Be inspired by various comic strip and graphic novel artists to find your own style
The presence of as many comic styles as there are authors is a good sign. This means you can also start out in this field and share your stories. Even the most celebrated artists started their journey without knowing what they would tell and how they would do it.
Practicing non-stop was what made them stand out from the crowd and given them an identity. Also, be aware that every culture has its own way of telling stories. If you are a beginner, it is good to know as many styles as possible, from manga to humor, to made-for-social-media material.
To create your own comics, focus first on single strips and practice in this format. You will slowly build confidence and want to go bigger. This will be the ideal moment for jumping in to create a whole comic.
Do not underestimate the power of a strip. There’s a lot more to it than you can imagine. To prove it, we have provided a selection of 15 comic strips and graphic novels that will spur you to create your own.
1. Scenes with manga atmosphere, by Akimaro (@akimaro)
Illustrator and graphic designer Adriana De la Torre, also known as Akimaro, has always been fascinated by the manga universe, to the point of becoming an expert in this style. Her comic strips show complex concepts in a simple way and recreate atmospheric scenes. Another striking point is her characters’ ability to convey real emotions.
2. Japanese style in every stroke, by Andrea Jean (@andrea_jen)
These strips belong to the second installment of a manga entitled "Dream Walker," which Andrea Jean has illustrated. For her, emotions are everything in the characters she designs. She uses sequences full of action and movement to tell everyday situations in the most creative way possible.
Andrea Jen teaches the Domestika course Creation of Manga Characters, in which she shows you how to design and illustrate Japanese comics characters from the idea to their technical sheet.
3. Concepts illustrated with humor, by Raul Salazar (@raulsalazar)
Our current times are full of topics that you can use in your comic. Raul Salazar is inspired by the #WhatTheFluffChallenge viral activity on social media. It’s about faking a disappearance behind a sheet under the watchful eye of a pet. His exercises help you draw your critical thought and turn it into a creative resource.
In his course Graphic Humor for Beginners, the cartoonist from El Jueves, shows you how to ace graphic humor step by step. You will learn to create visual jokes about current affairs using a sharpened pencil and sarcasm.
As Thomas Rohlfs demonstrates with his work, you can focus on details even with a minimalist style. With simple lines and shapes and a basic color palette, you can portray realistic characters that jump off the page. When incorporating texts, decide the weight you will give it within the strip and consider if you want to highlight other elements.
You can apply all sorts of techniques in your strip. Comic illustrator and cartoonist Ariel Olivetti uses acrylics, watercolors, inks, and digital color. For the last 25 years, he has collaborated with MARVEL and DC Comics, publishing comics and illustrating superheroes.
6. Manga pencil drawings, by Eudetenis (@eudetenis)
All you need is a pencil to make a comic strip come true. In the world of manga comics, there are no limits to creativity, Giovana and Paulo, an award-winning creative duo better known as Eudetenis, are experts in working with this tool and adding movement and personality to their characters.
Rocío began posting her webcomic on her Instagram while working on her first book. Over time, she became so popular that she is currently working on developing a graphic novel with Penguin Random House publishers. All her images are made in Procreate. Comics can be a very powerful tool for connecting with your audience. If you’re intrigued, we suggest you start thinking about a creative concept and a script.
8. Comic strips with Manga Studio, by Ana Galvañ (@ana_galvan)
Plots, textures, and a lot of colors are the ingredients of Ana Galvañ's comics. In addition, she keeps the reader captivated through perfectly connected strips and a paced rhythm, maintained from beginning to end. The author received the Special Jury Prize at the III Creacómic Contest. Her stories have appeared in Mortland, Nobrow, Off Life, Clift, Ferocious Quarterly, Autsáider comics, Sunk Art Mag, and Tik Tok.
9. The visual language of the graphic novel, by Charles Glaubitz (@mrglaubitz)
Charles Glaubitz’s work reminds us that adding light and shadows in your drawings is crucial for achieving contrast and visual impact. The artist and comics creator (Once Upon a Time in Tijuana and Starseeds) explores the possibilities of his ideas in double spreads, playing with the narration and achieving fluidity between each scene.
You can learn his method in the course Narrative Techniques for Graphic Novels. With Charles, you will learn that all graphic novels and comics are based on a good story and a thoughtful and structured narrative.
Cartoonist María Luque’s style is fresh and realistic, and colors have a prominent role in her work. While her strips seem to have been created almost on the spot, in reality, there are many hours of work and a lot of dedication behind it.
In her course Creation and Development of Graphic Novels, she will teach you to control the creation and organization aspects these types of projects require. María Luque has published The Painter's Hand, Transparent House, and Painters News, for which she has received several international awards.
Making the reader laugh through one of his comics is the daily bread of Argentine cartoonist Ricardo Liniers Siri, better known as Liniers. With more than 17 years of experience illustrating daily cartoons, no one knows this art better than he does. Although this format is more complex than making a single drawing, you can attempt this for yourself with inspiration from his comic strips.
12. Drawing for the young ones, by Mariana Ruiz Johnson (@marianitarj)
A children's story will always take us to another universe, whether we are creating or reading one. To start in this discipline, illustrator Mariana Ruiz Johnson suggests you build scripts from your own life. It is also helpful to notice the relationship between images and words in an illustrated sequence.
If you know that the protagonist of your comic or graphic novel will be a woman, focus on her movement, balance, and expression in each panel. Gone are the days when women in comics were portrayed as mere battle or romantic partners. The new generation of female characters and superheroines is flooding the comic book universe, helped by incredible scripts and powerful imagery.
14. Personal experiences, with Miguel Gallardo (@gallardo)
A sketchbook and a pen are all you need to start gathering drawings for your comic strips. It’s about observing the world around you and noting relevant facts, then structuring the story clearly, using emotion and humor. That is Miguel Gallardo’s secret formula. The comic strip author has received a National Award for comics and a Grand Prize to his career at the Barcelona Comic Fair.
15. A fantasy world, by Gabriel Rodríguez (@gr_comics)
The starting point for a comic is to always have a good story. Without one, your execution loses power, and the audience's interest wanes. However, if you come up with a fantastic idea, you’ll only need to be carried away by your imagination to achieve results like the image below, a scene from the graphic novel ONYX by Gabriel Rodríguez. The comic book writer and artist also collaborates with Marvel and DC Comics.
What style did you like the most? Do you have a story to tell? Take your time to consider all these factors and keep looking for reference material. When you start illustrating your vignettes, however, don’t forget to add your own voice. If you need more information, check out all of Domestika's online comic courses.