’re not overswamped with too much information so that you’ll end up forgetting everything. Also if you do forget anything important, you can very easilly find it once again.
I am happy to say that Manga School With Selena Lin, is by far the best ‘How to Draw Manga’ book on my shelf. It’s cute, it’s interesting, it’s jam-packed with information and techniques, and it’s really easy to follow. I personally have learned a lot from it and will be adapting them to my own drawings (when I start up again). I also enjoyed Selena Lin’s short gallery at the back and would have no qualms about recommending this to all.