Creating Journal Comics: Drawing Your Life | Katie McMahon | Skillshare

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Creating Journal Comics: Drawing Your Life

teacher avatar Katie McMahon, KatieMcMahonArt

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Lesson 1

    • 3. Lesson 2

    • 4. Lesson 3

    • 5. Lesson 4

    • 6. Lesson 5

    • 7. Lesson 6

    • 8. Lesson EXTRA!

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About This Class

Drawing pictures to record human events is an ancient custom, going as far back as the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. This custom has continued throughout history to the modern day with popular graphic novels such as "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi.

In this class, you will learn the basics of making comics about you - turning the events of your day into a comic. We will talk about format, drawing style, facial expressions, backgrounds, and more. A journal comic can be private or public, but the most important thing is that it is yours.

Drawing the events of your day-to-day life may seem boring or mundane, but you may look at it differently when you sit down to draw. Suddenly, the coffee you spilled on your lap seems a bit more funny. Our perceptions and emotions connected to past events can change the more we ruminate on them. In my own experience, I've found a greater appreciation for the life I have when I take the time to draw it out. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Katie McMahon



Hey there, folks! I'm Katie McMahon and I've been reading and drawing comics of all sorts for as long as I can remember. My love for the arts took me to the University of New Hampshire to earn my BFA. While there, I discovered a love for teaching as well, and I went on to earn my MEd as well.

I currently teach a comics art class at my local comic book shop, and I want to share the joy of making comics with you too!

