Monday, March 6, 2017

Paolo Rivera's 10 Rules

1. Don't draw, sculpt. No, seriously. All your favorite superhero artists are also great sculptors — it's just that their final artwork is limited to one point of view.

2. Storytelling involves 2 major stages for me:
What does your character know, how do they feel?
What should your reader know, how should they feel?

3. I'm not a writer, but I am trying to be. My favorite nuts and bolt technique (especially when I'm stuck) is not to write, but to ask questions. I feel no pressure asking questions, but the process of answering them often solves larger problems.

4. Composition: Watch your tangents! You should still be able to read your panels from far away, or as a tiny icon on a computer.

5. Composition trumps perspective, Gesture trumps anatomy. (But you should still learn both).

6. Don't make a to-do list, have a calendar where you block out activities. Email and social media too. And keep track of your hours, even if it's depressing.

7. Use models and reference. If you don't know what something looks like, your reader can sense it. If you do, they won't even notice. Be knowledgeable, but invisible.

8. Writers: avoid stage directions. Concentrate on motive, dialogue, emotional beats. Weird, unexpected things happen when you start to put characters on a stage. It can be difficult to predict, so let the penciler handle the logistics.

9. Start small. If you want to paint comics, draw one first. If you want to draw a graphic novel, draw an 8-page story first.

10. Throw crap at the wall. See what sticks. Clean up the mess.

You can view Paolo Rivera's work at:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Matt Kindt's 10 Rules

1. Write what you know.

2. Constantly be learning new things. This way you can write about more than you know right now. Listen to people. Ask questions. My best conversations I’ve ever had were with a friend that would constantly ask questions. Nothing was off limits. As a result, he has a data bank of the most interesting stories of any living person I know.

3. Stop trying to perfect it. It won’t be perfect. You’ll be able to draw or write it even better ten minutes from now, tomorrow, a year from now. Forever. What you create in this moment is just an artifact of who you were at that moment in time. Don’t hate your old work because it’s bad. Love it as proof that you’re improving. You’re better now than you were then.

4. Inking. If it even crosses your mind that a page or panel needs a darker or bigger shadow or more blacks spotted – it does. Don’t be lazy!

5. Don’t describe your story idea to someone. Let the finished story tell it.

6. Movement and production. The two words my printmaking instructor Leon Hicks, at Webster University, said over and over again. Keep making work. It’s how Jack Kirby made his career. Ideas and art spawn more ideas and art.

7. Get an honest critique. Find one person in your life that will give you the honest hard truth about everything you do. True honest feedback is like gold.

8. Be honest with yourself. Look at your own work critically. Don’t be down on yourself. Stay optimistic, but try to recognize your own weaknesses so you can address them. If you hate drawing hands, there’s probably a reason. Spend an entire sketchbook.

9. Amazing art can’t fix a bad story. But a good story can fix mediocre art.

10. Read, Research, and Refine. Read everything. Only good comes from reading comics and books. Constantly be studying the process of other artists, writers, directors – everyone. Always be looking at your process for ways to refine things. Adopt advice and try it out. Take some and leave some.

You can view Matt Kindt's work at:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bill Griffith's 10 Rules

1. Cartoon Characters have souls.

2. As Freud meant to say: "every cartoon character you create is you."

3. You're the auteur of your comic. You write, cast, light, film, direct and have final cut.

4. Each panel, strip, page and spread is a graphic unit. Compose them that way.

5. Comics are equal parts drawing and writing. With writing being a bit more equal.

6. Ambiguity is OK. Ask the reader to meet you halfway.

7. Don't just look at comics for inspiration. Stare at Hopper, Rembrandt, Magritte, Durer, Hiroshige and Marsh.

8. It isn't necessary to completely write out your strip or story in advance. Let the characters speak to you.

9. While you work, take breaks to stretch your neck and upper back.

10. Never listen to anyone else's advice on cartooning.

You can view Bill Griffith's work at:

Ben Granoff's 10 Rules

(When I say "you" -- that's just me talking to myself.)

1. Know your process. It'll help you create images you like with efficiency and consistency. One process per project.

2. Adjust your process. You'll build a bigger, better toolbox to draw from by playing with different approaches.

3. Find the drawing gestures you want to make and make them. Your muscle memory will build and expand its own visual language and style. Make curly-cues and shark-teeth as often as possible.

