Mari Ahokoivu’s direct drawing for comics activity

Mari and Johanna

One of the most frustrating things about comics is the incredible slowness with which they are produced, as compared to the swiftness with which they are read. So for quite a while, Matt and I have been admiring (and envious) of those who can draw comics quickly directly in ink, skipping the laborious penciling process, and in some cases even skipping thumbnailing! Johanna Rojola had been telling us about a way to learn this technique for a while, and I had barely landed in Finland last month when she started talking to me about this great young cartoonist who’s done the Finnish Making Comics, which includes instructions on how to learn direct drawing. We were disappointed to learn that it involves more serious hard work. (Kidding. Sort of.)

Mari Ahokoivu is the young cartoonist (and comics teacher) in question. It was a great pleasure to meet her; she was one of the most engaged participants in the International Comics Seminar, asking and answering tons of questions. (I didn’t get a good picture of her, though, so I borrowed this one from Top Shelf…thanks, guys!). Our hope is that sometime soon, she’ll be a guest poster here with more of her teaching and cartooning ideas.

Mari’s book is called Sarjakuvantekïjan Opas, which means something like Making Comics. Naturally I’m dying to read the whole thing, but since Matt had a student doing his Five Obstructions project who was required to draw directly in ink, Mari kindly knocked out a translation of this one activity practically overnight, relettered it, and sent it to us. I guess she’s been taking her own lessons! (In fact, I think the book is indeed done in direct ink drawing.)


8 Comments to Mari Ahokoivu’s direct drawing for comics activity

  • by Keijjo

    On April 26, 2011 at 3:02 am

    In Finland there are quite a many drawn comics blogs. Many of them are drawn without planning, directly in ink:

  • by J T Guerrero

    On April 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Excellent info! I’m amazed too at those who can do quick sketches w/ little to no erasers. My son drew that way when he was younger – simple, yet definitive sketches. He is more particular now – more because his drawings are more detailed. But he is still quick!

    Jessica: Is the book written in English? I clicked on the links and was stumped since most of it is in Finnish. There was a translation button but it linked only to one page. 8-\ … Johnna’s page appeared not to have any translation button – enjoyed the drawings. Mari’s page had English but there were links/pages that were in Finnish. Sorry to be the ugly American (or the TexMex/American??) but I would like to show this to my son. Trying to teach him not to be so hard on himself.


  • by Jessica

    On April 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    JT – no, unfortunately, the book is in Finnish, but Mari was talking about producing a translation of the complete thing. We’d love to host it here if she wants to do an ebook version.

    And yes, the blogs are mostly in Finnish. I use Chrome as my main browser, and it has translation built in, so I’ve been using that. A bit clunky, but it works.

    Meanwhile, this activity’s the thing. I think if you can make quick direct drawing into a game, make it really fun, and take the pressure off, it would be very helpful for a kid who is too hard on his drawing. The competitive aspect could be good, too, meaning, challenge one another to draw hard, complicated, or weird things.

  • by Keijjo

    On April 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Hmm… I think competition is the cause of all … stiffness. At least students in the Liminka School of Arts’ comics division express themself freely because of no-competitive atmosphere. They are helping each other in their problems, teaching each other.

    We practice our direct drawing doing (comic diaries and) improvisations. Rules are: do ugly, use just ink, hide pencils and rulers, don’t critisize yourself or others. The teacher gives a subject and, say, four minutes. Students draw a comic. Then they show the comics to each other, laughing or just nodding. No critics. Next word.

    Students draw ugly comics, but they put as much information as they can in the drawings, so comics become beutiful by their rich line, meaning and idea.

  • by 3D Drawing Pad

    On April 30, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I love the color and design on the cover, your comics are great too!

  • by Jessica

    On May 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Keijjo, you may be right. But for some kids friendly competition could make drawing a fun game. I know lots of cartoonists who draw jams and minis together and there’s a spirit of, not exactly competition, but one-upsmanship, trying to out do one another. It can be fun, as long as it’s not taken too far.

    I like the “draw ugly” part of the rules. That is guaranteed to make things more fun.

  • by Keijjo

    On May 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Sure :D
    This, for instance, is a hilarious way to draw every day life – and anything – with attitude:

    What a pity it isn’t in english (exept the meme part).

  • by J T Guerrero

    On May 6, 2011 at 9:24 am

    @Keijjo: Thanks for sharing! Some of that reminds me of Erika Moen’s style of journal comics.

Leave a reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

By submitting a comment here you grant Drawing Words Writing Pictures a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.