How to Make a Manga Comic Without Drawing | Making Manga in Your Digital Journal

How to Make a Manga Comic Without Drawing | Making Manga in Your Digital Journal

So you just had that conversation that was so inspirational or funny or just plain memorable and you want to immortalize it in your journal or share it in comic form.

There's just one big problem -- you can't draw. Or you do, but you just don't want to spend hours drawing that comic right now and just want to find a quick visual way to get that story out.

But where to start and how (and most importantly, how do I make one for free)?

Prerequisite #1: Preparation

There are a few things you need to prepare first. The first one is what app are you going to use? There are a couple of apps that handle images and allow you to make manga comics well. Here are my top 3 apps that I find are the easiest when making comics:

  1. GoodNotes
  2. Clip Studio Paint
  3. Canva


I like to make manga in my journal mostly because this is where I record all those inspirational, funny, and memorable convos that are perfect for manga or comic format.

GoodNotes has a feature that allows you to import any image file and use them as "elements", which basically turns them into digital stickers you can easily insert into any page.

I like to journal like I would on paper, so I use an iPad Mini and an Apple Pencil to write. Of course, you can still make manga comics using digital stickers without an iPad or Apple pencil. You can do it on Samsung Notes with a pen, or any app really that allows you to insert an image, crop, resize, and move it around.

Here's a video of how I make a manga in my journal using GoodNotes.


Clip Studio Paint

Clip Studio Paint isn't free software but there is a free trial. If you're thinking of making a webtoon without drawing, then Clip Studio Paint is the best app for the job.

You can create large long images for that scrolling webtoon format. It is available in both windows, apple, and android.

I love the asset library where you can import images in and once they are there, they can easily be re-used over and over again.

CSP also has other manga making features such as panels you can drag and drop and other flash effects. All to help you make manga without drawing.

I make my webtoon using Clip Studio Paint. Here's one of my episodes, where I used both CSP's asset library and my digital stickers.

Journal With Me Manga made with Digital Stickers


Surprisingly, yes you can make comic in Canva. Canva is fantastic at importing your own images, manipulating them, and even publishing them. They even have premade comic templates where all you need to do is change the text (if your story fits).

Whichever app you decide to use, download this free Manga Journal Sampler Kit to get started.

Prerequisite #2: Plot

Before you dive in, the most important part of the process is the preparation and that means your story's plot. Don't get overwhelmed just yet! There's a technique for preparing your plot so it is easy to translate into a manga comic script.

This technique is called Kishotenketsu. It's a Japanese word that abbreviates 4 parts of a story flow.

  1. Ki is for introduction. I like to think about it as the start. What is your story about?
  2. Sho is for development. I like to think about it as asking “then…”. What’s next? What happens next to your story?
  3. Ten is for turn. It is the pivot in the story. What changed?
  4. Ketsu is for the conclusion. I like to think about it as the end. What was the result?

After chopping up your idea into four parts, it's easy to put them into four separate panels in Step 2 below.

Now remember, there are other ways to chop your story up and you don't have to follow the Kishotenketsu story flow. You know your story best. Now, let's get to the actual making of the manga comic -- without drawing.

How to make a manga comic without drawing?

Use digital stickers!

There are many ways to go about it including comic creation software. But I have found the easiest way to do it is using digital stickers.

What are digital stickers? They are simply image files with transparent backgrounds. Anyone who plan or journal digitally in GoodNotes or other journaling apps use this on a daily basis. But not all digital stickers are created for making manga (that's why I made ones specifically for it).

Here are 3 simple steps to make your very first manga comic without drawing.

How to make a manga comic without drawing | Step 1. Person

Step # 1 : Choose your character, their body language, and their facial expression

What makes comic and plain text different is that in comic you don't have to describe every emotion. Let the drawing describe it for you.

Is your character sad? Choose an sad facial expression. Is your character feeling embarrassed? Choose a smiling facial expression and add a drop of sweat. Is your character explaining something? Let him or her hold up their index finger to make a point (just like in the picture above).

How to make a manga comic without drawing | Step 2. Panels

Step # 2 : Place your person in panels

Line up your panels to guide your story's flow and then put your person in these panels. I suggest working per panel rather than all the panels all at once.

Obviously you could create your panels first and then put your person in them. But I like imagining the person first because it drives the flow of the story and helps me imagine what kind of panel I will need.

In GoodNotes, all you need to do to "send to back" the panel digital sticker so it appears behind the person and not on top is to use the Elements tool and tap the panel, then tap "Arrange" and then "Send to Back".

I would then crop the person so he/she fits in the panel. In GoodNotes, you would do this by using the image tool, tapping the person digital sticker or element, and then tapping "Crop".

How to make a manga comic without drawing | Step 3. Phrases

Step # 3 : Add the phrases into the speech balloons

Grab some speech balloon or speech bubble digital stickers and add them into your panels next to your person. Then write or type text into them.

Remember that four part story flow in the preparation? This is where you put them in each speech balloon. Remember, you don't have to describe what the person is feeling - let the drawing do it. This frees you up to use less words. If you feel like it's too wordy, break it up into several speech bubbles. One speech bubble could be on the person's left side and the other in the other side. Or add another panel completely.

Free Manga Journal Sampler Kit

To get you started right away, download my free Manga Journal Sampler Kit.

It has the three P's you need to make your very first manga comic. The persons, panels, and phrases.

Manga Journal Sampler Kit | People person poses
Manga Journal Sampler Kit | Panels
Manga Journal Sampler Kit | Speech bubbles or balloons
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