How Do I Get Better At Making Comics?
Hi there Silverline Fam!
Last week we talked about what the craft of comics is (link). In the end, I teased about how you get better at the art of making comics. This week is going to be a bit more in-depth about how you get better at making comics. I’ll try to make this comprehensive but without going overboard. Don’t want to be dozing off or crossing your eyes halfway through. We’ll go over both free and paid routes to improve your craft.
Is There A School For Comics?
Almost surprisingly, the answer is yes! There are colleges and universities specifically for comic books are the different art forms used to make them. As far as attending an art university that specifically has degree programs or a course path for comics, some things need to be considered.
Art Schools and Speciality Schools are typically more expensive than a traditional universities.
They may also not have the same accreditation.
The degree they offer will be hyper-specific to comics or that art form.
That’s not to say that they don’t offer good information or that they won’t set you up for a career in comics. It just means you may need to be more conscious about managing your finances and student loans. You will also need to figure out how to leverage that knowledge for your day job. Starting full-time in comics happens to almost no one, so you will need to see how you can apply those skills to a different day job in the meantime. I know a lot of comic creators who work in marketing, copywriting, graphic design, education, or eSales because there is some carryover in the skill sets.
That all being said, you will probably receive the most focused education on comics available. It is likely that your instructors will have years of experience working in comics or may still be working in comics. If your educators are good, you will be receiving all the best wisdom and guidance their experience has taught them. They will also serve as professional connections that could get your work. Working comic creators and publishers are also aware of these schools and will sometimes recruit from them.
Can I Learn Comics At A State Or Community College?
If the cost of specialty is too prohibitive or there just isn’t any in your area, you can learn how to make comics through another school. If you’re pretty sure that college is the path for you, but not a specialty school, you can still take a major that sets you up for working in comics or even take electives that will improve your art or writing.
Degree programs in creative writing, English, or art are pretty common. A state or community college will likely offer one or all of these programs in your area. Some colleges do also offer Art for Comic Books as an elective the community college in my home city does.
While these programs may not be specifically tuned for making comics, the basic tenets of good writing and good art still apply. The adjustments you would need to make as a creator will either be to tune your dialogue for comics or to get used to creating sequential art.
Are There Online Courses For Comics?
Absolutely! There are plenty of online courses for those looking to pay for some sort of education but don’t want to begin a new college career. These courses can usually be completed in several weeks, and do in-depth on illustrating or writing for comic books. This means that the knowledge you pick up here will directly apply to comics without much adjusting. There are also courses for just writing or art if you are looking for a broader field of study that is still applicable. Some great courses exist out there and can be found at:
Lynda through LinkedIn
Masterclass.com (I recommend Neil Gaimen’s course)
How Do I Learn To Make Comics For Free?
If the money is something that is not feasible for you, or you just prefer self-study, there are free alternatives.
The first option is the most important method of improvement for anyone regardless of education. That is PRACTICE. You get better by doing. That’s a universal truth. You develop a taste by reading comics, and by creating comics you bring yourself more in line with your taste. You will never truly be as good as your taste, but you never get closer without practice. Of course, that also means you can’t get discouraged with your practice.
The second thing to look at is free resources online. Hey, that’s us (link). Free articles from professionals in the industry are a great way to ingest the knowledge they have to offer. These resources are typically more common among writers, but artists may have similar articles on their websites or deviant art page. Sometimes these are more general FAQs but they could also be a step-by-step “how do you do this?” type subject. Another type of free resource is Youtube videos. A lot of artists and letterers have free videos or series that go into the process of what they do or how to use a particular piece of software. If you are a visual learner and want to see how an artist does their type of illustration, this is a great path to go down.
Are There People To Help Me Make Comics?
In more ways than you probably think! A lot of comic artists or writers typically don’t take on mentees, but some do. You can also look to your peers. Once you start making comics, you can also lean on your editor and the rest of your team.
Sometimes comic pros will have a public email that they receive questions at. These are usually listed in their Instagram or Twitter bio, or on their website. They may not be looking to become your full-time mentor, but they may be more than willing to spend a couple of hours answering your questions on craft or practice. Just remember to be kind and respectful.
If you have peers in your area, or online that also write or create art, they can also be a resource. Practice is best paired with FEEDBACK. This could be a writing group, art collective, a constructive criticism messaging group or subreddit, etc. Make sure these are people you trust to help you elevate your work. Also, make sure you’re honest with yourself and know that you can take feedback without getting defensive. Be aware that sometimes you will receive bad feedback that you need to disregard. If you can do all that and can follow feedback earnestly, you will find your work might sometimes exceed your taste.
Lastly, is your editor. This relationship is something that will go into more depth later, as it is a more advanced subject. Once your craft is already at a point where you are getting comics work, you will likely be working with a project manager. If not in the title, at least someone that fills that role. This is the person who will help elevate your craft on this particular project. All the advice I gave earlier, applies doubly so to this particular dynamic.
I hope that all helps you find a path to help you get better at making comics. Whether through school, self-study or working with others, there are plenty of ways to learn how you can improve.
Who Are Silverline Comics
A bunch of nerds trying to give you some dope reads and take you on fun adventures through comics. If you want to catch up on what we have going on, follow our socials. If you want to hang out with us, check out our live shows on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.
Make Mine Silverline!