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How to Make a Comic or Graphic Novel when You Can’t Draw

All artists are critical of their own work. I am. You are too. We’re all guilty of uttering the phrase, “I can’t draw!” It’s a shame we use this phrase because what we really mean is, “I can’t draw as well as I’d like.”

For me, the desire to be a better illustrator often prevents me from moving forward with telling visual stories.  This is a problem. Here’s why.  If I hold off on telling visual stories until I can draw as well as I’d like, I’ll never tell a story. Not a single one.  The idea that someday we’ll be good enough to take on that comic strip, novel or children’s book is faulty because the truth is we’re  good enough now.  Yes, you are. The problem isn’t with ability its with expectation.

We assume that because we choose visual storytelling as our medium people expect the artwork to be amazing. This assumption is untrue and easily disproved. Take a look at a dozen indie comics or children’s books.  Can you draw half as good as the worst one in the pile? Of course you can. You don’t lack skill, you lack experience, perseverance, confidence and a commitment.

You’ll spend hours trying to find the secret to drawing a better horse when in reality you should just draw the horse you are currently able to draw. Sure, get some reference photos, consider changing the layout to hide your weak areas and promote your strengths, but just draw the horse you can draw. Committing to where you’re at now is a surefire way to get better. It’s also the only way you can stop thinking about your story and actually start making it.

I understand that your story is important and deserves amazing artwork. Trust me, I get it. But there’s also the possibility your story is too good to keep waiting.



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