[ How do I make a comic? – A kids guide to the basics ]

Posted on March 6th, 2017 at 2:07pm

My fab nephew, a budding 10 year old artist, messaged me all the way from the uk asking me “How do you make a comic?” I thought wow what a question.

A quick search later, I struggled to find a preexisting guide good for kids. The few I found they were too basic. Knowing that my nephew is smart and would want more than “draw a box and draw pictures inside” guide, I set about drawing tips as if I was talking to him about it in person. I had only intended the tutorial for him as they are all very rough, but my husband encouraged me to put them online.

pdf download iconThis is my process for making comics, it’s prob not how everyone does it, but I hope that this is a good starting point for any budding comic creators. I also made a PDF (7.5MB) of this post for printout for personal use, click the icon left to go to document.

How do I make a comic?

The job of the comic creator is to simply allow the reader to follow a story in a specific order with images & text!

Every artist has different styles & different preferences to achieving the above. In this post I’ll cover some comic basics that other comic writers and artists have found works well for them. Hopefully it’s a good starting point but remember:

The best way to learn how to make comics is just to get writing and drawing and learn as you go along. AND have fun =)

The Short Answer

The Long Answer

I have broken the comic making process into 10 simple sections:
Book Layout
Character Design
Panel Layout
Comic Text
Dialogue Tips
Angles & shots
Artwork Continue reading

Leave a comment | 4 Comments

[ A Better Artists Mannequin – SFBT-3: in depth review ]

Posted on January 15th, 2016 at 12:21pm

Before you ask, no sorry, mine SFBT-3 is not for sale.

This SFBT-3 review follows on from my original [A Better Artists Mannequin – 1/6 Synthetic Human Test Body: a review] post.

What is the SFBT-3

The SFBT- 3 (Special Fullaction Body Type-3) is a limited available posable Japanese figure by M-field (sculpted by Maeda Tsuyoshi). International sales are sold via Dolk Station. The SBFT-1 originally was developed over many years from a sketch.

It is not a toy for young children and definitely would be a choking hazard.

It comes pre-assembled using press fit (poly-cap) so the pieces just push together. It’s 30cm tall and boosts 80 joints. Their website states “We made it possible to move the doll with perfect freedom” which I feel is a fair claim. It’s entirely hand-made from light durable ABS resin which also makes it a bit shiny.

http://m-field.b.la9.jp/index.html (Japanese)
http://dolk.jp/s.f.b.t/en/ (English)

This review is quite detailed (and long, you’ve been warned =P) but I want to stress that the negatives are very minor compared to the overwhelming positives. The SFBT-3 is truly an unprecedented feat of engineering and grace. They are also prototyping the SFBT-4 with is a male body (androgynous at least) which might be something to look out for and could address some of the SFBT-3 niggles making it an even better art reference! But there is no indication yet about if or when the SFBT-4 might go on sale.

Why a mannequin?

Before people jump all over me about figures not replacing live drawing classes, scientifically anatomically correct books/figures and 3D programs/apps, I definitely agree, they don’t. Like I said in my first post, I see and treat this a “drawing aid” to compliment all the other ways to learn. Plus I’m really not a fan of the 3D posing programs, I find that it takes ages to even get close to a basic pose and lacks subtle nuance… however I can image programs will improve in time and I’m open minded to conversion hahaha.

How I got mine

It’s costly!!! I guess it depends, because I’m sure in terms of collectibles it’s reasonable-ish, but for a lowly artist like myself it’s painful. Continue reading

Leave a comment | 11 Comments

[ Singapore Photos – I just moved here! ]

Posted on April 21st, 2015 at 6:11am

It has nearly been a month since me and my husband moved to Singapore. We moved into our flat only about 2 weeks ago. Before that we took a little holiday in Singapore and did some of the typical sight seeing.

My degree was in photography but has been a long time since I focused on it. But I’ve never stopped taking photos, just for myself more an anything. I thought I would share some of the photos I took that I had more of my “art hat” on. Minus a number of condensation in the lens/camera body (which has never happened to me! But that’s humidity for you)… Singapore is a very interesting place to photograph.

