Before I wrote my book I hadn’t had much training about how to draw properly, apart from GCSEs at school. I’d always doodled and drawn characters when I was a child, but they only had one facial expression and could only face head on. I only started to make comics for the purpose of my job – to share the stories of the young people I worked with. When I submitted the proposal for ‘Cartooning Teen Stories’ to my publisher, I said that I would draw 84 pages of comics. I had NO IDEA how much work that would be.
I soon realised I didn’t have the technical skills I assumed would come naturally, and that I would have to learn to draw by writing my book. Some of the initial pages took me over 7 hours to draw. I couldn’t work out why the same character looked like a different person in each panel! Having to create characters and their different angles, facial expressions, and basic anatomy – I bought books, magazines, watched YouTube videos and sat in Waterstones during my lunch break at work, reading about manga and lighting and perspective. When people say ‘I wish I could draw like you’ – I think, ‘shhh, I can’t draw either.’ It’s the imposter syndrome of not having gone to art college, but sometimes that lack of technical skill can create the most unique cartoony styles. It is never too late to pick up a sharpie, and soon I hope to do some more cartooning workshops for those of us who ‘can’t draw’. Some of the sites I found most useful and affordable for distance learning are:
Below is a punk I drew when I was aged about 9. I decided to give him a 2016 makeover and made his character design sheet. This is something I’ve do now before I draw each comic, to keep the look consistent. It really does save a lot of time in the long run (I learned the hard way)