A comprehensive guide to creating and developing comic book and graphic novel art, from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), one of the world's leaders in sequential arts instruction.
Artists seeking a way to break into the exciting world of sequential art first need to master the tools, techniques, and habits used by their favorite pencillers, inkers, and digital artists for creating dynamic, exciting comic artwork. In Foundations for Comic Book Art, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)—a leading force in art and design education—enlists one of its top instructors, John Paul Lowe, to provide aspiring comic book makers with a thorough primer for creative comics, featuring must-know concepts like contour drawing, mastering perspective, using photo-reference, and adding digital patterns. Examples from the works of SCAD faculty, alumni, and students are paired with Lowe’s easy-to-follow, step-by-step lessons and exercises for readers, demonstrating the vital processes all would-be sequential artists have to know before joining the ranks of the comic book–making elite.
One of the saddest lessons
you will learn when you go to art school is that your art is not very good. One day in sophomore year you will look down at your Dali-inspired colored pencil drawing of anthropomorphic lizards, and you won’t be able to ignore it any longer. You’ll look up at your professor and see it in her eyes: she thinks you’re a bad artist. She thinks you’re a bad artist, and she doesn’t think you’re ever going to get better.
“Very creative,” she’ll say.
“Thanks,” you’ll say.
John Lowe thinks you can get better. In fact, he’s sure you can get better. He’s sure you can get good
This is what makes John Lowe a great teacher and an unusual one. If you are his student, he is interested in you and he is interested in your art. He finds out what your goals are, and he doesn’t let you forget them. He finds out what your comfort zone is, and he jabs and teases you out of it. He finds out what tools you’re used to using, and he doesn’t let you use them anymore. He finds out how much homework you’re used to doing, and he assigns twice as much. He takes artwork you were up all night working on and tells you to change everything. He tells you to change everything, and you squawk in disbelief, and John laughs and say, “Nothing’s precious.”
And it’s true: nothing you put on paper is precious. You have something else that’s precious, and it’s something John will find for you when you can’t find it yourself anymore. It’s why you started drawing in the first place. It’s in your hand, your eyes, your heart. Don’t lose it. Don’t let it get away.
SCAD Alumna Eleanor Davis a cartoonist and illustrator. She created the graphic novels
The Secret Science Alliance and
The Copycat Crook. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators and Print. She has won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor and the Russ Manning Award. Originally from Arizona, Davis now lives in Georgia.
Excerpted from Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe. Copyright © 2014 by John Paul Lowe. Excerpted by permission of Watson-Guptill, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
1. Anyone Can Draw
The Two D’s: Desire and Discipline
Exercise: Drawing Objects from Memory
2. Learning to See
Drawing Straight Lines
Exercise: Freehand Drawing
Exercise: Defining Volume through Line
Drawing Multiple Objects
3. Perspective Basics
How to Divide a Square
Creating Symmetrical Curves within
The Cube Method
4. The Figure
Exercise: Drawing Figures from Memory
Drawing Multiple Figures
5. Visual Problem Solving
Exercise: Composing Thumbnails
Using Photo Reference
Using Photoshop with Photographic Reference
Creating Blue Line Pages to Ink
Pen Inking Techniques
Exercise: Inking with a Pen Nib
Brush Inking Techniques
Exercise: Inking with a Brush
7. Advanced Inking Techniques
Using Unconventional Materials to Create Unique Textures
Masking an Illustration
X-Acto Knives and Straight Razors
Sponges, Toothbrushes, and Other Alternative Inking Tools
8. Software Applications in Comic Book Art
Creating a Grid in Photoshop
Using the Perspective Tool in Manga Studio
Using Manga Studio to Apply Screentone Patterns
About John Paul Lowe
JOHN PAUL LOWE began teaching at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2002. He has served as the school’s chair of the Sequential Art Department and as dean of the School of Communication Arts. In 2013, he happily returned to the classroom and his art studio. His career in comics began in 1991 with DC Comics. Lowe has also worked for Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Archie Comics, and Dark Horse Comics. Lowe is the creator of the award-winning annual Sequential Arts Anthology, and the author of Working Methods: Creators Detail their Storytelling and Artistic Processes.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
is a recognized leader in art and design education. SCAD’s talented faculty members are drawn from around the world and have exceptional credentials and valuable professional experience. Professors and alumni have worked for companies such as Marvel Comics and DC Comics, Walt Disney Company, Lucasfilm Ltd., Pixar, Electronic Arts, and many more. For more information on SCAD and its programs, visit www.scad.edu.