The drawing workshops at TUMO are guided by one principle above all else: “Everyone is unique. Each student has his or her own story and set of experiences that makes them who they are, but the second they try to mimic someone else, they lose that originality. During the workshops, we expose them to different artists, but always encourage them to develop their own style,” explains a drawing workshop leader.

It’s all about helping students find their voice – the rest is just a means of getting there. So, let’s find out what getting there entails.

Level I

The first level of drawing at TUMO is primarily skills-based. That means that though they do spend some time exploring the many Photoshop tools that will later make their lives easier, they still do everything by hand so they can gain a solid footing in the area. By the workshop’s culmination, the student will have drawn a character, in black and white, from the front, back and sides. Part of this level is also spent on understanding the difference between drawing characters for video games vs. animations.

Level II

Level II brings a lot of color to the TUMO students’ lives, both literally and figuratively. Here they begin to learn there is more to green than just green and it would behoove them to know the difference between yellow green, lime green, lime and lawn green, for example. During Level II, the teens continue using Photoshop and color in the characters they created during Level I.

Level III

Everything comes together by the third level of drawing at TUMO. During this magical four-week period, the teens learn about images and composition within the frame. All this goes into finishing the final comic.

Really, it’s more than just drawing – it’s about telling a story. According to a drawing workshop leader, “drawing is a language everyone understands. Even if you can’t speak well, you can communicate through images.” Drawing and creating visual stories are things that captivate everyone from childhood, but it takes more than childhood interest to cultivate the necessary skills to be a good comic artist. “Students come in thinking it’ll just be a fun workshop and they can spend the day drawing butterflies and simple images and don’t realize how much work it takes to build something. Luckily, the process is so much fun they don’t notice,” says a drawing workshop leader.

“Drawing has always been the best way for me to communicate myself. I love it; I feel it’s mine,” explains another workshop leader. Now it’s time for a new group of teens to make it their own in their own ways, using the full color spectrum at their disposal.