#3 of 33 Art Projects: Manga University Critique Sketch

I’m not good at making sequential art or manga strips. I did a short manga strip when Anime3000 first got big, and that’s where I learned that I needed more time with polishing my craft. Though I’ve tried to make manga over the past 4 years in Japan (not professionally, just experimentally), I haven’t improved. So, I decided to try an online manga course from Manga University. I’d been thinking about taking the course since I first saw the Manga University, but I didn’t have the money or time to take it.

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I did it for you guys, too. I wanted to find an online manga course that works for aspiring artists. I guess you can say that this is my review of the Manga University home study manga course. Is it good? Is it worth the $39.99 (download) or $49.99 (snail mail)?

I honestly don’t think so.

The course asks students to draw one character and email it. This is the course’s best selling point: students’ pictures are redrawn by a professional manga artist with translated comments. I’m interested to see how my picture can be improved by a pro. Here’s my picture (sketch then ink):

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But what about drawing manga? Well, the course, which is just weekly PDFs, shows how creators design each page, but students don’t send in their own manga. If students did this, then the $39.99 to $49.99 would be a decent price. A manga course should teach students how to draw comics, not how to draw characters. I understand that comics can’t be drawn without characters, but this course offers the most basic information, stuff you can find in a high school art class. For beginners who’ve never taken a such an art class or they don’t have access to in-person tutoring, this course might be suitable. Alternatives to this course are secondhand art books, Youtube tutorials, and other limited classes.

UPDATE (5/3/2014): I received an email that said they would give me a full refund since I’m advanced and the course is designed for beginners. I guess I’m not getting that revision from a pro manga artist…

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Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators

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Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators

Updated: January 23, 2018

Finding a course can be hard, especially if you’re not Japanese. Here’s a few places to find manga and sequential, or comic book, art courses around the world.

Free Courses and Resources

Limited or Fee-based Courses

  • U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowships are federal grants for artists to exchange culture and experiences with Japanese counterparts. Deadline to apply is February 1, 2018. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.jusfc.gov/creative-artists-programs.

  • Manga University, known for their How to Draw Manga book series, offers a home study course ($39.99 or $49.99). There are no instructors, only PDFs and a lot of words, but the information is great for beginners and people who’ve never taken a high school art class. Check it out at http://www.howtodrawmanga.com/pages/home-study-course. I did purchase this home study course to see how it fared against other courses. I wrote about my experience with the Manga University here.
  • Similar to Manga University, Cotty Kilbanks (cartoonist/artist for Rocko’s Modern Life and Iron Man) on Craftsy has a home study manga course called Drawing Anime Style through HD videos for a set price. This course is for people who consider themselves intermediate level in 2D drawing. For more information, please click here.
  • Comics Experience, which is attached to Stan Lee’s ComiKaze, has several comic book courses–from script writing to penciling techniques–and all taught through the net. To find out more details, go to http://www.comicsexperience.com/courses.html.
  • CG Master Academy is a specialty online art academy that offers classes for character designs, digital painting, figure drawing, and perspective drawing. Classes are offered all four seasons, and the prices for each one is usually $699. If you plan on doing mostly digital art, this academy is suited for you. Go to http://2d.cgmasteracademy.com/ for more information.
  • The Experiment in International Living has a high school summer abroad program for Japanese arts. It’s a 1-month stay for high schoolers in Vermont, USA. For the program details and price tag, look up http://www.experimentinternational.org/programs/find-a-program/japan/japanimationanime-and-manga/overview/.
  • SAW-Teen-manga-courseSAW, or the Sequential Artists Workshop, is a Florida community of artists trying to improve their abilities through classes and workshops. They offer year-long art programs, weekly workshops, and online classes at random times of the year. To check their calendar, visit  http://sequentialartistsworkshop.org/wordpress/. On Saturdays from January 12th to February 16th, 2016, SAW will offer a Teen Comics and Manga Class at their location in Gainesville, Florida (SE 5th Ave at Main St, behind Citizen’s Co-op).
  • Mad About Manga! is a manga course run by Malcolm Matheson. This course costs $97 to participate. For more information, please go to http://madaboutmanga.com/.
  • For those online and interested in traditional comic book creations, check out the Comics Workbook (http://comicsworkbook.tumblr.com/about). Not only do they offer lessons on sequential art, but they have a magazine as well.
  • Katonah Art Center in New York offers classes in manga at a cheaper rate than community college prices (usually around $378 to $420 for 10 weeks). Find more information at http://www.katonahartcenter.com/classes/visual-arts/ .
  • Activity Hero offers San Francisco kids and teens art classes, including manga classes such as this Wednesday Cartooning and Manga Class for $325 (January 20th – March 16th, 2016). To enroll, check it out here.
  • Manga Class at Appel Farm is New Jersey-based art class offered through McArt à la Carte geared towards enjoyment and learning. Visit http://mcartshop.com/manga-class-appel-farm/ for more information.

University Courses Outside Japan

(English) Courses in Japan

Courses around the World

History of Manga Courses

If you’re looking for screentones, please try Screentones for Manga Artists Outside Japan page.

Screentones for Manga Artists Outside of Japan

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Screentones for Manga Artists Outside of Japan

“Where do you get screen tones if you’re outside of Japan?” 

If you want to make manga the traditional way by cutting screentones and applying them directly to your drawings, you can find some online, but they’ll be a bit pricey. It’s better to go to a Japanese district if you’re near one and find a bookstore. Otherwise, you can go online and order them.

If you’re more of a digital artist, you can use a computer program to make the screentones. The most common programs are Manga Studio ($80) and Photoshop ($699). (If you go to an anime convention, you’ll always see a Manga Studio booth with discounted versions available. If you don’t have this program and you’re on a time crunch, just download the trial versions.) You can also download  free screentone packs from other artists like the Screentone Society on Deviant ArtAshura’s Screentone Depot, OrneryJen’s screentone page, Psychobob’s screentones (password: psychobob), Shounen Ai Go’s screentones (old), or Jason Tucker’s “Screentones” page. The only bad side to using purely digital screentones in manga is that sometimes the tone looks too digital, too clean. Some ways to get around that is to scan a few physical screentones and use them when the manga looks off after toning.

Here’s a video on how to do digital screentoning on Photoshop (new and old versions of Photoshop are applicable):

If you want the best of both worlds–the traditional way of making manga with the digital ease–you can print screentones on transparent paper and apply them to the physical manga (again, you can download some screentones from DeviantArt). You can also scan the physical screentone to your computer, define a block of it as a pattern in Photoshop, and use it (Edit>Fill>Pattern) after selecting the area you want toned.

If you’re skilled with a pen, you can also use carefully planned hatchbacking and pointillism, but it won’t look so professional (just more artsy).

Hope this helps with your manga dreams!

Also, please read former Prince of Tennis manga assistant Jamie Lynn Lano’s (http://www.jamieism.com) posts and theshazerin’s (http://theshazerin.deviantart.com/) post about manga supplies.

Need more inspiration? Check out these manga with Renta! that use many different screentones, but really pay attention to the softer tones!

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Check out Renta! manga for screentone inspiration!

Bonus

If you don’t know how to apply traditional screentones to your manga, here’s a tutorial from Manga University.

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If you’re looking for pens to ink your manga that will suit your budget, please read this post (Manga Pens for Manga Artists Outside Japan) comparing Japanese manga pens and their prices from online shops.