DIY: the Artbabe guide to making comics

A quick preface: This is a slight re-design of part of my DIY section from Artbabe.com. I’ve transferred all of the informational and tutorial sections from the old Artbabe site here, but please note, I haven’t updated any of it. I developed this material in 1998, way before I’d even thought of trying to write a textbook, and so a lot of the information is not what I’d recommend now. Nonetheless, this section has been highly popular over the years, and I don’t want to take it down when people still want to read it. Just take it all with a grain of salt, and know that I’ve done a much better, more thorough job of this in Drawing Words & Writing Pictures

OK, let’s get in the Wayback Machine and set it to 1998!

DIY comics: introduction

I learned to draw comics the hard way: backwards. I mean, not literally backwards, but there were so many things I learned how to do long after I really needed them. There are so many tools, for example, that are specifically designed to solve certain drawing problems, that I didn’t know existed until I had faced those very problems for years. Here’s an anecdote to illustrate: When I started inking comics (and when I started using a ruler to rule panel borders), I would ink the borders with a technical pen, running it down a ruler that was lined up against the border line. Frequently, the ink’s surface tension would catch the ruler’s edge, and would quickly run under the ruler, creating a big, fat blob. If you’ve ever tried inking with a ruler, you’ll have experienced this one time or another, and will agree with me that it is very annoying. One day, several years after first encountering this problem, someone told me that there is such a thing as an “inking bevel” on certain rulers. It’s a beveled edge, and you run the pen along the top of the bevel, with the result that the ink, below the bevel, doesn’t touch anything, thus resulting in a clean line! Eureka! I mean, the inking bevel was only probably invented about 1000 years ago…Jeez. This kind of thing happened to me repeatedly in my early years of comics, and was mostly a result of being isolated with my art—not having a community of peers with whom to share new discoveries and innovations. I realize that a lot of people reading this webpage also lack information about such labor-saving devices, not to mention basic rules and/or conventions of comics-drawing. So, as a public service, I hereby present the Do-It-Yourself comics guide.