Making Comics 101

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For 7 years I taught courses at Syn Studio art school in downtown Montreal.

The Pandemic brought many changes, I’m now working full time in Animation as a designer, I might come back to teaching in some form but for now I don’t have the time or energy along side work, so my classes are no longer available and I’m not taking on private students until further notice!  If you want to take a class at Syn, you can check the schools site here for the full listing of their courses and instructors

I’m leaving this site up for use by past students, random seekers of knowledge online, and future possible students. Where I’ve presented the lessons and ideas of other’s I try to be sure to give credit, let me know if you find errors or omissions!

Comics are one of the most interesting complex art forms/media, particularly that in theory one person can do all on their own! But they don’t have to be intimidating.

Comics can work as well as deceptively simple funnies, as they do in more overtly complex forms. Whatever kind of comics you want to make, by the end of this course you will have had the opportunity to pick up or refine all the key tools you need to make your comics tick, turn pages, and kickass.

This course teaches the universal basics of Comics/BD/Manga storytelling. You will learn some of the formal visual language of comics, ways to approach character development, dramatic story structure, dialogue, pleasing to read sequential artwork, the fundamentals of inking, lettering, & enhancing story through colour. We’ll also overview the business side of comics so you have some idea of what to expect in the very competitive world of professional comics art and cartooning.

The class focuses much more on story and process than drawing skills, for that we have the sister program Intro to Cartooning. The courses are designed to be complimentary, I recommend taking them both if you can!

We do a great deal of the teaching in this course for, and on paper, with ink and pencils. But students reasonably proficient with digital drawing are welcomed to work that way, nearly all the things we cover translate at least in part to digital drawing and painting. Indeed, even if you like to draw old school on paper like the teacher, It’s a big advantage to be able to use both traditional and digital media.

Materials List is HERE.



Our 10+ week Making Comics 101 course, will teach you about all aspects of creating of comics, from idea to publication.

Week 1 – Learn the basic elements, mechanics and terminology of comics, and what defines the medium of sequential art.

And we start a regular comics practice by beginning a daily journal sketch comic.

For the first weeks they will be in the form of three panel Haikus. Comics are language, a form of writing, and the only way we get good at it is by doing it as often as we can! The constraints give us focus, and fewer decisions to make. And they can be fun.

Week 2 – We’ll start by checking in on how the first weeks daily journal sketch comics are going,

Then discuss the basics of how to build a story arc, have an introduction to plotting and scripting conventions for comics, tools for honing in on what is important in a story and how to use process to build a story, and keep moving forward when faced with creative blocks.

We’ll also talk about page flow, design & thumbnailing.

Week 3 – We’ll start by checking in on how the weeks daily journal sketch comics are going,

Our weekly comics practice expands to 5 panels after this, and switches for two weeks to the Tanka Constraint. Part of the change will be to explore in greater detail the process of designing comics pages.

We’ll have demo of inking with a brush, pigment pens and different styles of finishing your art. Talk a bit about cartooning, drawing styles and character design.

And explore choosing the moment with a group exercise in class called ‘The Wrong Astronaut’.

Week 4 – We’ll start by checking in on how the first week of Tanka based journal sketch comics are going, Have any themes to your stories started to show up? If not consider thinking about finding one?

Continuation of process study, focusing on digital tools for lettering, colouring, and processing your art. From how to scan pages, making “Blue lines” for inking and preparing art for colouring & print.

How to letter your comics digitally, or analog, while ensuring your text is readable. Balloon placement, working that into the page flow, and more. How to prep them when you’re done for printing or the web.

You don’t have to be able to use a computer to make comics, but like most things, it helps.

Week 5 – We’ll start by checking in on how the second week of Tanka based journal sketch comics are going.

For the next week’s comics, we’ll switch to using the Sonnet as our writing constraint – one for the week or one per day if students like. And take on a drawing constraint suggested by a fellow student as well!

Then the class will have an introduction to some advance analog processes and techniques, for those who rather not use a computer. How to use light tables and photocopiers to size up your work and do iterations for inking, revisions and repetition [callbacks].

Hand lettering, paste up and panel replacement. White paints best for corrections, and maintaining aspect ratios for print or the web.

Week 6 – We’ll start by checking in on how the second week of Sonnet based journal sketch comics are going! Can they be sung? We’ll talk a bit about the challenges of public reading too.

We’ll look at Comic Jams, collaboration and teamwork in the comics community. You can make comics on your own, but it helps to team up for big projects, and community will be your greatest resource. But even if you rather work alone, social drawing events are great gateways to new ideas and networking.

Week 7 – We’ll start by checking in on how the second week of Sonnet based journal sketch comics are going! This week we’ll also pick a new constraint for the remaining Journal comics based on the work so far and some other constraints options such as Oubapo.

