The SAW Single-Year Intensive Has Been The Premier Program For Affordable, Personalized Comics Instruction For Over 10 Years

Returning in 2024

Join us starting September 2024 to master the tools, find the motivation and harness the power to take your comics-making from Good to Great.

The Online Certificate Program is an intensive nine-month course that offers instruction in Drawing for Comics, Comics Storytelling, Comics History and much more.

By signing up you have direct access to professional cartoonists and a network of like-minded creators.

Our Curriculum Is Broken Up Over 4 x 6-week Semesters

  • Drawing for Comics with Sidney Davidson and Tom Hart

    Learn to control anatomy, composition, clothing, details, light and shadow, exaggeration and stylization and more in this comprehensive introduction to drawing in the panel.

  • Storytelling with Tom Hart

    How do you and the reader connect? How does your story reach them? Through your control of the medium, and your understanding of how words and pictures work.

  • Hidden History of Comics with Rob Clough

    In The Hidden History Of Comics, each week we will look at the development of comics through a different lens and ask how and why one genre became so dominant.

  • Depths and Details with Justine Mara Andersen

    Drawing backgrounds, environments and details for comics by our master illustrator, Justine Mara Andersen.

  • Ideas and Vision with Tom Hart

    Develop your ideas and your unique vision with Tom's personalized visual storytelling exercises designed to get you re-inventing yourself out of the gate. 6 weeks of exploring where ideas come from, which ones to follow and how to make them work for you.

  • Modern Comics Exploration with Ayanni Cooper

    In Modern Comics Exploration, develop a critical eye and practice the language of comics through weekly readings, online discussions and responses to questions about the unique art and literary form that is comics!

  • Finishing Decisions with Lauren Weinstein

    Professional cartoonist, Lauren Weinstein, will guide you through the many possibilities of finishing your comics ready for publication.

  • Comics Frontiers with Tom Hart

    How far can you push the medium? Let's try new things to come to a new understanding of ourselves as creators and artists. We'll create formally unique comics, explore the edges of visual metaphor and create from the body to make powerful comics.

  • Markets, Craft and Practice with the SAW Community

    It's not easy for an artist, but with some training, and especially, a network of colleagues and mentors, you can begin to navigate the professional world.

  • Cohort Mentoring with Comics Professionals

    In this 6-weeks you'll have regular check-ins and critique/feedback from professional comics artists as you work towards your final assignment submission.

FAQs About Time Management

  • Is this good for a beginner?

    We think so! The main thing you need is drive and dedication.

    There is a lot of work. Each 6 weeks has a new 6-page assignment, due in 2 weeks, and at the end is another final 6-page assignment. There are also non-mandatory exercises, not mandatory, but useful.

    It is an intensive course. And a beginner can't learn everything in a single year or 9-months I'm afraid, but you can definitely get a good good head start. That's what we would hope to do for a newcomer.

  • Will there be community Zoom calls and the like?

    Yes, we will have weekly Zoom calls with Tom and/or Jess or Emma and a vibrant community in the Mighty Network. The calls will be Mondays, alternating between 2pm and 8 pm Eastern time. We do this to try to incorporate as many people as possible. Additionally we often have additional informal meetings, including figure drawing sessions and student-led study-halls that arise, and we try to encourage and enable those calls. Usually we seem to have 2 or 3 going at any one time. Hope to see you there!

  • Can I do digital art? Do I have to do digital art? What materials do I need?

    For our online programs we recommend students use whatever medium they have available to them and are comfortable using. Our preference is for students to work using traditional, physical material like brush, ink and paper. There will be specific classes (like Justine's inking class) that will require specific materials such as a Windsor Newton Series 7 size 2 brush (a comics industry standard tool), while other classes (like Tom's storytelling class) won't have any specifications so it will be up to the individual student. Our classes won't be addressing digital artmaking directly so we wouldn't recommend buying a digital art pad for this particular program.

  • How many hours of study/work per week are people committing to? Will people be able do the program while working full-time? And are there any adjustments for people who want to do the program part-time?

    We ask that our students commit a minimum of one and a half hours per class each week.

    That having been said, this is comics! It’s an all consuming pursuit that is very easy to get lost in! If you have the time and flexibility the material and homework can be expanded for a much greater time investment.

    There are three classes per six week block, with additional classes available for people who have the time and means to expand their study. We are not currently offering this program part-time.

  • How long do I have for each assignment?

    You will have two weeks to finish each assignment at the end of the three six-week sessions.

    You will have more than 8 weeks to finish the final assignment.

  • Can I do the Graphic Novel Program and this at the same time?

