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How to draw manga


How to draw manga for beginners

It seems some things are inevitable in certain areas. Just like a classic painter needs to learn about watercolors, everybody who learns about drawing, sooner or later bumps into manga, one of the most popular drawing styles in the world. It looks children are particularly fond of it. If you want to help your kid at drawing (you can read about numerous benefits here), it’s very likely manga with its distinguished and appealing style can be of big help.

To warm you up, I prepared some free manga clip art:


And some quick facts about manga:

Manga market is worth billions of dollars a year with constant growing in international markets where different variations of manga were developed.

Word manga is of Chinese origin and can be translated as ‘whimsical drawings’ and is used for comics originally published in Japan. But in Japan manga is used for all kinds of cartoons and anime is used for all kinds of animated movies.

Manga cartoons are typically published in magazines (first was published in 1874) with many different series, each presented with only single episode. The most popular episodes not only survive, but can be also republished in stand alone editions and animated (what produced so called anime).

Although most of people in the West experience manga in vibrant colors, majority of this genre is produced in black and white. To achieve more visually appealing and dramatic effect, different patterns are typically used for characters, backgrounds and details.
Classic manga (published in Japan) is by no means limited to kids-only market. It deals with many adult themes and even if the profile of the reader is a child, it can be much more complex and dark than the usual comic for kids in the West.

So you want to learn how to draw manga?

Web is full of lessons, but majority of good stuff is payable. Before you dive into unnecessary expenses, I prepared few useful links to help you started. I hope you can benefit from them.

Tips on drawing faces:

Drawing hair is never easy and manga has its own special rules:

To learn more about coloring and inking manga hair, visit:

And many details, like female eyes:

When you are ready, you can develop full characters:

Then put them in action:

Beware – the lesson above is only the first in the series (link to part two is included at the bottom of the page)

O.k., that’s for start. I wish you a lot of inspiration and have fun!


Meanings of colors


Meanings of colors  …

It’s hard to imagine anything related with drawing without asking few questions about colors and their meanings. It’s obvious they posses tremendous power on our moods and can even trigger certain emotions.

This means when we use particular color, we are consciously or unconsciously making several decisions. One of them is of course revealing how we feel in certain moment and about certain theme. Painting a sun black is definitely expression of positive feelings, for instance.


Another important decision is our message. Considering drawing or painting is sort of communication, we are talking to our audience. With some skill and right set of colors we can effect their emotions too. We can depress and we can inspire.

All colors also carry important symbolism which is conditioned with history, geography and other factors. So I can provide only approximate list of colors with their meanings. Use it with caution.

List of colors with positive and negative meanings

Blue: calmness                             coldness

Red: action                                   aggression

Yellow: optimism                        childishness

Purple: luxury                             vanity

Orange: self-confidence             superficiality

Green: freshness                         inexperience

Brown: practicality                    predictability

Black: power                               evilness

Gray: timelessness                    boredom

White: purity                             emptiness

What about numerous tones and shades? Color wheels have so much more than basic colors to offer!


Well, this is certainly a theme for many hours of debate, but this post should cover the basics. Every color can be used and abused and there is time and place for both in our lives.

Thanks for your visit. Have a colorful day!


Drawing paper for kids


What kind of drawing paper is best for children?

Everything related with kids should be no brainer and choosing a paper for drawing is no exception. Quality first, right?

Well, kind of … Sure, quality is important and we all want to give only the best to our children, but in reality we almost always limited: with time, space, money, experience, … You name it!

So this post is not about the obvious theoretical part – give kids the best possible material, but rather how to make the best out of real life situation. Here are the main points to consider:

Quality counts

Yes, just like kids (and everybody else) need quality color pencils, they need quality paper too. One simple method to compare different sorts of paper is their weight. 80 g / m2 is standard office paper and it is probably a standard for children’s drawings as well. But this kind of paper is barely good for color pencils and it is not useful for markers or watercolors.


So always try to have something of better quality at least for special occasions. If you already know you need drawing sheets of better quality, try to buy them when they are on discount or get them in bulk or in roles where you can save a lot of money if you cut the sheets accordingly to your needs.

