Time-lapse Video: Making of a Comic Panel

When I first started drawing, I was just using pen and paper. Now I have a tablet, a stylus pen, and Procreate, which has streamlined my work immensely. I can also do time-lapse videos of my work to show people the process of creating cartoons.

Take a look at one of my recent comics about my dog, Leeloo, and her inability to make decisions.

Creating Your Own Cartoon Character

TBTCartoon

Drawing by Heather Ledbetter

One of the hardest things to do when you want to create your own comic series is to come up with the character (or characters). The possibilities are endless, which means your journey is often going to be a long one to discover your perfect character design.

To begin, I recommend creating a folder or portfolio of characters that you love from popular cartoons, comic strips, and books. Ask yourself what features draw you to those characters? Is it the way the eyes are drawn, or is it the silly proportions? Start to compile a list of character styles that you enjoy looking at.

Next comes the sketchbook. Start drawing! Compile sketches of different feature combinations like big hands on skinny arms, small eyes set in a big head, realistic versus plain eyes. Doing a variety of combinations will help you start to eliminate the things that don’t work for you.

Once you come up with the basic concept for your character, start doing sketches of the character in different poses and positions. When drawing a comic you have to be able to give your character some amount of movement and expression, so practice creating movement and different angles of your character.

When you’re confident in your ability to “animate” your character, you can start doing the detail work. Smooth out your lines and decide on your final color palette. You can also decide on the environment your character will live in and how much effort you want to put into the surroundings.

Once your character comes to life, the only thing left to do is start telling their story!

Creating Comics

34686097_1313113698821367_4922289330195529728_oLately I’ve been focusing on creating more of my comics. I find that when I think too hard about it, I struggle to come up with content for my cartoons. I’m trying to balance creating illustrative comics for my book and just comics for the fun of it. I think focusing too much on the book illustrations will suck all the fun out of the process. I’m trying to temper fun with serious, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of work.

For kicks and giggles I sent a query letter and some of my work to a publisher in the off chance that it wont be thrown out immediately. Luckily I’m in no hurry to get a publisher, but I have to start somewhere. Worst case scenario is I self-publish. As long as my book gets out there so people can enjoy it, I’ll be happy.

I’ve thought about sending in some of my comic panels for syndication, but I need to do some grooming with those if I want to stand a chance at that happening. Illustrative comics that tell a story are different than your Sunday newspaper type comic panels. There should be solid characters and or a specific theme, like political or sports comic artists. Thanks to the internet though, many artists have an equal chance to get their stuff out there, even if it doesn’t follow the old school guidelines for syndication through a traditional publisher. You can create a website or use social media to get your work seen. A lot of self-made greatness is possible thanks to technology.