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1. Intro: Hi there. My name is Katie, and I'm a writer and a comic artist, and I'm here to teach you about journal comics. Drawing pictures to record human events is an ancient custom, going as far back as the cave paintings in less cow France. Created some 17,300 years ago. This custom has continued throughout history to the modern day, with popular graphic novels such as your SEPA List by Margins, A Traffic and Maus by Art Spiegelman. Drawing the events of your day to day life might seem boring, mundane, but you might see it differently when you sit down to draw. Suddenly, the coffee you spilled on your lab seems a bit more funny. The time your cat sat on your face to wake you up seems more nostalgic. Our perceptions and emotions connected to past events can change, the more we ruminate on them. In my own experience, I have found a greater appreciation for the life I have when I take the time to draw it out . Thank you for watching, and I hope you enjoy this class 2. Lesson 1: Hello there. And welcome to the first lesson of my journal comics class. I'll admit I don't always have the best memory when I'm struck with an idea for a story or a comic, I have to write it down or draw it out right away. Or also forget it entirely. The same goes for journal comics. I always keep a tiny sketchbook on me wherever I go, so that I could write down funny thoughts and interesting ideas so that I could draw them later. It's important to remember that what you make doesn't always have to be funny or entertaining. A journal comet can have sad moments, angry moments, moments of frustration or bitterness and moments of silence and peace. Your comics should reflect who you are and how you see the world around you. It's okay to draw about bad days. Alongside the good days, I'd argue that it's just a important drawing Journal. Comics can help you process hard times and express emotions that are difficult to verbalize . Remember, thes comics are for you where this lessons money assignment. I want you to write a list of 3 to 5 ideas that you have for a journal comic based on the events of your life in the past week or so, when you've got that list post in the Projects gallery. If you know which one you want to use for your final project, be sure to point it out and let me know why you chose that one. Thanks for watching, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with. 3. Lesson 2: Hello there and welcome to the second lesson in my journal comics class. In his book Understanding Comics. The Invisible Art, Scott McCloud defines comics as juxtaposed pectoral and other images in deliberate sequence intended to convey information and or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer. Drastically simplified, this means that comics are stories or information told by an organized series of pictures and images. Single panel comics air great for one liner jokes, life observations or thought provoking blurbs. Three or four panel comics are great for short thoughts and quick gags. Full page comics are great for exploring lengthier experiences or talking about multiple things. Will you be drawing in a personal journal? It might be too small to do full page comics with lots of panels. You want to avoid drawing too small so you don't cramp your hand or strain your eyes. Maybe stick to between one and four panels. With journalist this size, perhaps you'd prefer drawing in a sketchbook. Sketchbooks this size are great for full page comics, and if you like single panel comics, you can draw multiples on a single page loose printer paper, Bristol board watercolor paper are all excellent options. All that really matters is that you're comfortable with whatever material you're working with. Once you've decided what you're format will be playing out your journal comic by doing small rough draft drawings or thumbnail drawings. Comic artists use thumbnail drawings to plan out their comic and make sure that what's in their head translates well to paper. Sometimes ideas work out well, and sometimes they just don't fit. Think of it like a practice run to get any kinks out of your comic. You don't want to spend lots of time perfecting it, only to sit back and see mistakes or problems that you won't want to erase. I've definitely been there before. Thes thumbnail drawings should be quick and Messi with just enough information to know what your comic is going to look like. Be sure to plan out where your speech bubbles air going so they don't end up getting squished. Here's your money assignment. For this lesson. Choose your material chooser format and sketches set of thumbnail drawings based on one of your ideas from the last money assignment. When posting to your project in the Project gallery, be sure to comment on why you chose your materials and format and also talk about your experience with doing the thumbnail drawings. Do you feel more prepared to draw your comic? What did you learn from this experience? Thank you for watching, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with. 4. Lesson 3: Hello there and welcome to the third lesson in my journal comics class. Before we get started, let's go over the basics of the human face. I know it might seem out of place to be talking about realistic proportions in the class about drawing comics. But hear me out, Pablo Picasso once said. No, the rules like a pro, so you could break them like an artist. Sound familiar? It seems to be a quote from the 14th Dalai Lama about civil disobedience and nonviolent protest. But the same principle can be applied. Art. Having an understanding of realistic human proportions will help inform you when you want to draw exaggerated cartoony expressions. A human's head is fairly oval shaped. 