How to draw Manga in 3D.
Let’s start by explaining what 3D means as opposed to 2D. Look at the two pictures of Mr. Bomb below. He is the same guy in both images but he looks more like a real 3D object, having some depth and weight, in the image on the right compared to more schematic presentation on the left.
There are 4 simple principles you can use in all your drawings to create the feeling of a three dimensional object. I will explain these principles briefly, as the best way to actually learn them is by copying your favorite manga. That said, it will be helpful to know them and to keep your eyes open so you can spot them while copying (-_^).
Principle 1: Size
Objects that are closer to you appear to be bigger. This rule also applies to the parts of the same object that are closer to you. Notice the hands of Mr. Bomb. The one in front is definitely bigger than the one at the back. The same principle applies to the eyes. Notice that he is not facing the front but he is rotated slightly to the left. It is usually enough to draw the eye that is further away slightly smaller, sometimes even the same size, but never bigger than the eye closer to you. Notice that the front part of the bolt is also bigger than the part at the back (behind the fuse) as it is slightly wider.
Principle 2: Overlapping
This is so obvious it is almost embarrassing to write ^_^, however thinking about this principle while drawing can help you to add the 3rd dimension to your drawings. Make objects or parts of the same object overlap, this simple rule can do wonders. In our picture the front hand overlaps the body and the body overlaps the hand behind it. Also the fuse overlaps the back part of bolt.
Principle 3: Shadow
Shadow is one of the strongest tools to use in order to add the illusion of space. It doesn’t have to be perfect, even the simple shadow ellipse can make a lot of difference, as you can see on our picture. It is obvious Mr. Bomb is not touching the ground but is floating above it.
Principle 4: Squashing
When you look at an object in three dimensional perspective you will notice that a circle becomes an ellipse and the square becomes a rectangle. The more you rotate these shapes, the more squashed they become. Let’s call this principle Squashing. Look at the shadow under Mr. Bomb. If viewed from the top it would be a circle but as you can see, because of Squashing, it has become an ellipse here. Same goes for the bolt.