An Eisner Award NomineeDrawing Words and Writing Pictures is a course on comic creation—for the classroom or for independent study—that centers on storytelling and concludes with making a finished comic. With chapters on lettering, story structure, and panel layout, the fifteen lessons offered—each complete with homework, extra credit activities and supplementary reading suggestions—provide a solid introduction for people interested in making their own comics. Additional resources, lessons, and after-class help are available on the accompanying website, www.dw-wp.com.
A Message for Educators from Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
The medium of comics—by which we mean graphic novels, Japanese manga, webcomics, and traditional pamphlets and strips—has taken many departments by storm in recent years, showing up on not only English syllabi, but in subjects from physics to medical ethics to political science. But many teachers, sensing that there’s more there than merely an illustrated story, struggle with how to frame classroom discussion around this sophisticated medium.
We designed Drawing Words & Writing Pictures as a friendly but sophisticated textbook that covers all the fundamentals of making comics but which also functions as a multi-faceted resource for all kinds of teachers.
With 15 chapters to mirror 15 semester weeks, we break up the process of first understanding, and then creating, graphic narratives on any subject. We cover technical issues such as layout and inking, but also subtle conceptual ideas such as pictorial composition and the uses and powers of juxtaposition (between words and images or between one image and another). It’s an essential tool for anyone teaching comics in an art department. What might surprise you is what other uses to which it can be put.
DWWP can help you get a handle on how comics work and what makes it such an effective storytelling tool. Read the first four chapters of DWWP and do a few low-drawing quotient activities in class (such as “Sum of Its Parts,” where you juxtapose a found image with three separate words) and you will prepare students to decode comics, understanding the complex interaction of words, images, and design that make comics such a compelling and rich medium. For more ideas, visit our website: http://www.dw-wp.com.
Table of Contents PREFACE The tsunami of comics: coming to a town near you Comics education: the time is now Enter Drawing Words & Writing Pictures A note on the title Acknowledgments INTRODUCTION Who is this book for? Sidebar: Forming a Nomad group Organization of the book Special features Companion website for students and instructors 1. BUILDING BLOCKS—A working definition of comics, with an introduction to the most frequently used comics terms.1.1 Know 'em when you see 'emDefining "comics" Will Eisner Scott McCloud David Kunzle What we talk about when we talk about comicsSidebar: What's in a name?1.2 Comics terminologyFrequently used terms Sidebar: Emanata Sidebar: Can't Draw? Read thisActivity: Drawing timeHomework: Drawing in actionExtra credit: Directed jam comic2. EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY—A look at the single-panel comic and how it works.2.1 Word and imageThe juxtaposition of word and image The single-panel comic A closer look: Cartoons and beyond Activity: Gag reflex Sidebar: Putting pen to paperHomework: Gag me Extra credit: Sum of its parts3. THE STRIP CLUB—A discussion of how multi-panel strips work to tell simple stories, plus an overview of thumbnails. 3.1 A comic a day Creating a comic strip Variations in rhythm and pacing A closer look: Three strips in action Bud Fisher's Mud and Jeff Roy Crane's Wash Tubbs Tony Millionaire's Maakies Activity: The wrong planet 3.2 Thumbnails Writing pictures Creating thumbnails Homework: Strip it down Extra Credit: How to read Nancy 4. BRIDGING THE GAP—An introduction to what goes on between comics panels—in other words, panel transitions. 4.1 Reading between the lines Transitions and closure Seven types of panel transitions Activity: Comic Jumble Homework: Closure Comics Extra credit: Five-card Nancy 5. PENCILING—An investigation of the pitfalls and strategies of penciling comics, plus a brief look at the basics of drawing the human figure. 5.1 Penciling comics Ladies and gentlemen, sharpen your pencils! Penciling pitfalls Penciling strategies Blue Pencil Colored pencil Map it Photocopying or scanning up thumbs Drawing outside the box Preparatory drawings Tracing Sidebar: Penciling toolbox Sidebar: A master cartoonist's penciling method Activity: Pencil one panel three different ways 5.2 Figuring out the figure 1: sticking to the basics Using "figurettes" Homework: Penciling Extra credit: Practice drawing figurettes Extra credit: Drawing figurettes by tracing photos 6. GETTING ON THE SAME PAGE—An examination of one-page comics and composition at the page level, plus a tutorial in laying out pages, tiers, and panels. 6.1 Elbow room The one-pager A closer look: Two masters of the Sunday page Segar: The page as story Herriman: The page as design Elements of page design The grind More approaches to page design Reading order Title design 6.2 Laying out pages, tiers, and panels Laying out a page Live area Inside the live area Original art size Page ratio Gutters Tiers Activity: Lay out your live area Homework: "A month of Sundays" thumbnails Extra credit: Comic book book report: Sunday page 7. LETTERING—A focus on lettering, both as an art form and as a technical skill, plus a lesson on using the photocopier effectively. 