1/3 of the way down is the hairline. Halfway down are the eyes and the beginning of the nose. 2/3 of the way down is the mouths, with the nose ending just above the mouth. Ears are generally the lengths of the distance between the eyes and the end of the nose. Don't forget that hair has volume and sits on top of the head when drawing comics. Facial expressions are incredibly important the way a character's face looks, tells the reader how the characters feeling or what the characters thinking. Often, these expressions are exaggerated for humor's sake, but they can also be exaggerated to give weight to a sad scene or an angry outburst. The best way to get good at drawing expressions is to observe and draw your own face. Pay attention to how your muscles bunch up under your eyes and pull up your cheeks when you smile. Notice how your eyebrows snap together when you get angry. Exaggerating these elements of expression is the foundation of drawing in a cartoon style. Let's not forget your body. It can display emotion and intention. Justus well as your face. When a character is sad, their shoulders might bow inwards and they're back Might slouch when excited a character might stand straighter and just her emphatically with their hands. If a character is needing to sneak around, they might pull their arms in with curl their back and walk on tiptoe for this lessons. Many assignment. I'd like you to draw yourself in your comic style, draw five different facial expressions and three different full body poses that shows some kind of emotion or intention for reference. Draw yourself while looking in a mirror, or have someone take photos of you making faces and posing when you post your drawings to your project in the project gallery. I'd love for you to talk about your style. What comics are artists have influenced the way that you draw. What do you like drawing most when drawing characters? Which pose or expression was the most fun for you to draw? Thank you for watching, and I look forward to seeing what you create. 5. Lesson 4: Hello there and welcome to the fourth lesson in my journal comics. Class backgrounds give comics context and can even help tell the story or give emotional cues. Your backgrounds can be a simple or as detailed as you want, from a simple splash of color to intricate interiors. The design is up to you. Some comics use a stripe of color as their background. This is most common in daily comic strips, where speed is of the essence and details must be kept to a minimum in order to keep up the pace. The benefit of this style is the ease of establishing moved. Simple details are great for having characters interact with their surroundings. Not much is needed for the reader to understand where the character is and what they're doing. Benefit of this style is that the reader feels like the characters exist in a world of their own. Intricate detail is interesting to look at and can be fun to draw, but sometimes can clutter up an image or make a panel feel claustrophobic. It's also not easy to maintain a detailed art style if you plan on doing lots of comics in a relatively short period of time. The benefit to this style is that it fully immerses the reader in the world of the character and makes it feel tangible for this lessons. When the assignment, I would like you to do 3 to 5 sketches of your environment, whether it's your home, your school, your workplace, wherever you plan on your comic taking place. Having an understanding of the space before drawing the comic can make it easier to set up scenes and plan out sequences. When you post your sketches to your project in the Projects gallery, I'd love to hear your thoughts on your space is why were they important to you? What did you enjoy drawing the most? What did you notice when you were drawing that? Maybe you didn't notice before. Thank you for watching, and I look forward to seeing what you create 6. Lesson 5: Hello there and welcome to the fifth lesson in my journal comics class. This'll point. You've got your groundwork for a really great journal comic. And to be honest, that's really all you need. It could take it from here, spread your wings and fly off to make some great comics. But I'm about to talk about are some techniques that are really just the icing on the cake of journal comics when im sketching out a short comic in my journal, I don't really pay attention to shading or lion variation because the point isn't to make a beautiful comic. The point is to make a comic that truly expresses how I'm feeling in the moment. I don't need to make it look pretty unless I want to. It's only for comics that I might share with people that I really bring out my polishing rag and use some of these techniques. When drawing a journal comic, you can use whatever you want to draw, whether that's pencil ballpoint pen marker, whatever is comfortable for you. One option available to you is the process of thinking your comic putting black marker or inclines over your pencil or pen lines to make them stand out from the white of the page. There are a variety of tools you can use when thinking you can use ballpoint pen. I felt tip pen, a nib pen and ink or a brush and ink. I like to use all of these for different things, but I tend to use a felt tip pen when inking journal comics, because it's quick and easy and there's no clean up after. The downside to felt tip pens is they have no give to them. So I have to create my own line. Variation. Line variation is not only important to a comics aesthetics, but also to its illusion of depth. When things air far away, the artists will think them with thinner lines. Closer things, air given thicker line While line can help with suggestion of light and shadow, there's nothing quite like shading to create subtle, too dramatic contrast. There are a variety of techniques you can use to shade. Soft shading can be accomplished by gently running the edge of a pencil across the page. Keep your strokes light for pale shadows and press down gently for darker shades. This can also be achieved with a ballpoint pen. Another type of shading is known as hatching. This is a method of using a series of evenly spaced lines to suggest shadow. Thinner lines based further apart can suggest lighter shadows, while thicker lines close together can suggest dark shadows. Cross hatching is like hatching but layered. One layer of the lines is drawn in one direction, while another layer is drawn on top, going in a different direction. Color. Whether traditionally done with