Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Need help improving...
josif at 1:29PM, Dec. 6, 2006
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Hey could you guys tell me how to improve the art and writing in my comic? (Preferably the art) I never really seem to be happy with my comics despite how much its improved since I started… This kind of annoys me. :(
http://www.drunkduck.com/messed_up
Your Reading Skills Have Increased By Two Points.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:11PM
Mark at 12:55AM, Dec. 8, 2006
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If you wanna improve you're art, draw every comic like it was you're last. Be ambitious, try new things and be willing to take risks. I've done this and my arts improved by leaps and bounds in the twenty something strips of R-I.

Drawing simple stuff over and over again won't help you improve.

Most importantly, practice, practice, practice.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:54PM
subcultured at 5:02AM, Dec. 8, 2006
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look at every new page as a challenge and visualize yourself finding new techniques in that page.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
SomaX at 7:33PM, April 8, 2007
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Plan what you want to do. Improve writing? Write a quick script or outline. Art? Make rough drafts and thumbnails (and practice of course) so you have a plan before you start drawing.

Good luck. ^_^
~*~
#253 in Comic Book/Story #344 Overall ~*~ #383 in Comic Book/Story #517 Overall
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
patrickdevine at 2:49PM, June 2, 2007
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Draw from life. Make gesture drawings of people you see in the park (it might seem menial but it'll give you an idea of how people move.) Try drawing with a really unforgiving instra-ment like a Sharpie, and try doing economy of line studies (these might seem stupid but they'll teach you how to make each line count.) Drawing random interesting objects you find around is also good practice. Hope that helps a little, good luck!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
StaceyMontgomery at 4:54PM, June 2, 2007
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Often, after I have laid out today's comic, I'll stop and say “OK, that's how I would lay it out - but how would a better artist do it?” And then I imagine that some artist I admire has laid out the strip instead. Inevitably, i imagine that they would do creative things that are much harder to draw. Then I try that.

It doesnt always work - but it keeps me out of my comfort zone.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
Alexis at 11:55PM, June 2, 2007
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I find that no matter what I am doing or working on it never meets my standards. My art is at least 500% better than in was 5 years ago, but I'm still not satisfied. The day I'm satisfied with it would likely be the day I stop drawing. To keep making it better I would say draw all you can, work from life and your imagiation, and study the work of artists and storytellers that you like. Everything from fine art to disney cartoons can be helpfull.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:49AM
Darth Mongoose at 12:21AM, June 3, 2007
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StaceyMontgomery
Often, after I have laid out today's comic, I'll stop and say “OK, that's how I would lay it out - but how would a better artist do it?” And then I imagine that some artist I admire has laid out the strip instead. Inevitably, i imagine that they would do creative things that are much harder to draw. Then I try that.

It doesnt always work - but it keeps me out of my comfort zone.

Hey! I started doing that too recently! It really does help. I draw my thumbnails twice. The first time I draw them just getting everything down on paper, then I sit back and think ‘yeah, that’s a reasonable page…how can I make it sparkly?'
Watching films with excellent storyboarding can help. I recommend anything by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles), Quentin Tarantino or Alfred Hitchcock. The new Silent Hill movie is also excellent. Pace your story, reveal information gradually, make readers jump to wrong conclusions and compose your pages carefully.

To improve writing, try thinking out your scripts as though they're said aloud. If the words a character says sound banal, cliched or boring, then try using different words, switching the sentance structure around, or even rearranging the whole conversation!

Oh, and buy a copy of ‘Making Comics’ by Scott McCloud. If I ruled the world, owning and studying that book would be compulsary for all comic artists!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
StaceyMontgomery at 7:13AM, June 3, 2007
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Darth said: “To improve writing, try thinking out your scripts as though they're said aloud.”

This is really important. Recently, Ive started to read my strips aloud, just so I can hear how it all sounds. Clunky dialogue can really hurt a comic, it interrupts the flow of the reader. The trick is, you never want to stand between your comic and the reader.