Less is more

Kids love to see a lot of different colors, but have too much at the same time will confuse them and they will make a mess of them. Twelve colors is good for start, twenty four is for advanced projects and some experiments.

Same is true with paper. Stick to one or two kinds and occasionally test something new. Sometimes try something fancy, but in most cases every change will be appreciated. Envelopes, colorful wrapping paper, old boxes, paper bags, old forms, … , everything counts!


Just don’t exaggerate. Too much of everything can be confusing.


Instead of adding new colors, you will very likely achieve more with addition of new drawing tools as crayons, chalks or temperas. Instead of adding new sorts of paper you should probably think about new surfaces like glass, pavement, wood, … All this can be endless source of inspiration.


Don’t forget collages. Kids love to explore new techniques, so a pair of scissors (well, we can make full article about them too, right?), scotch tape and some universal glue will make valuable addition to your drawing adventures. to make impressive collages, always have some old magazines handy and if you have some old playing cards, stickers and similar items, you are already on your way to create something memorable.


Drawing for beginners


“I can’t draw!” is no excuse. Everybody can learn drawing at any age. There is no guarantee he or she will become world famous artist, but just about everybody can learn to make beautiful pictures if he is only willing to put some effort in learning. Serious learning involves a teacher who can not only draw, but can also explain some basics of using the pencil and paper to produce satisfactory results.

If you want to start the adventure in the amazing world of graphic arts, try to focus on next areas:

1. Observation

Draw by observation of objects and people, not by the pictures of objects and people. Having a chance to touch the object, to follow the lines around it and than repeat the same moves with a pencil on the paper can be great practice. The most common mistake at drawing is, believe it or not, if we don’t look at object of drawing. Our brain is designed in the way we actually tend to draw the things as we think they look, not as they actually look.

Great exercise is drawing lines without watching at the paper while the pencil is still moving. With draw completely new things you can avoid ‘prejudices’ you brain already has on many everyday objects. After a while you will learn to observe known objects in completely new light.

observation is first step at learning to draw

2. Imagination

Encourage drawing of imaginary beings and events. Ability to draw is closely related with ability to observe. If you can’t notice the details, you really can’t draw them. This can be trained really well, but don’t forget the iamginary part without which a drawing can’t become an art piece. This means drawing from imagination, experimenting with shades and colors, using different drawing techniques …

Show great examples of the work only after practice. If you do that before, our mind is designed to copy and this will not help to imaginary part of the brain.

3. Use proper tools

There are many drawing tools available and some of them are designed to make the process of drawing as easy as possible. But you should never skip the basics. This means graphite pencils grade B (B stands for soft, H for hard pencils), soft white plastic eraser and white paper.

Charcoal, chalk, water colors, crayons, markers, color pencils are all great, all can serve different purposes, but learning in general starts with a graphite pencil. It is as simple as that.

When you master the basics, the world is your oyster. You may even try yourself at silverpoint technique!

4. Help

Good teacher will help pupils with asking questions, not giving explicit instructions. Children who acquired skills through answering the questions (which should not be too direct), will improve faster and become much more self confident.

It is of course absolutely clear there will be no progress without some criticism. Good critic will always find a way to praise at least some aspect of the work before he draw attention to mistakes. Devastating criticism in never constructive, it can only demoralize the student.

5. Practice

More is still better. But you should always make it fun, never boring. Practice details, every great picture is made of tiny details, so there is always a way to find small, doable projects, where improvement can be visible and useful in relatively short time.

Don’t spend too much time on correcting mistakes. Try to use them as a source of inspiration. Errors initiated many great inventions!


How to improve pencil grip?


Improving pencil grip…

Correct pencil grip is one of most important factors in developing fine motor skills of every child. For wide variety of reasons many kids hold pencils and other drawing tools awkwardly, with too many fingers, with wrongly placed fingers (for instance with a thumb on the top or bottom of other fingers), with crooked wrist and so on.

All these incorrect techniques learned in early age can be a problem in later developmental stages, typically shown in grade school at learning to write letters. Children with incorrect pencil grasp development can have pretty hard time in school for very simple reason – their hands become tired much sooner than they should be.