4. Find the good stuff and study. Who's on your Mount Rushmore of comics? Figure it out, tear it down, build a new one. Never meet your heroes. Obviously, read more than comics and fiction. Get over the crippling social anxiety that made you a cartoonist in the first place and mix it up with reality...maybe later? Maybe later. At the same time, comics is your medium of choice for a reason--read as many kinds of comics as you can and build a reference file--mine's on tumblr:

5. Contrast devices against grids. If every layout-move you make is a special effect then nothing is really special. Only Sam Kieth can get away with this kind of thing and you're no Sam Kieth. Grids and right-angle-centric layouts are great for setting the meter; once you do that you can break the meter with soooommmettthiiiinnng craaaazzzzyyyy.

6. Use the tools you want to use. Pencil and crayon? Pudding and dirt? I knew a guy who drew a book in his own blood! It was disgusting! Go for it, Rembrandt. You're the man now, dawg.

7. Balloons and text are a part of compositions. You're gonna waste a lot of time and good compositions by shoehorning text into images if you don't plan accordingly.

8. Letter first, balloon around. Squashed lettering is strictly amateur-hour...but I still did it a few times in my new book.

9. Edit text to accommodate acting. If the speaker you've drawn isn't saying the words you've written then redraw that face or change that text. Unless your character is a ventriloquist then their mouth should be open when they speak.

10. Image/text balance. If you have a ton of text in a panel then you need to pair it with either a simple image of the speakers (like a silhouette) or an image that isn't of the speakers. When you combine effectively drawn body language with text that reads as an image, a voice is produced in the readers' head. When you have too much text, that voice is diluted. Conversation panels with multiple dialogue exchanges back and forth between characters produce no voice as characters change their tones and conversation shifts. Don't be lazy, give every moment its due or cut some of that dialogue.

You can view Ben Granoff's work at:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Benjamin Marra's 10 Rules

1. Draw things you have a deep emotional connection to and make you want to draw. 

2. Emotional accuracy is more important than emulating reality. Realism is overrated and reality is an illusion anyway. Just make a good drawing.

3. Balance light and shadow. 

4. Don't create walls. You'll only run into them later. Avoid Puritanism of materials, tools, techniques, methods, and approaches. Don't be a perfectionist. 

5. When you feel like you hate how a drawing is turning out, that's when it's the most important to keep going. Don't be too harsh a judge, but don't believe the drawing is any good either (you can never plan to create a masterpiece). You want to be right in the middle, in the zone. 

6. You can only progress if you finish things. Reflecting on finished work, seeing what was successful and what didn't work, you can learn what to keep or change moving forward. 

7. Style comes from what you do unconsciously. Embrace your deficiencies instead of hiding them. The struggle to draw something is more interesting than casual success in facility. 

8. Strive for the best you can do, accept what the drawing is when you fall short. At a certain point the drawing becomes its own thing beyond your control. Let it be what it will be.

9. You gotta know the rules before you can break the rules. 

10. There are no rules.

You can view Benjamin Marra's work at:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tom Hart's 10 Rules

1. A struggle is a good thing. Be in it.

2. A surprise is a good thing. Respond to it.

3. Study how others did it. 

4. If you steal, become better for it.

5. If you copy, copy deeply.

6. Composition is everything. 

7. Characters are runes.

8. Activate the space.

9. From Joe Chiapetta: This is not the bomb squad. Take unnecessary risks.

10. It should mean something, it should express something, it should be something.

You can view Tom Hart's work at:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Larry Hama's 10 Rules

1. Don't have people just standing there.

2. ANY expression is better than a blank stare.

3. Avoid tangents and any straight line that divides the panel.

4. If you use an odd angle in the shot, there has to be a reason for it.

5. If you don't have at least one panel on each page with a full figure, your "camera" is too close.

6. Plan out your shots in "Lawrence of Arabia" mode rather than in "General Hospital" mode.

7. Don't think of backgrounds as "things to fill up the space after the figures are drawn."

8. If you know what something is called, and you have an internet connection, there is no reason to draw it inaccurately.

9. If the colorist has to ask if a scene takes place at night, you haven't done your job.

10. If you can't extend the drawing beyond the panel borders and still have it make visual sense, you've cheated on the perspective.