How to Design a Manga Character

Written by marisa swanson
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How to Design a Manga Character
Manga characters are often brightly coloured and have a theme to their appearance. (chica gato manga image by Beatriz Matarredona from

Manga is the Japanese word for "whimsical drawings" and refers to the Japanese style of cartoon-like drawing. There are thousands of Manga characters that are found in Japanese comic books and cartoons. Designing your own Manga character is not difficult and is a fun way to explore your creativity through drawing. There are some key characteristics that Manga characters have that you need to consider when designing your own character.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pen and pencil
  • Markers or coloured pencils
  • Paper

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  1. 1

    Research Manga characters to see what their basic style and characteristics are. There are websites you can visit to see lists of Manga characters. One such site is "Anime Vice." Note that Manga characters typically have big eyes set in small, angular faces. They have small noses and when their mouths are closed also appear to be very small. When open, the mouth often takes an upside down triangular shape. The hair of a Manga character is often large and in a bright colour.

  2. 2

    Create a background for your character to design their look around. There is an endless variety of themes and backgrounds you can pick for your character. Perhaps your character is from the jungle or a teenage super hero in disguise. Think of what such a character would look like. Maybe a jungle character has vines around his clothing and hair. A teenager might have a cellphone, a back pack or have ear buds in his ears that lead to a portable music player in his hand. Maybe your character is a villain who lives in Antarctica and is drawn only in shades of white and blue to denote his cold personality. Be as creative as you can be.

  3. 3

    Keep the details simple. Manga characters have to be drawn repeatedly, so you want to keep your lines simple and easy to sketch. The standout features of a manga character are usually in the bright colouring and shape of their appearance.

  4. 4

    Give the character a distinctive look that stands out. You can do this with your character's hairstyle or the colour of her outfit. Manga characters have hair that is usually an unnatural colour like blue, pink or green. Many female Manga characters have an exaggerated hour glass shape and very long hair. Many male Manga characters have exaggerated idealised male forms.

  5. 5

    Draw your Manga character to include all of the characteristics and artistic flourishes that you have thought up during your design phase. Don't be afraid to change the character as you draw it or draw it more than once with different colours and looks.

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