Mastering Manga 3: How to Draw a Sword Fight

Mark Crilley’s ever popular Mastering Manga series has another new edition to the collection. Mastering Manga 3 is packed with even more exciting tutorials about manga characters, poses and more.

To tell a good story sometimes you don’t need text, you just need a strong visual. Action scenes and dynamic poses are important for your manga or comic. With this free tutorial from Mastering Manga 3 you’ll learn how to draw a sword fight. Something about this ancient and noble weapon fires the imagination, transporting readers to magical realms and faraway places. In this lesson you’ll learn how to draw a classic clash of sabers, which of course requires not just one pose, but two. Even if swords aren’t your thing, it’s a good way of learning to draw action poses and how to illustrate a conflict at its very peak.


Step 1: Draw Two Stick Figures
Let’s begin with the basic stick figures. I’ve chosen to place the figure on the left in a heightened position of power, leaping into the air as he strikes. Note how the angle of the shoulders is drastically different from that of the pelvis; this twisting pose is a common choice for action as it suggests fluidity of motion. Sharply bent knees and elbows add to the sense of drama and impact.


Step 2: Flesh Out the Figures and Draw the Face Guidelines
As you begin fleshing things out, focus on the basics: the width of the thigh compared to the upper arm, the angle of the head, the curve of the back as it joins the shoulder. I’ve sketched in the swords here but only just barely. We just want the big picture at this stage.


Step 3: Start the Upper Figure’s Features, Hair and Clothes
Begin tightening things up just a little. Confining your attention to the upper figure, sketch in the facial features and the hair as well as a few indications of clothing. I’ve chosen a highly stylized fantasy sword, but you may prefer something more streamline. Note how the clothing can add to the sense of motion. 


Step 4: Start the Lower Figure’s Features, Hair and Clothes
Onward to the second figure. Remember that hair and clothing are entirely up to the artist – no need to replicate what I’ve opted for here. It’s a good time to get a sense of the musculature of the upper arm but just in a rough way for now.


Step 5: Finalize the Contour Lines and Add Face and Hair Details
Once you’ve worked out the basic forms, begin refining the contours. I’ve opted for a somewhat stylized approach, drawing their arm muscles with super-sharp angles to accentuate the physical demands of the battle. Now’s the time to go for the details of the facial features and to finalize the hairstyles.


Step 6: Add the Final Details
As always, the details come last. As you can see, I’ve gone for quite a lot of detail throughout both poses, but you may opt for a more minimal approach. Note how the cloth wrinkles aren’t just random lines; they are responding to the movement of the bodies beneath, showing us how the cloth is being pulled in a particular direction.


Step 7: Ink the Drawing
Time to ink all the lines. Allow plenty of time for the ink to dry, then erase all the pencil lines. The goal of every artist is to be able to draw poses like this entirely from memory. It doesn’t happen magically overnight though. You get there slowly over a period of years by copying various poses at first, then gradually learning to create your own.


Add color and your epic sword fight scene is done! You can find this and even more great tutorials in Mastering Manga 3 by Mark Crilley. Grab your copy today!

Mastering Manga 3 | North Light Shop


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