Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Draw a Comic

I am a little overwhelmed by the response to my comic. Y'all are awesome.

Being me, any kind of positive feedback makes me doubt myself.

Can I still do this? Can I even draw? Holy crap, I am a total failure, I can't even draw at all, can I? Otherwise, I would totally have been drawing this whole time. That's why I stopped, isn't it? Because I suck? Why do I even try? I should just hide in the cabinet under the sink and never come out.

Somehow, thoughts like these don't make me not try.

But I'm pretty sure I'm doing everything wrong.

Still, I've made you a photo tutorial, in case you would like to fail at this as badly as I do.

How to Write and Draw a Comic, a Photographic Instructional Blog Thingy Written by Leauxra

1) Design.

I usually start with a rectangle, and then start writing words.  I rarely have any idea what the page will look like before I start.  I try not to.  If I have any expectations, I will fail, and then I will never finish.  So I start with a rectangle, maybe a sentence or two and a vague idea.  This is the design phase, and requires a good eraser.
2) Pencil.
Pencil in more of the details because there is no way you can really trust yourself with a pen if there is any kind of  detail to be done.  Pencils are safer.

It is also good to note that if you are at a loss as to what to do in a small panel, a close-up of the eyes usually works.  It makes the character seem more emotive, even if you don't care about your character or your character's feelings.
3) Trace.

Trace your lines with a pen.  There are talented comic book people out there that use a quill or a brush and inks, but having a big box of pens of various widths is much more useful if you want to sit in front of the TV and draw.  Do what you feel comfortable with (but pens are better.  Totally).  Also: don't mess up.  If you mess up now, you will regret it for the rest of the page.
4) Erase.
Let it sit for a few minutes after you finish tracing your page.  Otherwise, when you start erasing the pencil, you will smear the fuck out of everything.  And for the love of all that is holy use a good, clean, eraser.  I like the white Magic Rub types. No, this isn't sexual, that's the name of the eraser.  Shut up.

I also use a soft make-up brush that has never been used for make-up to get rid of the eraser bits.  Your hands are probably covered in graphite, so you need something that won't smear anything.  Blowing on it doesn't work, either,  at least not for me, because I always end up spitting on it by mistake in my effort to get every last bit of eraser off, and then I get pissed off and throw things.
5) Fill it in.
Once there are no eraser bits left, black the big spaces.  You could use a Sharpie here if you are a glutton for punishment... those fuckers will bleed through to the center of the earth and destroy your paper, your sanity, and maybe even your soul.  But any OTHER kind of felt tip will work.  And if you're really patient, you can use a fine tip, but you will totally destroy it in the process.  Blacking in the dark areas makes the thing start to look done-ish.
6) Letter and Detail.

Time to write the letters and fill in details!  This is my favorite part.

After you ink in letters, you will think of about a million better ways to say what you just wrote, and it will be too late.  You will also realize that if you haven't drawn anything in months, you will completely SUCK at this.  Seriously, what the fuck?  I use to be GOOD at drawing hands.  This girl looks like she has flippers.
7) Keep going.
Keep embelishing until you can't stand it anymore.
8) Done.  Finally.

Take a photo of the finished product, because you'll be fucked to try to figure out the scanner.  You're feeling kind of lazy and you had a bad day at work, so to hell with extra efforts.  You'll scan it in LATER.  For now, you'll take a slightly blurry picture under the tungsten lights and then boost the contrast and put it in "black and white" mode.  Done.  Finally.

Try to pretend you are proud of your work even though you mostly feel like a failure and that you should have done better.  You'll look at it and see everything that is wrong with it.  They will never be good enough.  Accept it, and try to do better next time.


A page like this will take me around four hours from start to finish although I usually have to take a break because my hands hurt and I can't see after a while.  These things use to take about three times as long, but apparently I haven't forgotten everything I ever learned.

And there you have it, kids.  Have fun.


Stephanie said...

Amazing, amazing, amazing!

MakingSpace said...

That's fantastic! You should probably add, as a prerequisite, that a person should know how to draw... LOL

Leauxra said...

Stephanie: You're so awesome, and totally boosting my self esteem. Thank you!

MakingSpace: You are too kind!

You really don't need to be able to draw well. Just enough that people know what it's supposed to be. Really. Maybe I'll share some of my early experiments soon. Maybe.

All this really requires is not giving up before you're done, because you'll want to the whole time.

erica said...

This is fantastic. You are truly talented!

Pearl said...

The white magic rub erase...

Why I oughta...

You are a talented, silly woman. We should split a pitcher of margaritas.


Leauxra said...

erica: Thank you!

Pearl: I have access to a cherry red margarita maker from HELL. It looks like a '57 Chevy. Stop on by.

Misty said...

Yeah, when I used to draw (many eons ago), I would only ever see the imperfections and never ever think it was good enough or "done" while others would praise it. I never believed them, though, because they were usually my parents, and those suckers lie like rugs.

