Tutorial Books

Why you need them

 

A comic book is a combination of visual art and storytelling; like so, learning how to create a comic book requires for one to study both of the above areas.

The reason I personally prefer reading tutorial books, instead of just watching tutorials online is because the people writing them have worked trough trial and error, and surely studied in one way or another, to provide all of this important information to you. This is even more true for books that are several decades old, when things weren't as easy and quick to be made (or to be learned) as they are today.

 

People like Andrew Loomis (1982-1959), whose content can only be found in books, are a true goldmine for artists of all levels. Loomis truly gets under the skin of things and thanks to the books he's left behind, he has been a great mentor and influence for countless artists and painters to this day.

Then there are people like Scott McCloud, Michael Mattesi and Joseph Gilland (among many others) who have worked countless hours in the industry of making comics or animation and have also written books to instruct others on how to improve their artistic skills. More specifically, Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art" (published in 1993) and  "Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels" (published in 2006) have completely changed the way I view comics and how I approach the art of making comics myself.

Finally, we have people like Jason Brubaker, who quit his good paying job at Dreamwork Animation in order to pursue the art of making comics... And as a successful indie comic creator, he has written books to help the rest of us who might not be able (or don't want to) join the big companies like Marvel and DC.

 

How creating your own comic is going to help you

 

 

An important note to make here is that you do NOT need to be a master of visual art before you start making your own comic! How many times have we come across badly drawn comics (this goes even more for indie and some Asian ones) but whose story was so compelling that we couldn’t stop reading?

Creating your own comics (and putting them online for people to read) is really going to help you in a variety of ways.

First and foremost, you will get physically better at your craft.

I know it may seem self-explanatory, but many people (me included) tend to believe that the act of reading tutorials or books on anatomy and storytelling and memorizing all that information is automatically making them "level up" when it comes to their skills. That's not actually true. Reading and knowing is not the same as applying and doing things yourself.

Secondly, it will grow your tolerance towards what people have to say (and you will learn to distinguish the actual critiques that will help you advance, from the trolls).

Not all people are out there to get us. I've read many comics with bad drawings but in only one out of the hundred did I see a negative (and downright insulting) comment referring to the creator's artistic skills. In time, you will learn to ignore the trolls and never take their hatred to heart. However if you truly wish to advance, you will also need to be open to people who want to genuinely help you in getting better at what you do. Uploading your comic in comic platforms and sharing it for the world to see, joining groups in various social media and asking for critiques and advice is always the best way to go. In that way, you will also increase your emotional intelligence (in other words, learn to recognize and understand your emotions and the emotions of others, and learn to control your reactions towards certain people and situations) with result making you a better person overall!

Thirdly, it will increase your self-confidence, as well as your persistence and self-discipline.

They say that if you do the hardest thing, first thing in the morning, then the other activities you will have to do for the rest of the day will seem extremely easy, and you will be able to complete them with much more confidence. The same goes for creating your own comic and publishing it online - especially if you are introverted, lack self-confidence or have difficulty trusting in yourself. The human mind truly knows no limits; all you have to do is to just take the first step. As a Chinese proverb says "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

So, having the self-defeated attitude out of the way, let's get down to business!

For the absolute beginners on human anatomy, I have two books to suggest in this order:

1. Atlas of Human Anatomy [where you learn the skeleton and the bone structure]

2. Figure Drawing: Design and Invention [where you learn figure drawing, as well as the muscles that lie on top of the bone structure]

For an easy and quick access, here are some tag words you can use to find what you're looking for. All images are clickable links to Amazon, where you can buy these books.

The following (and the above) contain affiliate links.

Tags: anatomy, animals, animation, career in comics, cartoons, comics, composition, environment, perspective, storytelling

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This book is simply superb for learning about the muscles of the human body and how these are activated while the body is in motion! Overall, Strength Training Anatomy explains how the human body works while performing certain weight training exercises. The human body is drawn without the skin (especially for the muscles that are being exercised in each exercise, which are colored in red) and although this book was not really made “for the artist”, the drawings are extremely good, and it can be a great reference material for your characters. Moreover, if you actually create superhero comics, this book will be more than useful to you when your hero is under pressure (while holding an entire house above his head) or when he/she is trying to protect a civilian or a loved one from the villain (while using his/her skills and movements that are putting pressure in their entire body). Greatly recommended for understanding how the muscles work!

