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  1. #1
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    Default Learning how to draw comics - for beginners

    Hey all,

    I'm searching for a book that introduces me step by step into the process of becoming a comic artist. I want to start off with the very basics of character design, and would be very grateful for any recommendations!

    Oh. if this is the wrong forum to ask, please feel free to move this thread mods

  2. #2
    TIMMY!!! disco stu's Avatar
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    how to draw the marvel way, is probaly your best bet, search it in amazon.

  3. #3
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    Understanding Comics and Making Comics, both by Scott McCloud. They'll keep you focused on the core of what comics are, not just what's immediately in front of you. Anyone can learn to draw, but telling stories with your pictures is a special skill in and of itself.
    "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read"- Groucho Marx

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inkthinker View Post
    Understanding Comics and Making Comics, both by Scott McCloud. They'll keep you focused on the core of what comics are, not just what's immediately in front of you. Anyone can learn to draw, but telling stories with your pictures is a special skill in and of itself.
    Thanks Inkthinker, those books you suggested definitely look very promising, but could you possibly give me a few more details? From what I gathered from my quick internet research, UC seems to be a standard reference to really get into these kind of things, but I couldn't find a whole lot of informations for the other one. Would you mind to tell me a little more about it?

  5. #5
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    Making Comics is McCloud's most recent book (UC was his first, and in between we have Re-Inventing Comics, which isn't as useful for the beginner).

    Making Comics breaks down in a more useful and detailed fashion the various techniques and methods by which you, as an artist, can tell a story using pictures and illustrating characters.

    Part of the problem I have with most "How to Draw Comics" books, including How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, is that they focus a lot on the "how to draw" part, without as much focus on the "comics" part.

    McCloud's books are different in that they focus very little on the facets of drawing itself... he does talk a lot about drawing, but in general purpose ways that apply to almost any style. More importantly, McCloud focuses on the specifics of drawing that apply to storytelling (such as choice of moment, composing images in order to lead the reader's eyes, expressions that convey emotions and so forth), and to a greater degree on methods and exercises that encourage drawing stories over drawing pictures.

    Any sort of drawing style can be used to tell stories and make comics... it doesn't matter if you want to make superhero books, or you're a fan of manga, or if you want to make a four-panel daily strip, Making Comics is a book that can help you. It's fairly universal in application, and that's why I like it.
    "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read"- Groucho Marx

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  6. #6
    waaaasaaaah!!! heavysoul's Avatar
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    I'd say... grab yourself; an [dynamic] anatomy book, an animation book (especially one that has storyboards), a book on Japanese block printing and Will Eisner's Comics & Sequential Art book.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inkthinker View Post
    Making Comics is McCloud's most recent book (UC was his first, and in between we have Re-Inventing Comics, which isn't as useful for the beginner).

    Making Comics breaks down in a more useful and detailed fashion the various techniques and methods by which you, as an artist, can tell a story using pictures and illustrating characters.

    Part of the problem I have with most "How to Draw Comics" books, including How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, is that they focus a lot on the "how to draw" part, without as much focus on the "comics" part.

    McCloud's books are different in that they focus very little on the facets of drawing itself... he does talk a lot about drawing, but in general purpose ways that apply to almost any style. More importantly, McCloud focuses on the specifics of drawing that apply to storytelling (such as choice of moment, composing images in order to lead the reader's eyes, expressions that convey emotions and so forth), and to a greater degree on methods and exercises that encourage drawing stories over drawing pictures.

    Any sort of drawing style can be used to tell stories and make comics... it doesn't matter if you want to make superhero books, or you're a fan of manga, or if you want to make a four-panel daily strip, Making Comics is a book that can help you. It's fairly universal in application, and that's why I like it.
    Well, congratulations sir, you just sold me these two books. Call McCloud and tell him he has a new costumer, I just ordered his items and they're already on the way. Again, thanks alot Inkthinker (and of course all you other guys aswell :)), for your helpful advice.
    Last edited by Hagen; 06-26-2007 at 08:24 AM.

  8. #8
    Hows about no... TheLazy's Avatar
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    I own How to draw the marvel way and it was a waste of money.

    Get an atonomy book and a camera. Watch a few good action cartoons/movies for inspiriation and then take photos of your friends 'fighting'/talking, ect from different angles. This is what a lotof painters do.

    :)

  9. #9
    Peace and Quiet. Jonathan Bogart's Avatar
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    The best way to learn how to draw comics is to draw comics. Sure, a lot of the books named above can help -- and McCloud's (and Eisner's) are on an entirely different conceptual level than any of the mere art-instruction kind -- but they won't make a lick of sense to you unless you've had the pencil in your hand and have wrestled with all the issues they're talking about, from pacing to scene construction to perspective to making sure you've left enough room for the words.

    It's become a commonplace that almost every cartoonist has to reinvent the wheel, to learn painfully and by slow process what works and what doesn't. This is especially true in America, where there's no apprenticeship-in-a-studio tradition as there is in Japan (and, to a lesser extent, in Europe). I think this gives a greater degree of individuality to American cartoonists, but it also means that there's a greater acceptance of amateurish, poorly-thought-through work that may have nothing wrong with the anatomy or the shading, but is incomprehensible on a fundamental what's-happening-here level.

    I don't know what kind of comics you're interested in making, whether you want to crash the DC/Marvel gates or if you just want to be able to have the joy of drawing cool little comics for yourselves and your friends, or any of the thousands of niches in-between and beyond. But it's best to learn the basics of cartooning -- of how action flows from panel to panel, of how simplification of line and shape serves to make a stronger image, of how the text interacts with the picture, of how to draw expressive faces (and bodies) and show clear, immediately-understandable emotions through them -- before trying to scale the heights of masterly illustration. All the legendary comic book artists like Kirby, Kane, Wood, Kubert, Toth, and Ditko (and even Byrne, Perez, Adams, Miller, Romita Jr) started out making comics, and only gradually came into the full expression of their illustrative powers. Those who work first at learning how to make beautiful or impressive static images generally don't do so well at making comics.

    (Oh, and all How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way does is to tell you how to become a hack fill-in artist for Marvel in the 70s. Which, even if it was what you wanted to do, is pretty useless by now.)

    Charles Schulz used to say that you had to draw a thousand comic strips before you drew a good one. And Dave Sim used to say you had to draw a hundred comics pages before you drew a good one. I've been drawing my own little comic for about a year now, and I'm finally getting to the point where I don't want to kill myself after every strip. Which isn't to say it's good, yet, but I've learned a lot, and hopefully may someday make something that can hold its head up in the presence of my cartooning idols (Walt Kelly and Lewis Trondheim, among many others).

    Sorry, didn't mean to unload on you, Hagen, but I really do encourage you to just sit down with pencil and paper and draw up even the simplest of stories. Doodle, sketch, draw objects you see around you, find out how you see the world and how you can wrangle that vision onto a piece of paper. And, yeah, definitely seek out all the books and advice and help you can, but nothing's going to take the place of working these things out in your head and on the page.

  10. #10
    waaaasaaaah!!! heavysoul's Avatar
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    I agree with the vast majority of what Jonathan has posted.

    I do think it's essential to study the craft in other storytelling mediums. Comics, comic strips and graphic novels are a close relative of film. What 'works' in film works in illustration. Japanese blockprinting is also a very close relative of our beloved medium. I think, when we study these close relatives we're less likely to inbreed. If you're a comics reader, you're familiar with many of the rules of storytelling... only exercising that knowledge is gonna help you grow. I think that's Jonathan's point... and he's correct.

    Focus on the philosophy of storytelling... in every medium that grabs your attention. Best of luck to you.

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