Final Project

Weekly Comics & Web Portfolio or Zine

  • Comics are due weekly starting Tuesday, 4/14
  • Week 15 comic is due Monday, 5/4 at 11:59 PST (web/zine component has been removed)

Note: Due to unexpected circumstances this semester, this final project incorporates some of the work we would have done in Project 2: Poster Comic, but we will NOT be doing a large-scale poster comic as originally planned.

Part 1: Weekly Comics

You may use Illustrator to make your weekly comics, and I encourage you to do so if you are able, but you may also use hands-on tools and materials you have around your house or room. Comics are often created from very humble tools. (Scott McCloud, “Understanding Comics,” Harper Collins, 1994, pg. 197).

Each week for the rest of the semester, you will create a new comic that:

  1. Addresses a specific topic or concept from the assigned “Understanding Comics” chapter for the week.
  2. Makes meaningful use of a specific tool or technique in either Illustrator or an alternative, materials-based, hands-on method (if you use an alternative method, plan to document your work for submission by photographing or scanning).

You will post your comic as a blog post on the class website every week and write about how you feel you have responded to points 1 and 2 above. You will turn in your Illustrator work file (AI file extension) or a digital image (JPG or PDF file) if you used an alternative hands-on tool.

Prompts for your weekly comics are listed below and prompts for your accompanying blog posts will be on the Blog Prompts page.

Part 2: Web Portfolio or Zine

As I explain in the week 14 video lecture, we are removing the web portfolio/zine component of this final project, in an effort to simplify and streamline work. The last weekly comic will be more ambitious and will be worth 150 points to make up for the removal of the web/zine component.

In-Class Virtual Critique

During weeks 14-15, you will be asked to share one of your favorite weekly comics and talk about how the tools and methods you used to create it affected its appearance and potential for communication. You will need to share your desktop in Zoom to share your comic. This presentation will be worth 25 points. If you cannot use Zoom for technical reasons you may submit a short video as you walk us through your comic.

Required Readings and Tutorials

  • Read Chapters 3-7, 9 of Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics”
  • Review Chapters 1-2 and 8 of Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics”
  • Read John Lovett’s Design Overview (this includes the links: Elements of Design, Line, Shape, Direction, Size, Texture, Color, Value, The Principles of Design, Balance, Gradation, Repetition, Contrast, Harmony, Dominance, and Unity)
  • Read one additional graphic novel of your choosing to find more inspiration for your work (see Blog 4: Closure & Time Frames and Blog 6: Graphic Novel Review)
  • Class visit to WSU Art Museum permanent collections (meet in Fine Arts Building first floor)
  • Web Comics by Eroyn Franklyn and Scott McCloud
  • Complete Illustrator tutorials

Adobe Illustrator and Vector Graphics

Hopefully, you can use Adobe Illustrator to complete at least some of your weekly comics. Here are some basics on vector graphics and Illustrator:

Vector graphics are composed of paths, or lines, that are either straight or curved. The data file for a vector image contains the points where the paths start and end, how much the paths curve, and the colors that either border or fill the paths. Because vector graphics are not made of pixels, the images can be scaled to be very large without losing quality. Raster graphics, such as digital photographs, can become blocky when enlarged, since each pixel increases in size as the image is made larger. This is why designs such as logos are typically created in vector format—the quality will look the same on a business card as it will on a billboard.

Make sure you are familiar with all the options nested under the Pen Tool. It will be helpful to learn the key commands to switch between these options.

Make sure you are familiar with all the options nested under the Pen Tool. It will be helpful to learn the key commands to switch between these options.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics program, which has different strengths and uses than Adobe Photoshop, which is for raster graphics. Understanding paths, and how to manipulate them with the pen tool—adding, moving, and altering points along the path—is the key to getting the most out of Illustrator. The pen tool has a steep learning curve but it is worth spending time on. The files you make in Illustrator will have the extension AI, such as “”. AI files can only be opened in the Illustrator program. A more universal file format for vector graphics is EPS.

What You Will Turn In

As you complete your weekly comics, hand in your Illustrator work files (or a JPG or PDF if you are documenting a hand-made comic) in your shared OneDrive folder.

You will also complete a blog post on the class blog (see Blog Prompts) for each weekly comic you make. If you are working in Illustrator, you will need to export a JPG to upload with your post. Here are instructions for exporting a JPG from Illustrator:

  • To export a JPG from Illustrator:  [File > Export > Export As: Choose “Format: JPG,” and have “Use Artboards” checked. Hit “Export.” In the next dialog box choose “Maximum Image Quality” and “Resolution: High (300 ppi)”. Hit “OK.”]


These are some examples of comics that use closure and time frames in exciting ways. They may still be of interest to you:

The larger frame in this comic shows a floorplan, which presumably sets the scene for the smaller,
traditional comic strip frames. (David Heatley. My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down. New York: Pantheon, 2008.)

Richard Maguire’s graphic novel “Here”
offers an interesting perspective on layering and framing.
(Here by Richard McGuire. Roz Chast, ed. Best American Comics 2016. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 296-7.)

Some alternative comics use the idea of a diagram, which is an interesting alternative to the use of traditional frames, or sequence. (Blanket Portraits by Genevieve Elverum. Roz Chast, ed. Best American Comics 2016. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 296-7.)