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Force: Dynamic Life Drawing

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Force: Character Design from Life Drawing

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Force: Animal Drawing: Animal locomotion and design concepts for animators

The entire “Force” series is a true masterpiece for animators! Michael Mattesi, the author of this series, has collaborated with Pixar, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Walt Disney Consumer Products, Marvel Comics, Dreamworks/DPI, Nickelodeon and many others, with result having lots of years experience in places with great specialty in the animation department. The “Force” series is basically a guide in the understanding of any creature’s “aliveness”, shown through lines that combine the creature’s anatomy to the pull of the gravitational force.

The first two books focus on the human form, while the third one focuses on animals.

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The Art of Drawing People

This book is simply amazing for learning how to draw people – and even more so to create portraits! The information written in it varies from the anatomy of the human body, to perspective and foreshortening, and of course to the basics of depicting realistic hair/facial hair, eyes, mouth, drawing different sexes and ages, and so forth. Written with simple words and combined with many drawings, this book is easy to read and really useful if you want to learn the art of drawing people!

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Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation

This book is another excellent book for animators – especially beginners, but also for the ones who wish to find a way to make their drawing process quicker!  It is a quick read with simple instructions and it covers things from basic shapes of the human body to perspective, to how balance/weight/force works and how these affect your animations. This book has all the basic information you will need for a great start in your animation journey!

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Animal Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form

This is a great book for drawing animals as it gets to the bottom on how to draw the skeleton of the animal and the muscles above it! There may not be information about drawing the skin or fur, but just like with drawing humans, an understanding of the skeleton structure and of anatomy is essential before learning how to draw the skin and wrinkles. This book covers a vast variety of animals, even of certain birds and from wild animals to our everyday friends of dogs and cats.

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Cartooning: Character Design

If you want to create cartoony (bean-style, from Mickey Mouse to Flintstones) characters, then this book is perfect for you! Starting with the tools of trade you will need (with lovely and comical cartoony illustrations decorating each page) and moving on to understanding shapes and how these will give form to your characters, this book covers everything, from facial features and expressions to action poses, to body language and even to dressing your characters up and using props (drawing items in cartoony form). The differences in the shapes of males and females as well as the age differences and so much more! This book is definitely a must for any cartoony (or aspiring to be one) artist out there!

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The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium

This book is excellent for comic creators or artists and illustrators as a whole! Although it does cover the basics about perspective, it also has information that is more advanced, and I wouldn’t really suggest to the absolute beginner. However, this book isn’t only limited to perspective, but also has a lot of colored paintings and short descriptions underneath each picture, explaining some basic things on why some certain colors were used. There is also information on how to draw in various mediums, and some more details about shading and certain techniques to give your drawings depth.

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Elemental Magic, Volume I: The Art of Special Effects Animation

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Volume II: The Technique of Special Effects Animation

These two books are absolutely great for 2D animators! Joseph Gilland, the author of these books and a Disney veteran, in the first book, has broken down effects into four categories (water/liquids, fire/smoke, props/solid objects and magical effects) and instructs the readers on how to realistically animate them. This book doesn’t really guide you on “how to draw” each element, but rather, it teaches you how to understand how each element work, hence you can create on your own a variety of effects for your own elements.

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Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels

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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

I cannot help but review these two books interchangeably, for I have found they can both be used to make someone a better comic book creator! Scott McCloud, the author of these two comics, has worked at DC and has been studying comic books since 1984. These two comics contain a vast variety of information about comics – and not just about the typical anatomy-perspective kind of information, but actual “philosophical” information (or rather, a more mental way of looking at comics) which can both influence and inspire the way someone creates their comic. These books are greatly recommended for both beginners and experienced comic creators, and especially for people who like to look at comics more deeply than they ever thought it’s possible!

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Anatomy for the Artist

“Anatomy for the Artist” by Sarah Simbet has a vast variety of photographs you can use as a resource for your own artistic needs. With images of the skeleton and the muscles above it, and even more photographs of people standing (or sitting, or lying down) in various poses, this book is excellent for understanding how muscles work beneath the skin and the differences between male and female bodies.

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