What Paper Shall I Use for My Manga?

What Paper Shall I Use for My Manga?

You are wondering what paper you should use for your manga? In Japan, manga artists are using B4 size sheets of paper weighting either 110 kg and 135 kg for their inked page. But it can be expensive and you not easy to find around you. This is the reason why I will show you what is important to know about paper for drawing manga, and what options you have available.

Here are the elements we are going to look at:


Click on the image to see Deleter B4 paper with grid on Amazon

Click on the image to see Icy B4 paper with grid on Amazon

Click on the image to see Clairefontaine B4 paper with grid on Amazon

Paper size

As stated above, manga artists in Japan are using B4 size paper. B4 size is 257 × 364 mm or 10.1 × 14.3 inches.

You can of course find B4 paper online on Amazon for instance or possibly in your local art shops. But if you don’t have easy access to such paper, here is what is important to understand:

The reason why manga artists are using B4 format paper is to have sufficient space to draw details.

Drawing on a piece of paper the size of a printed manga page (B6, or 12.8 cm × 18.2 cm, or 5.04 × 7.17 inches) would not be convenient. Your details would be crammed and the risk of ink bleeding and compromising your artwork would be too high. And this would also lead to high fatigue for the artist, because it would require much more effort and concentration. This is the reason why manga artists are drawing on larger sheets of paper. With such paper they have more room to draw fine details, and they don’t need to have viewing lenses to draw these.

Therefore when asking yourself the question of what paper size you should use, just look for what large sheets of paper you have available nearby. For instance A4, A3, Letter or Ledger format paper can perfectly do the job.

Note that A sizes have a height over with ratio which is really similar to the one of B sizes.

Then, when needed, you can scan and scale down the page to print and publish it.

Paper weight

Paper weight is also an important element to take into account when choosing paper.

How paper weight works in Japan

The paper used by manga artists in Japan for their inked pages weights between 110kg and 135kg.

The weight of paper in Japan is the weight of 1000 sheets of a benchmark sized sheet of paper. This benchmark sheet of paper is called “shirokuban” and its dimensions are 788 × 1091 mm. The only property which varies is the thickness which influences the overall weight.

Now, a 110kg sheet of paper is equivalent to 130 gsm. And a 135 kg paper is equivalent to 160 gsm.

Conversion table for US weight units

Text (T)
25 x 38
Cover (C)
20 x 26
GSM
60#33#90
68#37#100
75#41#112
80#44#120
84#47#125
91#50#135
110#60#160
195#107#290
216#118#320
Conversion table between gsm and US paper weight – Source: ReichPaper

Choosing the appropriate paper weight

The point to be understood, here, is that heavier paper provides more comfort when drawing, and is more fold and tear resistant.

When drawing for instance, it can happen that the paper gets folded when moving it around, or when moving your hands while drawing. It also limits risk of folds creating while erasing your sketch. A heavier sheet of paper will limit that kind of issue.

You can of course use more standard paper, like printing paper (90 gsm). In that case, though, you will have to be more careful to avoid folding or tearing your paper.

Also, no need to get 300 gsm paper for a standard inked page. That paper is more expensive, and it will be too thick if you plan on using a light table. Such paper is more appropriate when you want to paint your drawing.

Do you need rulers on your manga paper?

Manga paper, like comics paper, can come either with or without rulers.

The rulers are lines used to help the artist be aware of how drawings might be impacted when printed by a publisher. It is therefore very commonly used when the manga pages are aimed at being printed.

The safe/live area is an area that will be preserved during printing. The bleed area is available to allow parts of the drawing to extend outside of the page. The trim line is inside the bleed area and indicates approximately where the page will be trimmed to size. Anything outside of this line will not appear in the printed manga.

Areas of a manga piece of paper

Finally, you will also find gradations that will help you positioning your panels.

That being said, these rulers are really only useful if you intend to send your pages to a publisher for printing.

If you intend to self publish your work or to publish it online, you don’t need these rulers. This can therefore help you to save some money as ruled paper is most of the time more expensive than unruled paper.

Manga paper and coloring techniques

You should also have in mind the fact that not every paper is suitable for every colouring technique.

You have for instance to be careful when choosing your paper if you intend on using alcohol markers or watercolour.

For alcohol markers it is better to choose a dedicated paper. These paper include a barrier which limits bleeding. Less bleeding also means the paper sucks less ink, and therefore your markers will last longer.


Click on the image to see paper with barrier for alcohol markers on Amazon

Similarly, if you intend to use watercolours you will have to choose a thicker piece of paper. Generally people use paper around 300 gsm. This thick paper will first absorb water while limiting warping. And then the risk for it to be peeling or getting pierced while painting is lower.

Conclusion

As a conclusion, you can perfectly use dedicated manga paper as the one below:

I would limit its use to final sketch and inking, though. For drafts/names, use printing paper, or a standard notebook.

And if you find this paper too expensive, or have difficulties finding it around you, then use what you have conveniently available around you.

Remember, try to use larger sheets of paper like A3, A4, Legal or Letter format paper to have room to draw details. And try to get paper with a good weight to it (around 120 gsm) for more comfort and to limit tearing and folding.


Click on the image to see Deleter B4 paper with grid on Amazon

Click on the image to see Icy B4 paper with grid on Amazon

Click on the image to see Clairefontaine B4 paper with grid on Amazon

Do not hesitate to like and share this article. And do not hesitate to ask question or to comment.

See you,

Stef

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