Most parents know about tripod pencil grip which can be easier to achieve with triangle pencils pencils. There is also quadropod pencil grip (with additional support of the pencil by ring finger) which is also marked as ‘correct’, although it allows slightly lower mobility.

How to help a kid with crooked grasp or any other problematic sort of grip?

First we should know how old is a child. If it already knows how to write, if doesn’t have problems with speed, if the grip is not painful or limit child’s abilities to write in any other way, don’t waste time and energy on fixing something what apparently already works well.

For younger children is probably worth a try to improve the grip. But there is still one simple rule: don’t force, make it playful. There are numerous tools (triangle pencil is just a start) which can be used to achieve the ultimate goal and couple of nice little helpers are shown in the video below:

In the same video you can also learn how to make one of these powerful tools in very simple way.

And there are few specific exercises which proved to help improving pencil grip through many years of experience. Remember, this is only a small selection. You probably already know how can making different objects from playdough or stringing beads improve a grasp. All hand play activities can be helpful and every child is a specific story.

1. Use clothes pegs, plastic tweezers to pick small objects like beans, grains, coins or pebbles. Pick them from the tale and release them in a bottle. This should be done with thumb and index finger, not with thumb and any of other fingers! If you want to make it more difficult, mix two sorts of objects and tell the kid to sort two bottles. Something similar Cinderella had to do if she wanted to the ball.

2. Tearing and crumpling paper is great exercise for strengthening different groups of muscles of one’s hand. Pieces of paper can be used it all sorts of projects. Kids will make a ball spontaneously. To add a bit of difficultness, encourage him to make it with one hand only. Then with the other hand. And finally with fingers only.

3. With scissors a whole new world of activities opens. Kids love to cut out different shapes from magazines, or simply cut paper to pieces. Next step is of course to sort small pieces by colors and shapes and glue them into interesting mosaics.

mking mosaics can improve different hand skills

4. Talking about mosaics – collect a lot of pebbles, sort them by colors and try to make a mandala. You can start with a nice picture, drawn with a chalk. Drawing with chalks on the pavement or similar surface is great to develop proper hand movements with a whole hand what can be gradually transferred in fine motor skills.

make mandala for exercise

5. Transfer water from full container to the empty container with a sponge or more sponges. This is great exercise for strengthen a wrist. Toys like Lego bricks, playing cards, puzzles will improve fine motor skills in variety of ways as well.

6. Coloring pages are great way to measure the progress. If you can put them on vertical surface, different muscles will have to cooperate and fine motor skills will improve accordingly. Using short pencils or crayons will force children to use their fingers more efficiently.

Would you like to share your experience with our readers?


How to draw a tiger?


Drawing for kids can be pretty predictable. Sooner or later they will want to draw some kind of animal. Yes, bigger is still better and it is hard to find anything bigger than a tiger. O.k., a bear is bigger. And a whale. And several mythological creatures. But now I am straying from the subject.

I checked the web to help all the lazy parents who would like to learn the basics of drawing in comfort of their homes. Drawing a tiger is not the easiest task on the world, so I recommend to check next links which in my opinion belong among best possible lessons on the subject. Than devote few minutes a day to training and in a week or two your tigers will rock

So – how to draw a tiger?


Easiest (and still realistic) way is presented on this address:

It is simple step by step approach which even a five year old can follow.

Start with a pencil, so you could erase unnecessary lines when all the components of your tiger will be done.  While scientists know only eight subspecies of tiger at the moment you can draw as many as you want with a set of colored pens.

By the way, you can download steps as an image and have it as your personal cheat sheet off line.

standing tiger

Next variation of tiger is a bit harder to draw in my opinion because it doesn’t use circles and other closed lines. On the other hand you don’t have to erase anything if you don’t make any mistakes. I like the presentation with two colors of lines (in red is only the new part of drawing):

For the third, last and by far most demanding way of tiger drawing I have chosen a video. The result is really impressive, but the procedure is probably way too much for a beginner, so look at it more as an inspiration and motivation:

I have seen this video several times and it still amazes me. Remember, everything is done with an ordinary graphite pencil!

