Welcome to “How To Make A Comic About Anything: The Low Budget Version”!

This deep dive course was designed to be a sped-up version of the full six week course “How To Make A Comic Book” – a massive open online course created in conjunction with High Tech High Graduate School of Education, and Coursera. The course was originally designed to be High Tech High’s first online project-based learning experience and is targeted to adults and teenages (13+). The course has been wildly successful and has reached over 14,000 registered students worldwide since its release in February 2016. 

The hopes for this deep dive is that it will give participants a rough overview of the six week experience and allow them to take the six week course, modify, and use it in classrooms after the deep dive experience has concluded. This course was modified from a project designed by Patrick Yurick and Kay Flewelling for Buck Institute’s called “The Comic Relief Project”  – which is basically the same six week course with added Common Core aligned humanities integration. 

To find out more about both projects that this deep dive was designed from read this “Story Behind The Course” article. There will also be links included in the “Further Resources” area at the bottom of this website. 

Course Videos Full Playlist

This is the first video introducing the six week course experience “How To Make A Comic Book”. Feel free to use any/all of the of the videos after working on this deep dive!



Project Goals

Project participants will work as individuals using paper, pencil, pens, rulers, and supplied worksheets to create a single page of comic artwork using techniques that mirror skills used by practicing industry professionals. 


Project Materials

If there is one thing that you get from this course regarding materials, know this: You can create a comic with ANY materials. (Take my arm tattoo comic strip as an example). The materials listed here are not sacrosanct, they are just a starting point designed based on what seems resonable based on the average classroom teacher’s budget and familiarity. 

From my perspective, having used this project with several teachers in classrooms worldwide, the most challenging aspect of the entire experience is assembling the final comic for your class. No students in this project need to have access to a computer at any time as long as a teacher is able to scan and assemble the final book. This will be covered later. The biggest thing is that, on a basic level, comics can be created with anything. Experiment. Play. New ways to create comics are formed every day – there is no RIGHT way to make a comic. 

That being said, the following materials are a great baseline to start with and will allow you to start creating comics and follow along with the provided course tutorials and rubrics. 

Student Materials List


Digital Access To (For Students)

  • Course Rubrics – I would suggest modifying these as you see neccesary for your students
  • Tutorials – These REALLY work well as long as you do not modify the worksheets
  • Comic Models – The “Protest Rap” Comic included was created with only the materials listed above.
  • Course Videos – Feel free to remix and use as you see fit.

Teacher Materials Needed



Note: You are not creating a four page comic

Greeting Prompt

Instead of using a prompt like “What color do you feel like today and why”, as directed in the standard daily greeting exercise prompt, we will be asking the question:

What is a moment from your life that has defined who you are today?

Moments, for the sake of clarity, are times where something has happened meaning it has a beginning, middle, and end to it. 

  • Example: When I was 8 years old my grandfather was observing me using my hands to act out a scene from a cartoon I was writing in my head while I was on the plane with him going to the Cayman Islands. He told me that he loved that I was able to imagine stories and that he hoped that I would never forget to make time to daydream because up until he had been watching me do it on the plane he had forgotten that when he was my age he also used to daydream. This stuck with me as a reminder to never forget to daydream, especially as I grow older. 

10 Minute Brainstorming Sprint

You have ten minutes, just using a pencil and paper, to create a comic that uses images only to tell the story of your defining moment you came up with in the greeting protocol. There is no limit on length except that you need to be able to finish the comic by the end of the ten minutes and that you cannot use words.

Inspiration Round

  • We are going to tape every-person’s finish sprint comics to the wall
  • Spend 5 minutes trying to look at every person’s comic silently – make sure each student looks at each piece.
  • As a group we are going to look for inspirations. Once the five minutes is up, gather as a class in front of all the pieces. We are going to share one thing that inspires us from the pieces we’ve seen.
  • Rules:
    • One person speaks at a time
    • You can only speak once
    • You can only talk about what inspired you about a piece, no negative commentary allowed.
    • Optional:
      • Go until every person has shared
      • Go until each piece has had something recognized in it as inspirational
      • You can also do this exercise in small groups using a modified version of this collaborative critique protocol.

