Making Comics, Part 2: Learning from Others

As I said in Part 1: in preparing to get started making comics and to be ready to make the most of work in my “Comics Projects” course, I took a few self-paced online courses on human anatomy and inking comics. I also read through a number of books about making comics.

Aaron Blaise’s “How to Draw: Drawing Human Anatomy”

In November 2020, I started with Blaise’s 16-part video series “How to Draw: Drawing Human Anatomy.” Blaise walks the viewer through the subject starting with the skeletal structure, including comparing differences between male and female skeletal structure (e.g., the pelvis). Subsequent videos focus on different body parts, and Blaise does a good job attending to musculature. In each video he demonstrates what he’s talking about by drawing on a graphics tablet. I followed along in my sketchbook. Initially, I struggled a bit keeping up with Blaise, but after a while I got used to it. Sometimes he would adjust his images digitally when something went awry, and I couldn’t do that very easily. That was a bit frustrating, but overall I found the course worthwhile. I’ll definitely check out some of his other tutorials. They go on sale quite a bit, so if you are interested, then I would wait for a sale. In April 2020, I purchased a few courses including the anatomy one, “Fundamentals of Animation,” “How to Draw: Wolves, Coyotes & Foxes,” and “Digital Painting with Photoshop” for a dollar each: a fantastic deal.

Page from my sketchbook based on one of Blaise’s videos
Another sketchbook reflecting one of Blaise’s last videos on gestur

Jason Burbaker’s “Cognitive Drawing”

Brubaker’s course consists of a physical or digital workbook, and you can purchase access to the videos. The videos might also be available from YouTube. I purchased the digital bundle with the digital work book, videos that correspond to the activities in the workbook, and a bundle of 280 model poses. The materials focus on drawing the male form in a comic book/superhero style (re: muscular). I found the videos useless, so don’t waste your money on those. They’re basically videos of Brubaker reading the text from the workbook and completing the activity. I stopped watching them after day 4 or 5. The workbook is set up to be completed over 90 days. I condensed it into 30. Like Blaise, Brubaker breaks the anatomy up throughout the workbook, but he doesn’t explain muscle groups and things like that as Blaise does. There’s very little text in the workbook. However, Brubaker’s method is more highly structured than Blaise’s. He has you draw body parts multiple times. First, drawing from memory after taking a quick glance at a reference, and then drawing the body part while using the reference image(s). Most of the time, you’ll do these in 2 or 3 cycles. While Blaise helped me learn human anatomy better, Brubaker made me practice it….a lot. I won’t lie, condensing the 90-day workbook into 30 often felt tedious, but it did keeping me drawing figures (or more accurately body parts) for 30-60 minutes a day.

Sample page from Brubaker’s
“Cognitive Drawing” workbook
Sample page from Brubaker’s
“Cognitive Drawing” workbook
Sample page from Brubaker’s
“Cognitive Drawing” workbook

Justine Mara Andersen’s “Inking Basics”

In late December I started the self-paced, online version of Andersen’s “Inking Basics” course, which is offered through the Sequential Artists Workshop. This should not be confused withe face-to-face (f2f) courses or the online versions of these f2f courses being offered during the pandemic. I believe that this version is culled from part of one of these courses. This course mainly revolves around short video lectures and worksheets. I’m still finishing the course. I got a bit sidetracked as the course mainly deals with inking with a brush, specifically a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2, and I’ve never used a brush to ink. I’ve never used a brush for anything beyond art class assignments 30 years ago. The first assignment asks you to ink a drawing of The Fly with a brush. Instead, I inked one with fine liners and Isograph pens, one with a Hunt 102 nib and ink, and one with a brush an ink. The results are below. Overall, the course is very useful and maybe the most daunting of the online courses I’ve encountered so far.

Inking with fine liners and Isograph pens
Inking with nibs
Inking with a brush

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