GutterTalk / workshops


We have bold new experiment ready for you to enjoy this week – the very first ComicFuel Workshop podcast! Bizhan Khodabendeh’sPanel Layout: The Golden Ratio” from 2014 is our most popular article ever posted on our website. So, for season 1 of Gutter Talk we’ve decided to revisit the article in the form of a FREE WORKSHOP.

That’s right! We said FREE WORKSHOP!!!

I hear you asking:

“But, Patrick… This is just a podcast. How is a podcast a FREE WORKSHOP?”

Great question! The idea is super simple:

  1. If you haven’t yet, read through Bizhan’s Article “Panel Layout: The Golden Ratio”
  2. Come back to this post at
  3. Start playing the podcast and follow along with the tutorial below
  4. Skip ahead to the future and you will have 1 full page of comic art completed that utilizes Bizhan’s Golden Ratio theory.

I told you it was simple. (I know, that last step is a doozy).

This is a crazy experiment for and the Gutter Talk ComicFuel series. We want to know if you liked it, if you hated it, something was confusing, or even if you just want to say hi. All of the feedback is welcome and encouraged. To give us feedback, comment below or email us at

Oh, and hey, if you like this episode please let us know by signing up to be a Patreon patron, giving us a one-time donation, or giving us a tip on the RadioPublic app.

For your convenience we’ve broken the podcast down into chapters:*

  • 00:00:00 – Pre-Roll Ad
  • 00:01:30 – *NEW* ComicFuel Theme Song
  • 00:02:17 – Patreon Updates
  • 00:04:10 – Show Intro
  • 00:06:14 – Bizhan Introduction
  • 00:10:55 – Workshop Agenda, Goals, & Deliverables
  • 00:12:28 – Materials Overview
  • 00:19:04 – Step 1: Thumbnailing
  • 00:27:07 – Steps 2 & 3: Page Layout 1
  • 00:33:54 – Steps 4 & 5: Page Layout 2
  • 00:42:53 – Step 6: Penciling
  • 00:52:44 – Step 7: Refining Pencils
  • 01:01:00 – Step 8: Inking
  • 01:14:03 – Steps 9-11: Refining Inks
  • 01:25:25 – End of Lesson & Next Steps
  • 01:27:31 – “Flats” Definition
  • 01:32:31 – Closing The Loop: Golden Ratio
  • 01:36:51 – Closing Credits

*If you are versed at all with “enhanced” podcasts, we’ve also included chapter markers directly in the episode so you should be able to jump to sections fairly easily from within your podcast player. If none of that makes any sense – ignore me.


Lesson & Photos by Bizhan Khodabendeh (@mendedarrow). Support him and his work by visiting

All music was graciously provided by our friends “Another Dead Clown” from the instrumentals of “This May Not Work.” Support Another Dead Clown by purchasing their albums at:

Music Tracks, in order of perception:

  • Pre Roll Ad – Fuzzy Analog
  • New Show Intro – Akashic Fields
  • Transitions – “Space Demons” by Christopher O’Keeffe
  • Step 1 Break – For the Aeroplane & 27 Second Kiss
  • Step 2 – Evas Guitar
  • Step 4 & 5 – Akashic Fields & Holy Fuck
  • Step 6 – Penny Proposition & Eight Miles To Ludlow
  • Step 7 – Pyramids
  • Step 8 – Guns & Currency & Frank O
  • Step 9-11 – Drinking Song & Spencer’s Bad News

The Golden Ratio Workshop

Audio Walkthrough

The Objective

To complete a full page of comic art utilizing Bizhan’s application of the Golden Ration compositional theory.


If you are interested in downloading all photos used below in high resolution, the script below, comic page templates (in both 11×17 & 8.5×11 – multiple formats), and more then we got you covered! Go check out our Patreon page where a donation of $2 a month will get you a download of all the materials for the workshop:

Required Materials:

  1. Pencil & Eraser
  2. Pen (Specific ones outlined below, but any will do)
  3. Paper (11×17 suggested, but copy paper can be made to work) 
  4. A ruler

Suggested Materials:

  1. Mechanical pencil
  2. Bristol paper
  3. Printed template
  4. Light box
  5. Staedtler 01
  6. Staedtler 03
  7. Pentel brush pen
  8. Uniball white gel pen
  9. Eraser

00:19:04 – Step 1: Thumbnailing

1.) Sketching thumbnails of page: I usually sketch multiple thumbnails per page because my first solution often isn’t a very strong solution. It’s also better to figure out a concrete solution before hand so that you aren’t constantly adjusting to make a better page.

00:27:07 – Steps 2 & 3: Page Layout 1

2.) This can be done beforehand, but you need to transfer your printed copy of my template to the paper. To do this we use a light box which makes it easier the trace an image. Sandwich the template between the box and a sheet of bristol paper.

3.) Now turn the box on and trace it using a pencil and ruler.

00:33:54 – Steps 4 & 5: Page Layout 2

4.) This is what it should look like. Notice how I don’t trace the circular shapes. I just have a general idea of where they go.

5.) Pencil panel borders laid out in the sketch using the notches surrounding the template.

00:42:53 – Step 6: Penciling

6.) Next sketch your environments and characters with pencil. I use basic shapes to build them – knowing that I will add a lot of detail during the inking process. While penciling I am considering both my thumbnail and the overall grid system. I often make adjustments to my initial idea while doing the pencil drawing.

00:52:44 – Step 7: Refining Pencils

7.) This is approximately what my final pencils would look like for my page. Not a lot of detail, but enough to remind me what my plans were for these drawings and to nail down the composition. For example, all of these fish will be covered in scales, but it would be a waste of time for me to pencil every scale since I will be inking them anyways. It’s like making myself draw it twice for no reason. It’s more important for me to nail down the overall gesture of the fish.

01:01:00 – Step 8: Inking

8.) Next we start inking. I first start with the 01 Staedtler pen. I like these because they tend to take awhile to dry so I can ink for long periods of time.

01:14:03 – Steps 9-11: Refining Inks

9) Next I use the 03 Staedtler pen to fill in smaller shadowed areas and draw a thick outer line. This helps separate the character from the background – after I ink the background also with an 01 pen.

10) The larger black areas and the “alligator teeth” shadows are both often illustrated with a Pentel brush pen. To fill in the black areas with a bit of texture I turn my pen sideways almost against the page and drag it perpendicular to itself. Areas that can’t be filled in this way I use the brush as I would any writing tool.

To get the  “alligator teeth” I turn my pen sideways and press gradually harder as I pull my hand away from the tip of the pen. When these are stacked close to each other, the affect is a jagged edge.

11) I’ll now use my white gel pen to either cut into some of the black areas with highlights OR to clean up a mistake with my inking. I will also use white out tape or white out to do this.

01:25:25 – End of Lesson & Next Steps

12.) Finally I erase the pencils and this is what it looks like.

To show how it gets wrapped up which I won’t go into detail because that should be left for yet another tutorial.

13.)  I scan the inks, clean them up and add panels. You might notice that I added some dock pilings in the background. After a bit of drawing. I’ll often use parts of previously drawn pages to save time or add complexity to a panel. This is more useful with the backgrounds than the characters. Sometimes repeating a character drawing can make the comic feel stale so I avoid it unless it contributes to the narrative.

14.) Then I color the page.

15.) Finally I add the type and word. bubbles digitally.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>