What Kind of Pens Do I Need for Inking Manga?

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What Kind of Pens Do I Need for Inking Manga?
Manga is a specialised Japanese animation form that has become popular in the U.S. (manga styled lady samurai image by Anastasia Serdyukova from Fotolia.com)

Manga is a Japanese comic book and cartoon animation form in which all characters are drawn with specific facial and bodily characteristics. Drawing manga will require the use of specialised pens, just as calligraphy and drawing any comic requires special pens. The proper pens for manga drawing come in two forms: the traditional nib-and-inkwell pen, or a cartridge pen with a specialised nib.

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Nib-and-Holder Inkwell Pen

The "nib," or head of the pen, is either very finely pointed or is rounded before coming to a fine point. This allows the artist to draw precise lines while still allowing the versatility for drawing thicker "effect" lines by angling the pen a little differently. A traditional nib-and-holder pen does not hold any ink within the pen itself; rather, the artist dips the pen into a bottle of black ink before drawing. Manga artists should use bottles of speciality comic book ink, which is thicker and blacker than most inks.

Nib Cartridge Pen

This pen doesn't need to be dipped into a bottle of ink, but contains a nib that is similar to the traditional nib-and-holder variety. This allows you to draw different line sizes and thicknesses without the messiness of having to dip it into an ink bottle. This pen allows you more flexibility, as you can draw without having to carry your ink bottle around in your bag, and you can draw in places like aeroplanes where ink bottles aren't allowed. However, they are not traditional.

Types of Nibs

While there are only two types of pens -- the nib-and-holder versus the cartridge -- there are many types of nibs that you can choose to apply to either pen form. The three most popular nibs for manga drawing are the G-pen nib, the school nib and the round nib. The G-pen nib is the most popular of all, has a very fine point, and is capable of all kinds of lines, from very thick to extremely fine. The school nib has a softer point and therefore produces bolder lines. The round nib, also known as a spoon nib, is bowl-shaped and good for drawing thick lines.

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