And if you really want to push yourself to the limits, try it in silverpoint technique:)



How to find inspiration?


Finding inspiration …

… can be great excuse to do nothing, but sometimes we really need something new, fresh, unknown, just to make a break and start working.


A short walk can help.

Reading a book can help too.

We all know how beneficial can be a talk with friends.

What about visiting a museum?

Fortunately for artist web is loaded with sparkling ideas just waiting to be realized and we can actually get them without putting our shoes on.

Here is only one of addresses which deserve a bookmark in every artist’s computer:

You can browse through artists by their name, you can explore collections and you can even create your galleries to add them to already existing ones. How cool is that, huh?

It can be a nice change of morning routine to visit this site instead of skimming the news or checking tweeter feed, but this is of course something everybody should decide for himself.

Google is sponsoring many art projects, including the one on (more about that site in one of future posts, but this one is probably the best alternative to visiting a real museum. While it is work in progress of course and many famous galleries and museums are still not included, we can already mention Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Tate Gallery (London), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Palace of Versailles (Versailles), Uffizi (Florence), State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg) and the list is going on and on…

So don’t hesitate, enjoy the virtual tours, learn and maybe, just maybe, get some colored pencils and make some masterpieces on your own.


What are the best colored pencils?


When we look for best color pencils, we actually open more question than we are able to answer. What is best for one person, is of no real value for the other. So the best tip we can offer on the quest for the best coloring pencils is pretty simple:


Yes, every fact should be backed with an experiment and checking for colored pencils, no mater if we need them for kids or we have artistic aspirations, is no different. My list would be relatively simple:

1. Start!

(With something generic) In my country this would be probably twelve pack of Pelikan or Faber-Castell, in USA this would be Crayola, somewhere else probably something else. But you always have to start somewhere. Coloring pencils are available in packages and 12- or 24-pack is in most cases best value for the money. If you are not in a hurry, you can look around, check prices and wait for discount.

You can get 12-pack of Pelikan which is pretty good quality for 99 cents (we have Euros, not Dollars) and you can do just about everything with this pack already. Maybe you already know 12 is not enough and you want to start with 24. This is o.k.

But if you don’t have a clue, there is a chance some colors will hardly be used in 24-pack, so 12 is probably better option for beginners. And two 12-packs are in most cases cheaper than on 24-pack anyway.

So many options…

2. Observe!

After using your colored pencils for a while you will probably notice many different things. Some will be more important to you and some less, but it is good to write your observations down.

Do you have enough shades of every color? What color is most used from your pack? What color is less used one? Are they feeling good in your hand? Too fast, slow on the paper? Can you mix different colors well? What about erasing? Sharpening? What would you like to improve?

With a list of observations you can make a new step – buy another pack or maybe few individual coloring pencils. The later option can come quite expensive because one can cost you as much as full 12-pack. But without experimenting you can’t know what serves you well and what not.

Try different colors, different brands…

3. Compare!

If you tried several brands of color pencils on different sorts of paper you probably have a lot of data to compare. But you will probably be surprised when you actually write this data down and make a comparison.

Some brands will disappoint you and some will prove their value. Maybe you discovered you need different, non standard dimensions of colored pencils for some tasks and different for the others. It is good to know jumbo and delta are not for children only. It is good to know children can use them too…

Now you just have to decide what is best for you, for your projects and buy stuff which serves you best at most affordable prices. This doesn’t mean you know everything already because from time to time new brands will pop up and some old brands will go through changes. And you will probably experiment with different techniques, improve existing ones, in short, you will go through different drawing stages, just like kids do.

But you will be ready for that, right?

Now you just have to create and enjoy!


Development of drawing stages in children


Child’s development drawing stages are relatively clear and predictable. Of course some kids enjoy at drawing activities more and some less, some make progress faster and some slower, but in general we can use next list to compare our children’s abilities with others and take some action if necessary:

Children drawing development by age:

1 year (give it or take it a month or so): Most of children are able to hold some kind of drawing tool. They notice this tool, if in touch with a surface, makes a trail. Their grip is unreliable and they don’t really know what to do with pencils or charcoals. Making random lines or check their taste seems pretty equal choice.


