About Clayton Barton
Creator of How To Draw Comics
Hey, it's Clayton here.
Since you're probably wondering about the man behind the mask, I wanted to take a quick minute to introduce myself.
Firstly, I have to break it to you... I'm not a natural born 'talented' artist. I wasn't blessed with some 'rare gift that nobody else had'. In the beginning, I just really, REALLY loved to draw.
Believe it or not, my art work was ameteur at best when I first set out on this journey. The drawings you see now took a long time to get looking that good! In fact, you would have probably been able to draw laps around me when I started out!
Sure; I had my friends and family there for encouragement and support. In fact I'd seek out their validation - on purpose, just to feel better about my art work. Deep down, inside a place I wanted to ignore, the one person’s expectations I could never live up to were my own…
"There were times when I’d look at my drawings
and feel sheer disappointment…"
So much so I wondered whether or not I would ever be ‘talented’ enough to earn a living doing what I love. This dark cloud of doubt KILLED me! Without my art I would be lost and left with a gaping void. My art was my passion.
When what I wanted to draw just wouldn’t come out the way I wanted it to no matter how hard I tried, I was shocked by the revelation that maybe I wasn’t as skilled as I thought I was.
I didn't want to settle for being able to pull off something half decent 'once in a while'. It seemed a high CONSISTENCY of quality was what I truly sought in my work. It just seemed to be always beyond my reach. I didn't want to be forever confined to drawing from reference material either. What would be the point of drawing at all? I wanted the freedom to draw purely from imagination. Call it high expectation but to be truly satisfied with my art work I’d have to master the ability to pull off something OUT OF THIS WORLD every time my pen went to paper.
I decided to make a commitment to myself.
As a kid, I never got pocket money. So by the time Christmas and birthday's rolled round I’d compiled a long list of how to draw books, sketch pads and art supplies. It wasn't exactly the easiest thing in the world, and at times my art work showed very little progress for the amount of effort and practice being put in. See the problem was, when I set out to learn how to draw properly, there was a lack of structure to the way I went about it. And so all the information I was gathering from how to draw tutorials, how to draw books and how to draw videos, was kinda hard to piece together. I simply didn't know where to start, or what direction to head in once I did.
But I stuck at it, and taught myself how to draw starting out with an old How to Animate book by Disney that my mother passed onto me. Still till this day I believe that book is the very reason I am able to breath life, emotion, and personality into my characters.
Being an avid fan of Dragon Ball Z you can guess what I used to teach myself anatomy. Yep. Lots and lots of muscle bound Saiyan warriors beating and blasting each other to a pulp. Looking back, I guess I didn’t realise how inaccurate some of Goku’s muscle groups really were?
Time passed and my art work evolved steadily along the way. Steadily and consistently! This brought about a sense of comforting motivation, understanding that as long as I kept practicing every day I would continue to get better and better.
When I was about 16 or 17 I discovered the next level I wanted to ascend to, laying my eyes upon Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, and the jaw dropping comic book art of Greg Capullo. The incredible detail, emotion, movement and personality within the characters, and the dark, dreary themes the comic book dealt with were something that resonated deep within me at the very core.
Thinking back, Image Comics and the talented artists who left Marvel to create the company are why I wanted to become a comic book artist in the first place. I truly believe that the way their work has inspired me so greatly throughout the years is the very reason I am still drawing comics today. Todd McFarlane, David Finch and Marc Silvestri were all prominent influences for me, but even so; Greg Capullo’s work was really to blame for lifting my game.
I started to emulate what I was seeing in Greg’s work, focusing in on his intricate rendering and detailing techniques. I didn’t even know the reason behind it, or how to use it properly. I just knew that it looked freaking awesome and I wanted my work to look just as good.
It feels strange now to think that there was a point in time where I didn’t understand why or how to properly cross hatch to create the illusion of form in my drawings. I just observed and replicated, trying to figure out how to apply these undefined principles to my own work.
"I tried and failed many, many times!"
But it was comic book artists like Greg Capullo and Todd McFarlane that made me push myself to the limit.
Ultimately I wanted to get to a point where I would never be confined to only what my eyes could see. To pull things purely from my imagination and draw them down onto paper was the ultimate POWER I sought to harness.
I personally messaged Greg Capullo on numerous occasions, along with a number of other comic book artists who I found equally inspiring; NAR, Eddy Barrows and Caanan White to name a few.
They were only too happy to help, sending back lengthy replies filled chock-a-block with their own personal feedback, shorthand secrets, advice and philosophies gained through years of professional experience in the industry.
I am truly thankful for the wisdom and insight they passed onto me. They pulled together all the unstructured puzzle peices of knowledge I'd been collecting from the beginning so that they all fell perfectly into place.
I bought the books they suggested on the fundamentals of drawing, anatomy and visual storytelling. Then obsessively practiced every method and technique I came across - Except this time, I was pointed in the right direction.
