Drawing comics live demo: report

A couple of weeks ago, I was a guest at the University of Iowa for a conference on comics and comics teaching, called Comics, Creativity, and Culture. In conjunction with this, The UI Museum of Art put on a very interesting exhibition of original comics art, and somehow connected to THAT, there was this cool, rather complicated program (“The Class Act Comics Conference“) the university offered to middle- and high-school teachers that involved bussing students in for a series of workshops and keynote talks.

Phew. I didn’t get it either until I was actually there. But the long and the short of it is, I offered 6 identical 25-minute sessions to class-sized groups of middle- and high-school kids, all day. So I decided I should just draw a 6-panel comic for them, one panel at a time. It would be a chance to talk naturally about the order of work, the materials needed, and to show all the behind-the-scenes action.

I laid out and lightly sketched a comic in blue pencil, and brought that in to draw. Here was the setup.

Here’s what I used:

  • Document projector
  • bristol board
  • mechanical pencil
  • grid ruler
  • Ames Lettering Guide
  • T-square
  • eraser
  • nib pens
  • brushes
  • ink
  • graphic white
  • water
  • I could very much have used a brush basin, but I forgot to bring mine.
Check out our supply list for more details.

Here’s what I did (with relevant chapters in DWWP indicated)

  • (I had already prepped the page with very rough pencils and lettering in blue)
  • I squared the paper to the table, using a T-square. (chapter 6)
  • I laid out the panel borders in pencil (chapter 6)
  • I used the Ames Guide to lay out lettering guidelines. (chapter 7)
  • I penciled my lettering. (chapter 7)
  • I penciled the image. (chapter 5)
  • I inked the lettering and word balloons. (chapter 7 and 8)
  • I inked the image using nib pens. (chapter 8)
  • I added blacks with a brush (chapter 13)
  • I inked panel borders (chapter 6 and 8)
  • I erased, and corrected with white. (chapter 8)

This was a valuable demo, I thought, and brought up all kinds of good questions from how you dip a nib pen to how could students acquire these materials themselves, in a totally natural way. (For this latter question, see our new supplies list, with links to product pages. Use this info to buy them at your local art supply store with this info, or order straight from Amazon.)

In fact, drawing one relatively simple panel took me just about exactly 25 minutes, so I wound up with a complete page at the end of the day. Kind of a preview of my next book, Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, in fact!

page used to demo cartooning techniques derived from Trish Trash


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