Leave a comment | 0 Comments

[ A Better Artists Mannequin – 1/6 Synthetic Human Test Body: a review ]

Posted on October 28th, 2014 at 2:33pm

Synthetic Human Test Body is by 1000toys http://1000toys.jp/ / www.facebook.com/1000toys. Mine is not for sale =).

You can now see my follow up post [A Better Artists Mannequin – SFBT-3: in depth review].

Why a Mannequin?

EDIT: I’ve had quite a few inquires about whether or not I’ll sell mine, I’m very sorry mine is not for sale.

I admit it… since I was a kid I have often been tempted to buy one of those wooden artist mannequins. I liked the idea of it, being able to have a little human on hand for all my drawing needs. Every time I go into a shop to see one in person I immediately remember why it was a terrible idea and I can’t put it down fast enough. They are kinda rubbish and makes you wonder why they are so widely adopted by artists! I’m no anatomy expert, but even I can see they are seriously pointless!

It seems a lot of people think that artists can just draw a figure in any pose/facial expression from any angle off the top of their heads, like magic… but let me dispel that myth, artists use references. Up until this point I’ve been using mirrors/webcams/cameras, my own hands, image searches, tried a few programs/apps (not to my likely), books and even forced my husband to stand in stupid ways while I take photos. I have done life drawing classes in the past, but it’s unlikely I’d be able to afford for someone to be on hand day & night to pose for me. Plus there is only so much a normal person can achieve… Not everyone can be a natural actor, playing child, martial arts, leaping, magic wielding, flying dancer! I know I definitely can’t, but not for lack of trying! =P But up until now I’ve got by ok with all these other resources, yet I still felt a physically thing in front of me would vastly help.

Figures I Found

However I don’t like to admit defeat so I took to the internet in hopes that someone had by now invented a better artists mannequin drawing aid. I found a few fab static models statues that showed more anatomical detail. They really do seem great, but posing was my goal so it was a no go. But thought I’d link some for prosperity: Continue reading

Leave a comment | 57 Comments

[ Etsy & Panda Polymer Clay Charms ]

Posted on October 11th, 2014 at 10:28am

It was no surprise that I have finally got around to setting up an Etsy shop:


At first Esty was just meant to be a solution to selling t-shirts on top of just paypal (designs which you can see on my [JE Tees & JE Pandas] page). It then turned into me being inspired by all the great crafts on there.

I use to love doing all kinds of craft/making when I was younger. I use to think “craft” and “making” was just a hobby for me. I mean I’m a digital illustrator, I don’t really make objects in a work sense, so I never really imaged that making things could be part of my business! My illustration work translates to t-shirts, so why can’t my aesthetics translate to other things?

I had some beige polymer clay sitting on my self from last year. The reason I bought the clay originally was I read an article about an illustrator who always makes little models of her characters as it makes the best reference for drawing. I did actually give it a go based on some characters I’ve been developing for a personal project…the girl didn’t work too well, but it was my first attempt. After I made the models I didn’t really think more of model making.

Thankfully polymer clay seems to last that whole time so I set about making some prototypes… and I’m on a bit of a panda mission at the moment so thought I’d draw a panda little how I draw them in a cartoon way.

Giant Pandas (2014)

So after testing, developing techniques, and being happy with the proportions, I set about making a real batch. I’m super happy with the results! Here are a few examples. You can buy individual or custom charms from my Esty store: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/JEpandas

Leave a comment | 0 Comments

[ Archery Beginners Recurve Diagrams ]

Posted on September 25th, 2014 at 7:36am

So I started archery 3 years ago. I even qualified as a level 1 coach last year. Sadly due to long term health problem and lots more illustration work (though I can’t complain about work since I love it =P), I have decided to pretty much take an undetermined break from archery.

A while a go I liked the idea of illustrating a beginners booklet, but that too prob will never happen now as I just don’t have the time, but I thought it would be a massive waste to have the images I already complete gathering dust on my hard drive. As I will always love the archery community who give so much of them selves, I have decided to allow these images to be freely used for personal and non-commercial use. But please credit the work, it would be much appreciated =). I’ve even linked to print quality versions below =).

