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Student guide chapter 12: Constructing a World

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Chapter 12 is a two-part chapter covering backgrounds and world-building as well as the basics of drawing hands and heads.

Prep guide

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Have you read comics that take place in very convincing locations? Have you felt like you really entered that world, sometimes? How about the opposite, comics that don't feel concretely located?
  2. Have you seen photo-comics, or photo-realistic comics? What effect do those techniques have?
  3. Do you have a library card?

Supplies you will need

  • sketchbook
  • drawing tools of your choice

Optional but recommended

Nothing extra this time


No time like the present

The head's in your hands

See Chapter 13's section for examples of finished pencils.
Here are two beautiful examples of on-location comics. Comic A takes place on the Brooklyn Bridge, and comic B in Union Square Park in Manhattan. Both of these artists wrote at least a page of description before embarking on the comic, and then were able to translate most of that into images, editing the text to the barest minimum. Both make use of a melancholy sense of absence to tell the story without telling it. Comic B, especially, leaves everything out, yet you're left with a creepy, sorrowful echo. The place, and the people found in the place, are reminders of what's not there.
David Chelsea, Perspective! For Comic Book Artists Joseph D’Amelio, Perspective Drawing Handbook Ernest Norling, Perspective Made Easy Ernest W. Watson, Creative Perspective for Artists and Illustrators Look at “Further reading” in Chapter 5, and if you’re interested in learning to draw in a particular mode, like superheroes, or manga, there are tons of books on how to draw in that manner. Just keep in mind that a lot of that stuff is stylistic flourish, and you still need to learn how to draw a head in full rotation and hands in action.  For more specific pointers on learning to see what’s around you and to translate it to drawing, Betty Edwards’s classic The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has a number of very useful exercises. In Making Comics, Scott McCloud has an extensive chapter on facial expressions. Stephen Rogers Peck, Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist

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