Drawing Manga Poses: Illustrating Common Scenarios

Learning how to draw everyday manga poses will help when you’re creating your story. Once you learn how to break down the basics of drawing characters, you’ll be able to create any manga poses you need for your story. Your characters will look balanced and natural in a variety of poses.

One of the best ways to learn how to draw realistic characters is to practice drawing people from life or from a photograph. Drawing standing figures at rest is quite different from sketching them in action. As soon as characters start to move and interact with the world around them, they can quickly become unnatural and awkward in appearance.

Creating Manga Poses from a Reference

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

1: Mark Guidelines on the Reference
Before you begin drawing, observe the midline (the line marking the center of the body). Notice how the position of the shoulders, waist and hips are always perpendicular to the midline. Mark the position of major joints, such as elbows, knees and ankles.

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

2: Sketch the Guidelines
Start your sketch by finding the curve of the body marking the midline. For this pose, our model rests her weight on her left foot and tilts her hips and shoulders to maintain her balance.

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

3: Draw the Silhouette
Block in the silhouette over the midline and framework drawn in step 2. Review the drawing as you work and fix any awkward proportions.

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

4: Create Dimension
Let’s take this drawing to the third dimension! Start by looking at each body part and article of clothing to determine where to add volume. Add volume and shape with guidelines (which you can erase later).

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

5: Erase Sketch Lines and Add Details
Now erase your guidelines and add in detail. If you incorporate small details from the start, your final drawing will end up skewed and unbalanced. If you wait until the end, you can better judge where to add and where to omit detail to suit your particular image.

Listening to Music

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

Headphones may seem complicated to draw, but if you look closer you’ll find they’re made out of simple shapes. The pieces covering the ears are just very short cylinders, and the headband’s a curve of varying flexibility and thickness. Most of these poses involve foreshortening the arms, so pay extra attention there. If you get confused, sketch in a cross-section of her limbs to help you remember where the arm is, even if it’s hidden.

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga posesDrawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

Now she’s listening to music on her cellphone. She’s using a smartphone, so draw her using the touch screen instead of pressing buttons with her thumbs.

Eating

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

Watch out for foreshortening when you’re illustrating a pose straight on. Her hands are much closer to the camera than her elbows, so her forearms recede dramatically. Use cross sections to help determine the correct angles between each hand and elbow.

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

The same character may change the way she eats depending on the situation. Practice and observe those around you to learn how people eat when they’re in a rush, when they’ve just come home exhausted from work or when they’re enjoying a meal out on the town with a close friend. Always imagine the emotional and situational context of a pose as you work, even if it’s just for one drawing.

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

Rough in the silhouette of the hand first. Don’t forget to draw the full shape of the spoon as you draw the positions of the individual fingers

Reading

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

There’s nothing like a good book! Your subject’s reading material— paperback, hardcover, softcover, textbook, etc.—will definitely impact her posture and the way she holds it open. Consider your character’s personality and the context of the scene when you choose what kind of book to put in her hands.

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

Take a look from the side. How does the distance between her torso, the table and the back of her chair change when she shifts position? What happens when she leans her elbows on the table?

Drawing from a reference | Drawing a pose | Drawing manga | Drawing manga poses

Time to relax with a good book. These kinds of crosslegged seated postures can be tricky to draw, but you’ll be fine as long as you take the time to figure out the position of each limb. Take a look at his pose in profile. Notice how he’s leaning forward, and using his knees to bear his weight through his forearms.

You can find even more manga poses in Drawing Manga: People and Poses by Ryo Hirata. Available now!

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