Depth and Details - March 2017

Depth and Details

How to create more depth and details without losing clarity - Begins March 20

Watch Intro Video

Starts March 20, 2017

(image by Bernie Wrightson

Have you ever sat dazzled in wonder by the richly detailed worlds created by your favorite artists? Have you ever wondered how those God-like artists got all those details in there?

Have you ever wondered how to get more depth in your drawings? Have you ever wondered how those detailed drawings never seem to look messy or cluttered?

Have you ever felt defeated enough to say, "I could never do that."?

All of that dazzling magic is within your reach, it is teachable. Join us, and begin unraveling the mysteries of those fabulous works of art.

So... do you want to sit back in wonder and feel defeated, or do you want to get in there and learn how to do this now? Through easy to follow visual-rich lectures and work-at-home projects that have been successfully proven for years in classrooms, you will not only learn to see that what these artists are doing is not magic, it is perfectly explainable, understandable, teachable, and therefor entirely doable!

(image by Arthur Rackham)

Not only have all of my students had this experience, but I used to feel wholly gobsmacked by the works of my favorite artists, artists who never failed to pack their images full of meaningful details without ever losing clarity or a sense of purpose. No, none of this is magic beyond the understanding of any artist. There are patterns and techniques artists use time and again to organize their details to lead the viewers eyes through maze of details.

Ever wonder how people can not only see, but talk about, all the subtleties of images?

Ever wonder how all those details are included without the image becoming a mess?

Do you feel helpless, have you worried about where to even begin?

(image by Justine)

* In Depth and Details, you will learn how to see what your favorite artists are doing with an educated eye. If you can't see it, you can't do it, so this is the first step.

* There is no magic to this, All details and depth in works of art are organized in very specific ways, and this class will teach you to see and reproduce those systems of organization.

* In Depth and Details, Justine will not only show you how to see, but will show you how to think about making images. We will do this with the help of:

  • Image-rich lectures that back up her observations with multiple examples of how specific artists organize their details and layers of depth.
  • This class offers specific projects that will help you focus on the lessons you have just learned so that you are not only seeing, but actively doing.
  • There will be others in the class, so you will have access to an on-line community of students who you will be able to reach out to and share your work with, and more likely than not, Justine will stop in and give pointers.
  • For an additional charge, you can have a one-on-one session with Justine.

(image by Justine)

* And you can rest assured SAW's and Justine's methods have been tested and proven on students for years.

* So, congratulations, now, at last, you know exactly where to begin!

(Anna Mack, SAW student)

Justine Mara Andersen was mentored by and learned from top names in the industry, including such luminaries as P. Craig Russell (Elric, Sandman), Val Mayerik (Punisher, Conan), Frank Thorne (Red Sonja), John Workman, Jim Steranko and Jeffrey Catherine Jones, but struck out on her own to create her long-running series Mara, Celtic Shamaness for Fantagraphics as well as working as an inker and illustrator for DC Comics, Image Comics, Wizards of the Coast (D&D, etc.), Lucasfilms and other clients.

TESTIMONIAL: Justine, is very embodiment of the artist’s profile. I’ve known her for many years, and have been a fan from the very beginning. She is extremely gifted, and will be on hand to help your students open the doors of perception.” – Frank Thorne

Justine and all the teachers at SAW are professional working artists who not only know how to do what they teach, but how to teach what they do. With the help of their trained eyes and tested teaching skills. With this class Justine will be sharing with you years of experience and expertise that has been celebrated by artists like Jim Steranko, Frank Thorne, and Jeff Jones.

Over the course of this class you will learn to see more clearly in ways that will carry over into your daily life. The discipline and knowledge you gain will carry you though to whatever classes you take or images you make. And in the end the classes you take are equal to the art you'll make. By the end of this class you, too, will be able to organize the details in your images into a hierarchy that is visually pleasing and will enhance rather than distract the viewer from the central point or story you are telling.

Justine actually teaches and builds on ideas.- Mike King, SAW student

I took one inking class with Justine and it changed my life! - Anna Mack, SAW student

Now that you know were to begin, let's get going, let's unravel the mysteries of detail and depth, and let's stop dreaming and start making great images and comics!


When does it start?
March 13, 2017

How long is the class?
6 sessions in 6 weeks.

Assignments and presentations from the classes will be available for download once a week. We'll have a week to look over the material and do the work.

The schedule is as follows:

  1. Monday March 20 -The Hidden Layers
  2. Monday March 27 - Details that Work, Details that Clutter
  3. Monday April 3 - Organizing Details
  4. Monday April 10 - A Closer Look, PIece by Piece
  5. Monday April 17- Orientalist Dreamscape
  6. Monday April 24 - Putting it All Together

Is this a self-guided course or is there a cohort or community aspect?
This course is designed at present to create a community of students all working at the same time and helping each other out.

Where will the community be contained?
Google+ at this address. You will be asked to invite yourself when you sign up.

How much input will Justine have each session?
I plan to be involved as much as needed, probably an hour a day, plus at the premium rate, I will work with each person one-one-one for one hour.

What materials will I need?
  • Stay Tuned for more info

What's the final outcome of the course?
You will create many illustrations in the course of this class, always building on your new knowledge of how to see.

Is this similar to what you do at SAW?
I have taught this workshop many times at SAW, yes. The presentations are a lot longer in person!

Will You Run This Class Again?

Probably, but maybe not until summer!

Any more questions, email

What's included?

9 Videos
16 Texts
6.0 hrs
Justine Mara Andersen
Justine Mara Andersen
Drawing and Inking Maven

About the instructor

Hey, I'm Justine, and I've been with SAW from the beginning. Before SAW I was a veteran pro... but before that, I, presumably, like you, had no idea where to begin. I had ambition, hunger, desire, but no focus, no discipline, no chops, and worse, no mentors. I knew what I wanted, but I also knew how lousy I was and how little I knew, and worse, that no one at college was qualified to help me learn what I really needed to know. The worst part was, I was so ignorant when it came not only to art, but to comics, that I was drowning in my own naivete. I didn't know where to begin...

Then I met my mentors, P. Craig Russell, Val Mayerik, Dan Adkins, Jim Steranko, Frank Thorne, John Workman, and Jeff Jones. At first it was brutal, I was immediately confronted with the shameful realization that I didn't know a damn thing bout drawing, nor about comics, and I suddenly felt an urgent need to get it together and get down to the hard work of learning the hard stuff, of learning the discipline of setting aside the fun stuff to focus on fundamentals.

Then, for decades, I worked 60 hours a week, I made a lot of sacrifices, and did every damn thing my mentors told me to do. In that time, I completed 4 published graphic novels for Fantagraphics, inked for DC Comics, Image Comics, and created hundreds of illustrations for WOTC/Dungeons & Dragons, as well as for Lucasfilm, and countless more images for numerous clients in a wide range of projects from ballet stage design to animation.

It's my philosophy that most of my students have set the bar too low for themselves, that they have no idea just how good and how BIG they can become as artists, if only they make wise conscious choices.

What I excel at is saving my students time and suffering. I learned it the hard way so my students don't have to. Of all the gifts I have, perhaps the one I am most proud of is my ability to take complicated concepts and distill them into something I can pass along to my students. My students not only learn from my successes, but my failures, and if you learn from me, you are not only learning from me, but you will be learning all my mentors taught me.

Through me, they and my own life lessons will all be teaching you together, and not just how to draw good comics, but about how to prioritize, set achievable goals, and how to avoid temptation and learn the discipline it takes to become great rather than merely good.

Her website is

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Depth and Details - March 2017