These diagrams are only a guide and to be used at your own risk, you must always consult a qualified instructor. I also can’t guarantee that they are 100% accurate but I did my best with my level 1 knowledge =P.

I hope that you find them useful.

UPDATE 2-7-2016 – After a few requests, complaints and compliments, I’ve been able to find some time to correct the spellings for the two terminology diagrams with the kind help from comments, messages, my husband and a talented Singapore archery coach Samuel Nicholas Chu (who is currently coaching the ITE Central archery team).

I have also added a few other versions of the terminology diagrams. The first is more of a blank image which I invite people to add their own text as I know every coach might have different parts of a bow they might want to point out. I also have added, conveniently, a word document that all the text can be changed, removed or added so that it can be saved to either a PDF or printed. Another reason I did this was because I’ve had a few messages over the years asking if I could translate, hopefully this gives coaches all over the world the ability to benefit… and why I suspect that the diagrams continue to be widely used! Thanks again everyone!

Link to images:

Basic Recurve Terminology Diagram (Updated July 2016) – [Web Quality] [Print Quality] [Word Doc – Editable] [Print Quality – Add your own text]
Recurve Extended Terminology Diagram (Updated July 2016) – [Web Quality] [Print Quality] [Word Doc – Editable] [Print Quality – Add your own text]
Beginners Archery – Warm up Exercises – [Web Quality] [Print Quality]
Archery Safety – Clothing – [Web Quality] [Print Quality]
Beginners Archery – Stance – [Web Quality] [Print Quality]
Beginners Archery – Nock Arrow guide – [Web Quality] [Print Quality]
Beginners Archery – Barebow & Freestyle Fingers – [Web Quality] [Print Quality]
Archery Beginners Recurve – Bow Hand – [Web Quality] [Print Quality]
Beginners Archery Recurve – Barebow & Freestyle Aim – [Web Quality] [Print Quality]

Leave a comment | 59 Comments

[ Win a Panda t-shirt – Deadline 1st Oct 5pm UK ]

Posted on September 18th, 2014 at 3:39pm

To launch my panda clothing line, JE Tees, I am running a competition on my FB page here:


If you’d like to see how the Panda Robot T-shirt was printed from start to finished read my blog post [My visit to October Textiles Ltd].

Competition rules

– There will only be one winner.
– The winner can choose only ONE design (Panda Robots OR Goth Panda) in their desired size (please refer to the size guide below).
– Postage will be free as long as you don’t live somewhere that even the UK Royal Mail can’t get it =P.
– If you are under the age of 16 you must have prior permission from a parent or guardian to enter.
– You must like the FB image plus either leave a comment by writing “PANDA” or share the image publicly on your wall (it must be public or I won’t be able to see your name to enter you into the draw).
– The deadline is 1st Oct 2014 5pm UK. Good luck! =)
– If the winner does not replay to my message after 4 days or decide to pass I will chose a new winner.

Buy or Reserve

Once the competition is over I will make the rest of the two t-shirt designs available to buy. I only have 2-3 in each size, so depending on how well they do, this may be your only opportunity to own this design. If you are really keen to own one and don’t want to rely on the competition then please email me to reserve a design and state the size you’d like.

I also have 1 (and maybe 2 if I can be convinced to part from it) very special hoodies with the Panda Robot design which is NOT part of the competition. Only two have been printed! But is available to buy straight away unlike the t-shirts! UPDATE: M size hoodie now sold and off to a nice home, only XXXL hoodie left.

To reserve a t-shirt or buy a hoodie on a first come, first served basis, please email directly: jess@jessica-emmett.com Continue reading

Leave a comment | 0 Comments

[ My visit to October Textiles Ltd – a UK t-shirt printing specialist ]

Posted on September 18th, 2014 at 3:38pm

The History

So I had this great (and maybe naive) idea to try out t-shirt design. I had never really considered it before, until back in February when a lovely client asked me turn an illustration commission I already done for her into something that could be printed onto a t-shirt as a little extra. She sent me pictures of people wearing it and I started to think…. hummm maybe I should look into doing that… my illustrations are bold enough… aren’t they?

