Practice Makes Perfect
Of course another important aspect of Miura’s art and technique is the sheer amount of practice the man has accumulated over the years. Just consider, if we assume that each Berserk volume has 220 pages and Berserk currently stands on 40 fully released volumes, that makes for approximately 8.800 fully inked pages. And what we see as “end-customers” are just the inked pages, not the sheer volume Miura is actually drawing in order to create this manga, i.e. for, drafts, concepts and also practice sketches.
From my experience with creating a fancomic, for each inked page there are at least 5 drawings (= drawings on a single piece of paper) I had to create as practice (e.g. getting the perspectives right, playing around with the layout…). So that means you only see 20% of pages I had to draw altogether to create a comic in the first place. This percentage is actually LESS if you consider that I had two drafts that are basically almost complete redraws because I wasn’t happy with the direction of the comic (It also isn’t taking my regular practice sketches into account).
If we apply this 20% rate to Miura we can get a very rough estimate on how much he has drawn in his life just creating Berserk: 44.000 drawings minimum in 30 years! That means he was drawing an average of 4 drawings every day in the past 30 years (44.000 drawings / [30 years x 356 days] ). I suppose this sheer amount of practice is why Kentaro Miura was able to push his art to the limit in the sea god chapters.
The poetic style of writing, the reading direction and panel layout that supports the message of each page, planning black and white balance, even the way Miura shades and places his strokes, all raise his art and writing onto a level that is extremely hard to achieve. They are what makes his work as extraordinary as it is.
I hope I could show you how much effort and thought it actually takes to create a manga like Berserk.
For more posts about how Kentaro Miura’s art has changed over the years, including a comparison to the most recent chapters, see this article: How and why did Berserk’s art style change?