20 brilliant tips for drawing comics

5 super-talented artists reveal how to draw comics for both illustrations and indie comics.


"If you’re interested in starting comics, then make it about something you love drawing. If you are a wizard at drawing foliage, then set your drawing in a jungle. If you love architecture, then your main character could be a building, roaming through cities.

"Ultimately, because you are working with sequences and creating something that happens over time, you will be drawing the same thing over and over, so you are already at an advantage if you incorporate your visual passions into the narrative."

Kristyna Baczynski (UK)

Image: A Measure of Space

"When starting a comic I’ll have a story in mind, which is usually based around a personal experience that is wrapped up in some fantastical premise. Character development, narrative plot points, key moments, environments and emotional landmarks start to develop alongside each other.

"From here I start selecting the best bits to redraw and begin sequencing the main moments. This could just be the finale, or another fragment that I work outwards from. Once the bare bones of the story are in place, I’ll write a page-by-page script that includes the editorial text as well as a description of the action, feelings and visuals."

Kristyna Baczynski (UK)

Image: Ink version of A Measure of Space


"I love colouring my comics. It’s the final part of the process for me and breathes life into the pages. I tend to use selective colour palettes, limited to one, two or three colours. Using colour as a narrative element can be very effective.

"In my recent comic ‘Vessel’ I used a simple blue-tone palette for the beginning of the story, to communicate stagnation and mundanity. As the adventure unfolds each new discovery is coded with a new splash of colour and this culminates in a page of rainbow-coloured artefacts collected together. So as the story progresses, so does the colour palette."

Kristyna Baczynski (UK)

Image: Vessel 

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"Always consider the reader when making comics. I tend to have lots of wordy dialogue or captions initially and then spend time taking away as much as possible to tell the story visually instead. I edit out text that explains the image, or images that simply illustrate the text - that’s just saying the same thing twice. When your drawings are communicating in harmony with your words, then your reader will be immersed in the panels."

Kristyna Baczynski (UK)

Image: Sketches for Vessel 


"For me, the thing that makes a great comic is that it has an idea at the heart of it. No amount of fancy drawing, speed lines or glowing, floating orbs is going to disguise the lack of an idea. The idea doesn’t need to be complex or profound, but it does have to communicate with the reader. Everything that you put on the page should push the story forward."

Dan Berry (UK)

Image: For the Lady


"Pay close attention to your use of typography as soon as you can in the planning stage. Typography tends to be one of the things that people think about last, but knowing early where the text will go and how much room it will take up will help you compose your panels more effectively as well as making it a more pleasant reading experience."

Dan Berry (UK)

Image: Vase

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"Try to be pretty loose and work on crappy paper with a biro - don't get too precious! Maybe check out some rough artwork from some already successful artists for inspiration."

George Heaven (UK)

Image: Sketch for Pet Hates 


"Choose a theme, a story or a strange or witty observation to base it on. This way of thinking is particularly useful when doing editorial work. Spend a bit of time doodling down different poses, angles and characters and think about stuff like frames, composition and what-not. Say something with your drawings - you will enjoy making it more."

George Heaven (UK)

Image: Pet Hates before colour


"Don't shy away from adding details – if you’re creating a single illustration you want people to look for longer so add little details like spots, scars, plasters, watches, glasses and things like that. It's all about bringing your work to life!"

George Heaven (UK)

Image: Pet Hates

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"If your artwork features speech bubbles and lettering, depending on your competence I would consider using the computer and adding that in the final stage. I have a bank of hand drawn speech bubbles to go to when I need them. I recommend doing this as if you muck one of them up you might end up making your original artwork look a bit messy!"

George Heaven (UK)

Image: Merry Christmas! 


"For composition I always use the same square grid panel. However I try to make sure the composition’s page works on its own. Each panel must participate to the whole image. I try to balance them out until I’m happy with the overall look of it.

"I’ll be very careful about shapes, black versus emptiness and placement of texture. I think it’s the most important part. This also helps to create abstraction within the narration. As a result, interpretation will differ a lot from a person to another."

Simon Landerein (UK)

Image: early Dots Comics piece


"I think the key to successful comic is the composition of the page and how the story keeps its flows. I like when you feel that the place to look at has been thought about. But I also like that the meaning of the story stays open to different interpretations. I feel that a good comic is all about balancing things out very carefully."

Simon Landrein (UK)

Image: early Dots Comics piece

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"Everything is drawn on Cintiq or Wacom in Photoshop. I just can’t stand moving bezier, I still love to hold a pen when making an illustration. Once the outline is done, I add black elements. I usually spend a bit of time to make sure that I’m happy with the contrast. Then I add the texture. Then I start using one colour , I might use another one if I like it but usually I stick with only one colour as I spend a lot of time balancing colours out."

Simon Landrein (UK)

Image: early Dots Comics piece


"Character design is quite important. I make sure each character is recognizable with just one of their traits / detail. I also use a lot of close-ups in my panel and that creates a sort of puzzle, it splits the story and the drawing itself. In that way I keep some consistency with the audience."

Simon Landrein (UK)

Image: early Dots Comics piece


"The idea is to leave hints and clues about what is going on. Some of my comics have a very obvious storylines some others are very abstract, but we will always find some similar visual elements."

Simon Landrein (UK)

Image: Dots Comics piece

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"Creating a comic is a bit like making a film. You have a limited number of frames to create an entire world. The best comics place you in the heart of a world (ordinary or fantastical) without giving over too much of their panel-space to scene-setting.

"They use colouring, framing and perspective to tell you the story, as much as dialogue and captioning. You don’t notice it’s happening, and when its really great, you just get swept along!"

Lizzy Stewart (UK) 

Image: Summer 96


"Vary the shapes and sizes of your panels as much as possible to allow characters to move up and down to get a suggestion of height and space."

Lizzy Stewart (UK) 

Image: Summer 96


"I think the writing is as important as the drawing. Even if your comic doesn’t have any words in it, writing out the story before you start drawing is essential. You should build a comic around narrative and not solely around the things you want to draw."

Lizzy Stewart (UK) 

Image: Summer 96

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"For me the difficulty with comics comes with pacing. I enjoy ‘setting the scene’ so am often inclined to spend too much time creating a setting and a mood and then I run out of room to tie the story up nicely.

"Its definitely a good idea to storyboard and to draft and re-draft your text . I think it helps to look at where events are placed within your story and to make sure there’s a bit of space around each one so that your reader has time to digest." 

Lizzy Stewart (UK) 

Image: Summer 96


"The phrase ‘kill your darlings’ gets thrown around a lot but it’s definitely worth cutting out surplus information in the first half (however pleasing it might be to draw) to ensure that the ending flows neatly.  It’s worth the extra time and focus."

Lizzy Stewart (UK) 

Image: Summer 96