Practical Cartooning for Technical Folk

Learn the secrets of cartoonists to harness the power of "show, don't tell"

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I've done workshops on everything from teaching web animation to developers to teaching JavaScript to designers, and after every event, I hear, "I wish I could draw like you! Your comics and storytelling are so easy to understand." So here it is, a course where I reveal all the secrets to visual communication that I learned in my seven years as an award winning cartoonist!

Watch the videos, do the exercises, post your work, receive personal feedback

Most everyone can benefit from improving their communication skills. Do you:

  • Give presentations?
  • Create user stories?
  • Wireframe sales pages or apps?
  • Design sites?

Then you're going to get a lot from this course. Most visual communication involves an element of storytelling, and in this course, I show you how comics principles apply to every day communication and design challenges, from getting the audience to empathize with characters to hooking them with a narrative arc to explain your conclusion.

It's an intense, fun course that will improve your emotional communication, composition skills, and storytelling chops.

Course format

Watch videos, draw art, post your work, get feedback. If you spend about 2-4 hours a week on this course, you'll finish in about a month. Or you could run through the whole thing in a dedicated work week!

  • 14 videos DRM-free you can download and keep
  • 9+ fun exercises with personal feedback
  • 4 assignments with in depth critique and feedback

You can start at any time after you enroll. I will personally give you feedback when you post work in the assignments areas.

You will learn

  • Recognizing and conveying emotions on faces to communicate intent
  • Simple anatomy for getting ideas out quickly
  • Gestural drawing to power up your art over time
  • Composition techniques from animation, film, and the old masters as applied to design
  • Framing devices for conversations
  • Layout and flow tricks from comics
  • Choosing characters your audience will identify with
  • Growing a story from an idea to a beginning, middle, and end
  • 3 and 4-stage narrative arcs
  • How to test your story in a vacuum
This illustration was storyboarded by Amber Himes Matz in an assignment and went on to be used to help illustrate this article. Just think about what you could do with comics powers!

Your Instructor

Rachel Nabors
Rachel Nabors

I'm a web animation expert and consultant. I've given workshops at companies and conferences in eight different countries; write about web animations and UI animation for publications such as A List Apart, Net Mag, and Adobe Inspire; and keynote conferences including O’Reilly’s OSCON. I love the web animation community and advocate for it as an invited expert at the W3C.

If you'd like to get more involved, check out my newsletter and join us at the Animation at Work Slack community . You can also find me on Twitter and at

Frequently Asked Questions

I can't even draw stick figures. Is this course too advanced for me?
This course was designed for artists of all levels, from newbs to pros, and everyone who has taken it has learned something invaluable and measurably advanced their skills. I'm sure you will, too!
Do I need a fancy stylus or any special equipment?
You will need paper and something to mark it with! Seriously, tools do not make you a good artist any more than a sports car makes you a good driver. Technique is where it's at. When you sign up, you'll receive a supply list of traditional media (pens, pencils, etc) I have used and recommend. You can ignore it, go shopping, or sign up for L'Artiste, where I send you a pouch full of said supplies and you relax. There are videos about using both traditional media and digital tools, so you're covered no matter what your workflow might be. Ideally, you'll want to be able to take a photo of or scan your work so you can share it with me for feedback.
When does the course start and finish?
It is a completely self-paced online course. You decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
Forever! After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
First, please tell me why you're unhappy so I can try to fix the problem! Then, I'd like to offer you a full refund, provided you come to me within the first 30 days (after that, I can't process refunds for technical reasons).

Testimonials from Technical Folk like you!

I had been following Rachel on social media since I came across her Alice in Videoland piece. I really enjoy her work and style, so I was thrilled when I saw the announcement for a cartooning course with Rachel. I was not disappointed—the video lessons were informative and fun, and we all got valuable personal feedback on our work directly from Rachel. I look forward to more classes with her to help deepen my art skills. — Ana Ulin, software engineer
In only a couple of weeks this course developed my drawing and designing skills A LOT. Also Rachel is a great teacher who will guide you through the course with humor, warmth and a lot of knowledge! — Maria Annas, interaction design student
Fun, knowledgeable, interactive, eager to help- these are just some of the things I could say about Rachel's teaching style. She has the rare ability to take material that is beyond second nature to herself and break it down into its smallest parts so that it's easy for a beginner to understand. Her courses are highly visual and engaging. 'Cartooning for Technical Folk' was not only fun, but practical as well. I learned that I can draw! Not only that, but I can use drawing in my daily life as a professional to enhance my workflow and communications with others. 10 out of 10! — Sarah Khan, UX designer
Practical Cartooning is a goody bag for aspiring cartoonists, sprinkled with Rachel's warmth and humour. Highly recommended!— Robert Blixt, web developer
I loved the process of "storifying" a technical concept and making it more accessible.— Amber Himes Matz, educator with Drupalize.Me at Lullabot

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