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Tutorial
Some Things to do Before You Start
Penciling
Characters
Suggested Reading

Creating Comics - Things to do Before You Start

Some Things to do Before You Start

Penciling

1. Some Things to do Before You Start
So you've got a plot or a script in your hands and now it's your job to turn it into images for the inker to ink. What do you do first?

Before you do anything, ask yourself: How can I best tell this story. While you're working, ask yourself: Is this the best way I can tell the story? When you are done, ask yourself: Was this the best way I could have told the story? (I'll be saying this a lot)

Whether you have a plot or a script, the first thing to do is figure out what you will have to draw. This includes the characters, the costumes, the locations, the props, the vehicles and anything else the script calls for. To put it another way, think of yourself as the casting director, set designer, costume designer, location scout, and production designer for a film. There are some people who can just start with a pen or ink brush in the upper left-hand corner of the first page and draw a complete story on the first try without any preparation work at all. These people are called geniuses. Some of them have earned their genius status from decades of work, work, work. The rest of us ought to do some work before we start drawing the story.

2. Characters You are going to have to draw every single character in the story. You may very well be the first person ever to draw these characters. How you decide to draw them is very important. You don't want to go drawing your story and then in the middle of it decide that you don't like the way a character is drawn. You want your designs to be final before you start drawing the story.

Make a list of every character in the story, even the smallest most incidental man-on-the-street or spear-carrier. Now make a sketch of each of those characters. For the smaller, more minor background characters, those that only show up in a panel or two, you may be able to get away with one or two sketches, say a headshot and a bull-body pose. For the major characters, those that you will have to draw over and over again in a variety of poses and camera angles, do a full character sheet.

A character sheet is a full page of drawings of a character. You should draw the head from a variety of angles, the face with a variety of expressions. Show the body in variety of outfits, in poses typical of the character, doing things the character would do. If something doesn't look right, change it. That's what this process is for.

On the next page is an example of a character sheet.

Suggested Reading:

  • Cerebus Guide to Self Publishing, Dave Sim; Format: Paperback, 96pp.; ISSN 0712-7774; Publisher: Dave Sim.; Pub Date: 1997

  • Comics & Sequential Art cover Will Eisner; Format: Hardcover ISBN: 0-9614728-0-4 and Paperback, ISBN: 0-9614728-0-2; 154pp; Publisher: Poorhouse Press; Pub. Date: 1985

  • Graphic Storytelling cover Will Eisner; Format: Hardcover ISBN: 0-9614728-3-9; Paperback, ISBN: 0-9614728-2-0; 164pp; Publisher: Poorhouse Press; Pub. Date: 1995

  • How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way cover Stan Lee, John Buscema (Illustrator); Format: Hardcover, ISBN 0-671-22548-0; Paperback, ISBN 0-671-53077-1; 160 pp; Publisher: Simon & Shuster, Inc., Pub. Date: 1978

  • How to Draw and Sell Comic Strips for Newspapers and Comic Books , Alan McKenzie; Format: Hardcover, 144pp.; ISBN 0-89134-214-1; Publisher: North Light Books, F & W Publications, Inc., Pub. Date: 1987

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    Back to:
    Pg.1: Definition and History of Comics
    Pg.2: Comics Today
    Pg.3: Terms of the Trade
    Writing: Story and Plot
    Writing: Script
    Sample Script
    Penciling: Tools: Short Answers
    Penciling: Tools: Furniture and Paper
    Penciling: Tools: Pencils and Erasers
    Penciling: Tools: Straightedges and More

    Forward to:
    Penciling: Creating Characters
    Penciling: Character Sheets
    Penciling: Costumes
    Penciling: Locations
    Penciling: Props and Vehicles

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