    The Certificate Program is VERY structured, and features a lot of course work. Three exercises a week (some people don't do all three, that's ok) and then 4 structured assignments (those you do have to do) at the end of each 8-week quarter. USUALLY we don't recommend people do both programs at once, simply because it's a lot, and they usually find themselves side-tracked away from their graphic novel project. So, we recommend taking the Certificate Course FIRST to get the skills, and then take the Graphic Novel Program, to make your story. We're happy to answer more questions!

  • Do I have to be there a certain time every week?

    There are no mandatory LIVE components, but new content is released each week for about 6 months. We go at this weekly pace, and ideally everyone keeps up week to week. There's a lot of content, but also lots of time to catch up every 6 weeks.

    We do expect to have periodic Zoom calls.

  • No really, how much time do I have to put in?

    Here's what's involved:
    For the three sessions, about 2-4 hours a week of learning

    About 1-3 hours a week of exercises (not mandatory).

    Honestly, if you put more like 10 hours in, you'll get a lot more out of it, but we know that can be hard.

    Finally, a two-week open period to finish the mandatory session assignment.

    After that, a fourth session of about 6-8 weeks to work on an open synthesizing assignment.

    If you have more time for exercises and extra reading and engagement in the community, you'll get a lot more out of it, but we think the above is a pretty good assessment of what you could get away with if you were on limited time.

  • I still have questions!

    We're here to answer them. First check out our general FAQ over at or send us a message via the chat box!

Classes Start September 2, 2024

Now open for 2024-2025!

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How it Works

  • You will join a cohort of like-minded creators in 3 x 6 week classes over 3 semesters

  • In the final semester you will be designated a small group to work personally with a professional cartoonist as you complete your final assignment

  • Every month you will have access to live and recorded events with professional cartoonists hosted in the SAW Community Network

  • Your end-of-quarter assignments will be graded: failing/passing/excelling

  • You will have a private, personalized video response by Tom Hart or one of the leading instructors, to each of your quarter's assignments.

  • You will be guided through the learning materials through weekly live calls with SAW instructors

  • You will receive discounts to join optional classes 60-75% off public price

  • Your final work will be reviewed by a committee of professional artists

  • You will receive a certificate of completion if you finish the course with passing or excelling grades

Watch our 2022 Info Session

Want to know more?

Click to watch our live info session with Q+A --> (Or find it on YouTube!)

A Message From SAW Founder and head-instructor, Tom Hart

"I created SAW to be an alternative or supplement to art school, one with a small institutional foot-print to keep things intensive and affordable for the student.

I created SAW to be the school I could never find. When I was a young artist in the late 80s, I wanted structure, schooling and mentorship, but couldn’t find it in the higher education art schools...

My belief had been and continues to be that art school should train us to be the people we want to be. We use our art training to bring ourselves into existence. A good art teacher teaches us to access our power, and to also to raise our expectations of what we can see and do. A good community keeps us accountable."

What Does an Intensive Year of Comics Study Look Like

This is the previous year's school-year schedule. 2024-2025 will be similar.


The course curriculum is divided into 4 x 6-week sessions with additional 2 weeks after each for assignment completion.

Session 1: Storytelling, Drawing for Comics and Hidden History of Comics

Optional week-long retreat in-person at Gainesville HQ, Oct 2024.

Final assignment for this session is due Oct 28

Session 2: Ideas and Vision, Background and Environments and Modern Comics Exploration

Final assignment for this session is due Dec.

*Holiday Break*

Session 3: Comics Frontiers, Finishing Comics and Professional Practices

Final assignment for this session is due February 2025.

Session 4: Cohort Mentoring.

Final assignment for this session is due April 30, 2025.

Work is sent to our certifying team on May 15 and certificates are mailed out in August 2025.

The Class Community will remain open for you to engage with your fellow students through August 2023.

We are a small non-profit, but we do have some funds for scholarship for people in need. Click here for more information

Student Successes!

Sally Cantirino, our first student.

Sally Cantirino was literally our first sign up, back in 2012, and now she's on the Simon & Schuster website.
Sally Cantirino

Student Successes!

Angeli Rafer credits the SAW Certificate Course

Angeli says "I 100% believe this wouldn't have happened if I didn't get two cool new projects done in 2021 via SAW and uploaded to my portfolio site!"

and "I wouldn't have gotten this far without going back to brass tacks and taking focused classes with SAW to *really* dial in the kind of career I wanted and best practices to get there."
Angeli Rafer's book

What Have Others Said?

We've ushered hundreds of students into graphic greatness!


I learned so much in such a short amount of time from some of the most dedicated, compassionate people I've ever met, with wonderful classmates.”

“I never could have been published without SAW. You are the best friend and mentor a young artist could have!”

“I think back on my time at SAW almost every day, the amount I got out of my year there is amazing… I’d probably have quit comics without Tom and Justine’s guidance. I think a lot about how much I’d get out of taking the full-year program again.”


