I just finished a stint as a guest lecturer at NMIT here in Melbourne. Not many people know, but aside from my day job as a graphic designer, I also have qualifications as a teacher. A feather I put in my cap after I got my Bachelor of Industrial Design (many moons ago), but after doing it I realised I didn't want to spend my working life teaching high school kids to draw perspective and shapes. I still wanted to climb mountains myself, and I couldn't do that at sea level.
Anyway... NMIT emailed me earlier in the year, and I said yes to a three week gig every Wednesday morning. It was to talk/show their final year illustration students about drawing comics. I jumped at it, and my day job was reasonable enough to allow me the mornings off to indulge the undertaking.
The students were good. Since I didn't have to teach them to 'draw' (thank God), I could jump right into showing them the basics of how comics function and putting a page together themselves. The idea was to come up with a basic one page comic. So to take off the pressure, I approached it as coming up with a simple scene. It could be as basic as a person sitting down in a chair, or watching a bird fly by, or glancing out a window over a few frames. You get the idea. This wasn't about 'writing' or 'drawing'... this was about getting them to do as basic a comic as they could in the hopes of showing them how simple the medium can function. Paring it down to this excercise might actually bring some of them closer to this wonderful artform and, hopefully, have them hooked enough to do more ambitious stuff on their own.
FIRST SESSION-1 (3 hours)
21- April 2010
I began by introducing myself and running through some slides showing 'what' comics were and how they worked. After an hour of this, my aim was to get the students to come up with a simple scene for a comic page. The students were really switched on and came up with the kind of ideas I'd hoped they would. Simple images, one after the other, leading the reader along. It was great to teach students who were interested in what they were doing, instead of high school kids just wanting the class to be over so they could go outside and play.
I got them to then thumbnail the panels very small (and rough), just to 'plan' the page out before they began to pencil the actual page. Planning it out before you get to the page is the most important thing in the page's construction (in my thinking). It takes the pressure and stress out of rubbing out hundreds of lines over-&-over on the finished board because you're 'winging it'. I'd end up hating comics if I did it that way... but that's just me.
I worked along with the students. I wanted to show by example how easy the story can be.
The above scribbling was my quick outline and thumbnails. Unlike the students (whom I didn't really expect to use words... after all, it was an illustration class), I wanted to do a real-time comic about the Wednesday classes I was teaching them. A sort of 'a comic can just be me showing you what we are doing right now' - kind of thing.
SECOND SESSION-2 (3 hours)
28- April 2010
The second session was them finishing their thumbnailing of the scene, and then it was onto the penciling of the page. They could either pencil straight onto their final artboard, or (like me) pencil onto a rough piece of paper (1-1 size), and use it for the underlay for my final artboard.
The above was my penciled page (from my thumbnails above).
FINAL SESSION-3 (3 hours)
5- May 2010
This last session started with me running through a slideshow of my process for scanning inked pages into the computer and simple clean-ups to the artwork to get it ready for print.
Following this, we inked out pages. Here's mine:
Not sure if I'll add the text boxes, or leave the captions 'floating'. But the page is pretty much done save some cleaning up or a 1-colour tone.
So anyway, this weekend (tomorrow actually) is the annual DOUJICON comics extravaganza!
I'll be releasing DIGESTED.03 there this weekend!!... yes, you heard right. It's out. I have the beautiful thing in my hand. If you can't make it down tomorrow to get a SIGNED copy from me (and a sketch), you can buy it straight from my wonderful publisher Gelstalt Publishing, or my own website.