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 more details on Deleter B4 paper with rulers on Amazon Click on the image to see more details on Icy B4 paper with grid on Amazon Click on the image to see more details on Clairefontaine B4 paper with grid on Amazon

What paper size do manga artists draw on?

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 would not be convenient. The details of your drawings 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 width ratio which is really close to the one of B sizes.

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

What is the size of a manga page?

In magazines such as the Shōnen Jump, a manga page has a B5 size. B5 size is 15.7 × 18.2 cm or 6.18 × 7.17 inches.

The manga volumes you can buy in stores (called tankōbon in Japan), have on their side a page size of a B6 format. B6 paper size is 12.8 × 18.2 cm, or 5.04 × 7.17 inches.

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, inside the bleed area, indicates approximately where the page will be trimmed to size. Anything near or outside of the area delimited by the trim line will be cut away and will not appear in the printed manga. This is how mangaka are able to make drawings that bleed out of the page.

Areas of a manga piece of paper

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

When shall you use ruled manga paper?

Using ruled paper will be a requirement if you intend to provide your manga pages to a publisher. The ruler are needed for the publisher to properly centre and crop the pages before printing.

A second situation where such paper is useful is if you intend to have some of your panels bleeding outside of the page. This paper gives extra room to draw outside of what will be the final page. It therefore avoids deformations that can come when you draw at the border of a sheet of paper. You can then yourself use the trim lines as guides to crop the page and keep the aspect ratio when processing your page.

Paper quality and Kent paper

Some companies, such as Deleter, provide different paper grades with standard paper and Kent paper.

Standard paper is the one you find most often in most stores. It surface might be slightly rough, and the paper might get a yellow tint as it ages.

Kent paper, on its side, receives a specific chemical treatment to provide it with a smooth surface and better wear and tear resistance. This treatment also makes the paper more resistant to ageing and yellowing.

As Kent paper is more expensive than standard paper, its use shall be dedicated for your final pages and not for your mockups.

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.

Understanding Deleter range of manga paper

Based on what we have seen, you should now be able to find your way through the available range of Deleter manga paper.

Here is a quick overview of the available products:

  • First you will find two paper sizes: B4 or A4,
  • Then you have two paper weights: 110 kg or 135 kg,
  • Next you have the choice between ruled (Type A) and plain (without rulers) (type B) paper
  • Type A and B paper are standard quality paper, Kent paper will come respectively with type AK for ruled paper, or BK for plain paper.

Finally, you can also find some more specific paper:

  • D type paper which is ruled paper dedicated to drawing yonkoma (comics in four panels).
  • F type paper similar to A type but with dark ink being used for the cutting lines.
  • HAGAKI (ハガキ) is a postcard format.

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