Japan – Lesson 8 – Manga Self Portrait

Rebecca Smith, Art Instructor, Williamsburg High School, Williamsburg, Pa

Grade Level: 7

Duration: Three Classroom Periods


The objective of this lesson is to teach the students about the art of manga, its symbolism and the use of manga as a means of self expression.

PLN strategies used: pair/share, ticket out the door, text rendering, reflection journal

PA Art Standards

9.1.C: Vocabulary Within each Art Form

9.1.D: Styles in Production, Performance and Exhibition

9.1.E: Themes in Art Forms

9.2.C: Styles and Genre in the Arts

9.2.D: Historical and Cultural Perspectives

9.2.E: Historical and Cultural Impact on Works in the Arts

9.2.F: Vocabulary for Historical and Cultural Context

9.2.G: Geographic regions in the arts

9.3.F: Comparisons

9.4.D: Artistic Choices


  • Handout of manga drawing techniques (Must be provided by Instructor), I used the book Manga Madness by David Okum
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Colored markers

Procedures day one: elements of manga style drawing

Day 1:

  1. Before: 5 minutes. Give students the handout on manga drawing style. Ask them to look at the drawing of a teenager on the front page. Pair/share the characteristics of the drawing, share with the class.
  2. During: 25 minutes. In class demo and guided practice: How to draw faces in the manga style. Teacher will demonstrate, students will draw on paper and follow along. As the lesson progresses, teacher will describe the various characteristics and symbolism of hair style,  color, and embellishments.
  3. After: 5 minutes. Ticket out the door: students will hand in their drawing of a manga face.


This lesson uses the language, meaning, social and human lens. Students are asked to decipher visual symbolism of manga style and translate this into the character of the face. Manga includes many visual symbols for personality traits.

Procedures days two and three: Making a manga self portrait

Day 2:

  1. Before: 10 minutes. Handout packet of manga drawing packet again. Have students read through the text describing the meaning of different colors, hair styles, and embellishments for manga portraits. Have the students write down colors and styles that reflect their own personality.
  2. During: 25 minutes. Draw a manga portrait. Students are instructed to draw a manga self portrait that shows characteristics of their personality using the manga style.
  3. After: 5 minutes. Get up and walk around the room and look at everyones’ drawings.

Day 3: The students usually need two days to do the drawing. As they finish, the students will thumb tack their portraits to the bulletin board to make a visual word wall.

After: Reflection: To the side of the drawing, students will write a description of their personality in terms of manga drawing. This is a Collins type 2 writing.


The manga self portrait lesson incorporates all four lenses of learning, as well as Collins type 2 writing and reading for meaning. The students are actively engaged and enjoy interpreting their personalities into a manga portrait.