Learn Clear Storytelling

My former student Michael Weber has posted his third and final blog entry about his experience taking my part-time comic book course at VanArts. He’s titled this one:

Learn Clear Storytelling from Steve Rolston

That’s definitely something I emphasize in my class: making sure it’s clear to the reader what is going on and where they’re supposed to be looking. In this post, Michael shows how I coached him through a particularly tricky sequence in his Dawn Line comic. He had some cool ideas on how to lay out the panels but it took some tweaking before we got a version where we knew it would be read in the correct order.

Weird Sequence

My notes on his work also highlight just how much thought goes into drawing a comic page; whether it’s composition, timing, continuity, physics, legibility, sound effects or the many other things a comic creator has to consider. If I see my students doing something that could confuse or annoy their reader, I will call them out on it so they know to avoid those problems in the future.

It’s nice to know that Michael appreciated my critical eye and the advice I had to offer. If you’re interested in having a similar experience and you live in Vancouver, check out my Intro to Comic Book Production course. The next course is scheduled to start very soon, on Monday, March 30th.

Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon

Chris Bourassa, the artist behind the new game DARKEST DUNGEON, asked me to do a pin-up to celebrate its release. I said HELL YEAH! So here’s my attempt to capture a crew of treasure-seekers delving into the depths of horror known as the Darkest Dungeon!

The game is a challenging gothic RPG about the stresses of dungeon crawling. You will lead a band of heroes on a perilous side-scrolling descent, dealing with a prodigious number of threats to their bodily health, and worse, a relentless assault on their mental fortitude! Five hundred feet below the earth you will not only fight unimaginable foes, but famine, disease, and the stress of the ever-encroaching dark. Darkest Dungeon focuses on the humanity and psychological vulnerability of the heroes and asks: What emotional toll does a life of adventure take?

DARKEST DUNGEON is available now on Steam Early Access.

Doors of Copenhagen

Doors of Copenhagen

I was in Denmark for the holidays and while there I spent some time wandering the streets of Copenhagen. I got in the habit of stopping to take a photo whenever I saw an interesting door. Some of the elements and details you see here are what I’m hoping to infuse into the architecture of my next comic, Trapezius Pepper.

In particular, I expect I’ll be drawing plenty of tall double-doors to accommodate the bears who live among the humans in the fictional city of Stoutsburg. I’m still debating how many buildings will have tiny doors as well, to make things easier on the raccoon citizens.

You can find out more about the comic by visiting its Patreon page: www.patreon.com/steverolston

Why You Should Take My Comic Making Class

One of my recent comic students, Michael Weber, has started posting a series of blog posts under the heading “How to Make Comics the Steve Rolston Way”, discussing his experience taking my classes. If you’ve ever been curious about the part-time course I teach at VanArts, these should be an insightful read for you.


As a teacher, I’m finding it very interesting to see someone really think about the course they took and express what they got out of it. Michael was a very enthusiastic student and I expect to see a lot of comics from him in the future. Keep an eye out for his current project, The Dawn Line.

If you live in Vancouver and want to learn some tricks about drawing comics, my next course starts up on March 16th. You can get more information and register online at the VanArts website.

INKtober 2014 Wrap-Up

INKtober 2014 Wrap-Up

I just got a chance to compile all of last month’s #INKtober sketches into one big image. These are all characters who will likely show up in the Trapezius Pepper story that I’m currently trying to wrap my brain around (in addition to some of the characters I drew during previous #INKtober challenges). I do like having this visual representation of Stoutsburg’s citizens to help me keep track of everybody. I’m tempted to pin all these mugshots onto my wall and use string & post-it notes to chart everyone’s relationships and affiliations. Conspiracy walls aren’t JUST for detectives and crazy people, right?

INKtober 2014

It’s that time of year again! Keeping up the #INKtober tradition, I’ll be creating an inked drawing every day in October. I’m sticking with my technique of doing 3″x3″ head shots, which is usually manageable even on busy days.

In previous years I drew a bunch of random characters to see if I could come up with any designs that might fit in the Trapezius Pepper comic I was wanting to work on. In 2012 I focussed on human characters and in 2013 I focussed on bears and raccons. This year I’ll be tackling humans AND bears AND raccoons. And now that I’m picking up steam on the comic and have gotten further into the writing of it, I thought I’d focus on specific characters I know will be in the story.

