Have you ever picked up a Marvel or DC comic and thought, “Will I ever be able to create my own masterpiece?” Well, the answer is you can. In fact, you can start drawing comics today, even if you’re a beginner to the art.
The first steps to take when drawing a comic are to craft the script, build the storyboard, and find the right software for your work. Afterwards, you can sketch the comic, add colours and incorporate speech bubbles. Then, finish up by reviewing your work.
We used these steps to create our viral Grown Ups comic series, and they’re easy enough to follow — whether you’re new to storyboarding or making comics from scratch. In this article, we’ll share a step-by-step guide on how to draw comics featuring real-life tips from Agnes E. Ekanem and Israel Obasola — both of whom are part of the PiggyVest’s Grown Ups team.
1. Craft the script
Comics are an excellent medium for storytelling — allowing you to combine art and narrative to captivate readers. But before creating your own Batman or Wolverine comic, you’ll need to start with the script.
The script is the foundation of any comic. It provides the story with structure and direction. It’s usually a detailed outline of what you want to say, a description of what you want the readers to see and other subtexts.
Creating a script for Grown Ups required more research into who the characters are and the rules of their world. This information provides context that our writers used to create compelling stories.
When brainstorming for an episode of Grown Ups, we usually outline everything we want to happen that pushes the core story forward. Then, we create a sequence — a chronological arrangement of panels — to get from point A to point B.
Within these sequences, we can flesh out our story with the following:
- Panel descriptions: Describe what’s happening in each panel, the setting (where it’s happening), and the characters’ actions.
- Dialogue: Write out the spoken words by characters.
- Captions and narration: Add any necessary text boxes that provide additional information or narration. Sound effects (SFX) are a good example.
You’ll notice that it includes dialogue and notes for our artist, Israel Obasola.
2. Build the storyboard
Once you have a script, it’s time to translate it into visuals through storyboarding. A storyboard is simply a series of drawings or sketches representing each panel of your comic.
Here’s how to build the storyboard for your comic:
- Start with the panel layout. Arrange the panels in a way that guides the reader through the story naturally.
- Add character placement and movement. Show where characters are positioned in each panel and how they move from one panel to the next.
- Include pacing and timing: Use the storyboard to establish the right pacing for your story, ensuring that the narrative flows smoothly.
Agnes says she usually storyboards on paper for PiggyComics because it’s easier to do a bunch of rough thumbnails that way.
However, you can use any software you’re comfortable with. Just create a simple border and get to work!
3. Find the right drawing software
Choosing the appropriate drawing software is crucial. In fact, this step can set the tone for the quality of your work. There are numerous options available — ranging from beginner-friendly apps to professional-grade software.
You should consider the following factors when selecting drawing software:
- User interface and ease of use: Opt for software you find intuitive and comfortable. We recommend trying multiple options to find the one that works for you.
- Features and tools: Ensure the software provides the necessary tools for sketching, line work, colouring and text editing. It’d be unnecessarily stressful (and expensive!) to use one application for your sketches and another to add colour to your work.
What’s next? Sketching!
4. Sketch the comic
With the script and storyboard as your guide and the drawing software of your choice in hand, it’s time to bring your comic to life through art. Don’t worry: there’s no need to panic. All you need to do is sketch and do some line work!
Here’s how it works:
- Sketching: Begin with rough sketches, outlining each panel’s characters, objects and backgrounds.
- Line Work: Now, refine your sketches — creating clean, well-defined lines that give structure to your characters and scenes.
Your work should look like this sketch from the fifth issue of Grown Ups.
Now, it’s time to add colour to your work.
5. Bring your comic to life by adding colours
Add colour to your comic, considering the mood and theme of your story. Use a colour palette that compliments the overall narrative.
For Grown Ups, Israel usually adds colours based on what Agnes writes in the script (that’s why your script needs to be top-notch and super descriptive). He also sometimes tweaks things a little to ensure the final work is fantastic.
Still, colouring can be pretty daunting — especially if you’re new to it. Remember how tricky it was in primary school fine arts?
But don’t fret. You can do it! Just keep at it until you create something beautiful.
You can also check out this guide from Creative Bloq for a crash course on colouring comics. Or you can just wing it and do what you like. That works, too!
6. Add text and speech bubbles
You’ll need to incorporate text and speech bubbles to complete your comic. This step combines your written script with the artwork to deliver a seamless reading experience. Don’t worry: it’s pretty easy to do!
Here’s how to add text and speech bubbles to your comic:
- Start with text placement. Insert the dialogue, narration, and captions in the appropriate panels. Ensure it complements the artwork and doesn’t obstruct critical details in your comic. Text placement should be decided at the storyboard stage.
- Insert speech bubbles. Draw speech bubbles around the dialogue, tailoring their shape and size to fit your characters’ emotions as well as the panel layout.
Your finished product should look like the panel below.
But wait — there’s more!
7. Review your work
If you followed the steps in this article, you’ve successfully navigated the process of creating a comic — from the initial script to the final touches. However, a good exercise is getting a second opinion on the comic.
If you have a team, ask for notes or feedback. This simple step can enhance your work and improve your readers’ experience.
For example, we sometimes update the dialogue in our comics to accommodate finished drawings. However, note that most things (especially the art) are set at this stage, so changes are restricted.
8. Publish your finished comic
Now your comic is ready for you to share with friends, followers and potential fans. If you want hard copies, you can print them out on plain paper, but that’s not durable (even though it looks incredible!).
If you want something long-lasting, we recommend contacting your local printing press and negotiating printing on any kind of surface (like on mugs, shirts or totes). Just like we did with Grown Ups!
But there’s another option: digital comics!
Of course, these captions may vary across platforms or be consistent. You’re in charge!
Handy tips for drawing your first comic
We wrote this article for beginners (although drawing pros can use it as a refresher), so it’s only fitting to close with some excellent tips you can apply when drawing your first comic.
Courtesy of Agnes and Israel, here are a few handy tips for drawing your first comic:
- Having a script is a necessity. It doesn’t have to be too rigid. As long as the artist understands what you’re going for, it works.
- It’s supposed to be bad. Your first, second or 100th comic may not look like what you want, but that’s good. It means there’s a chance to do better. Cut yourself some slack. Time and practice make art good.
- Read comics. It’s a great way to draw inspiration for your own work. You should read whatever you like and
- Draw every day! Draw even when you don’t feel like it. Draw on paper, on your phone, on your friend’s old jeans — even on your TV!
- Start writing your own stories. Exploring your own imagination is the best way to test yourself and bring out your inner Jack Kirby! And don’t be discouraged if your first ideas are a little wonky (even Stan Lee had an awkward phase).
- Start now. Don’t postpone or push it — draw your first comic today. In fact, Israel recommends you start drawing after you finish this article (maybe after checking out how you can save and invest with PiggyVest first, sha).
There you go!
Want to learn more drawing wisdom from these masters? Then check out the official PiggyVest podcast on our YouTube channel where Agnes and Israel share even more exclusives about Grown Ups!
That’s it for making a comic. Remember: practice and experimentation will help hone your comic-making skills. So, grab your pen and tablet and start bringing your stories to life in the captivating world of comics!
The articles on the PiggyVest Blog are developed by seasoned writers who use original sources like authoritative websites, news articles and academic journals to perform in-depth research. An experienced editor fact-checks every piece before it is published to ensure you are always reading accurate, up-to-date and balanced content.
- San Diego State University: Sound of Comics: Sound Effects
- Canva: How to build a storyboard
- Creative Bloq: How to colour comics