Introduction: Instructables, the Unknown Comix

First things first, the term comic is applied to illustrations that have some connection with the written word. You then have comic purists out there that will only include in that definition drawings or art of more than one panel. Sometimes the word cartoon is used in a loose interpretation which itself is more fitting of pictures without words. Same discussion holds for those arguing over manga and anime. Whatever your stance, either are fun to "read" and more fun to create.

This instructable is just to highlight what I go through to create a comic or cartoon - the general term I use -.

Use this as a guide to formulate your own style and maybe some of these ideas will encourage or help you create your own comic.

I am not a professional. I am a professional risk-taker. As with all art, art is subjective to personal taste and opinion. Like being a good or great comedian, you will need to pay your dues and every once in a while, get that "groan" or "snicker". Know how to take your lumps and enjoy the fame or infamy. To make one person laugh, you make the world laugh entire, not really. Throw it out there with wild abandon.

The ideas  presented here may or may not appear anywhere else. Just sayin' what's on my mind and from experience. Content has not been vetted by peer review.  It is an art, not a science.

( click on the little [i] icon in images to see the original larger size of the images )

Step 1: Any Bright Ideas?

Where does one get inspiration to do an ibles comic or cartoon?

Pick a subject or topic you like. Reading is fundamental. What would you like to talk about?

Well, Instructables is chock full of discussion and a treasure trove of useful and useless banter.

So, what is your point of view?

As an artist, or one posessing such superpowers and entrusted to making sure you use it  for evil for good.  

What thought stimulated the cerebral cortex?

Do you want to make a statement or poke fun at a situation or just poke fun at the characters - more on that later.

Satire or parody - more fun words. Can you twist the character's words?  Does anyone know the difference?

Do you want to put the characters in a unique situation, put them on the green-screen of life?

Step 2: He's a Character, Alright...

Who do you want to immortalize in print or digital form?

If you are "following" someone, you can sense the way they act, their movements... wait, get a feeling of what they are about.  What quirkyness makes them quirky?  Bone up on your profiler skillz or at least understand human nature.

Use this to develop the character's character, utimately for comic effect.

Is there someone famous that you want as your subject? is there someone that you need to incorporate into a comic as a reply or comment on Instructables?

Some characters you will recognize are:
His Ericness, The Big Cheese
Kiteman R U a Teacher?
NachoMahma Good old boy, and I mean old
kelseymh Nuck Nuck Nucklear physisist (some subatomic particle physicist or something)
Goodhart *sigh*
Tool Using Animal cognoscenti
Lithium Rain James Dean if he were female
CameronSS always high...flying air-row-planes
wait, there's more...victims of drive-by cartooning...

They lend themselves to being the butt-end of comics, like NachoMahma. he's a good egg about it.   Users with good avatars can be translated and animated into a comic form.

If you do not recognize the others, then you have not spent enough time on instructables.*sigh*. And you call yourself a true ibler.

Comics or cartoons are littered throughout instructables. They don't have the reply with cartoon button yet but i believe a prototype was abandoned after the Cold War and has not been further developed, as far as we know.

Step 3: Draw Upon Your Experiences

What have you done or would like to do?

What don't you like to do?

What have you been pushed into?

What are your hopes and fears?

No, this is not some psychological test.  Although, this is the best place for DIY analysis and get non-expert advice.

Formulate your attitude.

What kind of personality do you have?

Are you a skater, goth, k'nex'er, or weenie?

What stereotypes are you stereotypical of?

Is your noggin crammed full of useless trivia?

Do you watch too much TV, or play way too much video games?

Step 4: Humor

You have to develop your sense of humor, exported and imported versions of humour.

Know your memes, at least be able to research them to look hip.  Don't be a hipster.

What do you find funny? Did you grow up on or remember "Who's on first?"

Build up a good vocabulary.

Being able to spell correctly is essential. Only then can you use improper spelling as a counterpoint.

Recognize Binary numbers or any other mathematical expression or notation.

Know a few phrases of Klingon.

Practice good punmanship.  Puns are always good unless they are bad.

Do you have any favorite quotes?  Exact quotes or variations on quotes make for good material and words to live by.

Did you pay attention in high school English literature class? Does the name O Henry  ring a bell?
Like any good short story, it helps to have a twisted twist.

Step 5: The Stylistics

Please note that I am not the originator of the Instructables Robot.   Robot was drawn by Christian Anthony. Some background can be found here.

You can learn a lot from other comics.  

Hack other comics to make them more funnier.

Figure out how to draw.

