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Student guide chapter 5: Penciling

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In Chapter 5 we get into penciling comics. It’s the first of several chapters devoted at least in part to the myriad technical skills used in making comics. In this section you’ll find student examples of the homework.

Prep guide

Questions to ask yourself

  1. How does a "pencil" (a penciled page) differ from a thumbnail?
  2. What are some of the problems you've encountered when trying to sketch your comics in pencil?

Supplies you will need

  • bristol board
  • office paper
  • tracing paper
  • ruler

Collectively, this list is what we call "penciling tools"

  • graphite pencils: B, HB, and H types
  • erasable colored pencils, especially "light blue" ones
  • erasers: white plastic and kneaded types
  • mechanical pencil

Optional but recommended

Nothing extra this time


Pencil one panel three different ways

This activity is as much about thinking about how you compose panels as it is penciling. Think hard and make them as different from one another as you can imagine, while still being functional in the story. If the panels don't look like something you'd usually draw, that's great, and it's also more likely to cause you to need to rely on the penciling techniques we talk about here than if you're in your usual rut!


Take a lesson from the activity and really push your boundaries with this panel. You've only got the one to do, so go all out. Click on the links below to see examples of the homework by students with some comments from Matt and Jessica.

Practice drawing figurettes

Drawing figurettes by tracing photos

Jack Hamm, Drawing the Head and Figure Eadweard Muybridge, Muybridge's “Complete Human and Animal Locomotion.” Muybridge is a great resource for understanding bodies in motion. There are also mountains of photographic manga pose books that can come in handy.

There are no resources, yet!