Why is Drawing Manga So Hard?

A lot of manga fans say that they want to make their own manga someday. And a lot of people do have great ideas for stories, intriguing characters, and are skilled artists. But when it comes to actually making a manga, well, it takes a whole lot more than just a good idea and passion to do it. Of course, those things are very important along with the ability to put your words and images onto paper. But creating a manga is a more difficult and time-consuming project than many people realise.

So just why is manga so difficult to draw? Why aren’t just a love for drawing and manga enough to become a manga artist? What makes the process of creating a manga so hard? Keep reading to find out why drawing manga is hard!

Building a Base

Before you can even begin to draw a manga, you have to plan your story. Manga artists have to take time to decide on a theme, genre, and intended audience before they can start to do anything else. After they have settled on these guidelines, they can make a plot that fits within them. It’s very important that the artist keeps the genre and audience in mind when writing their plot ideas. Manga isn’t just words but also pictures, mangaka have to think about WHERE every piece of their plot is happening as well.

After a mangaka has created the basic plotline, they can begin to design characters. Good character designs can make or break a manga, so it’s very important to create interesting characters. However, these characters are going to be drawn over and over again, so artists have to find a balance between a good character design and one they will be able to reproduce again and again. This process includes choosing a face, hair, body shape, and clothes - and it also is important to consider expressions, poses, and body language for the characters, too.

All of these time-consuming steps take place before even the first page of a manga is drawn. Even the planning stages of drawing a manga are difficult!

Bringing it to Life

Now, you can begin to draw the manga. But it’s not as easy as just putting some lines on a paper! Most mangaka start with some kind of storyboard, which is a rough sketch of their story. They have to first plan out how each page will be laid out, including drawing the panels themselves! Then once the panels are drawn, they can fill them in with characters, backgrounds, speech bubbles, movements, and effects. It takes a long time to plan this stage and draw it, even when it’s done roughly as a first draft. This is all done with pencil and eraser.

Now the inking can begin! The manga starts to look more like what you imagine a manga to be, but this is the high-pressure part. Making a mistake at this page with ink means doing the entire page again from scratch, starting with the rough sketch. Mangaka have to find a balance between moving quick enough to finish and meet deadlines, but slow enough to not make mistakes. Manga artists usually trace their sketch as much as they can with the cleaner black line, and then erase the pencil lines underneath. It’s a very time-consuming process.


Finally, your manga will begin to look complete! But it’s not over yet. After everything has been inked by hand, the pages are scanned into a computer for the mangaka to clean up and finish usually using a tablet. This helps the manga look clean and finished, and gets rid of all pencil lines or mistakes that still exists. It also lets manga artists add patterns as well as the very important dialogue into the manga that is clean and easy to read.

That means they started with a pencil and eraser, then ink pens, and now they’re drawing everything again with a computer! Sometimes though, modern manga are created entirely on the computer which makes them easier to fix mistakes and have a cleaner finish. But usually mangaka will still do a pencil sketch in this case, and all the pre-planning needs to still happen as well!

Final Thoughts

So why is drawing manga so difficult? Because it’s a lot more than just drawing a picture on a piece of paper! It involves intense pre-planning, endless sketches, perfect inking, and digital clean-up. Not only do all the scenes need to be drawn, but so do the panels and page layouts, along with the dialogue bubbles and effects sounds. Inking needs to be near-perfect or everything has to start over! Next time you’re reading a manga, take time to appreciate the drawing on each page because it took the artist a lot of time to complete it for you to enjoy.

Would you like to try your hand at drawing manga? Do you think you could handle the difficulty? Did you know just how difficult it is to draw manga? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments!

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Author: Jet Nebula

Living the dream in Tokyo, where you can find me working at a theme café catered towards women. When I’m not writing for Honey’s, I’m working on original dystopian science fiction or blogging about Tokyo’s trendy coffee scene. I spend my free time in Harajuku and Shibuya wearing alternative Japanese street fashion. I love video games, J-rock, tattoos, and Star Wars.

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