DIY Comics for Beginners Pt. 2

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2003
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of DIY Comics for Beginners Pt. 2

How do you draw your story?

Anyone can draw. Sure, you might not be perfect but you don't need to be. Remember, some great comic stories have been told using dots and stick figures. Most libraries have a few how to draw cartoons books on their shelves, so have a read of these for some of the basics. Books like Understanding Comics and Comics and Sequential Art and even Drawing Comics the Marvel Way point out some of the basics of the comic medium. You can also get ideas from other media. When you’re watching TV or at the movies look at how the director has used perspective, movement, etc. to tell the story. Just remember you don't have to copy what they do to make your own comic. You're using them to learn how things can be done, not how things have to be done. Recall the old saying practice makes perfect, well it’s old because it’s right. The more you work on your drawing style the happier you will feel when doing the final version.

Characters need to be identifiable; it makes it hard to follow what is going on if everyone looks the same, that's why Superheroes each have their own distinctive costume. So before drawing the story itself it’s a good idea to figure out what each of your characters look like. Draw some sketches of each of them, and at the same time you could write a short description of them to flesh out their personality history if that is relevant to your work. Try drawing your characters in a variety of different poses and from a range angles/perspectives. Even if you draw stick figures it’s a good idea to be able to show them in a wide range of situations.

Before you draw that story you have to decide what format to print your work in. For the purposes of this article I'm going to start with the format that I used for my first attempts, the mini fold up. This is one sheet of standard letter-sized paper folded in half then half again to form a small sized mini. The joy of this is that you don't need to staple anything and printing it just requires access to a photocopier. The way I did them means I needed a cover, three pages of comics at 1/4 size on one side of the sheet, and I put an letter-sized story on the other side. I work in black and white 'cause it’s easy and cheap to get printed compared to colour or grey tone.

Where I’m from we use the Continental names and paper formats:

A3 (420 *594 mm, 16.54 x 23.4 in) - fold this size in half and you get an A4 sized book.
A4 (210 x 297mm, 8.27 x 11.7in.)
A5 (418 *210 mm, 5.8 * 8.3 in) - An A4 page folded in half
A6 (105 *148 mm, 4.1 *5.83 in) - An A5 sheet folded in Half

A4 (210 x 297mm, 8.27 x 11.7in.) is the standard letter-size format here, but if you are from the US the standard appears to be 216 x 279 mm (8.5 x 11 in.) From here on in I’ll use the A4 and associated formats but the basic principle applies no matter which format you are using.

I always draw the original artwork larger than the final printed format as the reduction process makes the work look more detailed than my drawing style actually is. I do most work at A3, though for the pages that are printed at A6 size A4 or even A5 is usually fine. If you want to work at the final size and skip the reduction step that’s fine too. Artwork should be black and white with good sized (15 mm) margins. Friends have taken issue with me over this because they think that copiers should be able to reproduce the full page, but I've found that most machines can't take a picture of the whole surface of their glass top, and if you have the copy shop people do the copying for you they usually just slap it in the machine and hit copy without taking much time to check if it all comes out. 15mm gives you a safe margin of error but if you have complete control of the copying process you might be able to do with less.

DIY Comics

Pt. 1 - Writing
Pt. 2 - Artwork
Pt. 3 - Materials
Pt. 4 - Publishing
Pt. 5 - Copyright
Pt. 6 - Distribution

Artwork by Debra Boyask

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