Exams are over!

Three days ago I had my last exam! We had to present everything we did during the last semester and the presentation was extremely important itself by the way! We had ONLY 10-15 mins. I had my brand new laser-pointer so I was happy no matter what 🙂

Here’s the short summary PART I

Illustration Basics (reminder) (grade 1,3  / A):

If you’re interested you can find the rest of the characters for the Character Design task here.
Well I didn’t upload all of my work but I think you get the idea for the Illustration Basics classes: a lot of variety!

In my next posts I’ll sum up the rest of the semester for you 🙂

Drawing Class Homework: Time

The semester is almost over but I still have some past topics to post 🙂

After the last homework à la corporate design we were given the task to draw the long ride on the Trans-Siberian Railroad (if you don’t really know what I’m talking about check out the older posts). We were not allowed to use any typical time measurement aids like watches or calendars in our drawings so I decided to go for a big establishing shot and a long middle strip throughout both pages acting as sundial (“sun-watch”). By the way, we were given only to pages to work with, no more!

Comic pages with transsibirian railroad trip

Since my computer couldn't do the work I had to shade everything manually! My wrist really hurt XD

Here are some close-ups:

Harald reading

No one's talking. Every background sound can be heard loud and clear. Harald is reading a book on martial arts and eating a chocko-bar...

Sleeping and daydreaming. You can see part of the middle strip in the upper part.

It’s not mandatory to work with comics/manga like I do the most of the time, but 90% of the course are also choosing this type of art because it’s really well suited for almost every assignment and it’s a lot of fun 😀 Besides, our professor is a comic artist too, so he doesn’t mind at all! I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to assume that there are only comic artist at my university. There are three more drawing classes with different focuses (product design, anatomy, traditional art). Unfortunately the anatomy course has been cancelled for next semester. Instead another illustration course will be made available.

Most frequent drawing Assignment

Every 2-4 weeks we have to create new characters for drawing classes. Sometimes we are given preset information on the appearance or the character traits (like being afraid of cats or being shy etc.). And other times we only get names, nationalities or very vague descriptions like “make him/her look modern”. The more creative freedom one is given the more complicated the initial concept can get, but on the other hand you can give your characters your unique design (it’s best not to get too carried away, this is design and not art!).

Well, let’s return to our story. After the accident in Odessa (Harald survived ;)) a new disaster takes place: Someone steals all our luggage and on top of that the police officer we turn to doesn’t speak English well enough to record the exact stolen objects. After drawing (!) every single stolen item (this was part of the homework) everyone leaves the police station disappointed…

(Western reading direction) As already said, some of the main characters leave the police station. Harald (panel 4) feels bad about not being able to overtake the bandits because he's sitting in a wheel chair (he used to do a lot of martial art). While speaking a young man called Ludomir suddenly appears out of nowhere overhearing our conversation. He is a Ukraine student and he HATES criminals, hence he decides to help us and inspires Harald to take his destiny in his own hands and stop feeling sorry for himself.

Ludomir takes everyone to Olga, another Ukraine student with psychic powers, who can help find the luggage. She performs an exhausting ritual with her magical orb and gives Ludomir the "card of answers". He reads it and it turns out the stolen bags are at the police station. Everyone assumes the police officer is a criminal himself. Ludomir is full of rage and comes rushing into the policeman's office accusing him. And indeed, the he has the bags, but it turns out they were just retrieved. The accusations were uncalled-for.

Well, this is the main story so far 🙂

Oh right, designing the characters of Ludomir and Olga was part of the homework, which was mainly to show how the stolen luggage was found. These are my Ludomir and Olga:

Given information: The names, both are Ukraine and university students. The rest was up to me.

Some Drawing Class Results

I haven’t posted anything on my drawing classes for a while. That’s because most of the time I’m doing sketches or trying new things out (technique and working material related).

Many of the assignments we get are comic/picture book orientated, since these are the professor’s main preferences (he’s a comic artist). The first two semesters he likes to go on an excursion around the globe with us…Well at least in our sketchbooks 😉

Perhaps you remember my version of Harald, which I tried drawing digitally (by now I learned a lot). He is one of four characters with some given attributes I had to design. The basic plot for the whole semester is that these characters (and some professors/other students) go on a loooong trip. Everyone is heading east by the way. After a long train ride the group arrives in Odessa, a town in Ukraine, where a monumental stairway awaits to be conquered. Poor Harald sits in a wheelchair (given attribute) and accidentally someone lets him fall while going up the stairs! Here is my version of what happens next (format and panel number was given, western reading direction):


"Hey guys! Who's holding the wheelchair?!" These are Harald's last words before the shocking experience... Oh, and his brakes mysteriously broke 😉

Here's a close-up of the first panel.

This drawing exercise is supposed to make us find the best shots (like in story boards/movies) to depict Harald’s falling down the stairs. The trickiest part was to get by with only four panels! Action scenes in movies require a lot of different shots in order to create a feeling of speed. With only four panels one has to give some sort of an establishing shot, the action and the outcome. These are a lot of aspects to show on only two pages! As you can see I cheated just a little bit in the second panel by adding a tiny extra panel 🙂

Reverse Story Board

Here is a tip our drawing professor gave us concerning comics/manga:

If you want to improve your panels in a way that you show action more dramatically and/or well-placed, you should study some movies. Since every movie starts with a story board (basically a comic) you get a nice perspective on what’s possible and what works well for the artist (director). If you need some action panels analyze heavy action movies, if you need romance check out the sentimental section, and so on.

Here is a concrete exercise you can do (suggested by our professor): “The Reverse Story Board”

  • Pick a movie you like
  • Find an interesting part no longer than 2 minutes(action scenes are often full of cuts and exciting camera shots and scenes)
  • Now try to copy all scenes in your own story board including movement-arrows and notes on the camera work, zooms, special effects, music etc.
  • Don’t forget to use movie story board standards: all images in one and the same format (since screens don’t change their formats either), very clear drawing style, show only the key frames etc.

Here is an example for you: These are two pages of my “Resident Evil” reverse story board I made one year ago. It’s the part where Milla Jovovich is chased by the undead dogs 🙂

resident evil storyboard part 1

resident evil storyboard part 2

I used only black and grey markers (and a tiny bit sepia, too). There are notes on the technical stuff under the images and story relevant ones (including music and SFX) on the right. Notice that this is the European story board standard.


This week my tip of the week will be dealing with exhibitions, conventions and competitions connected to drawing.

You should attend one of the mentioned above every now and then if possible. You can learn a lot on this kind of events. And I’m not only talking about enjoying the newest comic books and illustrations.

First of all, you can analyze the market: What’s in right now? Which artists are getting a lot of attention and why? What’s making a good profit? How do artists promote their work?  You should at least try to find the answer to some of these questions. It can really help you define your own strategy to success a little bit better. On the other hand you can try to set a foot in the biz yourself if you feel ready for it. If you’re just starting out you don’t have anything to lose, right! You should approach other artists or publishers and ask for advice. Most of them should be more than happy to help you 🙂 Especially new artists are really talkative.

Last week I went to the ComicAction exhibition in Essen, Germany. There I met a few fairly new artists and asked them some questions on their work process and the materials/programs they are using to create their artwork. Everyone was very friendly and answered EVERY question I had in detail. I really learned a lot but more important my morale got boosted since now I saw with my own eyes how the artist’s reality looks like and I really liked it. But that doesn’t mean I ignore the hardships artists have to bear 😉

Now then, start planning your next trip to some drawing related event and don’t forget your note book (or con-hon if you’re in to that) AND your sketchbook 😉