You are very talented. You have a great sense of how the scene should be portrayed and how to get it there, even if there are imperfections. In a way, the imperfections are what make it the most interesting. Keep going, Leauxra. Really, you need to persue this. It is what you should do. It is compelling, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Super cool, sis! Keep it up! (and actually, I am not lying like a rug, to use an awesome phrase from Misty)

Leauxra said...

Misty: Shucks, I am all embarassed now. I have a goal to do at least one page a week and share it. Maybe eventually it will be more, but it seems like a good goal. I need to be more accountable to my blog... none of this leaving for two weeks without an explanation bs.

Nony: Feels good to draw. I haven't even tried in so long, it's like seeing a friend you lost touch with and realizing you're still BFFs.

karensomethingorother said...

Ooo! That was very enjoyable! My husband draws comics all the time, but I was very curious to see what drawing/writing things you used. It looked great!

Leauxra said...

karensomethingorother: Glad you enjoyed! I LOVE comics. Does he have any of them online to look at?

Ash-Matic said...

This is awesome.
I love it when creative people share like this.

StephanieC said...

Is it bad that I read "vagina" instead of "vague" under layout?

Also? HOLYFUCKINGHELL those are really, truly awesome. You don't suck, clearly. You are talented. Christ. One more self-put-down and I am going to smack you upside the head (you know, lovingly).

Also - one last suggestion that you may not give a shyte about - if you are posting wicked awesome original art like this online, WATERMARK THE SHIT OUT OF IT, or someone is gonna snipe it.

There are online programs that do it for free.

Really, seriously.

Love said...

L, this is absolutely goddamn DELICIOUS! Soooooo wonderful... J and I may have to commission something for you soon.. ;-)

Leauxra said...

Ash-Matic: Awww, thanks. I really enjoy sharing it, so it totally works out.

StephanieC: Hah. Sorry, sorry. I was trying to convey the feeling of complete inadequacy that comes with putting my art out there. There are so many talented people in the world, it's really, really hard not to compare myself to them. I'll stop.

I am writing a script for a new, longer comic. Watermarking is a totally good idea. I think I was having a really hard time getting over the hump of sharing that I didn't really think about that part much. But you're right. I aughta at least get some credit.

Love: I am ALWAYS open to commissions. Especially if mountains or skeletons are involved. I don't enjoy portraits, though, just to warn you, so of the three commissions I have gotten to do them in my life, I only completed one. SOOOO glad you are enjoying these.

Anonymous said...

this is super awesome. i can't draw... i can't even hang a drawing up on the wall properly. but this is cool as hell.

Leauxra said...

sunburstdrums: I can't hang pictures straight, either! It's like a sickness. Maybe it's because my eyes aren't perfectly even, or my head is always tilted, but I swear that I can't get pictures straight even with a laser leveler.

Glad you enjoyed, and thanks for stopping by.

Gia said...

Ha! You make it look easy. You forgot step 1. Get Talent. :P

Leauxra said...

Gia: Hah. No really. I have seen some remarkably emotive stick figures. I think step one should be, "Just do it", but I'm worried Nike will sue me.

Tom G. said...

My 11 yr. old is really into drawing comics. we bought him a set of cartooning markers for his birthday. I might have to show him this...

Anonymous said...

You can TOTALLY draw! I can't. But I could volunteer to be your tracer when you make it big.

Jeremy Bates said...

Jumpin' lizards on my gizzard! That is some fantastic work! I truly mean this. The ONLY time I can draw is in dreams.

Years ago I met a dude who could draw like this, but he couldn't write for doodley piss. We came up with a plan to put a comic book series together (me writing) but it never came to pass.

Two weeks later, after he had received a DWI and was forced to ride his bike, he was hit by a passing trucks side mirror.

The truck kept going but Jim did not. He died a few days later.

Your beautiful drawing brought that memory to the forefront.

Have you ever considered a comic book?

peter said...

nice drawings.!
virtual worlds for kids

Leauxra said...

Jeremy Bates: Thank you! I'm really glad you liked this. I have often thought about doing a comic book, but I never seem to have the right priorities to make it work. I have been thinking about it more, lately... I will let you know if I manage to put something together on the blog here (I know, I've been a bit of a slacker for the last few months, but I am going to try to get up to at least a weekly post now).

Izzy Mason said...

Thank you for this!! Great instructions, great illustrations, and great blog!

Jim said...

I love it. My cousin just graduated with a degree in illustration. Growing up I used to draw all the time. i loved it. Then high school vanilla'ed all the joy out of it because no kid that wants to fit in DRAWS (and I didn't have the courage to fight the current). I really liked your comic! Very cool.

Leauxra said...

Izzy Mason: Welcome aboard! I'm so glad to see new names in here. I've been away for a couple weeks, but I'll be checking out your blog as soon as I can!

Jim:Yeah, I couldn't fit in if I tried back in high school. Drawing wasn't much of a stretch for an orchestra nerd that read books about dragons and liked math.