-Well, time to gear up for class. As this will be a first foray into the world of comic-making for many of you the important thing to remember is that professional grade artists’ supplies can become very expensive and we’re not going to make you commit to that expense here. As long as you’ve got enough tools to not find yourself hindered from learning the process you should do just fine. There are a few really good art supply stores right near campus we can direct you to if you got further questions on the supplies. But here’s a list of some of the materials you’ll be working with.
First, the digital question. We’re going to be stressing the advantages of digital layout for comic-making in this course using what we believe is the simplest, most affordable program, Comic Life. There are other, more professional grade programs of course, but you won’t need them (and frankly, I don’t know how to use most of them myself). This program takes a lot of the drudgery out of page set-up, balloon placement and lettering. It is NOT a drawing program, but it does allow you to upload images into the frames to build a comic. With this program, and a very small amount of Photoshop knowledge, most all of the pre- and post-production side of professional comic-making can be managed a lot faster. If you’re working from a laptop (and these days who isn’t?) you’ll want to download this right away and start playing around.
(Comic Life does also come as an iPad app, but it won’t work for our purposes in building comics. It doesn’t allow the flexibility of design found in the fuller program, but people love using it to put comic-selfies on Instagram.)
Not all of you will choose to work digitally. And quite a bit of the homework will focus on building your confidence with drawing as we explore the visual language of comics. Here’s what you’ll need for that:
-A sketchbook. Seriously, this is a very important tool for exploring ideas and loosening your hand. Sketchbooks should be unlined and not fancy. Something you might want to keep but is small enough to be portable. No smaller than 6X9inches.
-Pencils. Standard No. 2’s are okay, but drawing pencils of HB or softer are best.
-Erasers. Pliable gum erasers are the tool of the trade, but Staedtler white erasers are also quite common and useful.
-Pigment pens. These are pens in which the ink won’t fade. I suggest the most popular brand, Micron, but there are others. All Black, please. You’ll need a fairly decent range of sizes; .03 to .08. At 1.0 they start becoming brushes for more fluid line and fill-in work, so you’ll want a couple of those as well (unless you’re going to try the inking option below).
-Bristol board. This is the standard finished surface for comics and illustration and it comes in numerous grades by many manufacturers. Some are even pre-lined for comics, but that can get pricey. We’ll have some samples on hand for the early weeks of class, but by the time you get to your final projects in week 7 you’ll need more.
-A ruler and an artists’ triangle. The ruler will also operate as a straight edge for drawing, so get one that has a blade or beveled edge. The triangle is pretty indispensable for lining things up, but you don’t need a big expensive model. We suggest a 7inch 30;60;90.
That’s the basics. Some of you may have a bit more experience with drawing or illustration and may want to stretch those muscles a bit and add to this list. I’m definitely willing to help you with that. If you’re interested in more professional grade inking materials, please take a look at Chapter 8 in your textbook Drawing Words & Writing Pictures. Brushes and inks can get pretty expensive and I’ll be happy to work with each of you directly to find something you are comfortable with.
Okay, let’s get started!