The best art supplies for drawing anime and manga
Anime and manga have a very distinct style due to the tools and drawing techniques used. Some people prefer to draw using apps or anime drawing software, while others prefer more traditional media such as marker pens, acrylics, watercolors and colored pencils.
Artists of all skill levels can pick up the tools of the trade. Whether you’ve been drawing anime for years or are just starting, it’s helpful to know what you need to get started in each style.
Best of the best marker pens
PANDAFLY Precision Micro-Line Pens: available at Amazon
Our take: Set of 10 technical pens perfect for inking, sketching, fine details and larger illustrations.
What we like: These pens are waterproof and don’t smudge, bleed or fade over time. Long-lasting pens with tips ranging in size from .2mm to 1.0mm for precision and perspective drawing.
What we dislike: You may need to go over the lines twice when you use the thinner nibs.
Best bang for your buck marker pens
YISAN Micro-Pens: available at Amazon
Our take: The set has 12 drawing pens for anime artists, technical drawing and sketching.
What we like: Waterproof, anti-smudge, anti-bleed professional inking pens with various sizes of tips (.2mm to 3.0mm) for depth and detail. Comes with a handy pouch to keep the pens organized.
What we dislike: May bleed through thinner drawing surfaces with heavy use.
Castle Art Supplies 26-piece Drawing and Sketching Pencil Art Set: available at Amazon
Our take: Well-rounded drawing set for beginners and experienced artists.
What we like: The set includes 12 graphite pencils, three charcoal pencils of varying hardness levels and three graphite sticks. It also includes a kneaded eraser for precision work, a vinyl eraser, sharpeners, three charcoal sticks and a blending pencil, as well as a five-step tutorial on how to use each pencil.
What we dislike: Although convenient, the packaging is flimsy.
Best bang for your buck pencils
Norberg & Linden XL Drawing Set: available at Amazon
Our take: Complete set of pencils for sketching, drawing and shading manga or anime.
What we like: Suitable for any age, this set includes various graphite pencils, charcoal pencils, graphite sticks, a blending stump and a kneaded eraser. It also has a 100-page sketch pad for immediate use.
What we dislike: The zippered carrying case is convenient but not very durable.
Best of the best colored pencils
Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils: available at Amazon
Our take: Premium quality colored pencils for layering and blending.
What we like: Vibrant, permanent colored pencils that are easy to use and come in a convenient traveling case for art on the go. Smooth lead with high pigmentation for all your coloring and shading needs.
What we dislike: The white colored pencil doesn’t blend as well as most of the other colors.
Best bang for your buck colored pencils
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil Set: available at Amazon
Our take: Excellent quality colored pencils from a recognized brand.
What we like: Smooth, rich colors that last and are designed to make illustrations pop. Comes with a convenient tin carrying case.
What we dislike: Standard pencils that don’t blend as well as other options out there.
Best coloring markers and brush pens
Best of the best markers and brush pens
Copic Marker Marker Set: available at Amazon
Our take: Great starter pack of non-toxic, permanent marker pens for anime, drawing, sketching and professional illustration.
What we like: The 12 refillable marker pens come with replaceable nibs. Each pen has a super brush nib and a medium broad nib. Perfect for detail work and broader strokes with vibrant color.
What we dislike: Ink may bleed through thin paper (but will not bleed through cardstock).
Best bang for your buck markers and brush pens
Sophie’s Art Supplies Watercolor Brush Pens: available at Amazon
Our take: Assortment of watercolor brush pens with a water blending pen and pad for drawing and manga artists.
What we like: Includes 24 non-toxic, leakproof pens in different colors with flexible brush tips for everything from broad strokes to fine details. Works well for blending, gradients and texturing.
What we dislike: Ink should be used sparingly or it may oversaturate the page and run out. The blending brush can be tricky to use at first.
Best of the best drawing paper
DELETER Comic Book Paper: available at Amazon
Our take: Heavy-duty, high-quality smooth drawing paper by a well-known manga and anime brand.
What we like: This paper comes in two options – non-ruled and standard. The standard version has all the blue lines needed to mark and layout pages for manga drawing, which saves you time. The lines won’t show when you photocopy or scan the page. Great for storyboarding and sketching.
What we dislike: With only 40 loose sheets, it’s easy to go through this paper quickly.
Best bang for your buck drawing paper
Canson Artist Series Comic Manga Sketch Pad: available at Amazon
Our take: This sketch pad has excellent quality paper for comics and manga.
What we like: The paper has a smooth texture and is thick enough to prevent bleeding even when using marker pens. It also takes ink well.
What we dislike: The paper doesn’t come with blue lines.
Best of the best drawing tablet
GAOMON PD1161 Drawing Monitor: available at Amazon
Our take: Great mid-range drawing tablet that’s compatible with many drawing programs, including Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Corel PaintShop Pro and Clip Studio.
What we like: The tablet comes with a small display with crisp visuals that connects to a larger screen for easy use. Included is a battery-free stylus with eight replacement nibs and a pen holder. The tablet itself also has eight express keys and five menu keys for convenience.
What we dislike: It isn’t compatible with Chrome operating systems. Also, despite having a screen, it cannot be used without being hooked up to a computer or laptop.
Best bang for your buck drawing tablet
Wacom Intuos Graphics Drawing Tablet: available at Amazon
Our take: Solid tablet for beginner artists.
What we like: It’s compatible with various systems, including Chromebook, PC, Mac and Android. Plus, it comes with free digital art software (Clip Studio Paint Pro, Painter Essentials 8 and AfterShot Pro). Comes with a non-scratch, battery-free stylus.
What we dislike: It’s on the small side and doesn’t have a built-in screen or other high-tech features.
Here are a few more essentials for anime and manga artists:
- Perspective ruler to map out vanishing points and add depth to your art.
- G-pens (for general drawing and line art) and mapping pens (for precision thickness).
- Spare nibs and nib holders
- White ink or white gel pens to correct errors or erase lines that are out of frame
- Manga screens (transparent films placed over illustrations to add patterns)
- Kneadable eraser (for shading and line deletion)
- Pencil sharpeners
- Acrylic paint
- Extra blendable markers for gradients and blending colors
- Extra manga paper
When choosing art supplies for your anime drawings, test out different media and tools to see what suits your style the most. As your art progresses, you may want to change it up and try something new.
Angela Watson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money
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