Do you wanna make your own comic strip? I sure did, but it felt too overwhelming, and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. After all, how could I ever live up to the likes of that one guy who makes those hilarious alien comics? Talk about a tough act to follow!
Well, if you’re in the same boat, and could really use some help, this article is for you. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll have a good idea of the journey I took and you’ll be ready to take the same steps to make your own comic in less than a week. Let’s get started!
What you’ll need to make a comic strip
I should mention I’m not affiliated with or sponsored by anything mentioned in this article. Well, except for myself.
Get yourself a free trial. I’m not hawking one, but if you watch pretty much any artist on YouTube, they are. If only they’d tell you what classes are worth taking! Most don’t, but here’s one who does. Anyway, I had to comb through every comics class on Skillshare to find the classes that spoke to me. I’m going to share them with you:
- Turn YOU into a COMIC Character! taught by Ramona MacLean
- Using Improv to Fuel Your Comics by Ryan Hudson
Why these two classes? They’re both taught by qualified professionals who have experience doing what they’re teaching. Having someone with you every step of the way is powerful, so don’t go alone! The Ramona Maclean class is the workhorse here and guides you through the specific process I used, with small wins along the way to keep you going. It’s a near perfect class, and it’s entertaining to boot.
The Ryan Hudson class is a good backup that will help to turn yourself into a comic ideas generator, which is good if you’re feeling particularly stuck. He also includes a three panel comic strip template in his class.
These aren’t the most popular classes, but they are definitely gems that deserve more attention. The most popular classes belong to Sarah Andersen, who’s basically a mega brand at this point, so if you need more inspiration, look to her.
You don’t need much else of anything. I assume you have a pencil, some paper, maybe an ink pen, and a camera on your phone or something. You definitely don’t need a hoard of comic art supplies. Zach of Extra Fabulous Comics still uploads comics he’s drawn by hand pretty regularly, though he may be slightly editing them in a graphics program. Here’s one:
The journey through Ramona’s class
The very first thing you do with Ramona is decide on why and what you’re doing. It’s important, so don’t skip it.
Making your comic character
You have to pick three to six comic artists who inspire you. I chose these folks, but you can choose anyone whose work resonates with you.
Next, you have to copy some of their drawings, like this:
Congratulations! You now you have an idea of the way the characters you like are constructed. Next, throw those drawings in the trash (or just put them aside) and use your imagination to start drawing your own character.
Once you have the first version of yourself down, you can find some references of crazy poses and expressions. Try Pinterest or Google for those. When you’re ready, draw your character in those poses. (PS don’t mind me, I got carried away and was drawing two separate characters.)
Ta-da! You actually have a character. Pat yourself on the back, because the next part is the hard part!
Coming up with comic strip ideas
Look, you don’t have to create the perfect comic, you just have to deliver on your promise. Whether that was to make people laugh, think, or cry, just keep it in mind.
It’s time to decide on a structure for your comic strip. I suggest using three or four panels. I’m using three.
Start by doing rough sketches of potential comic strips, maybe about your week, a funny occurrence, or just some dumb gag you thought up. Just keep them super simple and do about ten.
One way to be funny is to set the comic up for a predictable outcome and then do something unexpected at the last moment. Exaggerating character emotions or actions and making the comic relatable are good bets too.
As for my sketches…LOL I destroyed those you’ll never find them!!!
Making your final comic:
You’re almost home. It’s time to pick your favorite rough sketch, clean it up, and redraw it. Here’s mine:
Ta-da! You did it, cry some tears of joy. You never thought you’d be a sexy comic artist, but here you are killing it!
Words of advice from a comic strip veteran
That’s right, I’m a veteran now…one whole comic strip deep into the game.
Anyhoo, if you’re serious about making your own comic, I highly suggest you take the actual class. Sure, you could try to piece it together from this article alone, but I don’t suggest that. I had to watch the videos multiple times to really get it, and to soak up all the inspiration Ramona was doling out. The class really does feel like a peppy one-on-one mentor-ship, and the power of that can’t be overstated. Plus there’s so much more advice and fun she brings to the table.
I guarantee, if you stick with her process, and tackle one step per day, you’ll have your very own original comic strip in less than a week. Now think of how great that will feel, go out, and get it done!
Thanks for reading, and if you need a kick in the pants feel free to connect.