So after trying a few other no-risk-to-me-financially routes like t-shirt voting sites or print on demand, while both have their place and have positives, I was left with a sense that it was all a little too random and unhealthily competitive, or not quite the quality I’d like. Don’t get me wrong, I think both routes work for many, and even for me in a few cases – on my [JE Tees & JE Pandas] t-shirt design page I do have designs on each platform.

Here was the next hurdle, I’m hardly set up to print t-shirts myself in my tiny flat! Plus even if I attempted to do something that messy, knowing me that would be kissing away my flat deposit. That left only one solution, getting someone else to print them for me.

I wasn’t that happy about the prospect. As an artist, I’ve always produced my own work, even if in collaboration with others, I usually can still do my own bits. It also meant taking a financial risk and investing in a small print run. I knew it would take a while to find a printers I was comfortable with…

Experience with first printer

It was not all plain sailing trying to find a printers. Before I got in touch with October Textiles Ltd. I had tried a printer before them. Continue reading

Leave a comment | 4 Comments

[ Learn Thai – Book 2 finally published! ]

Posted on September 3rd, 2014 at 10:56am

Wow. Learn Thai Through Stories, Grammar & Exercises – Book 2 (with audio CD) that I illustrated for my lovely client Karine Jones is now official published!

I can’t believe that it has been only 18 months since the last book was published! See my blog about [Learn Thai – Book 1 – by Karine Jones illustrated by Jessica Emmett]. And you can see more book page samples and images from the [Illustration] page.

You can buy the book from the publishers who ships internationally:


I have to take a moment of reflection. After the first book was published, I realised that with all my heart that I wanted to do illustration full time! It’s a little strange because I’ve been a practising freelance artist for 9 years (which some of the work has even been illustration jobs)… so on one hand I don’t feel like a new artist… on the other I feel like I am a illustrator as I feel such excitement and full of new hope and possibility about this change in direction for my career!

But I don’t reject every part of my previous work practices. Both the Learn Thai books have utilized not only my illustration skills, but also my basic design ones as I have laid out every page ready for the printers and the CD labels. I even designed the logo. I actually love creating logos an aspect I will miss in design.

Overall it has been an amazing year being able to 100% focus on illustration. Every day I have either been working on illustration commissions or drawing for fun or reading up on techniques or practising drawing/painting both digitally and traditionally…. I think you get the picture =P. Being able to learn every day is both challenging and exciting!

In terms of the Learn Thai book 2, I think it’s safe to say that overall the illustrations improved and it has been joy to work on. One of my favourite images from the books was of of the characters holding an umbrella and another getting soaked. I can not take credit for any of the writing or stories in the book and all has been imaged by Karine. It is more my job to try and get her vision onto the page. After two books we have formed a great collaboration. We both learn a lot every book that is completed! The hardest lesson for me this time was the discovery of a bug when copy & pasting between InDesign and Illustrator… but sorted out now!

When I decided to be an artist as a teen, there were two things I could not predict…. the first having to learning how to run a mini business as a freelancer and do my own taxes (fun times)… second was while I love the technical aspects of digital art, I could never predict just quite how much technical knowledge is needed to be an artist in the modern age! Mastering complex software, printing processes and even basic website coding as a single person has been daunting while fantastically challenging. I definitely try to keep up to date but I think it is some what impossible to learn all the specialist stuff out there, so sometimes it has to be learnt on a need to know basis. This time around a welcomed addition to both Learn Thai books are audio CDs. It was interesting learning about colour separations for the CD labels, a lot more technical than I had ever had to prepare for a print job despite the design being very simple. As t-shirt design is my next personal venture I was determined to learn how to do separations thankful some how it all came together at the end.

If a young creative ever asks me for advice (which does happen from time to time), I always say… “Learn the software!”

The books itself goes beyond just a “children’s” education book. I have actually been surprised that over the past few years I have come across people with a Thai connection and they felt they wanted to try their hand at basic Thai, so this book is as useful for adult learning as well as for children =).

While I to the visuals, my job ends once the book is printed. It is only Karine’s hard work, passion to get these books made and her determination to get them out there is something I’ve always been in amazed by. I thank Karine & Dave B. from CPI for helping my realise last year that illustration was a possibility!

