Cartoonist Lynda Barry Teaches You How to Make a Visual Daily Diary

Car­toon­ist and edu­ca­tor Lyn­da Barry is a favorite here at Open Cul­ture.

We’re always excit­ed to share exer­cis­es from her books and intel on her class­es at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin, but noth­ing beats the warmth and humor of her live instruc­tion… even when it’s deliv­ered vir­tu­al­ly.

Last week, she took to Insta­gram to inform the four­teen lucky U of W stu­dents enrolled in her fall Mak­ing Comics class to pre­pare for a new way of keep­ing their required dai­ly diaries, using a tech­nique she calls “sis­ter images.”

Those of us at home can play along, above.

Grab a com­po­si­tion book, or two blank sheets of paper, and a black felt tip pen. (Even­tu­al­ly you’ll need a timer, but not today.)

Rather than describe the ten-minute writ­ing and draw­ing exer­cise in advance, we encour­age you to jump right in, con­fi­dent that teacher Bar­ry would approve.

There are plen­ty of resources out there for those who want to learn how to out­linescript, and sto­ry­board comics.

Bar­ry aims to tap a deep­er vein of cre­ativ­i­ty with exer­cis­es that help stu­dents embrace the unknown.

The sis­ter diary’s pur­pose, she says, is to “let our hands lead the way in terms of fig­ur­ing out our sto­ries.”

Whether or not you seek to make comics, it’s an engag­ing way to doc­u­ment your life. You can also imple­ment the sis­ter diary tech­nique for dis­cov­er­ing more about char­ac­ters in your fic­tion­al work.

You’ll also pick up some bonus tips on draw­ing back­grounds, using all caps, allot­ting enough space with­in a pan­el for full body ren­der­ings, and stay­ing in the moment should you find your­self at a tem­po­rary loss.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Barry’s Two-Hour Draw­ing Work­shop

Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry Teach­es You How to Draw

Take a Road Trip Across Amer­i­ca with Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry in the 90s Doc­u­men­tary, Grandma’s Way Out Par­ty

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.