I'd like to place some information extracted from my manga-drawing book I'm writing now.
Before you read this page, please read "MANGA-DRAWING" page in which there is a very basic information about manga-drawing.
Generally speaking, people tend to think the charm of manga-pictures equals to the charm of manga, however, the biggest factor of the charm of Japanese manga is the fascination of stories including attractive characters.
In this case, "characters attractiveness" refers to the charm of their personalities rather than their appearances.
As you may know, Japanese manga artists create both stories and pictures. Before they work on drawing pictures, they have to discuss the stories and characters with editors seriously whether they are attractive enough or not.
Almost all popular Japanese manga in foreign countries are the works of Japanese major companies, and the manga editors in such companies tend to place great importance on the charm of the stories and characters. Because they know from their experiences that manga whose pictures are not so good but have charming stories and characters sells better than manga whose stories are boring but pictures are excellent.
I feel sorry that there are few manga-drawing books which explain these important things though there are many books for drawing manga-like pictures, so, I'd like to introduce some methods of creating personalities of characters and manga stories.
First of all, What is a character chart?
It is a chart on which the appearance of a main character and its profile are drawn. Professional manga artists show the charts when they have a discussion with manga editors. I think it would be better for would-be manga artists to draw them.
Generally speaking, people tend to be satisfied when the appearances of the characters are well drawn, however, you should think carefully their personalities and write it down in profile.
There isn't absolute rules to draw character charts, but I think you should at least draw whole bodies of the characters and close-up of their faces besides them. In addition, you should write their profiles including their names, ages, jobs(or students), personalities, special notes near by their pictures. It would be better to use thin white paper like copy paper around B5 size when you draw with pencils. You can also draw them on special thick paper for manga with a pen.
There are several methods to think of characters. One of the most typical method is to create a character on the image of something.
You can use anything as image models. For example, if you use animals as image models...
Example 1: lion...well build, leonine man who has strong leadership
Example 2: hamster...small, cute girl who is loved by everybody
Of cause you can use non-living things as image models.
Example 3: wind...thin woman with long hair who has refreshed atmosphere and is not concerned with trivialities
Example 4: personal computer...a dispassionate clerical worker who is living only for his work
In this way, you can use various things as image models, but when you use real persons especially famous people for the purpose, you should take care not to make the pictures very similar to them, because sometimes it can cause problems. It would be safer to change the appearances to some extent.
If you are a beginner, you don't always have to consider personalities of characters so seriously when you create them. However, intermediate or advanced would-be manga artists should do so. Because main characters' personalities and behavior are important facts to attract a large number of readers.
If you have only several words to express your main characters' personalities, this means you have not made them stand out as characters.
"What sort of man is he?"
"Well, he is kind. That's all."
...this is not enough.
If you create manga without establishing the characters' personalities, the readers can't understand what kind of persons they are while reading it. Usually people are seldom charmed by characters whose personalities are unclear and hard to grasp. Before all, you would be at a loss when you create stories because you can't imagine how the characters behave in them. I recommend you to device methods to create more well-defined, impressive, and attractive characters and I'll show some examples of the methods as follows
Method 1: add characters faults or weak points to make them look real persons and make readers have an affinity with them
Method 2: think of some habits peculiar to the character to make him or her more individual
Method 3: write the main character's history from their birth until today on your note in detail to certain degree
Method 4: establish the characters' personalities by answering some questions while you identify with each character
Example of question 1: What is the most(M) delightful thing ever in your life?
Example of question 2: What is the hardest thing ever in your life?
Example of question 3: What did make you angry most in your life?
Example of question 4: What is the funniest experience in your life?
Example of question 5: What is the most frightening thing in your life?
Example of question 6: What are your dreams for the future.
Example of question 7: Is there anything you are absorbed in these days ?
Example of question 8: Is there anything you have kept secret?
Example of question 9: If you were to liken yourself to an animal, what would it be?
Example of question 10: What is the most important thing for you in your life?
You can see that if you haven't created their personalities firmly, you can't answer the questions as the characters. You can also create your own collection of questions for characters.
There are many manga-drawing books related to drawing appearances of manga characters, but the ones which express the way of creating characters' personalities are scarce.
However, this is a very important factor to create excellent manga, and Japanese professional manga artists try to make their characters more attractive as much as possible by various means.
Sample format of character chart
I have created a sample format of character charts. It would be a reference when you create your character charts.
Assisting chart of creating characters' personalities
As I mentioned earlier, the method of well-defined characters varies and I have created a sample chart which would assist to create them.
Please click the chart to enlarge it.
The articles above are only a part of my manga-drawing book.
You'll be able to see more detailed information in the book.