1 year and a half: This is time when kids usually start enjoying using crayons, color pencils (jumbo) and similar drawing tools to scribble on paper and other surfaces. It seems making some kind of marks is very important in this developmental phase where kids start using their power to move things around.

Of course their drawings don’t make sense to us, but they are not making them for us anyways. Their scribbles are among first steps in exploration of the world through action and reaction. Slowly they are forming abstract shapes from lines. Moving from paper to the floors and walls is the next step…

forms are formed

2 years: It’s time for first realistic attempts. Kids at this age will draw things and events from their experience and enjoy sharing their masterpieces with friends, teachers, parents and everybody else. In most cases only them will know what is drawn, but they are more than ready to explain what they portrayed.

Drawing becomes a way of communication in this developmental stage.


3 years: Most of children gradually implement more and more control in their scribblings from second and third year of age. When they reach 3 years, they are able to distinguish between straight and curved line, they can make an X and T and they are able to enclose the line to form a recognizable and repeatable shape, for instance some kind of triangle, rectangle or circle.

If a kid is not able to make a circle-like shape (it doesn’t have to look good, but it should be closed) by the age of three, we can start worrying about his or her development. They also distinguish between colors (most can name properly at least three different colors) and they are ready to use their basic knowledge of drawing with combining different shapes and colors.


4 years: Stick man becomes the major character in kids’ drawings. It has recognizable head and two legs, hands are not always present and soon will follow houses, trees and of course the sun.

Proportions are all wrong and colors far from reality, but a child has already mastered something very important: importance of symbols. A child around four or five understands a drawn symbol represents something from reality. Their works are more and more complex, we can notice more and more details.


6 years: Welcome to reality! Children slowly become critical. They learn to observe the environment and compare their drawings with actual situation. Some express the wish to learn some simple drawing techniques, maybe they want to know hot to draw a cat step by step or something similar.

When they don’t achieve proper results they can become frustrated. This is time to offer them a help but without pushing. Drawing should stay fun and voluntary task, kids should never feel an obligation. It is also right time to encourage the imaginative part of creative process which should not be suppressed by realism.


9 years: At this stage most of kids stop drawing. They are good enough to notice how far are their works from works of skillful artists. This is perfect time to introduce drawing techniques used to master the proportions and perspectives. Time to switch from two to three dimensions. Don’t forget the many benefits of drawing for children!

Providing quality drawings, illustrations and photos can be very rewarding in this phase. Many kids will gladly copy from that kind of material. One day with proper support a talent can grow in an artist. Don’t miss the opportunity!


Benefits of drawing for children


Benefits of drawing for children

It is widely accepted fact drawing has many benefits for children but only in last decades some scientific studies have been done to provide hard facts and debunk few of the myths surrounding impact of drawing related activities on development of kids.

What are the benefits of drawing?

Let us try to make a short list of drawing benefits for kids:

1. Eye – hand coordination. Without proper coordination between hands and eyes we wouldn’t be able to do even most ordinary everyday tasks and practice can certainly help to make it better. Numerous health issues are related with poor eye – hand coordination and it works in both ways. If we improve coordination, we will have less problems in many areas of live and vice versa. Drawing can be simple and very efficient help.

Street chalks are great fun!

2. Expression. Children, especially really young ones, don’t have properly developed vocabulary to express their wishes or feelings what often frustrates them. With a simple draw they can show their happiness, sadness, excitement… Kids are able to show a story with totally abstract figures, just with few shapes and lines, selection of colors etc. With practice drawing skills will improve and their vocabulary will follow.

drawing of butterfly
Kids’ perception of the world is quite different

3. Perception. Observing an object, character or situation is in close relationship with physical abilities of our sensory organs and drawing can serve as very good indicator of possible malfunctions of the eyes. Even if the eyes are working as they suppose to, we can spot a problem at interpretation in nervous system, in so called visual memory or in some other areas. If we know perception can be enhanced with simple tasks as drawing or coloring, we can use this to improve orientation, organization and critical thinking at kids relatively easily.

These are only few of many benefits of drawing for children and we’ll mention more when we’ll try to find the answer on another complex question: why is drawing good for adults?


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