Storyboard Sunday: Using comic book panels to tell your tale

Hi, lovely Messians! It’s Divyam here and I’m totally excited to share with you this tutorial for the Season of Story. I’m particularly excited about this season as I worked for many years as a live storyteller. I still consider myself a storyteller, weaving stories into everything I do, especially my art journaling.

In this tutorial, I am bringing my love for storytelling together with another passion of mine: comic book art. I’ve always loved reading comic books, so much so that I eventually became a cartoonist! I love the way each panel gives you an opportunity to focus on one small part of the story. All these moments can then work together to form a much bigger story.

The wonderful thing about comic book panels is that they are so simple. A panel is basically a shape. And yet, within the outline of that shape, a whole world can come to life.

Storyboard Sunday

To start with, make a list of stories you would like to tell. It could be the story of your day, or the story of your childhood. It could be the story of your journey as an artist or the story of a favourite ancestor. No story is too big or too small.

Choose one story from your list that feels ripe for the telling. Next, take some time to break your story down into smaller sections. These moments might be sequential in time, such as waking up, eating breakfast, and going for a walk. They can also be aspects of the same moment, such as rain falling, leaves crunching underfoot, the sound of a dog barking.

Include in your list, the mood and energy of some of these moments and any interesting sensory details – the taste of coffee, the smell of freshly cut grass, a favourite song playing on the radio. It can also be fun to jot down things people may have said. All these details can really help bring a scene to life.

Now we’re ready to create our comic book page! In this video, I am using liquid acrylics and black drawing pens. But you can use any materials you would like – collage, paint, doodles, scribbles would all work well. I would, however, suggest sticking to the same set of supplies across all your panels as this will allow them to work together to tell the story and will create a sense of cohesion across the page as a whole.

Storyboard Sunday

SUPPLIES

  • Paint – I am using liquid acrylics but watercolours and regular acrylics are great too
  • Brushes – a variety for making different marks
  • Black drawing pens – including a brush pen for making arty doodles. If you don’t have a brush pen you could also use a paintbrush with black paint or ink.
  • White gel pen – I love the Uniball Signo
  • Pencil and eraser

PROCESS

Draw a series of comic book panels across the page. Include different shapes and sizes – squares, triangles, circles, diagonal shapes. It can be fun to group panels of the same shape and size together. I like threes but any number of panels can be grouped together.

When you are happy with your layout, outline the panels in pen and erase the pencil.

Paint inside the panels with solid blocks of colour. Choose colours that suit the mood of that part of the story. Try to balance out the colours across the page.

Add depth and texture to your panels by adding a variety of marks. Handy tip: use paint colours close to the original colour so that it doesn’t get too busy or distracting.

Storyboard Sunday

Add some simple doodles. It can be a good idea to practice first so that you know what you want to include and where. I used a brush pen because I think it makes simple doodles look arty!

Add text using a variety of fonts: big bold lettering, small curly handwriting etc.

Look at the whole page and check that everything is clear and visible. Handy tip: dark pen on a dark background may need outlining in white. Chunky lettering may need filling out with black.

Storyboard Sunday

ACTION STEPS

  • Choose a story you would like to tell. It can be a story from your own life or from your imagination!
  • Create a series of panels across the page in a comic book style layout. Play around with different shapes and sizes.
  • Choose which ever mediums you feel drawn to and fill in your panels with colour, mark making, doodles and shapes.
  • Add some words to bring your story to life!

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I hope you have fun telling your stories in this comic book style. Please tag me when you post your pages. I can’t wait to see what you create!

DIVYAM

Divyam is a writer and cartoonist living in London. Her favourite part of of art journaling is that no matter what is going on, whatever mood she is in, she always feels so much better after doodling and throwing some paint around.

7 Comments

  1. Thea Marie

    This is so wonderful, can’t wait to try it!

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Thanks, Thea! I’m excited for you to try it too!! I can’t wait to see!!!

  2. Tanya E smith

    I loved this!

    • Divyam Bernstein

      How wonderful! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks, Tanya!

  3. Sasha Zinevych

    The cutest!

  4. Jill Holmes

    What a fun method to tell a story!