Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Drawing Manga: Animals, Chibis, and other Adorable Characters

Drawing Manga: Animals, Chibis, and other Adorable Characters

J.C. Amberlyn
Nonfiction
For ages 9 and up
Watson-Guptill, 2009   ISBN: 978-0823095339
Japan has a long tradition of telling stories with pictures, a tradition that is hundreds of years old. Some would say that manga, the Japanese comic art form, has its roots in these traditions. Certainly in the 1700’s and 1800’s the Japanese created stories using illustrations. The modern “manga look” was created by Osamu Tezuka, a Japanese cartoonist who was greatly influenced by the early Walt Disney animated movies. 
   For decades now Manga has had a huge following in Japan, and now it is popular with comic book aficionados around the world. More and more young people are eager to learn how to draw manga, and this book was created for them. The author wants people who have never drawn manga to be able to learn the process from the beginning, and at the same time he wants to give young artists the opportunity to learn “more about the Japanese style of drawing and the culture that influences it.”
   The first section in the book will show the basic techniques that are used to create manga characters. Here artists are show how simple cartoon head and body shapes are formed for both animal and humanoid characters. Expressions are also explored. Then we move on to looking at eyes, which play such a big role in manga characters. Next we learn how to draw animals, both animals that are lifelike, and then those that have more humanoid characteristics. Many manga artists create characters that are part animal and part human.
  In the fourth chapter the author explores how chibis are drawn. Chibis typically have huge heads and eyes that give them a somewhat top-heavy look, which makes them ‘cute.’ Any character can be chibified and the author shows artists how this can be done.
   The second section of the book moves away from learning basic manga drawing techniques and it focuses on “mythological creatures and real animals in Japanese culture and legend.” Here artists will learn about dragons, Asian unicorns, Fu dogs, monster cats and other mythological beasts, as well as cats, dogs, pandas, horses and other real life animals.
  Finally, the author explores how artists can use their computers to create manga art, which is what many professional manga artists do at some stage. 
   This book is a terrific guide for people who are keen to create their own manga, and it will also intrigue young artists who have an interest in drawing comics. 
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