This year's students react to their final work

See and hear what this year's students said!

Pricing options

We will be opening deposit and monthly options soon.

From this year's students


  • Should I take the Graphic Novel program or the Certificate Program?

    1. Do you want significantly more skills to be able to do comics "right"?
    2. Or do you just want to make your graphic novel happen ?

    *We put "right" in quotes because we believe everyone can make something stunning with what they have if they have the will and a support system.

    The Year Long Certificate Program: When you really really want to up your skills to something more akin to what you see in the graphic novel aisle of the bookstore or library you go to. We teach an amalgam of skills including anatomy, landscape drawing, composition, color/value placement, character design, etc.

    This will help you find your voice to create your own comics from start to finish.

    After that, we often recommend the Graphic Novel Intensive for: Wisdom, project management, working skills, and mentorship- that's what the Graphic Novel program is about.

    Of course your path may be different. We've had people do only one of them. We've had people do them in reverse order.

    We're here to help you get YOUR comics made!

  • You already have online classes, how is this different?

    The year-long certificate program isn’t simply ‘online classes’. This new low-residency program includes a structure of 4 six-week sessions designed to be taken in order, to bring you to a full synthesis of your learning after 9 months (the last 3 months are for your own peer-to-peer sharing and learning in the group.)

    Each session has a drawing component, an idea generation component and a context component. All of these complement each other, and each session has a single, shared assignment.

  • If I’ve taken 6 online courses and come to three lo-res weeks so does that mean I get a full-year certificate? Is there a lot of overlap in the content?

    While past classes won't be credited to the certificate program, we want to make sure that every student is receiving new and engaging learning opportunities that meets their needs. Contact us and together we can figure out the best approach for you!

    Our online courses are a kind of 'best of' teaching resources from our faculty so there may be some cross over with past class content. If that's the case, we have a growing catalog of alternative classes that can be substituted for any student who feels like they're repeating a class they've already taken.

  • What online platform will you be using for the online classes? Is there Tech Support? And will I have access to the classes after the year is up?

    Our online classes are run through Thinkific. Each student has access to the course material through a personal portal. Our online forum operates through The Mighty Network. We already have a thriving community there, with a mix of free and pay walled resources.

    As to tech support, we’re still just two people - Tom and Emma - who are an email or direct message away. Whatever issue you’re having, we will respond within 24 to 48 hours.

    And yes, you will continue to have access to the course material through Thinkific when the program is completed.

  • Are these live or pre-recorded classes?

    The classes are pre-recorded and released each week and remain available to you for as long as you need.

    The interaction in the community with Tom, Emma and other instructors is available 24/7 in our network.

    There will be weekly Zoom calls with Tom and/or Emma and at least one one live Q+A with each of our individual instructors.

  • How much interaction will I have with the instructors and peers?

    Emma Jensen and Tom Hart will be the main proctors/guides/instructors in this program and one of them will be available in the Mighty Network nearly every day. Our other instructors, namely Justine Andersen and Sidney Davidson will be in and out during their sessions, based on their schedule.

    Each will provide one Zoom call at the end of the session.

  • How can you help me stay engaged and complete the course at a distance?

    Online classes can be hard to stay engaged with, we know that! Facing a computer each day, it can be difficult to feel like you’re part of a community. We have a three fold strategy for keeping students engaged.

    Number 1. A pass, fail system for classes. If you are unable to demonstrate your engagement with the course materials and homework tasks, you are unable to move on to the next set of classes.

    Number 2. The low-residency weeks are intended to bring students together to put faces to the names of the online community and function as a goal during the semester while students are working independently.

    Number 3. Our Mighty Network group is active 24/7, wherever you are in the world. Not only do you have access to your classmates, but you have access to other comics lovers. Each week there will be discussion opportunities, as well as work sharing not only with your peers but with the course instructors.

    We believe being able to work independently and motivate yourself is a huge part of being a professional artist. Our goal is to give our students the tools and inspiration to leave the classroom fold and continue to create comics for themselves!

  • How much does this cost? What is your refund policy?

    The suggested price that keeps our bills paid is on this page. We do offer some scholarship assistance up to one month before the program begins. This system is really important to us as a non-profit organization, and helps us in our commitment to make comics available to everyone.

    We have scholarships for Black, POC and other previously underserved communities.

    Our refund policy is to return payment within two weeks of the beginning of classes if you are not satisfied.

Our Online Students Love SAW

More online testimonials

Beth Drummond

5 star rating

“This is fantastic course! If you have ever wondered how sequential storytelling works and if you could use it to tell your own stories - this is the class for you. Tom Hart provides a very solid introduction to this unique form of communication a...”

