Before you draw a manga background:
Drawing a manga background is easy. But planning ahead can make it even a more enjoyable journey. Before you start sketching, it would be helpful to know beforehand in you want to include people in your manga background. If so, then keep in mind that all of the rules you will apply to the background (shadows, light source, among others) are also applied to the people within your drawing. Also, decide how far the background will be. Are you drawing a background that’s close enough to you that you can see the facial features of all the people in your drawing? Is your background so far away that people are but shadows in your drawing? Where is your manga character(s) ? What is your manga character(s) doing?
Of course you don’t need to answer all of this questions, but at least thinking about them can give you a good start.
Okay, let’s draw!!!
(If you would like to see the images large, just click on then!)
1. Draw a rough sketch of your manga background
The sketch of any drawing you do doesn’t need to be pretty. Far from it. It should be visual aid, nothing more. And to stress that, I am showing you my very basic rough sketch of my manga background.
My rough sketch is not pretty, but it is helpful. With this, I have now an idea of how close my manga character is in the background.
I also know that I will be only drawing one manga character and that the character is in a private place, probably at her house.
Now it’s your turn.
Make a rough sketch of your manga background. Forget about it being perfectly drawn, just get the first ideas down. Where is your character(s)? What is your character(s) doing? What else is going on around your character(s)?
Hint: what your is character(s) doing can be a big clue of where the character will be and what elements are in your background. My character is happily chatting over the phone. It’s her house, so an open magazine on the floor and having her right leg playing with the phone cable as she gossips are clear clues that she is relaxed and that she is probably talking to someone she knows fairly well.
2. Refine your rough sketch and add more elements into your manga background.
After drawing your rough sketch, your next step should be to make the lines more clear. At this point, you should have a better sense of where your character is.
I redrew the lines of my sketch with an red ink so you could see the differences.
The house where the character is has a wooden floor, so with the red pen, I made rough lines in the floor. I also added details to the small stand on the side right of the page. The glass sliding door doesn’t have curtains, so I have added details within the glass door, so now we can see there is a balcony outside, which means she is likely on the second floor.
I have also added an extra wall which is where the phone is connected and a lamp drawn in half to give the impression that the rest of the lamp is behind the new wall…
Refining your sketches doesn’t neccesarily mean that you are just adding more elements into your manga background. It could also mean erasing elements.
What you erase is entirely up to you. You are the artist. ^o^ It’s your drawing. So feel free to experiment by adding and erasing elements until you are satisfied with what you see.
For my manga background, I deleted the cat (or dog) I had originally sketched. Also the bag on the hanger is gone.
Hint: Refine your sketches until you feel is ready to be inked.
3. Ink Your drawing
Grab your inking pen and trace the pencil lines of your sketch. The thickness of your inking lines depends on how you want it to look. Finer lines might give your drawing an elegant, yet fragile look. Thicker inking lines, might be visually perfect if you have added a lot of details. I drew a bookshelf with books so I figured I had inked my drawings with somewhat thick lines.
What you start inking is entirely up to you. I prefer to start inking everything but the characters.
Hint 1 : Feel free to add or erase elements at any point during your inking stage. I added a bookshelf to the left of the drawing and also the books and items in it.
Hint 2: Ink your manga background until is ready to be color. Don’t color your drawing if you still have some inking left to do. ^o^
4. Color your manga background with basic colors.
When coloring, you should first start with basic colors (or the base color). This way, you can add shadows and lights later.
Coloring your drawing with basic colors will help you see how much you repeat certain colors so you can edit accordingly. For example, if you are coloring a Christmas manga background, then you would like to have more red and green colors in your drawing than if you were coloring and drawing a Halloween party. ^o^.
Hint: There are many different coloring techniques. I like to experiment. But for this manga background I wanted to start with basic colors and build from there. There are certain things I colored from start to finish early on (like the sky for example) and you will know why later ^o^.
5. Add darker tones and shadows to add depth into your drawing.
This is, to me, the fun part. ^o^
The inking is done, the basic coloring is done. All that is left to do is to play around with the tones and shadows.
Notice how the lamp now has lighting effect. Also the wall and the bookshelf is slightly darker since the light source (the lamp) is behind the wall. Notice the lighting different in the wooden floor between the orange wall and the pants of the manga character. In summary, every detail you can add to further proof the light source, the more depth you are adding to your drawing.
Some manga artists like to draw less realistic manga or use lighter colors. Again, the choice is yours. Just as your favorite manga artists made their choices when coloring and drawing the covers of their mangas, you too should start experimenting with coloring and drawing techniques.
Hint: My personal advice on coloring techniques is to experiment with different techniques until you find the one you identified the most with.
6. Add lighting effects.
Do you want to know why I colored the night sky from start to finish early on in the coloring stage? Because I wanted to know if I was going to have a moon peeking out through it. Having a moon, means that there is an additional light source. And by having the moonlight reflected on the floor and on the manga character, I further proof that the moon is really up in the sky. ^o^
I also added new shadows here and there. Like the shadow at the feet of the small desk on the left and the shadow on the wooden floor of the hanger, by the green wall.
7. Give your manga background the final touch!
After your coloring is done, take a last look at your drawing. Is there anything that will benefit your drawing if added? Are there more elements you can add to further proof your character’s personality?
Is your character in love with taking pictures? Then why don’t you add a camera somewhere in your drawing? Is your drawing too green? Then add another color that will balance out the green. In this case, I added a red sofa on the upper right side.
Don’t get lost with details. Sometimes drawing less is more. It all depends on what are you drawing and what you want the main focus to be.
If you follow the steps, you should be able to draw your own manga background in no time. I will make another post in the future, but this time with a manga character outside of a building. It’s the same steps. The only thing that changes is the tone in which you color. Remember that during day, the colors you use when coloring will depend whether it’s a rainy day or a sunny day. Also, where you character is in a time frame will affect your choice of colors. A day on a beach has more yellow colors. Halloween has more brownish colors because of autumn…
But overall, don’t forget to have fun when you decide to draw your own manga background.
I will go back to drawing now. ^o^
What? You are making your own manga background now?