Leave a comment | 0 Comments

[ Hong Kong Policeman by Chris Emmett – a book by my dad ]

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 8:04pm

Hong Kong Policeman - Book CoverMy family has always been steadfast in their supported for me as a creative, so it is my great pleasure to be able to return the favour! My dad, Chris Emmett, who is now a published author!

You can by it from: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/9881609038
Or from the publisher: www.earnshawbooks.com/content/hong-kong-policeman

Hong Kong in 1970 was the fastest expanding city in the world, a city that lived on three levels – the expatriates, nearly always British who lived in almost complete isolation; the vast mass of Chinese residents struggling to get by and improve their lot; and finally the criminal and corrupt underside which not only fought among itself but also affected the life of everyone else in the Crown Colony through fear and corruption. Fighting to hold this in check and by and large succeeding – were the Hong Kong police force. At the officer level, many were British. Into this heady and dangerous mix steps a young Merseyside policeman, Chris Emmett. His account of those times brings vividly to life the crime, prostitution, drugs, triad street gangs and corruption that was an important part of the fabric of Hong Kong of those days.”

Edit: You can read an excerpt here: [Go to SCMP feature]

He has always been a fantastic story teller and always made family dinners entertaining, so I was so glad that he took the plunge into writing a book after his retirement! He has worked hard, I am almost surprised he hasn’t just become one with his desk! =P

My dad will also be going back to Hong Kong for the first time since he retired from the force in 1998 for a small book tour, starting out with an interview on RTHK radio on 15th Sept 2014!

As well as being an extremely proud daughter, I was thrilled when my dad asked me to do a genuine illustration commission for him inspired by scenes from his book. This was a fantastic exchange and collaboration for me. Not only was it great to be able to share my creative process with my family (as it’s not something they have experienced properly before), it was also amazing to hear more stories about my dad’s time in the Hong Kong police force. He even explained in detail the proper way to wear the Hong Kong police 70’s uniform since I had to draw it! Including how the pant leg always got creased, or how far the holster was around the belt and how some of the uniforms & weapons changed throughout the years the book spans.

I’ve been dying to show this illustration publicly =D. It’s an illustration I’m really proud, it was a challenging scene and a lot of time went into the piece for sure, but I’m really happy with the outcome! I just hope that I did his book justice.


I can’t wait to get my hands on my own copy of the book!

I think my dad has passed on a lovely lesson for his daughters, it is never too late to follow your dreams =).


UPDATE 21st September, 2014

My Thoughts

I finished reading the book!

It is a fantastic blend of humour, seriousness, historically informative and an honest commentary on exparterisism and merging of cultures! I don’t normally buy and read biographies as being dyslexic I’m pretty choosy about what I put the effort into reading, yet this was a surprisingly easy read. I liked the feel that it was a collection of short stories, each focusing on a different aspect of policing.

The culture shock elements of the book definitely would resonate with anyone that has moved country. Ironically my culture shock was the other way around, born & grow up in HK to then move to the UK. I love how he doesn’t shy away from the bilingual nature of the experience. Each story I got lost in, then with injection of HK history and self reflected commentary I would be reminded this really happened!

My dad use to always say to me that HK was full of characters. Clearly that was true as the colourful array of people, both cop and crook, really made the book interesting. I am glad that he took the time to explain the different aspects of the police, as a none policeman I was worried I won’t understand anything. I will admit that I still get confused about the rankings.

I wasn’t disappointed with the comical bits. My husband often throw me funny looks when I would burst into laughter while I was ready (though now he’s reading it I’ve caught him doing the same). The pace and balance between humour, serious, action and observational is really good!

I do have a bias as a daughter, but I can honestly say I enjoyed the book, I enjoyed learning another side to HK. HK is a complex place and I think he manages to get across very well the city he will always have a special relationship with.

Media Links

Listen to a very insightful & inspiring speech, with Q&A, at the The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong – Club Lunch: An Insider’s View: The Hong Kong Police and Politics:

Radio interview RTHK (3rd down) – [Go to RTHK to listen]
SCMP interview – [Go to SCMP]

Leave a comment | 20 Comments