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A lot of students come to me with a whole epic in mind. Those who want to tell sprawling tales that will end up slip cased novels in the hundred of pages! Understandable. I mean, it’s Comics! Of course there’s a lot of people looking for that. I’m pretty guilty of doing it […]

The short and silent story



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Lets start at the beginning! A These are a set of YouTube clips giving a walk through of how I develop comics pages from notes to thumbs to pencils, inks and on! Each subject is getting dedicated posts as well, but this one serves as an overview of it all. […]

My Comics Processes!


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I’ve posted about the writing side of inventing characters, with comics of course the visuals are just as important, and by extension, often the world you set around them. If your comics take place in the now, then you don’t have to think as hard about it, just pick locations around you. […]

Character and Design



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For the first few weeks as we study the structure and formalism of Sequential art, we’re also going to start keeping diary comics. And to keep focused on short narratives, while also forcing students to think about how to express their ideas in a limited format. There’s a strong tradition […]

Haiku, Senryū & Tanka


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Of all the skills it takes to make comics, writing is one of the last I tried to tackle as a student and practitioner myself. And I always tell people to take notes from people who know more than I do. So for this post I’m going to lean heavily […]

Somewhere to start, on ‘Story’



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This post features a short film and some bonus material by Redglass Pictures, staring the writer George Saunders, known for his short stories, essays, novellas and children’s books. In the documentary he reveals the pitfalls of bad storytelling and explains the openness and generosity he things is required to breath life into […]

George Saunders On Story


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On the site here I’m exploiting the surplus of material out there about writing for film and books because at their core, stories are stories! Studying how writers tell them in other mediums is one of the key ways I learned about how to write my own. And being a related […]

Write A Short Anything…



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Telling a good story is often about planning, and a great tool I recently heard about is something presented on Out on the Wire, a new story workshop podcast series about making stories, step by step. Cartoonist Jessica Abel & Co break down the principles of storytelling on the show really well, […]

Focus Statements & XY Formulae


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In the First post, I said I think Ty’s talk is an excellent crash course in Genre Writing, sometimes cast as lowbrow, but most popular forms of writing these days tend to conform to clear genre tropes, or making a point of hybridizing those for dramatic novelty. There’s nothing intrinsically keeping […]

An aside on Genre vs Literary



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Ok, so I think the last two posts on story cover Genre. Genre is like the style of house your want your story to live in. So what goes in the first room of your story? In your story, there are more than just things happening. There are the people they are happening […]

Words of advice on Character


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Trope – noun -(ˈtrōp) plural: tropes : A word, phrase, or image used in a new and different way in order to create an artistic effect. – a : A word or expression used in a figurative sense : figure of speech – b : A common or overused theme or […]

girl#2 – a comic about tropes



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The core mechanism of sequential art, is Juxtaposition. Even when it’s a single gag cartoon, there is typically a juxtaposition of words, and picture. And the transitions between panels is entirely a mechanism for creating a moment of Closure, through Juxtaposition! It’s a very powerful tool, important to learn about and […]

Juxtaposition & Symbolic Ideas!


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You could get the impression Scott likes making lists, but thanks to that we have a handy and fairly comprehensive model for the different kinds of panel to panel transitions, in terms of their content and subject matter! An aside: In thinking about transitions between panels, there is also their […]

The Seven Transitions



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This episode of my podcast where I take a question from Andrew J. Hawthorn, who asked about “Narrative techniques or figurative tricks you can only do in comics” This episode of my podcast where I take a question from Andrew J. Hawthorn, who asked about “Narrative techniques or figurative tricks […]

Like moving pictures, but not


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In my post “Like moving pictures, but not” I specifically talk about some of the ways Sequential Art and Cinema are different; How there are things comics can do that are completely unique to it. That said there are many ways in which they are similar and certainly a lot […]

Visual Storytelling in Cinema




So many options to consider. Count your beats and pick one that fits!
I don’t recommend it exclusively, but for sure grids are handy to think about when it comes to laying out your comics page. In lieu of a better idea they are reliable, and save a lot of time over all in getting comics done. Seth in his recent documentary reiterated […]

The Grids



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FLOW sums up a key concept in comics page or strip design: Underlying structures that make the work legible, flow and should not need to be explained to readers. Flow is a big subject, though to nail down simply. It covers everything from the rudimentary like having the first person […]

Flow, & the Eyelines!


