Learn the principles and narrative strategies of the classic four-panel comic with Amy Kurzweil. You can pick up a copy of Amy’s book Flying Couch from our friends at Bookshop, where proceeds will help benefit The Believer and independent bookstores.

Watch a video of the livestream below, and follow these steps to create your own four-panel comic.

Materials Needed:

1: Paper (standard size is fine).

2: Pencil.

3: Eraser.

4: Pens (optional).

5: Colored pencils (optional).

Warm up:

Draw a self-portrait in 60 seconds.

Classic four-panel comic principles to keep in mind:

1: Repetition of figures/characters/scenes.

2: A narrative with a start, a middle, and an ending.

3: Dialogue.

4: A powerful or surprising ending.

How to create a four-panel comic:

Step 1: Draw four squares, or panels, on paper.

Step 2: Think about the first panel of your comic. It might have a setting, a character, and an object that the character is interacting with. Or, you can come up with your own combination of elements.

Step 3: Begin drawing the character, or character, of your choice.

Step 4: Move on to the second panel — there should be some movement with your character.

Step 5: Your character moves further in their narrative.

Step 6: For your last panel, here’s the opportunity to do something surprising.

Step 7: Inking over the pencil marks.


1: If you’re writing dialogue, write it out before you draw the bubble around it so that you don’t run out of space.

2: If you use pen ink, wait for the ink to draw before you do any shading, or before you erase your pencil marks.

3: If you shade your comic, you can use pencil or ink. It can be simple or detailed, depending on your style.

4: Shading in the background of a comic is a good way to create contract so that your figure or characters stand out.

We’d love to see your four-panel comic! Post it to social and tag @believermag and @amykurzweil.

This workshop was supported in part by Zappos. 

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