Writing Journals

How I Make a Graphic Novel... with Gavin Aung Than

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Hi, I’m Gavin Aung Than, the writer and illustrator of the Super Sidekicks graphic novels.

You might think that making a comic or graphic novel is easy for me. That I can just draw a finished page straight away and it looks perfect the first time. Well, you’re wrong! It’s actually a series of steps, each one adding something to the last until the finished page slowly takes shape. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look!


Here’s how a page starts. Yep, that’s right, it looks really messy and rough. Once I have the idea for the story I draw the whole book out like this. I also write the script for what the characters are saying. I have to plan the whole book out roughly and make sure everything works first, before drawing any ‘finished’ art.



The next step is drawing the book just with a plain old lead pencil. The main thing I’m going for here is for the pages to have energy and to be fun and exciting visually.



Once I’m happy with the pencils, I scan them into the computer and turn the pencil lines a blue colour – then I print it out on drawing paper. Next, I ‘ink’ over the blue lines with pens. The reason for printing out in blue is so I don’t have to erase the pencils under the inks. It saves a lot of time when there’s over 150 pages!



Once the inks are finished, I scan all the pages into the computer and use a program called Adobe Photoshop to add the grey colour to all the pages. In a different program I add all the words and sound effects. Phew, that’s it, all done!


All the steps up to the colour is done traditionally using pencil, pen and paper. You might hear illustrators who work all digitally these days, but I love to draw the good old fashioned way. Remember, you don’t need any fancy or expensive drawing tablets or computers to make comics, just some paper and pencil!


Thanks Gavin! Gavin is one of the awesome illustrators who contributed to the Scribblers Festival Writing Journal, where you find more of his tips and prompts.