Additional Resources on Brainstorming (Optional)


Brainstorming Rubrics (Again, Optional)



Complete the scriptwriting worksheet using the scriptwriting tutorial for a single page comic. Note that the resources may indicate and reference a four page comic. For this deep dive we are only doing one of the four. 

Requirements For A Finished Script

  • Must have a beginning middle and end
  • Must use at least one word bubble
  • Must include at least one sound effect

Additional Scriptwriting Resources (Optional)


Remember that comics are a communication medium. You do not have to draw technically well or have a background in drawing to make a comic. What you do need is a message and how successful you are at comic-making is defined by how well your message is received by your audience.

Please feel free to play around with There are lots of great resources on the site that range for users that are at the beginning of comic-making to advanced makers.



Complete the thumbnailing worksheet using the thumbnailing tutorial for a single page comic (just one of the thumbnail sections on the worksheet. Use the other three if you want to try practicing different approaches).

Another reminder that the resources may indicate and reference a four page comic. For this deep dive we are only doing one of the four. 

Requirements For A Finished Thumbnails

    • Thumbnails show a visual plan for assembling the final comic
    • The thumbnails include visual elements that clearly flow from panel to panel
    • The thumbnails include visual elements that clearly flow from page to page
    • Word bubbles are present in the thumbnails
    • Notes are included that indicate the artist’s thought process when solving visual problems in the comic

Additional Thumbnailing Resources (Optional)

Guest Speaker: 
Caleb Cleveland

Thumbnailing Readings



Pencil, letter, and ink your comic page worksheet using the tutorials and materials provided.

Requirements For A Finished Pencils

  • Pencils are drawn slowly & methodically
  • Pencils are are light and clean
  • Pencils are ready for inking

Requirements For A Finished Letters

  • Letters are measured out according to tutorial
  • Letters are legible

Requirements for Finished Inks

  • Inked letters are clear
  • Inked art is easy to read
  • Inked art has varying line weights
  • All inks are completed with attention
  • All inks (art and letters) are complete and ready for print

Additional Page-Making Resources (Optional)

Penciling Tips From Eric Shanower

Inking Tips from Eric Shanower

Guest Speaker: Eric Shanower



Finish your comic page and show it during exhibition.

Requirements For A Finished Comic

  • Take a selfie with your final comic page and email it to
  • Hang your final comic in the exhibition space provided
  • Bask in the warm glow of finishing your work on time!

Tips on comic publishing from Mark Waid

Additional Publishing Resources (Optional)

How Books Are Made

Traditional Bookbinding



ComicEd Section of

This is a part of the website that is acting as an ongoing resource for comic book educators. Most of the links offered in this are also available there:

ComicEd Newsletter

Resources For Educators

Link to this as a live document you can contribute to: (

Graphic Novel Project

How To Make A Comic Book Online Course (ages 13+)

Here are some other activities I’ve used with kids aged 9+

Comic Relief Project

I’d also suggest taking a look at the “Comic Relief Project” that Kay and I developed a year and a half ago. I actually stripped this project down and redeveloped it for the “How To Make A Comic Book” MOOC. The key differences you’ll see in the two project flows are:

  1. Comic Relief has a journalistic, humanities angle, to the curriculum (pages 1-28) and
  2. it was written for teachers to read and use in a class (as opposed to the “How To Make A Comic MOOC” where all the material is written assuming an individual student is looking at it).

This document may be valuable to you for many reasons. On page 39 you’ll see a budget outline – it isn’t etched in stone, but will give you a starting point. Also, this document contains arguments for how the project will live up to Common Core state/national American standards. I’m sure that there is an equivalent wherever you live to this that is probably very different, but having our arguments for the project living up to literacy, art, and history standards will allow you to have a solid defense when asked how the project will connect to learning outcomes for the students.

Comic Relief Project (


Found Elsewhere