Mimi's Life on Mars by Maya LeMaitre

Maya LeMaitre

Comic artist and Author of

Mimi’s Life on Mars

Mimi's Life on Mars by Maya LeMaitre

Let’s Make a Comic! Part 2

May 21, 2021 | 0 comments

Hey Supernovans!

It’s Maya, and I’m back with more comic-making tips! Check out my previous post where I covered the beginning stages- creating a character, a setting, jotting down your ideas and writing some dialogue. Now that you know what your story is about, it’s time to get drawing.

Comic making

The process of drawing

Drawing is something that most of us do instinctively. When you’re young, you don’t really care about what it looks like. It’s all about holding the crayon and enjoying the feeling of moving it across the page.

When you grow up a little, sometimes you start to get frustrated with drawing or painting. Maybe it doesn’t look as realistic as you want it to, or you can’t get it to look like it did in your head.

I truly believe that everyone can draw, no matter how old you are, whether you believe it or not. Sure, it is a skill, like any other, and the more you practice, the more you will improve.

I don’t think wanting to draw realistically should stop you from expressing yourself. We have cameras for capturing reality!

Can you draw a stick figure and write some words? You can make a basic comic! Draw for you, draw to get those weird, wild ideas onto the page!

You will need:

• spare paper
• an eraser
• a ruler
• a pencil
• a pen

1. Pencilling

At this stage in my process I measure the panels and draw the comic on a rough piece of paper in pencil. I’d suggest using a piece of A4 printer paper for this and first drawing your comic in pencil.

Panels in comics can all measure the same, or be different sizes. Use a ruler to get the lines straight. You could use a set square if you want to be really precise, but it’s not necessary.

Pencilling a comic

2. Plan your panels

When you think about what will go in each panel it’s good to remember that written languages in South Africa read from left to right.

The action in the panels should reflect that. If someone picks up a ball in panel 1, they would be throwing it in panel 2, not the other way around- that’s confusing!

Example of action in a panel
Manga comics

Did you know? Japanese manga comics begin at the back of the book. This is because languages like Japanese and Mandarin read right to left. What appears to be the back is actually the front!

After I have drawn my comic in pencil, I will use my lightbox to trace it onto nicer paper that is thick enough for me to paint on.

The lightbox is a screen that is lit up from behind. It that allows me to place one piece of paper on top of another and trace over it, as the light shines through the paper. I do this to minimize the mistakes I might make on the better paper.

Pro Tip: If you’d like to try a DIY lightbox technique, you can place two sheets of paper against a window pane and trace a drawing from one piece of paper onto another. Or you can simply just draw over your pencil drawing with a pen.

Demonstration of the use of a lightbox

3. Word Balloons

There’s so much to say about word balloons, it could be an article on its own!

A word balloon, or speech bubble, contains what the speaker is saying and makes it easy to read. It will usually have a tail coming from the direction of the speaker’s mouth, with a round space for the text.

In addition to word balloons, there are thought bubbles (for thoughts), burst balloons (for shouting) and many sound effects in text form.

You can experiment with these different forms and try adding them to your comic page.

Examples of word balloons and text effects

4. Inking

Once I’ve pencilled my comic, the next stage is inking. I use an ink pen, but any pen is good- a ballpoint works nicely. Try not to erase the pencils immediately or the ink will smudge.

Ink pens

5. Colouring

After inking I colour the comic using watercolours. You can use crayons, khokis, pencil crayons- whatever you have- if you want to bring some colour into your work.

Watercolour paints and brushes

Did you know? Historically, comics were created in black and white as it was cheaper to print on a large scale. Today, full colour comics are a lot more common than they used to be.

6. Digital Tools

In the past, comics were drawn by hand. These days, some artists choose to make comics digitally.

They create their work using drawing tablets and computers. Neither way is better than the other. However, there are many of free or inexpensive art software programs you could try if you were curious.

I work by hand, but I also use technology to help me. I use a scanner to transfer my work to my computer. Later, I will use an editing program to fix any mistakes. I also use a program to add dialogue, word balloons and set up the comic to be added to Supernova.

Digital tools
Hooray! Now you’ve finished your first comic. What’s next? Will you turn it into a series? Create a whole universe of characters? There are so many possibilities.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this two part series on creating comics. I’ll be back soon with more comic-making tips and cool facts about Mars.

I’d love to see your creations, and if you want to send them to me, or you have any questions about making comics, you can email me at hello@mayalemaitre.com.

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