Many mangakas are moving towards digital approaches to aid their drawing. This is surprising, especially if you notice specific details, shading, and effects, which look as if they could only come from a pen or brush.
Do manga artists draw digitally? Yes, 80% of manga artists use digital tools today to keep up with their demanding work schedules. Only 20% stick strictly to the traditional way of drawing, and then a few combine traditional with digital.
Where did we get these numbers? From an interview with a popular manga artist here in Tokyo where we are.
Read on to find out who and which mangakas draws digitally over traditional meothods today.
Table of Contents
Which Manga Artists Draw Digitally
We compiled a list of Manga artists, the manga they’re known for and if they draw using digital means below:
|Manga Artist||Manga||Drawing |
|Hiro Mashima||Fairy Tail||Both Digital and|
|Reiji Miyajima||Rent a Girlfriend||yes|
|Ishida Sui||Tokyo Ghoul||yes|
|Gege Akutami||Jujutsu Kaisen||yes|
|Shun Saeki||Food Wars||yes|
|Hiroya Oku||Gantz||Both Digital and|
|Yoshitoshi Abe||Robot 8||Yes|
|Yoshikazu Hamada||Kobayashi-san Chi |
no Maid Dragon
|Ken Akamatsu||Love Hina|
|Both Digital and|
|Reki Kawahara||Sword Art Online||yes|
|Shizuka Yamaguchi||Tomodachi no |
Suki na Hito
|Ryo Katagiri||Chuganji’s Clan|
How to Draw Manga books
|Oda Eiichirō||One Piece||Both Digital and|
|Kohei Horikoshi||My Hiro |
|Yusuke Murata||One-Punch Man||Both Digital and|
|Hirohiko Araki||Jojo’s Bizarre |
|Both Digital and|
|Tatsuki Fujimoto||Chainsaw Man||Yes|
|Shinichi Sakamoto||Kokou no Hito|
|Both Digital and|
How Do Manga Artists Draw Digitally?
Manga artist today mostly finish their manga using digital means like Clip studio paired with a drawing tablet for manga. While some use these tools for the whole process.
Here is a video of Shinichi Sakamoto and his thought on digital manga
Now let’s look at some of the manga artists mentioned above and see their processes.
1.) Hiro Mashima
Hiro Mashima, the mangaka of Fairy Tail, utilizes both traditional and digital techniques. However, he has started using tablets more than pen and paper in recent years. After 20 years, this was a meaningful switch for him. This is because he discovered that he works two times faster when doing digital drawings.
In an interview for Edens Zero, he shared how he colored the characters digitally. This is how he templates and plans for his characterizations:
He claims that by switching to digital drawing, he is also able to include more effects and tones.
2.) Ishida Sui
Ishida Sui, mangaka of Tokyo Ghoul, famously does all of his work digitally. He keeps a Wacom Cintiq 21UX, which currently retails for $2,000. It’s an older Wacom model, but it holds up well in terms of build and quality.
Ishida uses different applications, depending on the purpose of the drawing. He uses Paint Tool SAI and Corel Painter to do the color illustrations. Meanwhile, he employs Clip Studio Paint (Comic Studio) to layout and draws his manga.
Here is an example of how he uses Comic Studio:
3.) Shun Saeki
Shun Saeki, the artist of Shokugeki no Souma, uses a Wacom tablet for his drawings. For the applications, he employs Comic Studio to draw and Clip Studio Paint to color.
This is an image of him using those applications to draw Soma:
4.) Hiroya Oku
Hiroya Oku, the mangaka of Gantz, uses traditional drawing for his manga. However, he uses a process that involves digital techniques.
First, he draws a rough draft or storyboard for the chapter he is finishing. Then, based on these sketches, he and his assistants will create digital 3D models. These images are printed. Then, Hiroya will use these rendered models as a backdrop for his characters.
Once he finishes drawing them on paper, they are scanned into the computer. He then uses different applications to clean lines, fix contrast, and add tones. Additional effects and text bubbles are also added through the computer.
