500 Manga Characters
by Sweatdrop Studios
Pages: 528 (color)
Publisher: Collins Design (July 2007)
ISBN: 0061256528

Chapters:
Introduction
How to us the CD
Teenage Female Contemporary
Teenage Female Traditional Asian
Teenage Male Contemporary
Teenage Male Traditional Asian
Fantasy
Action
Sci-Fi
Historical
Gothic Lolita
Child Male
Child Female
Adult Male
Adult Female
Chibi Male
Chibi Female
Villians
Mecha
Monsters
Animals
Hardware
Software
Basic Tools
Brush Tools
Blocking in Colors
Light and Shade
Airbrush and Beyond
Artists
License Agreement



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Read this book? Tell us what you thought of it! Send your review to rio[AT]mangatutorials[DOT]com. Make sure you include a reason why you like and/or dislike the book.


Book Review by Rio

As the title of the books says, this book has 500 manga characters, fully drawn for you to color and use for whatever purpose you like including commercial ones (more details on that later). The whole book is in color and is pretty hefty with 528 pages in a graphic-novel sized format. The majority of the pages within the book features one of the characters you can use. Each of those character pages sports a giant number and a large black and white image of the character. On a smaller scale, you'll see a colored version of the character, giving you an idea of how it'll look like in color, and a short description of the character.

There are over 15 types of characters within the book ranging from your typical teenage and adult characters to more exotic monsters, mecha's and animals. Chibi's are also present in the volume which makes for one heck of a variety for those looking for different types of drawings. With 19 artists contributing in this volume, the drawings all remain in the manga style but can vary in quality from bad to very good. Most are in the mediocre* side thankfully so your $20 USD is not wasted on this book (should you decide to get it, that is).

One of the great uses I see for this collection is how you can easily get characters for your manga! There are monsters, characters in fighting poses, and there are tons of NPCs just waiting to be used. Going through each image can be a bit of a chore on the first go but once you leave bookmarks (preferably of the sticky note kind), it'll be a snap to find and use what you need. If you want, you can even use these images in your prototype. No fuss, no muss! You can even use the collection of characters in this book as inspiration for your own drawings or as a source of images for CGing. Pretty sweet right?

Some other good points about this book is that it lists the artists who drew what character making it easy for you to credit the appropriate person. You can also use that list to find your favorite artist's work within the book. There are also 14 pages in the back dedicated to pointing out how to color the artwork digitally which is a pretty nice touch for those who are unfamiliar with the CGing process.

Though the book description says that all images are in JPEG format, in reality, they are all in PSDs. When I saw the PSD formats within the CD, I thought they'd actually have multiple layers with one layer sporting the black line art and another layer a white base color but the file only consists of one layer. Kinda disappointing but no biggie in the end, imo.

Regarding using the images for commercial purposes, the terms allow you to modify, enhance, and use it at will. You can use it in your website and any multimedia product too. There are restrictions of course but they are reasonable such as not reselling, distributing, and copying the images singly or in a collection, using them for pornographic or illegal activities, and not sharing it over a network. But don't take my word for it, check out the complete licensing terms here and see for yourself. (43KB, PDF)

If you're short on time, don't have a lot of money to spend, or can't draw for your life, try this book out and see if it'll work for you. It's particularly nifty for those of you who would like to make your own manga but cannot sufficiently draw yet to match your vision.

* I just want to point out that my standards of art may be different from yours but from the image with characters #151 and #152, 151 is mediocre and 152 is good in my estimation (slight tiff with the hands). Bad ratings goes to those drawings with a lot more problems than 151 for which I don't like the face, hands, and hair. For more samplings of the drawings within the book, check these images out: mechas ~ animals ~ mediocre ~ ugly ~ chibis ~ battle ~ monsters ~ chibis ~ random ~ psd sample ~ tutorials



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