How to Become a Comic Book Penciler

How to Become a Comic Book Penciler
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1. Draw a lot

I have heard a lot of guys say how much they would like to draw like some of the top name artists but as it turns out, they are not willing to work at it. Start by knowing that talent is not a set thing. Talent simply means your brain and emotions are wired to make you able to do a thing but it does not dictate how well you can do it. Talent you are born with…skill is what you earn by sweat. If you want to draw well you have to draw a lot. You can’t fake it. Art like any other skill is learnt by doing.

2. Read comics

If you are to be good in any endeavor you have to study your craft. In drawing comics studying the work of great artists is invaluable. All of those who have mastered the art of illustrative storytelling have studied those who came before them. The professionals have had enough practice, knowledge and experience to master the principles of comic book art and by studying them you will learn them too.

3. Study anatomy

The inability to draw proper body proportions is the kiss of death for many aspiring comic book artists. They often find it challenging to get the length of arms, legs and torso correctly. This is a problem that can be overcome by studying anatomy. Get a book that deals with anatomy and learn the methods used for proportions. You will learn vital info such as how to use measurements to get proper body ratios. You can also draw from photography, magazines as well as comic books and soon you will find drawing the human form as natural as breathing.

4. Learn the art of storytelling

A simple rule for beginners is to keep it simple. The strategy is to keep the panels simple and direct to the point. The drawings should translate the script in such a way that even without dialogue, a viewer is able to get a gist of what the story is about. One way of doing this is to look at comics that do this well. Look at how the panels are arranged. Check the camera angles that the artist uses. Another useful method is to study movie footage frame by frame. By doing this you will see the various camera angles and cinematography techniques used by the film maker. Movies are quite similar to comics. They both use pictures. Movies call them frames but comics call them panels.

5. Research and reference

It is always helpful to use reference material when drawing. This is especially true when you are attempting to draw something with technical detail such as machinery. To make this easy, create a catalogue of pictures of planes, vehicles, buildings and items of clothing. This will help to make your art accurate and relevant.

6. Be a team player

Making a comic book is usually a collaborative effort. It is important to be a team player. Editors tend to ask for adjustments to a piece of art. If he or she critically evaluates your work, don’t blow your stack. It is part of the job. If they ask you to change stuff do it without complaining. Editors have the final say and if you play hardball because you think you are the best thing since Michelangelo, then you will soon find yourself black listed and out of work. If your personality makes it difficult to be a team player then your other option may be to self publish. It is harder but you get to be your own boss.

7. Meet deadlines

6. Got a job? Do not miss deadlines. If there is one thing that will tick off your employer is a missed deadline. This is especially true if you are one cog in an assembly line. If you are hired to do pencils for a comic book and you miss the deadline for completion then everyone else misses their deadline (inker, colorist, letterer). In order to meet deadlines you may need to:

1. Dedicate set number of hours that you set each day dedicated only to doing pencils. This may be 2 hour intervals depending on how long you can concentrate. This is where coffee helps.

2. Create thumbnails of the entire comic before doing the final detailed version. It helps you to quickly work out any composition problems and establish what the outcome will look like.

3. Music tends to get the adrenaline and creative juices flowing. Listen to your favorite music while you are working. It may be distracting for some people but I have found that music puts you in a good mood. If I am doing an action scene for example I get amped up if I’m listening to some kick ass rock music.


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