Besides the technical aspects of use of color, light and shadow, media such as marker, pencil, charcoal, paint, line and block drawing. etc., what kind of emotion or mood does the drawing evoke?

There will be some that will be strong influences on your personal style.

My favorites have been Far Side, Dilbert, Simpsons, Spongebob, and the old classics Peanuts, etc.

I read comics as a kid. Like everyone else, I coulda been rich if my collection hadn't been tossed out.   Who knew they would be collectibles some day?

A lot of people are into Manga and Anime.  It has a cult following so there is an abundance of material out there to read up on.
I'll put in a plug for this young artiste yoyo13198 who I'm encouraging to put up more Manga drawings and maybe do a full instructable on them.  No, it's not the brat..

There is also the new breed of webcomics. Go ahead and spend an hour or two browsing. XKCD.  
It does seem to have a geekier edge and has its fans.

Browse through newspapers, magazines (gotta love that Wordless Workshop),  and coffee table books that never sell at the bookstore because they are so expensive.

Look anywhere for inspiration - anyone ever send in a drawing to that place listed on the back of a matchbook?

What do you see in the sardines in mustard sauce stains on Goodhart's shirt?

Aspire to be the Bach of comics, variations on a well-tempered theme. or you cold be MozArt, or the edgier Salieri in the shadow of others.

Step 6: Know Your Audience, the Art of Comic

Hey, I resemble that remark.

Some are wise, some are other wise.

What's the wavelength?

Is it safe yet?

Sometimes only .001 percent of your audience will ever get or understand what you are trying to say.

You will get criticism,  ??? or  constructive and non-constructive feeback.

If taken out of context, your comic may send out the wrong message.

So whatever motive you have in creating the comic, and whether is takes on any social, political or religious connotation, just make sure that you BE NICE, for the most part.

Step 7: Choose Your Weapon

So how do you go about putting ideas on paper?

Doodle and sketch with anything available.

If you are doing things the old school way, you might want to build a light box.  Use it to trace or just to overlay images to use as a guide for your drawing.

Know that there is a range of different types of pencils and pencil lead hardness. Same with different width markers, permanent or watercolor, color pencils, or other media.

There are so many different techniques to use in drawing.  

Learn about perspective, horizon lines and light sources.

Know about projections and scale.

There are many drawing programs available to use on the computer if you go the digital route.
GIMP is a free open-source Photoshop alternative.  Others use Inkscape or even Microsoft paint.

 You can get a digitizing pad to get greater control of mouse-like functions.

A scanner is a good way to get your original paper drawings into a digital format.  You can then use software to manipulate the image like filling in with matched colors from an original to remain consistent.  My early works were using color pencil to match the colors so hence the uneven shading but a more artistic look.

You can take a picture with a digital camera and then upload the image but you have to deal with lighting up the drawing correctly, and framing it nicely in the viewfinder for a steady shot.

If you cannot draw, you can always start off with arranging Paleo-dieters stick figures.

Step 8: Conceptual Conceptualization

While this is not an instructable on how to render a digital comic,  these are the steps to get you going.

Get an idea.

The following comics were based on actual conversations.  An XKCD comic was hacked to fit the conversation.

The first is Lithium Rain and Jayefuu.

The second is Lithium Rain and Killerjackalope.

The second pair of comics/cartoons were actually created separately.

The first was drawn as a topic illustration for number of instructables views a person received.  

The second drawing was in response to what was speculated from the first drawing.

Oh, back to you...

Make a storyboard or outline.

Edit and refine.

Use pencil draft the drawing.  Are you more a right side or left side of the brain kind of person.  I have more of a technical drawing hard line style unlike the fuzzier more sketchy artsy type of drawing.

Ink it in.

Voila! (pronounced vay-o-la not wah-la and you wave your hand like a beauty pageant winner)

That was easy.

Step 9: Just Do It!

Watch, rinse and repeat.

Go forth and draw...

Step 10: Parting Shots...

Making comics is a craft and a passion. It's just for fun.

Grow and learn.

i was pushed into the digital age by Lithium Rain, hence the many irreverent ibles that bear her username.  I was flamed for still doing comics the old-school way.

Maybe someday this will be out in an ebook, go pro today and download your pdf.

Which brings this rule into play, honor thy sponsor, and use spiffy product placement in your comics or ibles.

And people ask how come I am never in any of the comics? ....Somebody has to hold the pencil...

I look forward to others creating more spam comics. Post them below. Snarkiness is acceptable as long as it is constructive or funneh.

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