Cartoonin' For Beginerds- Lesson 3

Welcome to lesson 3, beginerds! Got your music on? Pen and pencil at the ready?
Good, let us make merry upon this barren parchment and cartoon! We start with the fun bit- the title panel. You should aim to spend about 80-90% of the overall time spent on the comic, drawing the title. If you're using more than a quarter of your time drawing the story, you are doing something wrong. With practice you will one day be drawing maybe 12 different title pages/panels that you will never use, for every 1 comic/strip that you actually finish- a fine ratio!
After some time (usually from 1 hour to a day or 2) you should have a dazzling title panel that you are happy with. Remember- the title is the attention-grabber, it's what makes the dumb reader wanna read your strip and that is why we spend so much time on it. See above, my title panel for 'Bad Bird'. I've packed it with all the luxurious, heavily inked detail that i could- what a comics maverick i am...and so too will you be!
Right, yours look great! Now just another quarter to a fifth of the comic-strip left to do. You're over the hump and heading down the home straight and if you followed my recommendation for aural accompaniment- you'll be in the fast lane too!
Let's pause for a moment. How many times did you have to screw up your half-inked title panels and start again? 3 times? Oh well- not too bad. 10 times? That's heavy-going. No times? Hmm, either-
  •  You are a natural cartoonin' genius.
  •  Your title is not at all cool- start again.
  •  You figured out something i neglected to tell you beforehand- you used the pencil!
One afternoon some laymen spied me laying down some rather hot pencilling- knocking out stylish roughs in the grid and suchlike. With eyes narrowed, one turned to the other and coldly murmured "So that's how they do it- pencils first".
Well done to those who did 'swing the lead' and to the rest...sometimes you gotta learn the hard way in cartoonin'- so from now on, pencil first unless you're some kinda comickaze pilot!
Right let's knock up a grid- 6 panels (3x2), 8 panels (4x2) or 12 panels (4x3) are all about right for a single page- you decide how many you need to tell your story.
Done it? Now i'll show you how to get going with these stories of ours:
  • Panel 1: An establishing shot, set the scene for your character. I've got my synopsis here and think i'll start in the thick of it so i commence mid-robbery.
  • Panel 2: Remember this is a 1 page story so don't hang about. I get the hell out of the bank for my 2nd panel and reveal 'Bad Bird'. Your character's got to do something here.
  • Panel 3 and so on: Depending how many panels in your grid, you will need to make some decisions now on pace. Use your synopsis and panels 1 and 2 to inform your crazy caper and continue cleverly crafting that cool comic, cartoonin' comrade! 
 This will be your homework assignment this week. I've seen what you can do and trust you to pencil the rest of the strip alone- just keep that music on! Stuck for an ending?
This cartoonin' game ain't just about hilarious punchlines- The shock twist and melancholic silent panel are but one more pair of cliche-skin boots that the experienced comics impresario can pull on and zip up when there is nothing else to wear! But you can't just go out with your boots on and nothin' else, remember- beginning, middle and end, Beginerds!


    Krent Able said...

    Sound advice! Though I wish you hadn't given away the top-secret pencil trick..

    Hurk said...

    Thanks Krent. This great knowledge has to be passed on to the humble beginerds and in some cases that will include some of the 9th art's best kept secrets!