Manga Help- Time Management and Practice
TIME MANAGEMENT & PRACTICE
When we look at our first Manga Comic and decide “That’s what I wanna do for a living” we begin to enter a new dimension of confusion and hard work. There are several issues when deciding on this. Here, I am going to focus on Practice and Time management.
One of the biggest issues for a manga illustrator is the practice and time management issues. Currently, I am a student studying in Film, Theatre and Art. On top of that I have Japanese classes. Plus there’s all the meal times and showers and other niggly bits in my day that make practice hard. It is the same for all MIT (Mangaka In Training). The amount of times that I have sat down only to need to go to bed for a seminar. For others, it may not just be the issue of School?College/Uni, but a job, that sometimes ends up eating into your time. Plus, we have commitments to friends, family, or that oh so cute kitty that always manages to distract you ^_^.
I found my own way round this, but all people have different ways. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to organize my life, but after trying (and failing) at several different timetables, I found something that worked.
I designed some simple boxes. Seven for seven days a week. If you want to be exact, you could also use a blank calendar. I then had to insert all my uni commitments. However, I did not set a specific time, just that I had to go to my seminar on that day. I then worked out all the things that were needed for practice. My example is Manga, Japanese, plus Uni artwork. Each one I allotted a certain amount of hours, and put them in for everyday of the week (not everyone chooses to practice every day, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If you do decide to practice daily, try not to do more than 3 hours on one area). Also, insert things you have to do, such as showers, food, pet walking/attention giving. I’d advise not putting in social events, as such things change constantly, and can’t always be controlled. Once you have filled up this, then you can advise your friends on when best to see them. The nice thing about this is that there is no set time for anything! It is a reminder of the things you wish to do in a day, but you are free to do these whenever you wish. In this way, it doesn’t add a strain and means you can do Manga work when you feel most inspired!
Even if you don’t do everything on your list, it’s still good to know that you achieved something, even if it is just one thing. Often, I don’t always manage to do Japanese and exercise everyday, but when I do, I feel like I have achieved something. Give it a try, even if it doesn’t work.
Another thing that I would suggest is attempting to fit manga around your work. I know that uni is important, but there are many people who sketch during class. I do too. free sketching is one of the best ways to get your mind stimulated for drawing. I often use this technique if I can’t think of something to draw ^_^.
What is a good idea is to try and hone in on those types of sketches (during class, at home, during a lunch break) and push them in a manga style. Instead of random sketches, try hatching. I recently went out and brought a large black sketch book. This way, I can take notes if needed, but I also have room to explore different Manga techniques. When looking at Manga tones and shading, it seems difficult to believe that sketching can help you achieve this. Try to jump on these moments, Even if there is no paper and pen nearby, I often visualise, or imagine how it would look when drawing on my hand with my finger (don’t laugh ^_^’). I also find that sketching helps with my concentration in class. Some will disagree, so try it out to see if it works for you.
Another great time saver is a corkboard. I often find that when going to sleep I think up a really good idea. Unfortunately, falling asleep usually erases this. However, when I use my corkboard with paper and a pen, I can often note down ideas before falling asleep, just enough to elaborate on in the morning. Even if you stick a piece of paper to the wall with blue tack, which would work just as well, but never miss these gems. They make stewing over your plot a lot less strenuous.
If you are unsure on what to practice on, this also wastes a lot of time. I often sit down thinking “Hmm, I’m okay with this, but I don’t know where to start with this”
The first thing that I would recommend is to pick up your favourite Manga. Go on, right now
Have a look through the pages. Note down what you really like. Try to create a list of some kind. If you feel the need to do this with more than one, go for it! Each Manga offers something new.
Now, when looking at a manga, there are the obvious titles, such as Anatomy, eyes, hair, etc
Also, try thinking about things such as cinematics; the panels often look very similar to a film. For more research, watch a film in a similar genre to the manga, and try pausing at camera changes (I have to do this a lot in Film, and it helps a lot). There is a surprising amount. Now, I’m not suggesting you draw as many panels as that, but when reading a manga, we, as readers, are basically the camera, or at least following a camera of some kind. This seems long winded, but on the whole it will help save time.
After cinematics, look at things such a tone, shading, foreshortening, perspective, colours, graduation. Make a really long list. The more areas you can list, the more you can focus what you need to practice into smaller chunks. An example of this is hair. When looking at hair, it seems like a very broad topic. Try narrowing this into separate categories, such as male hair and female hair. Then, short hair and long hair, plain hair and imaginative hair.
Once you have done this, try to think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to end up with a character standing on a page in a cool pose with great clothes and an expression that would make Akira Toriyama proud? or do you want to attempt you first manga pages. Before you practice, you have to decide what your end targets will be. True, we all want to eventually design a great series of Manga, but we need to start somewhere. If your key is simply a character design, then you don’t have to worry for panels FOR NOW. Keep it in your list, but prioritise.
Let’s use the example of a character design. We would need a gender, hair, eyes, pose, expression, foreshortening, perhaps colour? We would have to decide the genre and if he/she/it carries any props. I’m not saying that all has to be decided now, but we can at least agree that those a some of the categories that would be needed for such a character design.
The next step would be to pick up your favourite manga (or a new one) and pick a character you like. Do this with several different Manga. Maybe some of these images are online too. One hint, experiment, but don’t go too far from your original goal. You want to create a character, so try to focus on the character. There’s no need at this point to start researching backgrounds yet, as it will draw your attention and ultimately take up time. True, you may say that you’d need to practice backgrounds eventually, but those practice sessions may easily be forgotten if not continuously applied to a project.
If at this stage, you feel you need tutorials, go for it (though you probably don’t need me to tell you that ^_^’) I have several books and folders full of research. It takes a while to collect, but now, if I need to research something for reference or help, nine times out of ten I can find it pretty quick. Another way to speed this up it by page labels. Some Manga tutorial books often reference different Manga areas. If you code these with numbers, it makes it so easy to find a chapter that will help you fast. Example. I mark all tutorials to do with the head anatomy with the number 1. All those chapters are quickly cut through when I seek out the number 1.
After gathering such references, you can be ready to practice. If you really love something that you draw during this process, keep it in a personal references folder. This way, you can continue to draw and practice until you have that character design in the exact way that you want it. From this point, you can add that on to your portfolio and move onto something else. As you go along, the subjects will overlap and you can be continuously practicing.
If you are unsure on where to start project wise, it’s always good to practice character designs and get them just the way you want them before deciding on the final look for your character. I once made the mistake of designing my characters without much practice, and it made it very difficult to change the way my characters looked when I had improved, as I had gotten used to this. I had to remove all pictures of my characters and avoid looking at them until I had improved on areas.
One last thing, if you enjoy colouring with Manga Markers, a good, quick way for you to practice that doesn’t require you to draw a new picture to practice on is to buy a Manga Colouring book, If you can’t find a Manga one, a normal one will work just as well. If you don’t want to colour in the book, you can photocopy the pages so you can practice over and over.
I hope that this has helped. I don’t know if this will work for everyone, as everyone is different and there are probably people who can concentrate better than I can ^_^’. However, these things worked for me, and although some seem long winded, once done they will save a lot of time and effort.
I hope this helps! ^_^V
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