How to be a graphic artist in six easy steps

George Mathen aka Appupen, a renowned graphic novelist, shared his view on how to become a graphic novelist with the children during their sessions with him. Here’s what he had to say and the children’s take on it.

Step 1. Form an idea:

According to the children, this was one of the three most difficult steps in the process. The idea can be as simple as a trip to the market or as complex as a war. But the only condition is that the idea should be your own interpretation, opinion or story of something.

Step 2. Form your characters:

Obviously, the idea has to be conveyed by someone. Hence, create your characters. Children picked inanimate objects, plants, animals, humans, the sun, the moon, extinct species etc. to tell their tale. They made half-page sketches of their main characters, focussing on their appearance, attire and quirks to help them keep the characters recognizable throughout the story.

  Step 3. Create your story:

The characters will need a way which leads to the grand or subtle unveiling of your idea. Thus, you create your story with a narrative arc. The narrative arc can be gripping or bland, convoluted or prosaic, lengthy or short; any form you feel is necessary for your idea. Children felt that it was easiest to create the story in the form of a list first and then fill it with additional details. While some simply wrote down the story, others made rough sketches of it.

Step 4. Convert story to frames:

Not unlike a film, you need to decide what to show your reader. Break down your story to track the movement of your character and his/her/its progression. Bear in mind that the background is just as important as your foreground. The foreground is used to tell the story and the background is used to set the stage. Children made rough sketches of the frames and decided what they would keep in the foreground and what would be kept in the background. They proceeded to fill in the details into their characters and the stage to make them seem more alive and real.IMG_6088

Step 5. Pack a punch

You can do that in three steps:

  1. Arrangement: Decide which frame comes first and which comes last to make the story as interesting as possible
  2. Panelling: Increase or decrease the size of your frame based on importance
  3. Colour: if you’re doing a black and white strip, use streaks of colours in frames that are important for the story. If you’re already doing a coloured strip, make the colours bolder in important frames.IMG_6765

Step 6. Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Continue to work on the frames, panels, sketches, story and character until you feel that the idea has been delivered satisfactorily. After all, it only took George 6 years to finish one of his books.

Our Partner a Master session in Delhi with Artist Arun Kumar HG

Equipped with environmental concerns and manifesting the same through art and its boundless metaphorical language, students in this session advocated the same under the mentorship of Arun Kumar HG. A noted environmental artist, Arun Kumar HG took this group of students under his wings to resonate his philosophy in their minds.


Artist Arun Kumar HG took the students through a host of global artists who dabble in a similar language to express their art. Using different medium and material, biodegradable, environment-friendly, paper pulp, waste products the manner in which the underlying cause-effect relationship looms large. Ananya Jain stated that she “particularly remembers one artist we saw, who had photographed various kinds of trees, and had put up an exhibition stating facts about how much wood is wasted everyday in order to produce takeaway chopsticks.”

The artist then showed them his stellar collection of works on display at his studio, which gave the students a heightened understanding of his genre of work. Sculpted toys to sugar-cube landscapes to photographs to works with waste materials, Arun Kumar HG made inroads into the minds of the students through his awareness on the environmental issue.

To enable them to get a ground reality and first-hand experience of interacting with nature and the environment, the artist took them to Tao Devi Lala Biodiversity and Botanical Park in the heart of Gurgaon. This gave them a hands-on tryst with the idea of engaging with nature at large. They picked leaves and twigs that fascinated them back to the artist studio along with the waste material which they individually brought from their homes.


Back in the studio, the students rummaged through the material, after much deliberations they arrived at the consensus of raising a symbolic leg adorned with waste matter arranged in the degree of most harmful to least harmful. The leg was visualized as trampling Mother Nature in a way that is symbolic with the way the waste products were stacked on the humungous leg. It became synonymous with the pain and anguish inflicted on nature by the human race. As Kaasvi summed her experience saying “I have learned from him that one should never waste things or throw them away, we should instead try and use them as a part of our life”.

Our Lec Dem Art1mpressions Series with Roobina Karode at SNS, Noida

Our December Art1mpressions series paved the way for teachers, students and guests at Shiv Nadar School, Noida to give an audience to well-known art educator, writer and curator Roobina Karode. Our guest speaker spoke at length mapping out the individual journey of artist Nasreen Mohamedi.

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Karode brought into focus the manner in which Nasreen Mohamedi as a woman artist, active in India in the 1960s through the 1980s, embraced abstraction while the mainstream discourse was largely about the figurative-narrative tradition. She set the tone of the talk by illuminating on the phases in the artist’s life juxtaposed with her art practice and intercutting it with the exhibition she curated at KNMA.

Karode who shared a personal equation with artist Nasreen Mohamedi, as her student and neighbour, spoke about her memories of Nasreen as a teacher. She spoke about her first day in class at M.S University of Baroda where the students were made to clean the surroundings outside the classroom making the paths bereft of any litter. As a keen observer, critic and curator of her works, Karode believes that Nasreen’s paths were always very ‘clean’. She cleaned everything that was unnecessary and extraneous to make way for purity of vision, which spilled into her works.

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She put to perspective the artist’s role in her life as a teacher who spanned out the learning and teachings of life and art through her novel take on the banal. Karode cited an instance when Nasreen Mohamedi called the students hurriedly from the class into the passage to witness the turning of the wheel of the automobiles. She wanted them to observe the manner in which form renders change when in speed. The knowledge she imparted through her incomparable ideas left an indelible impression on her students.

Speaking of her as an artist in her own right, Karode talked about how she abandons colour, figure, portrait, story and finally hearkens a black and white phase in her work. While explaining her works with extreme detailing of the line, she talked of an incident when Nasreen Mohamedi plucked a strand of her hair and asked her students to make their lines as thin as the hair. Her eyes would always trap the unambiguous; this Roobina Karode explained while talking of her photographs especially the ones taken at Fatehpur Sikri, which captured not the Islamic architectural details but the lines and its pattern on the ground. Her interest was not in Islam or the magnanimity of the monument but she was pulled towards abstracting and abstractions.


Setting the context of the journey of the artist, which was interspersed with struggles of myriad nature and with the kind of discipline and self-rigour practiced, Karode left the audience spellbound, opening a window into the world of an artist of the stature of Nasreen Mohamedi. In her concluding stance, she brought out the artist’s global appeal and acclaim in the way of her works which are being exhibited all over the world.