Thursday, April 26, 2012

Switching Lanes - Words to Pictures

thumbnail art
Thumbnail art for a comic book page

How to Become a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Artist

Going from Script to Artboard


It all starts with an idea. Then it becomes words or words with pictures. What do you do with words you get from someone else? How do you interpret the script so you can visualize it?

Here's a process you can use.

1. Read the script a few times. Sometimes the images will come to you right away. That's great! Other times you will have to think about what you want to draw. In either case you have to get a clear image of what is happening in your mind. Your mind is your most important drawing tool.  if you can't see it in your mind, the you can't draw it well on paper. If the characters are new to you then you have to imagine what they will look like.

2. Use a highlight marker to choose what items you are going to need reference to draw like the Statue of Liberty, a car wreck, luxury apartment, cars, chairs, kitchen, birds, etc.

3. Make thumbnails to break down the script into pages for pacing,panel breakdowns and composition purposes. You can do this right on the script or on other paper. At this stage you just want to be sure your thinking is clear and you are concentrating on storytelling. You're not really trying to draw here. Do this quickly to get your ideas on paper. it can be stick figures or scribbles. It's for your benefit only.

4. Now collect all the reference images you will need. You don't want to disturb your drawing time by looking for reference then. Get it all at the beginning. Use the reference file you have and the internet. This is also the time to take your own photos. TAke a day to go to locations you may need like downtown, the subway, zoo etc. Also take shots of yourself and people in difficult pose you may need. References are to be used as a guide, not a crutch. It will be plainly obvious if you trace a  reference in one panel and don't have reference for the same thing in another panel.

5. Do layouts. Now is when you want to be concerned about drawing. You have two options. Draw it on an 8.5" x 11" bond paper , enlarge it to your art board size  an then lightbox it onto the board. Or do your layouts directly onto your art board lightly with graphite or non-photo blue pencil. Leave room for balloons and captions.

6. Do some model sheets for yourself of the major characters, so you can draw them consistently from panel to panel.

7. If you have a full script, then now is the time to do the lettering. Do not do lettering for samples you are doing in your portfolio.


This is a quick overview. I will go into detail about this process later.

Here's a fun illustration by the great Brian Buniak.





I also would like to see your comments. Is this helpful to you? Are the explanations clear and complete?

Keep reading and  +1 me. Share with your friends. Please comment. Just create!

copyright 2012 H. Simpson