How to Pen & Ink - Oh!great illustration

Book Review: How to Pen and Ink

How to Pen and Ink from Comickers

I purchased How to Pen and Ink from Comickers back when I was really into manga. That’s when I began to develope a hugh appreceation for manga as an art form. Pretty shortly, I began to learn about various manga techniques and reading Bakuman.

When I bought How to Pen and Ink, Amazon claimed that it’s a Comickers book, when in actuality it’s published by Digital Manga Publishing(DMP owns the license to publish How to Pen and Ink in the U.S.) How to Pen and Ink was originally published in Japan by Bijutsu Shuppan-sha, LTD, they published Comickers Art Style (Which is current defunct). So it’s sort of a Comickers book.

The book itself is divided into three parts: Special Technique, the Boot-camp, and the Appendix. I’ll go through each section in a little bit. How to Pen and Ink is well designed, and reminiscent to the look of the original Japanese version. Within the first couple of pages, there’s a beautiful overlay of the pencils for a piece that Oh!great created just for the book.

The first third, Special Technique, is in full color, containing a combination of photos and beautiful illustrations produced by Oh!great, Nightow, and Shiki. The rest of How to Pen and Ink is in black and white, which is understandable, since the focus is on manga.

How to Pen & Ink - Oh!great illustration

Special Technique

How to Pen and Ink sample page from Special Technique
Click to enlarge

How to Pen and Ink, starts out by placing us behind the shoulder of mangakas Yashiro Nightow, Oh!Great, and Satoshi Shiki. Readers get to see step-by-step demonstrations of the techniques and works from start to finish by each of the mangaka. I was real ecstatic by that. It’s always good to see how the professionals work. We also get to see some of the tools they use and how the mangaka use them. Comickers also interviews each of the artists, where we learn a little about them personally, read about the manga techniques they use, and their experiences in the manga business. This section could had been a book of its own with another two mangakas.

Manga Boot-Camp

Manga Boot-Camp is an extensive, series of tutorials, loaded with tips and techniques. The boot-camp is broken down into sections. Part one of the Manga Boot-Camp has a sharp focus on beginners. The content is in the form of a manga about a frustrated little guy who desperately wants to break into the business. Readers follow the little-guy as he learns to create a name (a mange page) from conception to applying screen tones.

The next section picks up where the manga leaves off. Step two of the Boot-Camp has a focus on intermediary manga students/artists. It goes over practically every single little issue, problem and technique that a budding mangaka needs to learn about and/or constantly runs into.

Step three is a beneficial four-week training program to get students up to snuff with pen and ink. I say the training program is beneficial because it starts readers off with very basic pen exercises using a G-pen (crow quill dip pen). Then the book works you into more advance techniques such as speed lines, line variations, and cross-hatching.

 How to Pen & Ink boot-camp sample page

The Appendix of How to Pen and Ink

In side of How to Pen and Ink isn’t literally an Appendix. The Appendix actually contains a huge survey of manga artists and what tools they use. That means lots of fine print. We even get a ranking as to the most popular art supplies among manga artists. Towards the end is an Emergency Index to quickly look up topics.


Overall, I think How to Pen and Ink is a great book, especially if you’re learning to ink. Even if you plan to ink digitally, the techniques you learn from this book can also be applied to the digital world. (Read How to Make Screen Tones! – Part 1) For beginners, How to Pen and Ink will usher you from the basics to more advanced manga techniques. You can buy your copy of How to Pen and Ink [Amazon] from Amazon now.

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