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“This is fantastic course! If you have ever wondered how sequential storytelling works and if you could use it to tell your own stories - this is the class for you. Tom Hart provides a very solid introduction to this unique form of communication and through well thought out assignments you get an opportunity to put this new knowledge into practice. By posting these assignments to the dedicated Facebook page you will also get supportive feedback from fellow students. There are many online classes out there that promise much more than they deliver ( I know having taken more than a few!) this class was the opposite - I learned much more than I expected! I highly recommend it.”

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Jamie Eby

5 star rating

“I loved everything about this class--the premise, the weekly reading assignments and exercises, the video intro to each week, the Google Communities format, and the enthusiastic and thoughtful fellow students. I learned so much--how exercises with...”

Read More

“I loved everything about this class--the premise, the weekly reading assignments and exercises, the video intro to each week, the Google Communities format, and the enthusiastic and thoughtful fellow students. I learned so much--how exercises with constraints can help and guide us, and even push us in directions we might have explored otherwise. I learned how to draw faster so I could turn in work every week. From the readings, I learned about new artists that I'm excited about. I appreciate how much work and thought must have been put into creating this class. Each week built on the week before, and the exercises were unique, challenging, and fun. I can't say enough good things. Thank you Tom! ”

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Karlo Antunes

5 star rating

“This class helped me think about inking and line work in a whole different way. I used to be really afraid of inking my pencils, but now my inks look even better than my pencil work because I'm more comfortable with inking. It's awesome!”

“This class helped me think about inking and line work in a whole different way. I used to be really afraid of inking my pencils, but now my inks look even better than my pencil work because I'm more comfortable with inking. It's awesome!”

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  • It is my understanding the online certificate program is a 9-month program consisting of nine major topics, with classes lasting from four to six weeks in length. There is also a cohort mentoring session and occasional week-long in-person programs in Gainesville, Florida. Am I missing any of the basic course description?

    Yes that's basically correct!

  • Relating to the online program, are the in-person programs in Gainesville optional or required?

    Everything in Gainesville is optional. Those weeks are scheduled to fit in between online quarters, but they are mostly extra. We have lots of non-enrolled people in those weeks as well.

  • How does the online course work? Would I receive an email with a Zoom link, for example? Any other steps I would need to know?

    The course materials are on a separate robust platform from the community (though we may integrate them in 2024.) Students dip into the course material on their own and share their experiences in the asynchronous community. We have at least once weekly Zoom calls which are optional, and yes you'll receive all links both via email and in the community. Our community is a private section of our public community here:

  • How often would our class “meet?” On a specific day and time?

    The classes are scheduled to meet on Mondays, alternating each week between 2pm and 8 pm Eastern time. There are additional calls, usually on Thursday evening Eastern in the 2nd quarter for the Modern Comics reading class, and there are often student-led "study halls" at different times in the week.

  • Is there a typical length of time for each class? If so, how long?

    The classes tend to run 60-90 minutes. We find 90 is good when there is an exercise involved. (Longer is too long!)

  • Is homework assigned for each class?

    There is an exercise for each class, for each week. These are usually small, and can be done in 10 minutes to several hours depending on how much engagement and time you can afford. They are also optional, we understand that people will fall behind. At the end of every quarter there is a single required integrating assignment that takes 2 weeks to finish.

  • Are classes recorded for later viewing in case I cannot attend one? If, for example, I have a doctor’s appointment that I cannot change, is there a way to watch the class at a later time? Even if I am able to attend a class, I personally would find it helpful to watch a recording later to review the material.

    Yes they are recorded, along with the chat, audio, and transcript, and these are provided in a non-changing Dropbox link for continued access.

  • How is homework submitted? Via email?

    Weekly exercises are uploaded in our membership community forum on the Mighty Network. And quarterly required assignments are uploaded via a simple Dropbox link and a Google form, so we can keep track of them and give you personalized, private feedback.

  • For the “Saw Comics Online Certificate Bundle” on your website, what does that include?

    That includes access to the 9 courses, plus the mentoring program, plus access to our monthly pro-calls, plus additional resources like our "Get Printed and Published" materials.

  • Are there any hard copy publications included in this cost, like cartoon-related books in the cost of this program?

    You'll receive a copy of our final anthology, which is usually 200 pages long and features the best of our student work. Numerous PDF books are provided free as well, including The SAW book on Comic Strips and others.

  • I would imagine that multi-panel cartoonists would benefit from this online program. This is because I have seen different examples on your website. How would one-panel cartoonists, l also benefit from the program?

    If a single-panel cartoonist wished to continue from single panels to longer stories, they would certainly benefit. If you only wished to remain doing single panels, I think the full year-program would be too robust for you, and you might be more interested in one of our shorter courses, or our Graphic Novel Development program, where you certainly could work on a book of single-panel cartoons.