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The first time you pick up a pencil, pen or brush to try to draw, just as we do with writing, if we want to learn quickly we start by systematically cultivating the skills we need. The ABCs of drawing. How to make the kind of mark, when we want […]

Basic Drawing Exercises



The Know-How of Cartooning by Ken Hultgren (17)
What defines Cartooning as a medium is ironically often not really well-defined, we just associate it with something emblematic of idea in our head and take it for granted. It’s drawing of course, but a particular kind! How in particular? What makes one drawing a cartoon while another is called illustrative […]

What is Cartooning


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Cartooning and caricature is the use of simplified forms and lines to represent people, animals and things. Modern cartooning is diverse, I see it as having three major families or styles, falling along a spectrum from most abstracted to most representational, and on to idealized. All popular styles will fall somewhere along this […]

Noodle Arms to Bigfoot: A Cartoon family



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The first stage of page building in comics is doing layouts. Under deadlines it’s often rushed, when you have a bit more time it’s an ideal way to plan out a comic. You’ll find printable templates for thumbnail sheets, to aid in the process here! You can watch me doing […]

Thumbnailing layouts!


Dream Life pencils, done in many stages, each colour represents a separate drawing, layered and composed like animation cells in photoshop. Use this to figure out the blocking of some pages.
Laying down the master lines! I will have a more formal content to post here including notes and tips on Penciling later, but for now I wanted to post at least this, a playlist of YouTube posts of my penciling, in both pencil and with pens as well. The main […]

Penciling!



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The Pocket Brush is one of my favorite tools, I highly recommend it to any student. It’s a true brush, made with synthetic hairs that keep a good point for a long time. I’ve embedded a playlist of clips, including an intro and some basic instructions. More to come, and […]

Inking with a Brush


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A short tool tip for prossesing scanned art! It’s actually a good thing I think, to not try to get too much contrast with the presets when you scan, I tweak mine a bit but I use colour, and scan the art for the widest range of information. That leaves […]

Balancing with histograms



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Blue lines are reproductions of our pencils or even thumbnails, printed, usually with a bubble jet printer, onto fresh sheets of Bristol. Using them can replace using a light table or vellum to transfer the art as was done in back in the day, and it also allows a few […]

Making your own ‘Blue Lines’


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For some of my own work, most of it really, I don’t use digital lettering. Not the way demonstrated in my last post on this topic. I DO often shape my balloons the same way, using the expand selection trick after scanning hand-lettered text. But despite a fondness for the LOOK of […]

Analog lettering & Photoshop?



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Pixelled words to go with your pictures! Lettering can be a deceptively big topic. I’ll cover it in a few posts, rather than try to do it all in one. This post is going to focus on the way I use computers to letter, and the industry standard more or […]

Digital aided Lettering!


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Making Comics is expensive! In both time and financing. To start I’d say, don’t rush into printing or publishing, until you’ve invested a decent amount of time in practice, and have reasonably polished work to share. But once you do, there are ways to try to generate an income from […]

Grants, crowdfunding & $$!



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Collaboration has been a central part of sequential art, comics & cartoons, since their reinvention as a mass Pop media during the heyday of the American Newspaper. As soon as Comics became a central feature of any self-respecting newspaper artists were hired in bulk to work together in some way or another […]

Comix Jams!


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The Ames guide is a classic comic’s tool. Also used for other forms  of calligraphy, from drafting to decorative, it’s a simple variable ruling guide to render lines for lettering. I’ve made a simple short video to watch here, and you can read the printed instructions most of them come with at the bottom […]

How to use an Ames Guide



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This is a short little clip, covering something that many young cartoonists are amazed to hear you can do – if you mess up or want to change a panel or even a detail of a panel on paper, it’s possible to simply cut it out and paste in a […]

Old school page patching


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To plan a comics page out the first thing you need to do is decide just that, what format will you publish it in, and for print, what aspect ration or page size? This can even impact the way you write the story, so first job, pick a format. Webcomic? […]

Page aspect ratios & templates