Drawing on Comics: Developing My Visual Communication Skills-Part 2

Last Friday Contributor Chris Jones stopped in to give us more insight into his journey into graphic storytelling as well as how it has positively effected his drawing and storytelling skills.

Today we showcase the second half of his discussion Enjoy!


Drawing Characters Consistently

Designing and developing characters, and drawing them over the course of an entire comic is wonderful practice at keeping on model. It can take a while to get comfortable drawing a character consistently, and what better way than to put them into a story and force yourself to draw them over and over! There will be many opportunities to draw characters from different angles, in many poses, and with a variety of facial expressions.


Working Within Constraints

Every illustration comes with certain constraints, it’s own unique set of rules: size, subject matter, medium, and so on. A comic also has some very specific constraints: the script, page size, setting, the characters involved, leaving room for word balloons, and making sure the dialogue flows logically within each panel, and from one panel to the next. Comic pages present some very unique challenges this way. Dealing with constraints in any creative work can be good— It can force you to try different things to come up with creative solutions. I’ve found that drawing comics has been great practice for learning how to be efficient and creative with my compositions.


Learning How to Create Visuals From a Script

Illustrating a comic is excellent practice in creating visuals from the written word. A lot like a movie director— you are responsible for bringing the story to life visually. There are a number of skills you can develop creating visuals for a script: knowing how best to emphasize certain parts in the story, what type of shots and angles to use, what to show and what to leave out, and pacing action and dialogue across panels. Developing these type of skills can only help you as an illustrator.

Having an Audience Can Help Motivate You

When you publish comics on the internet you are creating for an audience, and that can really help to keep you working through those times where you may not feel like drawing. You can build up a trust with your readers, and develop a sense of responsibility not to let them down by missing updates. Learning to keep yourself motivated and working even when you don’t feel like it is important if you want to be successful. I tricked myself for years by doing this! If you keep your head down and do it for a while, you can look up and say— “Wow, look at how much I’ve accomplished!”

Managing Workflow

Creating comics is labour intensive. It takes a lot of time to storyboard, illustrate, colour, and letter a comic. A good workflow is essential in order to stay on track. If you choose to make a comic that you update online, sticking to your schedule is important in building and keeping a growing audience for your work. Frequently missed or inconsistent updates could lose you those valuable readers you’ve worked so hard to gain. To keep yourself on schedule a good workflow is key, and learning how to effectively manage your workflow will help you be more productive in anything that you do.



In the end, it all comes down to practice. The more experience you have doing something, the better you’ll get. Each page you illustrate has a lot of visual problems that need to be solved— and the better you get at visual problem solving the better an illustrator you will be! I’m not saying that illustrating comics is the only way to learn the skills I’ve outlined— but it’s a path I took, and it’s been great experience in helping me become a better visual communicator.

You can also check out more of his work on his website and see more of his articles with us here.



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