This first sketch is of Trapezius himself. You can never get too much practice drawing your protagonist.


If you want to see more concept stuff from the Trapezius Pepper comic while I’m still working on it, check out my Patreon and consider becoming a patron: http://www.patreon.com/steverolston

I’ll do a round-up blog post at the end of the month but if you want to see my INKtober drawings every day, follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr.

Each of the original drawings will be available to purchase as soon as they’re posted on my Instagram. You can get one for $10 USD via Paypal (includes shipping). These inked drawings are on 3″ x 3″ pieces of bristol board, signed on the back. Email me at steve@steverolston.com to call dibs.

You can also check this blog post to see which original art from previous years is still available: http://steverolston.com/89m

And if you want a nice collection of my 2012 & 2013 INKtober drawings. you can get a digital version (pay-what-you-want PDF) from Gumroad or you can order a physical booklet from my Etsy Shop.

If you’re an artist, I hope to see you join in on the #INKtober challenge. And I hope the rest of you enjoy the show!

Comic Demo + VanArts Course

Hey Vancouverites, I’m doing another FREE demo at Opus Art Supplies in North Vancouver (near Capilano Mall) on Sunday, September 7th from 11am to 1pm. I’ll be discussing the process of creating comics and I’ll explain the typical stages of Script, Thumbnails, Pencils, Inks and Lettering, using examples from Emiko Superstar and some of my other comics.

(they made up that title, not me)

Space is limited and registration is required. Please register in advance by calling the North Van store at 604-904-0447.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth learning experience, my next Introduction to Comic Book Production course at VanArts starts up on September 15th 22nd. It’s a 12-week course that runs on Monday nights from 7-10pm. I take my students through the process of writing, thumbnailing, penciling, inking and lettering a four-page comic. There’s a strong emphasis on clear storytelling, in addition to teaching all the other things I’ve learned during my fourteen years as a comic book artist.
Feel free to email me any questions you may have about the course. Or head over to the VanArts website to register now: www.vanarts.com/courses/introduction-comic-book-production

Watch Me Draw This Wednesday

Watch me Draw on Livestream

9pm ET / 6 pm PT this Wednesday, July 30th @ www.livestream.com/steverolston.

I Just Launched a Patreon


You may have seen me talk about a comic idea of mine called TRAPEZIUS PEPPER. It’s a project I’ve been wanting to write & draw for quite a few years now. A series of comics revolving around a writer-turned-gambler in a city filled with crime, corruption, mystery and, of course, talking bears and raccoons.

I’m getting serious about it now and have created a Patreon page so people can show support for the project by kicking in a little bit of money each month.

With this Patreon, I’m going to take TRAPEZIUS PEPPER from a collection of scattered ideas and form it into an ongoing webcomic series launching later this year. Since I’m still experimenting with the visual style and character designs, I’m going to start off by drawing some one-page comics to get a feel for it. And I’ll be giving my Patreon supporters exclusive early access to that work for as little as $1 a month.

Patrons who pledge at least $3 will also get access to Creative Process posts where I show off and discuss how each page comes together. Go on, head on over to my Patreon page to find out more! And spread the word!



If you want more of a taste, you can download my digital #INKtober sketchbook, RACCOONS & HUMANS & BEARS, OH MY!, which is a collection of character designs I was exploring for the TRAPEZIUS PEPPER stories.

Raccoons and Humans and Bears, Oh My!

I’ve just made my latest sketchbook available to purchase online! “RACCOONS AND HUMANS AND BEARS, OH MY!” is a collection of my INKtober sketches from 2012 and 2013, including some notes about the drawings, the characters and what inspired them.

Raccoons and Humans and Bears, Oh My!

You can choose between the physical booklet, which is available in my Etsy Shop, or a digital PDF version, which is available via Gumroad. I’m quite happy with the cute little booklet but I also like flipping through the pages on a tablet or smart phone. I chose Gumroad because I’m curious about their Pay-What-You-Want option, which allows creators to set a minimum price and then the customers can decide what they want to pay. I’ve set the digital price at ZERO, so you can download it for free or choose to give me a little something for it.