Some of the applications he uses include Photoshop, Shade, Illustrator, and Poser.
Once everything is done, the final image is printed out for submission.
5.) Tite Kubo
Tite Kubo, the mangaka of Bleach, largely stuck with traditional methods. However, he recently made the switch to digital drawing. His goal is to eventually produce digital art with an analog flair. To do this, he intentionally roughens up his digital illustrations.
Still, he has yet to go fully digital. In an interview, he shared that he struggles to figure out how to create custom brushes. Nonetheless, he has completely shifted the process of coloring to his tablet.
6.) Yoshitoshi Abe
Yoshitoshi Abe initially gained fame as the doujinshi artist of Haibanme Rei. It was eventually adapted into an anime, and Abe gained a cult following in Japan.
He is famous for being tech-savvy, as he frequently draws his sketches using just his finger on an iPad. He has also exclusively released manga aimed for reading on iPhone and Kindle.
For recent works, he has been using a Wacom tablet. However, he now spends most of his time drawing for anime series instead.
7.) Yoshikazu Hamada
Yoshikazu Hamada is the mangaka of Tsugumomo. He frequently shares his process of drawing digital manga on YouTube. He even shared this image of his workstation on Twitter:
For his pen monitor, he uses Wacom Cintiq CINTIQ 21UX
8.) Ken Akamatsu
Ken Akamatsu is the mangaka of Love Hina. For his recent works, such as Negima, he used graphic programs to draw objects and backgrounds. He draws still draws his characters using traditional methods. But, he employs Photoshop and Illustrator for supporting images.
9.) Reki Kawahara
Reki Kawahara, the mangaka of Sword Art Online, initially drew the series using pen and paper. However, recent spin-offs such as Sword Art Online: Girl Ops have been drawn digitally.
This may have something to do with the fact that the manga serialization was moved online. Girl Ops was initially published in Dengeki Bunko Magazine, a physical anthology. After the magazine dissolved, the manga moved to WEB DenPlay Comics. This is a digital manga anthology.
The differences between the styles were apparent. For one, the effect lines in Girl Ops were mechanically generated. The use of screen tones for depth was also evident.
10.) Shizuka Yamaguchi
Shizuka Yamaguchi is the mangaka of Tomodachi no Suki na Hito. It is a manga that has been serialized on LINE Manga, and something that she drew digitally. One thing she liked about drawing digitally was that she could take her work anywhere. She drew some of her scenes even when she was on vacation.
For drawing, she uses her Huion Kamvas Pro, which is connected to her Macbook Air. She supplements this with a Gaomon PD 1161. For drawing and coloring, she uses Clip Studio Paint Pro.
Here is an image of her drawing using her tablet:
11.) Ryo Katagiri
Ryo Katagiri is the mangaka of Chuganji’s Clan Secret and Tutti. Her series has been serialized in Shonen Sunday Magazine. She has also authored a book entitled “How to Draw Manga.”
Ryo prefers drawing digitally. She has also revealed that 80% of mangakas today use digital tools. However, some writers in Shonen Jump still prefer using analog.
She uses an iPad and Apple Pencil for her manga. This is an image of her drawing using Clip Studio:
12.) Gege Akutami
Gege Akutami, the mangaka of Jujutsu Kaisen, draws everything digitally. He used to draw using traditional methods. However, he saw that his art was not improving.
This was because he had difficulty controlling physical pens. After some thought, he realized that working on digital drawings would be easier. That was when he switched mediums. And eventually, he did find that it worked for him.
Gege Akutami had an interview with Tite Kubo this year. There, he indulged that he wouldn’t consider himself an expert in digital drawings. Like Tite Kubo, he can’t create custom brushes.
Hence, he just uses applications depending on what’s most convenient for him to use. This is regardless if they’re considered the “best” software or not.
Nonetheless, he intentionally draws with an analog touch. This is because he still wants to make his drawings appear traditional.
Why Do Manga Artists Draw Digitally?
In Japan, while many prefer the tried-and-tested method of drawing by hand, many can’t deny the benefits of drawing manga digitally. Not only is the traditional way incredibly time-consuming, but it’s also prone to errors.
