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A Q&A with graphic novelist Rachael Ball

by Rachael Ball, Quentin Blake Centre course tutor

The cartoonist on the cathartic process of finding the tools to tell your story visually. If you want to create a graphic novel, our course with graphic novelist Rachael Ball will give you the skills and the inspiration you need to make it happen.

We chatted to Rachael about her upcoming online Graphic Novel Your Life course to give you a better idea of what to expect from it.

Illustration of a figure seated at a table next to the text 'Parents evening glasses'.

Why did you create this course?

I love working with people to find their personal voice with visual narratives, and helping people elevate existing skills from good to great.

I feel passionately that everyone has a story to tell and their own creative vision and that’s what Graphic Novel Your Life aims to unlock.

What makes this course different from other courses?

I think it’s the combination of emotional support and free flowing creativity with a strongly focused structure.

I like to shape the course so people feel like they are just playing with ideas and possibilities then suddenly realise they’ve come up with a story or created a script for their next scene.

It’s very important to me that the course is inspirational, informative but also fun.

It’s crucial that students feel relaxed with each other and that the online experience is as close to an in-person experience as we can achieve.

Illustration of a figure seated on a bed on top of someone lying down.

What can students expect from this online course?

It can be quite a cathartic experience constructing stories and visuals from personal experience – it makes for an intense but rewarding course. Students can expect a really supportive group to help them cover a lot of ground.

What materials and methods do you like?

The basics are pen, pencil and paper, and a folder to keep the masses of ideas, sketches, strips and images you will collect and make. After that, any dry and wet materials of choice – paints, inks, colour pencil, brush pens, chalks and pastels – but if students want to work digitally, that’s fine, too!

I like students to play and experiment throughout the course as we design and get to know our characters.

Illustration of a figure and a wolf running through the woods.

Why should I book a place on Graphic Novel Your Life?

It will inspire and invigorate your practice. If you aren’t already familiar with the power of creating visual narratives it will change your life. Really! There’s something magical about creating a visual or sequential images from a past experience or emotion.

And if you’ve always wanted to create a graphic novel or comic from a life experience then this course will give you the inspiration and toolkit to do so.

Throughout the course we will explore a range of inspirations and starting points for your own story. We look at character design, drawing skills, character expression in face and body, gesture, line, movement, story ideas, plot devices, character motivations and flaws, layout, pacing, composition, panel transitions, colour themes, tonality, individual style… It’s a comprehensive grounding in so many aspects of visual storytelling.

Illustration from graphic novel page of two figures driving in a car.