7.1 Hand lettering Drawing words Lettering is not handwriting What's with the antique technology? A case for upper- and lower-case lettering Lettering styles Other lettering concerns Welcome to Ames Activity: Make lettering guidelines and practice lettering Sidebar: Making word balloons Activity: A comic with no pictures 7.2 The photocopier The good, the bad, and the ugly Sidebar: Ruling a straight line: some tools that will help Homework: "A month of Sundays" penciling and lettering Extra credit: Lettering that speaks for itself 8. INKING THE DEAL—A look at inking with a nib pen, and making corrections to final artwork. 8.1 Inking with a nib pen What is inking for? What's a nib pen? Why nib pens? Selecting a nib Two basic kinds of nibs Bowl-pointed nibs The thumbnail test Nib characteristics Buying nib sets Handling a nib pen Drawing with a nib pen Troubleshooting nibs Sidebar: Inking tools Sidebar: A word on posture Activity: Ink your own drawings with a nib 8.2 Making corrections Basic corrections Major corrections: Tracing and pasting Tracing Pasting Sidebar: Making your corrections stick Homework: "A month of Sundays" inking Sidebar: More nib examples in this book Extra credit: Line for line 9. STRUCTURING STORY—An introduction to the narrative arc, the most fundamental type of story structure. 9.1 The narrative arc Uncovering story structure: Jessica's tale The narrative arc Why so traditional? Why conflict? Other narrative structures 9.2 The elements of a narrative arc The five essential ingredients 1. The protagonist 2. The spark 3. The escalation 4. The climax 5. The denouement The narrative arc: constructing a story worth the telling The five ingredients in action: Cinderella Activity: Analyze this Activity: TV writer make believe Homework: Thumbnails for a six-page story with a narrative arc Extra credit: Thumbnail a three-page Chip and the Cookie Jar comic 10. GETTING INTO CHARACTER—A discussion of character types and motivations. 10.1 Developing your character Which comes first—the character or the story? What is a character? Character types Archetypal characters Naturalistic characters Intermediate characters Character motivation Conflict Sidebar: Using drawing to help develop characters The antagonist Show, don't tell Activity: Play your cards right Homework: Character pin-ups for your short story Homework: Finish your short story thumbs Extra credit: Character mash-up 11. SETTING THE STAGE—A discussion of some of the many aspects of composition at the panel level, and a tutorial on title design. 11.1 Panel design Building a better panel Panel problem solving: Four basic considerations Framing Blocking Acting Mise-en-scène 60 panels that just might work A few notes on the panels Sidebar: Film terminology and comics Panel composition Asymmetry Tonal balance Diagonals Reading path Highlighting Internal framing Visual rhythm Negative space Silhouetting Depth of field Activity: Rethinking composition 11.2 Titles The importance of title design Planning your title design Laying out and inking your title design Sketch Placement and composition Letter measurement and drawing guidelines Penciling Double-checking Inking straight letters Inking curved letters Touch-ups and corrections Sidebar: Type terminology Activity: Plan, lay out, and ink a title design for your six-page comic Homework: Revise your six-page story thumbs and start penciling Extra credit: Draw a folk tale 12. CONSTRUCTING A WORLD—A focus on creating a believable comics world, plus a brief look at drawing heads and hands. 12.1 Creating a sense of place The importance of backgrounds Approaches to world-building Drawing from life Sidebar: Drawing specifics Using photo reference Sidebar: Things to keep in mind when drawing from photos Researching the real world Inventing realities Perspective Using your imagination Activity: No time like the present 12.2 Figuring out the figure 2: heads and hands Heads and hands Facial measurements Variation Rotation Notes on drawing heads and facial expressions Drawing hands Heads and hands in action Activity: The head's in your hands Homework: Continue penciling your six-page story Extra credit: On-location comics 13. BLACK GOLD—A lesson in inking with the brush, including techniques for softening blacks. 13.1 The liquid line Introduction to inking with a brush Basic brush handling Charging your brush Holding your brush Checking your ink Checking your brush quality Practicing your technique Don't "pencil" with ink Sidebar: Know your brushes Sidebar: Buying, protecting, and cleaning a brush 13.2 Softening the black Techniques for softening blacks Feathering Using dry brush Inking a panel from start to finish Pencil Linework Finish inking Corrections Scanning 13.3 Notes on using a brush Lines, spotting blacks, and other techniques Sidebar: More examples of brush inking Activity: Ink a panel in brush Homework: Finish pencils of your six-page story and begin inking Extra credit: Line for line II 14. COMICS IN THE AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION—An introduction to reproducing comics using a scanner and sizing artwork using a proportion wheel. 14.1 Producing reproductions Scanning your art Step 1: Plan ahead Step 2: Scan Step 3: Save Step 4: Combine segments Step 5: Size image Step 6: Adjust the threshold level Step 7: Make Photoshop® corrections Sidebar: What is anti-aliasing? Step 8: Convert to bitmap Sidebar: Print history: film and "non-photo blue" 14.2 Olde-styley tools again Using the proportion wheel Sizing down and sizing up Sizing down Sizing up Activity: Try the proportion wheel Homework: Finish inking, make corrections, and reproduce your six-page comic Extra credit: "It was an accident" 15. 24-HOUR COMIC—A final fun challenge to wrap up the book using all of the skills you've learned. 15.1 Marathon cartooning The 24-hour comic Activity: 24-hour comic (or 3-hour comic) 15.2 Onward and upward The end (but also the beginning) APPENDICES A: Supplies B: Homework critiques C: Story cards D: Comic book book report E: Making minicomics BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX