Draw A Diary Comic | Ira Marcks | Skillshare

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Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Why Make Comics?


    • 3.

      A Brief History of Diary Comics


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Pick Your Moments


    • 6.

      Developing Style


    • 7.

      Find Your Frames


    • 8.

      Draw Some Lines


    • 9.

      Thoughts on Words


    • 10.

      Make it Flow


    • 11.

      Share Your Work!


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About This Class

If you love to draw and tell stories, a diary comic is a great way to use your art skills to reflect on daily life. With a few basic steps and a little structure, you'll be on your way to creating comics about the otherwise lost moments in your day to day.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ira Marcks

Graphic Novelist

Top Teacher

Ira Marcks is an award-winning and New York Times recommended cartoonist. His love of strange fiction and scientific research has led to an unlikely list of collaborators including the Hugo Award-winning magazine Weird Tales, European Research Council, and a White House Fellowship Scientist. His online courses have inspired 100,000 students. iramarcks.com

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1. Introduction: Hey, I am Ira Marcks and I love to draw. It's my little way of making sense of the world. Doodling can be fun and relaxing, but sometimes it's just not enough. Sometimes I want two say something with my drawings. A diary comic is the perfect fit. What's the diary comic? It's a drawing that tells a story. It's a great way to manage all the hopes, fears, and weird ideas that go running through our heads all day. A diary comic is more powerful than a doodle because it tells a story. But here's the catch. All stories need a little structure. In this project, we'll cover the basics of cartoon storytelling by making a short diary comic about our daily lives. What do you say? Do you want to just doodle all day or do you want to tell a story? 2. Why Make Comics?: Why make comics? I've loved comics since I was a little kid. It began with the way they looked, with all the crazy lines, shapes, and colors, bursting out from behind the little windows. When I got old enough to make my own, I loved how interactive they felt. It was like I was following my characters on their own little adventures. When I got older and became a teacher, I loved understanding how comics work. The way a series of panels needs the viewer to fill in spaces between, with there own imagination. The art of comics gets caught in the shadow of the popular phrase graphic novel. But at its very core, comics are just elements intentionally arranged in a space to resolve an idea. The potential outcomes of a work of comic art are as related to poetry and graphic design as they are to literature. If it's hard for you to believe in the power of comics as a form of art, take a look at this image for a few seconds. It's just some art shapes and art words, but I bet you are looking for a story. If you're with me, let's get down to work. 3. A Brief History of Diary Comics: A brief History of Modern Diary Comics. In 1998, Vermont cartoonist James Kolchalka, drew up four panel comic strip about himself as a cartoon efl talking about his new sketchbook. This was the first comic in his American Elf project. For the next 14 years, James drew a new comic everyday and posted it on his website. He ended up creating one of the funniest, heartbreaking and ridiculous works of cartoon art in history. Since then, countless other artists have jumped on the diary comic bandwagon, taking his basic four panel structure and sharing their own stories with anyone and everyone curious to know what goes on in an artist's strange, little mind. 4. Supplies: Supplies. There are countless ways to create an image. Some artists work digital, some work traditional, and some mix the two together. However you like to make art, let's make our diary comic with the basics, pencils, and paper. Any pencil is fine, and you'll probably want a handful of colored pencils too. Draw in your sketchbook or use some other basic paper, but make sure you have at least two sheets, one for your notes and sketches, and one for your final comic. 5. Pick Your Moments: Pick your moments. Any given day is filled with moments that might make for a good diary comic. You'll want to focus on a series of moments that seem fun to draw and are visually interesting, remember to keep it simple. Pick the moments for your comic, like you're picking outfit. You don't want to wear everything in your closet at once. You pick out a few special things that work well together. In my diary comic, I'm telling the story of my experience in the checkout line at a grocery store. I begin with a few notes that describe my experience. First, I unload my cart as efficiently as possible, hoping everything can fit into perfectly arranged grocery bags. Things seem to be going well as the items pass through the cashier's hands until they reach the bagger who destroys my perfect two bags system. I leave the store, my arms filled with half-empty bags. My system of efficiency utterly destroyed. I've got some rough ideas down on my notepaper, and then I'm going to move on to some thumbnail sketches. They're super loose drawings that only I need to know what they mean. 6. Developing Style: A lot of times the art of making comics is called cartooning. Before I get started on my finished version of my diary comic, I'm going to warm up my cartooning muscles a little bit. Despite the fact that the lines on a page don't move, cartooning is all about movement. I think of my line as a dancer. It needs to be energetic, confident. It needs to have purpose and emotion. It needs to have style. Style comes from experience and practice. Style is when all your influences, insecurities, eccentricities, and whatever else you have in your head, try to squeeze there way out through your sometimes uncooperative hand. Developing style isn't about finding perfection, it's about you learning to be you. Many young artists love to worry about consistency of style. Yes, it's important for a project to have a look. But a diary comic is about capturing moments in time, and time like style is a constantly changing thing. For example, here's a comic I did in 2007. Here's a comic I did in 2009. Here's a comic I did in 2012, and here's a comic I did in 2016. You can seen my style changing over time. As an artist, you should never be afraid to try something new. A diary comic is the perfect place to experiment. 7. Find Your Frames: Find Your Frames. With this project, we'll use the four panels structure of the American Elf diary comic. Remember, a panel isn't a box. It's a tool that influences the viewers point of view on your story. Framing is how you direct your comic. If you take a look at my finished comic here, you'll seen I've set the point of view behind the cashier, and my frames follow the groceries as they move down the conveyor belt. 8. Draw Some Lines: Draw some lines. You can make your diary comic using any style of art you're comfortable with. Your one responsibility is to make sure you're drawings speak clearly. Clean and simple lines work best. A good comic evokes an emotional response. Part of that comes from the story, but it also comes from the line work of the artist. Emotive lines come in all shapes and sizes. Wavy lines are peaceful, jagged lines are angry, chaotic lines are curly, and so on. Once you've drawn the characters and setting of your story, try using emotive lines abstractly to represent the moods and feelings of your comic. 9. Thoughts on Words: Thoughts on words. Just a few thoughts on using words. I believe in show, don't tell. We are what we do more than what we say. If you need words in your comic, use them with purpose and make sure to give them plenty of space to float inside your panel. In my comic, I use narration to give the reader a little more insight into my state of mind and I also used a few speech bubbles to enforce and flavor the character's actions. Whatever you do with your text, don't substitute drawings for words. You'll end up with a very boring looking comic. 10. Make it Flow: Make it flow. Many people think comics need to be all about big action moments. That's not true at all. You just have to hit the important beats of the story. Think of your comic like an equation. Moments need to add up to something. Let each panel build on the previous one. For example, in my diary comic, I unload my groceries efficiently, but the bagger packs them inefficiently, therefore, my plans are ruined. 11. Share Your Work!: Share your work. If you followed these steps honestly, you made some pretty honest art. You took a fleeting moment, something unobserved by anyone else and you made it exist. I think that's a pretty amazing thing to do. I think that diary comics are a form of art, and art is the document of the human experience. It's the story of us. It connects us with moments from the past, present, and future. I'd like to encourage you to share your work in the class project section so other people can share in your experience. Think of your diary comic as a friendly wave to a stranger that says, "We're all building this story together." My name's Ira Marcks. I hope you had fun. I'll see you next time.