pencils or paints or digitally done with software, it is used in a majority of comics. Color influences the mood of the comic and elicits emotions from the reader. A somber or thought provoking comic might be done. Soft, subtle graze, a cheerful, funny comic might be in bright colors. A pretty dramatic comic might have harsh high contrast with occasional splashes of vibrant colors. A comic filled with childlike whimsy might be painted with pastels. Whether you add color to your comic and how you might use it is entirely up to you. I like to use a little dab of color here and there in my journal comics, just enough to highlight something important or two. Given Emotional Cube remember, these are just a few touches you can add to your comic if you so choose, and so the many assignment for this lesson is optional. Make three drawings in the style in which you will be drawing your comic and demonstrate each of the embellishments that I talked about today. Thinking shading on coloring. If you want to go a step further, draw forth drawing of yourself and combine any or all of these elements in any way you choose. Thank you for watching, and I look forward to seeing what you create. 7. Lesson 6: Hello there and welcome to the sixth lesson in my journal comics class. By now, you will have all the tools you need to make your very first journal comic. Take a moment to celebrate. I'm very sorry. Good job you now to put it all together, I'd like to show you my process for making my journal comics. First, I grab a list of my ideas, funny scenarios and thoughts that I might want to make into a comic. I pick an idea and start thinking about how I can turn that idea into a comic. Then I write out my plan for my comic. How many panels is it? What are the pieces of dialogue? What characters are involved? What's the setting? I reflect all of these plans. In a few thumbnail drawings, I start sketching the comic by laying out my panels. I'm not using a ruler because I like the organic feel of irregular panels. Plus, this is a comic I'm doing for myself, so I get to design it. How I want. Next. I look back at my thumbnail drawings. I lightly sketch in where my characters go, where my speech bubbles will be and what pieces of background information I'll need when doing the speech bubbles. I like to write the words first and draw the bubble. Second, I don't want to get caught with a bubble that's too small for the words I need. It's helpful to write with your words centered in speech bubbles, aligning them to the left or the right concave. You lopsided speech bubbles Now for the fun part, inking my comic. I like to use felt tip thinking pens, but I'll use my favorite ballpoint pen. Just is often, I think my character's first using a thicker pen. Then I go from my background details with a thinner marker because I want the focus to be on the characters after I'm done thinking, I like to let it dry a bit before I erased my pencil marks. If I race right after, I might smudge the ink and that's it. That's how we make a journal comic. I usually keep them to myself, but if I have a funny one or two, I might share them with my friends. Now, for your final project, choose one of your ideas to make a comic out of breakdown. The idea into a number of scenes equal to the number of panels you have available to. You draw your panels on one of her paper, you choose, or wherever you're choosing to keep this comic lightly sketched each scene inside each panel, starting with your character and adding in the background around them. Make sure you leave room for speech bubbles. Once you're satisfied with your sketches, go over them again with pencil or pen using darker lines, and then erase any extra lines or smudges to clean up your comic. Take photos of your work or scan each stage of making your comic. Upload them to your project in the project gallery with comments about your process. What was fun, What was challenging? Was there anything I wasn't clear about or that you didn't understand? Thank you so much for watching. If you have any questions on anything, please don't hesitate to leave a comment. I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I sincerely hope you've enjoyed this class, and I cannot wait to see your awesome projects in the project gallery. Happy drawing 8. Lesson EXTRA!: Welcome back that you thought this class was done, didn't you? Welcome to the extra lesson and my journal comics class. For those of you that want to make journal comics to share with friends or to self published, the eight page fully format is great. It's very popular with folks who make zines, which are small pamphlets or comics or magazines. That's the term zines, and they're usually about anything the creator feels like talking about. Zines are easy to make. They're easy to use copies off, and they're easy to distribute all for a very low cost, full of peace of plain white paper in half lengthwise. Be sure tow line the edges up properly, increased fold. Open it back up and fold it in half, widthwise being short tow. Line the edges up again, increased the fold, open it up again and fold the edges of the paper into the middle. Like so, increase both folds. Open the paper and fold it in half with wise again using a pair of scissors cut from the top of the center crease to the top of the secondary. Cruce ray There. Now open the paper once again, pinch the edges of the paper together between forefinger and thumb, like so, and slowly bring the edges together in the middle. There, with the cut in the paper, it fold itself into a little book. Now simply fold the pages over, and you've got a little zine number the pages in pencil before opening it up again to draw on it. Once your comic is finished, you can scan it into a computer or at a copy center and print as many copies as you like to fold, cut, fold again and distribute to friends, family and anyone else you want to share with. I hope you've enjoyed this extra little lesson if you chose to do this activity. I love to see how it came out, so be sure to post some pictures on your project in the Project gallery. Thank you so much for watching and happy drawing