I was astonished by the rate at which my drawing abilities sky rocketed far and beyond where they started out. Things that held me back so much in the past seemed to happen automatically without even thinking. Before I knew it I was digging deeper and deeper into ever more complex concepts such as composition, mood, lighting, and visual story telling.
Just to give you an idea of where I'm coming from, let me put things into PERSPECTIVE...
Soon I began to notice something profound...
It was something that had been unconsciously taking place right under my nose. My art work began to take on an identity of its own. I realised that somewhere along the way I’d cultivated my own unique and individual style.
"This was the BEST I could possibly do back in 2006"
"In 2011 that all changed..."
"2012 - 2013 I had finally ACHIEVED the consistency I’d been looking for..."
I could have been happy and content with just learning how to pencil out comic book covers comic strips. BUT... I didn't want to stop there. Now, there were two major elements missing from my comic book art work - INKING and COLORING.
At this point, I was power hungry... I wanted the ability to pull off the whole show solo. So I gave the ' how to draw ' stuff a break, and moved my focus over to learning how to ink and color my comic book art. I would never need to depend on either an inker or a colorist to help make my art work into what I envisioned it to be...
Comic book inking and coloring both had their own challenges just like the penciling. The way I saw it though, they were merely extra facets to the drawing that needed to be overcome. With time, research and experimentation, surely enough I developed a consistent method for those as well! My style now had an identity of its own. And I was confident in my ability to draw not only anything I wanted, but to ink and color it too!
It was around this time that Dark Myth Studios approached me to work on one of their upcoming titles "SGT IRON". I couldn't believe it. I had actually scored my first comic book gig, as penciler, inker and colorist!
IRON was a great experience. But it was my first and last comic book gig, as Uni took over, my focus on comic art transpired into a dedication to concept art for video games.
I took the dynamic drawing foundations I'd learned from drawing comics and applied them to digital painting, 3D Modelling and digital sculpting. During the course I learnt some very valuable lessons and although I didn't realize it at the time, they would later directly effect my comic book art work on a completely new level.
You see, learning the in's and out's of character and environment concept design in the game's course would ultimately allow me to come up with memorable, unique and interesting designs for my comic book super heroes and the world's they inhabited.
Maybe it was luck, or just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. To be honest I really didn't expect what happened next. It was kinda out of the blue.
As it turns out, straight after finishing the course I was asked to teach Visual Design for Games at Victoria University. Honestly... I was FREAKED out. I was just a regular dude, fresh out of Uni, still in the process of learning this stuff for myself. On top of that, public speaking was my least favorite thing in the world. Just thinking about drawing live in the spot light, with a giant projector blasting my art work onto the back wall of the class room made me anxious.
Worst of all... I needed a plan. And I needed it fast because the first semester was only weeks away from rolling out and the last thing I wanted was to freeze up in front of 20-30 students because I was unprepared...
"So I decided to formalize all I knew into a method..."
and hoped for the best. I didn't develop this method just to teach the students... I needed to develope it for myself to ensure I didn't screw up in front of them!
Well, it took me a few lessons to get everything running smoothly. The students were actually really cool, giving me helpful feedback on my delivery and suggesting extra bits and peices they wanted me to throw into the program... All in all though, to my relief, my method actually WORKED!
It was amazing to see how the knowledge I’d worked so hard to cultivate throughout the years was now helping my students improve their drawing skills within a matter of weeks. Within months, after following through with the method, their characters, environment designs, and story boards had completely transformed. I don’t know if I had a knack for articulating and explaining my technique in a way that they could just pick it up and apply it, but part of me kind of envied the fact that this stuff clicked for them so fast.
The more I taught my drawing techniques, the more it just seemed to work for my students, friends, and even family. I soon realised that what I was teaching also had the potential to benefit anyone who wanted to learn how to draw. So I decided share my method with the world...
"How to Draw Comics . NET"
is the result of that...
It's a place that allows me to offer you the same opportunity to learn my techniques. I've spent money on buying how to draw books, tutorials and then countless hours, months, even years of my life incorporating it all into what my skills allow me to do today.
I don't want you to go through the same process. Yeah, life is about learning new things and growing in our skills abilities and knowledge, but it is also about using what you learn and putting it into action. Few people realise that it is the 'act' of drawing that developes individual style.
Which is why the FREE content I'm giving away to you on How to Draw Comics . NET has been put together specifically to let you harness your skills in the smallest amount of time possible. How to Draw Comics . NET let's you skip all the way to the end so that instead of spending your time figuring out ‘how’, you can spend it figuring out ‘what’ you want to draw!
And don't worry... I'm not going to leave you in the dark with comic book inking and coloring either. You will learn how to do all that and more right here on How to Draw Comics . NET.
- Clayton Barton