Creating Webcomics: From Sketches to Final Comic | Sarah Andersen | Skillshare

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Creating Webcomics: From Sketches to Final Comic

teacher avatar Sarah Andersen, Webcomics Artist & Illustrator

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Assignment: A Webcomic Based on Your Life


    • 3.

      Before You Draw


    • 4.

      Designing Your Character


    • 5.

      Making Your Model Sheet


    • 6.

      Finding Ideas


    • 7.

      Drawing Your Comic


    • 8.

      Social Media and Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Ever think your life is like a cartoon? Join Sarah Andersen (of Tumblr webcomic series Sarah's Scribbles) as she shares a start-to-finish process for creating a webcomic based on your own life. This 16-minute class is full of tips on finding ideas, developing a character, creating a model sheet, and bringing 4 panels to life. While it's especially geared for beginners, it's perfect for all levels of illustrators, cartoonists, and enthusiasts who want an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a Tumblr sensation!

Meet Your Teacher

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Sarah Andersen

Webcomics Artist & Illustrator


Sarah Andersen is a 22 year old cartoonist and illustrator. She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014 and currently lives in Brooklyn. Her comics are semi-autobiographical and follow the adventures of herself, her friends, and her beloved pets.

Both Sarah's comics and illustrations have been acknowledged by the Society of Illustrators. The ongoing webcomic "Sarah's Scribbles" is currently syndicated on GoComics. She updates Saturdays and Wednesdays.

Due to a need to distinguish between her illustration and cartooning work, Sarah posts illustrative work separately. You can find that work here.


