Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
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Sequential Imagery, Comics, Storyboarding and Drawing From Observation

Sequential Imagery, Comics and Storyboarding

Spend half of the day exploring the potential of sequential storytelling as applied to a personal narrative. Students will be required to produce a 3-5 page comic book which relates to a personal experience, but can be re-imagined as science fiction, noir, gothic, superhero, horror, memoir or another genre. Students may also take a more straightforward approach if they choose. Class will focus on developing unique and personal means of expression as well as technique and appropriate style. Participation in class critiques and discussions will be an essential part of the class.

Required text: “Drawing Words & Writing Pictures” by Jessica Able & Matt Madden available on Amazon or at Richmond’s Velocity Comics.

Required tools: t-square, non-repro blue pencils, an assortment of graphite pencils and/or mechanical pencils, HB to 2B, 11″ x 17″ drawing surfaces for example 2 to 3 ply Bristol Vellum, drafting triangle, brushes and/or marker pens for example Micron, Copic, Pentel, etc.


Kelly Alder is an award-winning illustrator with over 30 years of experience in the field working in editorial, advertising, animation, publishing and sequential art. He attended VCU for his undergraduate studies in the Painting and Printmaking department and received an MFA in Visual Journalism/Illustration from SVA in New York. His work has been recognized by Society of Illustrator’s annuals 49 and 51, American Illustration’s annual 28 Web Gallery, Print magazine design annuals 1987, 2006 and Communication Arts illustration annual 1997. Some of his clients include Atlantic Monthly, Business Week, Bloomberg Magazine, CFA Magazine, Disney Adventures, Forbes, Fortune, Men’s Health, New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Washington Post, Virginia Living, DC Comics, AdHouse Books, St. Martin’s Press, Monitor Group, Virginia Historical Society, Tiffany’s and MammaZu. He owns and operates a local t-shirt company, popidiot, that specializes in the flotsam and jetsam of pop culture. Alder has taught in VCU’s Communication Art’s and Fashion program since 2009. To see some of his work visit, and


Drawing From Observation

During the other half of your day during this three week course you will focus on developing realistic drawing skills based on observation, an essential skill necessary for creating a portfolio for college admissions. Through presentations and demos students will learn how to see by evaluating predictable patterns of light, and how to then process visual information in ways that aid image translation by the hand to two-dimensional surfaces. Subjects will include natural and man made objects and scenes in addition to the human form. Art history and creative deviations from realism will be explored. Students will keep a sketchbook for notes and will produce 3-5 large drawings.

Necessary Supplies: Please bring a 18″x24″ pad of Bristol vellum, pencils of various hardnesses, charcoal, Prismacolor colored pencils and a sketchbook about 8″x10″


Sarah E. Faris, MA, CMI (Certified Medical Illustrator) grew up in the Richmond area where she received a BFA from the VCU Department of Communication Arts, and a MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Art As Applied to Medicine in Baltimore.

Ms. Faris is currently teaches a variety of courses in VCU’s Department of Communication Arts and is also the founder, and principle practicing certified medical illustrator of SciMed Studios where she works with doctors, scientists, attorneys and experts to create innovative educational images and materials for use in litigation, textbooks and scientific/medical journals. Ms. Faris has won numerous national awards and has exhibited successfully both nationally and internationally. Her work and artistic philosophy are rooted in problem solving, rational thinking, and observation, while also embracing the manipulation of essential elements for both realistic and desired effect.