Resources for Aspiring Artists

I’ve found that when giving portfolio reviews I repeatedly end up recommending the same selection of resources for aspiring artists to check out. To simplify this (and save me from writing it down every time) I’ve collected a number of these incredibly helpful books and websites here.

The first books I always recommend for their excellent discussions on storytelling in comics are these:

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud

Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels by Scott McCloud

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner

Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner

For Anatomy and Composition I highly recommend these books:

Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis

Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis

Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis

Successful Drawing by Andrew Loomis

Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative by Will Eisner

Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers by Marcos Mateu-Mestre

There are also a number of other helpful “How-To” books out there:

Perspective! for Comic Book Artists: How to Achieve a Professional Look in your Artwork by David Chelsea

Framed Perspective Vol. 1: Technical Perspective and Visual Storytelling

Framed Perspective Vol. 2: Technical Drawing for Shadows, Volume, and Characters

How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema

The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics by Klaus Janson

The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics by Klaus Janson

DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein

Digital Prepress For Comic Books: Revised, Expanded & Updated by Kevin Tinsley

Now, while reading and researching techniques, theory, and tools are an invaluable part of improving your craft, there is no substitute for becoming part of the art community. The advice, camaraderie, and feedback you get from your peers is just as important. Attending conventions is a great way to meet other aspiring and professional creators, but these trips can often be expensive and only last for a few days. There are a number of online forums where artists and writers gather to discuss their work, and are great places to post your work for critique and build a network:

Millarworld Creative Forum




I encourage you to start attending comic conventions to socialize with other aspiring comic creators. Go to Artist Alley and speak with working professionals about their art and careers. It’s important for me to note that while most artists will be happy to speak with you, we often become incredibly busy at cons which for us are really business trips. There will be times when we simply can’t devote the time or energy to give in-depth portfolio reviews. Please be patient and understanding if a creator is busy or just needs some time to recharge or focus on sketching.

Don’t just take my advice - listen to what other pros have to say.  There are a ton of great podcasts that feature big-name creators as guests, often talking about their influences and techniques, as well as how they broke in and developed their careers.  Some of my favorites:

Word Balloon with John Siuntres

Let’s Talk Comics with Jim Viscardi

Inkpulp Audio with Shawn Crystal

Make Comics Podcast with Andy Schmidt

War Rocket Ajax with Chris Sims and Matt Wilson

Hideous Energy with David Hopkins and Austin Wilson

Lastly, Twitter has become a defacto discussion board for lots of comics professionals and many also have a presence on Tumblr, a great place to post and share your art.  I’d encourage you to follow creators you admire as they often will throw out random thoughts, advice (often with the #makecomics hashtag), or links that may be helpful to you. And, while this should go without saying, please be courteous when interacting with creators (or anyone at all, really), whether online or in person.