- It’s convenient and efficient
Mangakas have one of the hardest and stressful jobs in the world. They have to meet weekly deadlines, for which they put in 10-16 hours of work a day, barely getting any sleep and fighting the stress of not delaying deadlines. So, it’s no surprise that mangakas prefer the ease and convenience that digital drawing mediums bring them.
With digital means, manga artists can stay more organized as they don’t have stacks upon stacks of paper to deal with, plus they can also manage several volumes of mangas and different storylines all at the same time.
- It saves time
Why manga artists work such long hours to meet deadlines is because drawing manga is extremely time-consuming. Not only do mangakas have to replicate the same characters perfectly repeatedly, but they also have to draw varying backgrounds or sometimes the same background numerous times.
For instance, if two characters are having a conversation that goes on for a few pages, the artist will have to draw the same background in every panel. It becomes tiresome and mundane eventually.
By drawing digitally, artists can easily copy the same background and characters throughout, leaving them time to add in extra details, shading, and effects, which improve the overall appearance of the art while saving time.
- Erase and restart
Drawing digitally does have its convenience, the best probably being the ability to do over or undo any mistakes. No matter how experienced an artist you are, it’s near impossible to always have flawless sketches. Erasing mistakes not only becomes agitating, but you also run the risk of tearing the paper, leaving behind faint lines, or erasing more than you intended to.
By drawing digitally, you have the advantage of working with many layers at one time and can reverse any mistakes that you make. Since most software can remember every stroke and line, you can very easily come back to edit, correct, or make changes to any part.
Since there would be no graying of the papers caused by erasing, faint lines, or minor, irreversible mistakes, the art will have a much neater and clean appearance, which adds to its appeal.
- Endless possibilities
By drawing manually, there’s a limited number of techniques that you can use to make your artwork very impressive, especially if you have short deadlines to meet. With digital software, you can move and scale just about anything. This includes sketches, word bubbles, and reference pictures.
By drawing manga the traditional way, you will have to pay for art supplies constantly. Most likely, you’ll always need to stock up on paper, pens, pencils, erasers, markers, ink, paints, and fixers. Since these diminish with use, you’ll have to frequently re-purchase them. This may seem like a small amount, but little costs add up to significant expenses.
So, even though the initial cost for digital tools, like a graphic tablet, seems very expensive, it’s usually just a one-time investment. You will rarely ever need to replace any items, except the pen nib, so you’ll be saving a lot of money in the long run.
- Ability to make illustrations more attractive
In many cases, you can amaze readers with intricate and gorgeous art drawn traditionally, but there’s a mesmerizing quality about digital art. This is because of features like brightening, darkening, fading, etc.
Imagine a scene in a colored manga, which shows a glowing sun, patterned kimonos, or a sparkling sea. With screen tone materials, you can beautify all your artwork. Not just that, this is even more useful for novices that don’t have much practice withdrawing; they can use premade background materials till you get the hang of drawing yourself.
- Quick preparation and clean-up
When making manga traditionally, you have to prepare a whole setup with your art supplies like paints, paper, brushes, pencils, etc. But, with digital art, you just need your drawing tablet, and sometimes, a laptop.
When you finish drawing, you have to put away the canvas, clean the brushes, store all the stationery items, and wipe off any excess ink or splatters. Besides that, often, you’ll have to wash your clothes too in case you spill any paint or ink on them. In comparison, for digital mediums, all you have to do is save your work and the power of your tablet or computer.
There is a common misconception that only newer mangakas use digital methods. This list proves that it’s not true. There is a wide range of manga artists who draw digitally. Even established mangakas like Hiro Mashima and Hiroya Oku have switched to digital.
So, if you’re a mangaka just starting, don’t worry about sticking to traditional methods. If digital drawing works better for you, go with that instead. You’re in good company.
Now, it’s time to hear from you:
Did I miss anything?
What are your thoughts about manga artists switching to digital methods?
Whatever your answer is, let’s hear it in the comments below.