How to Draw Comics: Create A Comic Strip in 4 Simple Steps

how to draw comicsWere you one of those kids who would pick up the Sunday paper just so that you could read the comics?  I sure was!  Comics are short, simple, and sweet; yet they have the ability to connect us with their characters, humor us, and make us anxious for the next day’s strip.

If comics have always had your interest, and you have some drawing and creative talents you are eager to explore, then you may want to consider creating your own comic.  Creating a comic can be both fun and rewarding, so let’s take a look at the four steps you can take that will show you how to draw comics and create your own comic strip.

Step 1: Developing Ideas

Components:  Write down the basic components that you know makes up any story.  After all, a comic is a narrative that is told through events, frames, or panels.  As you brainstorm ideas for your comic, thinking about: settings, character, conflict, themes, and tone.

Experience:  Base your comic off of experiences.  A lot of your style and voice in your writing will be based on events that are true to your experiences.  Write about what you already know, and this will help keep your comic original.

Style:  Find your style.  Your style should match both your tone and the story that you have in your head.  The style of a comic is the first thing that is going to jump out to your readers.  Here are a few examples of different comic styles: anime/manga, American superhero, sprites/clip art, Noir, Stick figures, Sunday funnies, and Dramas.

Develop a format: Your comic will need to follow a certain format to make it easy for readers to follow and get used to.  These formats can be: single frame, strip, or page length formats.  Experiment with different ways that you can display your comic until you find one that works for you.

  • A single frame comic:  The single frame is typically reserved for comedy.  These comics do not require much setup, and rely on visual gags and one or two lines of dialogue. It can be difficult to form a narrative using single frames, so most can be read in any order. Political comics are also typically one or two frames.
  • A comic strip: The comic strip is a sequence of frames.  There is no set length for a strip, but it is usually composed of around 2-4 frames each.  The comic strip is probably the most popular formats for web comics and daily funnies.
  • A comic page:  This is a larger format than a comic strip strip.  You will have a whole page to work with that provides the freedom to manipulate frames.  However, for a comic page you will need more content.

Step 2: Create a Rough Draft

Write:  No matter what type of story you write, your story will need a script or words.  To begin your comic, create a rough draft or a script.  The certain length and detail of the script will vary depending on the style of your comic.

Sketch:  In the beginning stages of drawing your comic, you are going to want to sketch out the frames for the comic.  In the beginning, do not worry about details such as: size or quality.  Sketch as you go about writing your script, because this will help you visualize how your comic is going to pan out.

Layout:  The layout of your panel should make sense to the reader, and the reader’s eyes should be able to flow naturally through the panels as they read.  Remember that a reader’s eyes will move from left to right and top to bottom, so structure your comic’s layout accordingly.

Text:  The text of a comic can make it more or less appealing to its readers.  Experiment with different types of texts.  For instance, you may consider: thought bubbles, narration boxes, or exclamations to add impact.

Step 3: Drawing the Comic

Create the frames:   It is time for you to create your actual frames.  Make sure you have a good ruler and paper handy.  Remember to keep things as user-friendly as possible no matter what outlet your comic is for.

  • For newspaper comics, the standard size is 13” x 4” for the entire comic, with four 3” frames.
  • Web comics can be done in any size.  However, you should stick to the general view display size for computer screens.
  • When reading web comics, also keep in mind that readers will generally like to scroll up and down rather than side to side.

Add Content:  Begin your comic drawing with a light pencil so that you can make easy adjustments.  As you draw, remember to leave space for dialogue, such as thought bubbles, narration boxes, and exclamations so that they can easily be added in later.

Ink it:  When you are happy with your final drawings, go over your pencil lines with ink.  This way you can erase any pencil lines to keep your final product looking clean and polished.  If you are going to write in your dialogue, do that now as well.

Scan:  When you are done adding you ink, scan your comic onto a computer so that you may use any editing software to add color or other effects.

  • Scan your comic at 600 DPI (dots per inch) to keep the lines looking clear and crisp.
  • If you are working with a large comic, scan it in sections and use Photoshop to combine the frames.
  • Use the grayscale option when scanning black and white images.

howtodrawcomicsClean:  After your comic is scanned, you can resort to Photoshop to clean up little things, such as pencil lines or erasing mistakes.  You can also use Photoshop tools to make shades darker and lines stronger.

Font:  Again, a comic’s text can help your comic stand out and set it apart from others.  Try out different font styles make your comic unique.  Consider creating a custom font online or downloading one for purchase.  You can also choose to add your dialogue or speech bubbles in Photoshop.  You can do this by using the “layers tool” in Photoshop to create a layer for text, and then another layer for the speech bubble.  These layers should be separate from the layer that you drawing is on.

Color:  You can now choose to add color to your comic.  However, there is also no harm in leaving your comic in black and white. You can choose from several different options for coloring your comic:

  • You can color directly on the page.
  • You can use different types of physical coloring tools
  • You can color your comic digitally after it is scanned.

Step 4: Publishing

It is time to get your comic out there for others to enjoy.  Consider these methods as you go about publishing your work.

  1. Upload your image to share over an online service such as: PhotoBucket, ImageShack, or imagur. Once you do this, send the link to your comic out to friends, family, post it to social network feeds, or tweet the URL.
  2. Create your own webpage
  3. Send you comic to a syndicate, which is a publishing group that sells comics to newspapers around the world.
  4. Send your comic to a publisher.
  5. Self publish; the internet makes it much easier to do this these days!

Get Cartoony!

Creating your own comic and learning how to draw comics is a fun and creative way to express your ideas, develop a story, and create memorable characters.  If you are looking for some more assistance for cartoon drawing, check out this helpful course that will take you through the step by step process of designing cartoon-looking characters for your comic.