Then the class will have an overview of the current state of the Art in self-publishing, the business of comics, financing, social networking and building a brand. It’s a big topic but we’ll cover the things you need to know starting out.

Week 8 – Again we’ll look at each others journal comics, check out and share thoughts on the constraints we choose.

Exercises in Style workshop 1. We’ll take a simple narrative sequence, and explore several different constraint based ways to depict the same events during the Exercises in Style.

Week 9 – Exercises in Style workshop 2. We’ll take a simple narrative sequence, and explore several different constraint based ways to depict the same events during the Exercises in Style.

One of the constraints for this class will be to work in a different drawing style, of an author chosen the week before.

Week 10 – At the start of the class we’ll have our final group critique of each others journal comics, and along with other comics exercises we’ve done in the course we’ll collect them for the Anthology!

And this is the 3rd Exercises in Style workshop. Againe one last time, we’ll take a simple narrative sequence, and explore different constraint based ways to depict them. This time. the class will be directed by Constraints suggested by your fellow students!

Week 11 – Post course studio visit – The week after the course is complete any students interested will be invited to visit the teachers studio to look through his work and discuss things covered in the course and beyond. “Mentorship is a broken but long standing tradition in comics, it helped me a lot when I started out and I hope to pass that on.” – Salgood Sam

Sorry, désolé, version française ici est à jour, en travaillant sur la mise en traduire//the French copy here is out of date, working on getting it translated.

—————– French Version! —————–

Ce cours enseigne les bases de la narration dans les comics, les bandes dessinées ou encore les Mangas. Vous apprendrez à développer vos personnages, les structure narratives, les dialogues et l’art séquentiel. Vous apprendrez également à encrer votre travail de manière attrayante, à lettrer et à utiliser la couleur pour améliorer votre histoire.

La bande dessinée est une forme d’art parmi les plus complexes mais qui peut être entièrement produite par une seule personne. Aucune raison d’être intimidé! A la fin de ce cours, vous aurez la possibilité de revoir ou de peaufiner tous les outils essentiels pour que votre bande dessinée frappe un grand coup et donne envie au lecteur de tourner ses pages!

Ce cours est très bien adapté aux grands débutants ou aux novices qui ont un peu d’expérience dans la création de bande dessinée. Il n’y a aucune préférence quant au genre et tous les styles sont les bienvenus!

**Notez que ce cours est offert seulement en anglais.



Notre cours “Making Comics 101” de dix semaines vous apprendra les bases de la création d’une bande dessinée, de l’idée jusqu’à la publication, en vous aidant à développer votre propre histoire de trois pages encadrés par les conseils d’un dessinateur professionnel.

Semaine 1 – Apprendre les bases, les mécanismes et la terminologie en matière de bande dessinée : en quoi consiste l’art séquentiel, ce qui fait un bon concept de personnage, comment agencer une page et les outils!

Semaine 2 – Comprendre les bases de la construction d’une histoire, initiation à l’écriture de script, la mise en page et les miniatures.

Semaine 3 – Apprendre les techniques essentielles pour planifier et dessiner les pages de votre bande dessinée au crayon à papier. Découverte des outils pour encrer ainsi que différents styles visuels pour terminer vos dessins.

Semaine 4 – Apprendre à numériser les pages, à faire un “blueprint” pour l’encrage et à lettrer vos bandes dessinées à la main tout en s’assurant que le texte reste lisible. Acquérir des méthodes pour placer vos bulles de texte de manière à créer un bon confort de lecture. Apprendre des méthodes avancées d’encrage, et plus encore.

Semaine 5 – Apprendre à utiliser les outils digitaux pour le texte, la couleur et le rendement final de vos pages. Il n’est pas nécessaire de savoir utiliser un ordinateur pour faire des bandes dessinées, mais cela peut être d’une grande aide et donner un coup de pouce à votre créativité.

Semaine 6 – “Comics Jam”! Initiation à l’improvisation en collaboration avec des membres de la communauté de la bande dessinée. Il est possible de faire des bandes dessinées seul, mais faire équipe est une bonne chose pour les projets plus importants et quoi de mieux que des gens faisant partie de la communauté?

Semaine 7 – Connaître l’industrie : vue d’ensemble de l’état actuel de l’industrie de l’art, notamment pour ce qui est des publications à compte d’auteur, de la création de réseau et le développement de sa propre marque. Vous travaillerez en parallèle sur votre bande dessinée tout en recevant des critiques personnalisées d’un instructeur.

Semaine 8 – Initiation à la mise en couleur digitale et le rôle des couleurs dans la narration.

Semaines 9 – 10 – Apprendre à ajouter les touches finales et terminer le projet de bande dessinée toujours avec les conseils de l’instructeur.

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