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1. Introduction: Hi everyone. My name is Sarah Andersen and I'm a cartoonist. I mostly known for my web comic, Sarah Scribbles, which features myself and my stoic pet rabbit. I graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014, and ever since I've been cartooning for places like College Humor and SlugBooks. In addition, my cartoons have been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, and Sarah Scribbles is currently syndicated on GoComics alongside some of my all time favorite cartoonists. Creating a web comic is lots of fun. The Internet is a great place to share work, get inspiration, and build an audience. In these videos, I'll be showing you how to design a character and web comic inspired by yourself. Your main character will be a representation of the real you. Step-by-step, I'll show you how to design your character, create a model shape, and then bring them to life into a web comic. 2. Your Assignment: A Webcomic Based on Your Life: Throughout these videos, you'll be taking the first steps in creating a web comic. For this assignment, I'll be demonstrating in Adobe Photoshop CS6, and drawing with a Wacom tablet. Since most of our steps are fairly basic, you can create your project on any version of Photoshop. Your assignment consists of three parts. You'll be uploading the following to the project gallery, sketches to design your character, a model sheet for them, and a final comic. This project consists of a lot of brainstorming. Depending on your drawing style, the actual cartooning shouldn't take too long. These are just the beginning stages of a web comic. Step-by-step, I'll show you what tools to use, how I make my own comics, and I'll give you some helpful tips for character design, as well as what it takes to be funny. 3. Before You Draw: Before you begin drawing, you need to hone into what you really want your character to be like. What is it about yourself that you'd like to make comics about? What's important to you and what do you find funny? I began writing web comics as a way to make fun of my own life. I wanted my character to be overly dramatic and awkward, but also charming and relatable. Writing about social anxiety and awkwardness was important to me. So I designed a character that fit into those sorts of situations. People create all sorts of characters and here are some of my favorite examples. Your character doesn't even have to be human. So take a moment and think a little bit about your character before you start drawing them. Don't try to make a character that you think other people will like. Think of something that feels like a good representation of yourself and your ideas. 4. Designing Your Character: All right. Get ready to draw. It's time to start working on the first piece that you will be uploading to the project gallery. Here, my canvas is 11.5 by eight inches and 300 pixels per inch. Feel free to be as organized or unorganized with this as you want. This is all about making mistakes until you stumble upon something that you like. I always sketch with a light color, and for this project, you should too, because it'll make inking easier later. Now that you've given your character some thought, here are some tips for bringing your personality to life with your drawing. First of all, start simple, basic shapes mean a lot when it comes to character design. So before you hone in on specific features, consider the overall figure. These two silhouettes have very different personalities and it's largely because the figure on the left is made using circular shapes, and the one on the right is made using pointy triangular shapes. Once you've decided on an overall figure, it's time to hone into some important features. I already mentioned that I wanted my character to be expressive, so she has large eyes. What features are important to you? Exaggeration is key in cartooning. So decide what you want to stand out about your character and why. Where's your character from? What wardrobe do they have? Likes and dislikes? Think about all of this and design accordingly. Details like their outfit or small accessories are bigger indicators of what type of person your character is. Remember, this is based on you. So picking things from your actual life is a good idea. My character wears a striped hoodie and this is one that I actually own. Picking things from your real life makes your character more authentic. Remember that sketching is important. The first time you draw your character isn't going to be the final. You'll get to know your character the more you draw them. This is what my character looked like the first time I drew her, and over a 100 comics later, she now looks like this. When you feel like you've sketched enough and you have a character that you like, save your file as a Photoshop file so you can go back and edit later if you want to. Now, flatten your image by going to "Layer", "Flatten Image" and upload a low-resolution JPEG to the project gallery. 5. Making Your Model Sheet: Now that you know what your character is going to look like, I'll show you how to bring your drawings to final in Photoshop and set up a model shape. Open up a document at 11.5 by 8 inches and make sure your resolution is at least 300 pixels per inch. Now, set up a layer for sketching. Again, I'm using a light color to make it easier to ink later. You should draw your character from the front, back and side. Create a space to draw some facial expressions. Good ones to try our happy, sad and angry. Once you've got all of that sketched out, it's time to bring those drawings to final. Create another layer on top of the sketch layer. Here, you'll be inking. Simply draw over your sketch lines in black to create a clean finish. It can be tough to decide on what brush to use. I use one with a little bit of texture to mimic actual ink, however, a lot of people just use default brushes on Photoshop, and this works especially well if you've got a steady hand. A great place to look for some fancier brushes is Kyle's ULTIMATE Brush Sets, which I'll include a link to. When you're done, simply turn off your sketch layer and you've got your final. Remember to save a Photoshop version that you can edit later. Now, flatten your image and upload a low-resolution JPEG to the Project Gallery. You've now got a final model sheet and a final character design. In the next few videos, I'll be showing you how to take this character and put them into a comic. 6. Finding Ideas: Unfortunately, no one has really pinpointed what's funny and what's not. Humor is a difficult thing to teach. That being said, I do have some advice for finding your own voice and style of humor. First of all, keep a sketchbook and carry it with you. Jot down all of your ideas, whether you think they're funny or not. Just the act of writing stuff out and taking notes can really get those creative juices flowing. A sketchbook also encourages you to be observant. If you see something happen during the course of your day and it gives you an idea, your sketch book will help you get that idea onto paper right away. Another tip is to look at funny people you admire and draw inspiration from them. If you see something funny, ask yourself what exactly made you laugh. I'm a big fan of Jenna Marbles, and after she made a video making fun of girls for carrying huge purses around, I made a comic about myself vanishing into my own purse and disappearing into outer space. Keeping a sketchbook and finding inspiration from others relies on one key thing, observation. That brings me to my final tip. Observe yourself and make fun of yourself. A good chunk of my own comics come from poking fun at my own insecurities. This is why having a character based on yourself is a great idea. If something awkward happens to you, use your web comic as an outlet. Finally, remember that no cartoonist makes a hilarious comic 100 percent of the time. It's a lot of trial and error, so don't be afraid of experimenting a lot. It takes time and practice to find your own voice. 7. Drawing Your Comic: The only thing left for you to do is to place your character into an actual comic. I'll be drawing a new comic here with you, but first, I'll show you how to set up your panels. My canvas here is perfectly square and it's high resolution as well. I'm now going to show you several ways that you can set up your panels. The first option, which I use is to simply use this square selection tool. Hold down shift while you draw the box to make sure it's a perfect square. Now hit "Edit", "Stroke" and create a black outline on the outside. These panels are simple and clean. A lot of cartoonists actually draw their panels by hand so that they can match the style of their comic. There's two ways to do this, either simply do it freehand or hit "Shift" while you draw a line in order to make sure it's perfectly straight. A great way to make sure everything is well spaced is to use the grid on Photoshop. You can turn the grid on or off by going to View, Show, Grid. Now that you've got your panels, draw your comic. I advise you to sketch and ink in the same way we did for our model sheet. One layer for sketching and another for inking. I'm now creating a new layer and inking on top of my sketch. Now, I'm turning off my sketch layer and I'm done. When you feel like you've got a comic you like, save your file. Now, flatten your image and upload a low-resolution version to the project gallery. 8. Social Media and Final Thoughts: Congratulations on making a character in a comic. You've taken the first steps in creating a web comic series. The web comic world is quite different from the publishing world. Your web comic is controlled by you and you alone. You have the freedom to write, explore, and experiment as much as you want. If you want to push your work further and start a Web Comic Series, here's some advice. Social Media is an excellent way to gain a following, as well as connect with other Cartoonists. I highly recommend setting up a Tumblr, which is a great site for posting and finding creative material, as well as setting up a clean layout. I also use Twitter and have a Facebook page for my Comics. My biggest tip here is to post on a schedule. I cannot emphasize how much my Web Comic improved when I started uploading every Wednesday and Saturday. Not only does this force you to make new material, but it also gives your fans are reliable time to check back to your site. Unfortunately, uploading something on the Internet also means your Comic can fall into the hands of people who will steal or edit your work. To avoid some common mishaps, upload your comics at a low resolution and include a signature or watermark. Having a signature that leads back to your original page is a good way to keep credit no matter where your Comic winds up. Don't worry too much about internet fame. Making a web comics should be a fun and creative experience. Creating a web comic which flexes both your drawing and writing muscles is a wonderful outlet for your thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, making people laugh is incredibly rewarding. Adding a little more humor into people's lives is always worth it. If you haven't uploaded all of your material yet, remember to upload your sketches, model sheet and final comic to the project gallery. Best of luck, I'll see you around the internet.