Getting dialogue to sound “real” is really hard - the way we hear it in *our* heads just doesn't always make sense to other people.

I never post something unless Ive shown it to at least one friend, and had them say “Yes, I can follow what's happening here.” If they say “I like it, really, though I cant tell what the girl is holding in her hand!” then I have to redraw it. If They can't follow what's happening, I may have to rewrite all the dialogue.

My number one goal nowadays is clarity. I think I used to try to make the strip *good* first and clear second. But I figure, if they cant understand it, nothing else matters.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
Memmy at 4:42PM, June 3, 2007
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Keeping yourself out of comfort zone doesnt just have to apply to visual art. It works with writing stories and plots too. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:59PM
SomaX at 7:21PM, June 3, 2007
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The other day I was working on a comic in which the dialog was meant to sound different. They were using all these weird words, and common sayings like “don't count your chickens before they hatch” ended up being “don't name your ducks untill they're all out of the pond.” A friend of mine started reading it out loud an was continously stopping to try and understand what they were saying. LOL

Anyway, straying from your style can help you figure out your art. One day I sat down and drew every Mickey Mouse character I could think of, since I specialize in manga. You can do the same thing with art by writing fanfics. It all kind of goes back to staying out of your comfort zone.
~*~
#253 in Comic Book/Story #344 Overall ~*~ #383 in Comic Book/Story #517 Overall
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
Grafighte at 12:26AM, July 7, 2007
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Cliches are always right. Practice. Practice. Practice. Try drawing what you normally don't draw, study anatomy, tinker with perspective, use a different medium. You will only improve upon yourself by doing, draw like crazy you will eventually develop. Once time has passed draw something that you've drawn in the past and see the improvemnet for yourself.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:38PM
RDraconis at 9:57PM, July 7, 2007
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READING tutorials help a lot, too. Practicing them might not, though. I like reading them, picking up tricks and such that might be useful, and then using your own things.

here's a list of tutorials, if you care to try that: http://neopets.com/~DragonNaiya

Just don't try and do exactly by the tutorial, let yourself develop your own style. ^^
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:01PM
Pixie at 7:18AM, July 9, 2007
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All the advice here is great, but I just wanna add one thing. Get used to being unhappy with your art. That's probably never going to change, no matter how amazing you one day get.

Sounds horrible? Nope, not really. I s'pose it depends how you define ‘unhappy’ - I define it, personally, as a desire to get better, experiment, learn and change and - call me a masochist - but I really enjoy doing all of that! My version of unhappy means I refuse to ever become complacent, or allow my work to get stale, because I'm never satisfied. My version of unhappy means I'm never going to stop having fun with my art, because I'll never stop trying to learn to be better, and stronger, and faster, and more professional - and hell, more interesting as an artist. There is much much more to art than getting anatomy right, after all. =)

I think people look at these things in the wrong way - they too readily class a piece of art as a success or a failure, without understanding that all these things are learning experiences and the most interesting part of art is the progression. Labelling your work as ‘success’ or ‘failure’ is counterproductive; it's a judgement call, too. Remember, everyone has different tastes - and if what you're looking for is perfect, you'll never find it. We're all human, we're all fallible, and the best artist you know makes mistakes. The difference is, they don't beat themselves up about it all the time. You need to stop doing that, right away! As people say - you need to live in the moment, same is true of art. Enjoy what you're doing now, and stop saying ‘I failed’, because even the pros aren't happy with their work.

A couple of inspiring bits of stuff I want to shove here, just because they made a lot of sense to me and I can't express what I'm trying to say as well as them:

An essay on the art of drawing and judgement calls by a good friend of mine, Paul Duffield, who has recently gone pro and is currently working with Warren Ellis. No, I'm not name-dropping - I'm trying to impress upon you how important I think his words are, and how much I think this is worth reading! http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/40590655/

And a quote from the journal of another very artistic friend, who always has a very clear view of how things are. :)

I think for a long time, I assumed art education worked like middle school education. You go in knowing nothing; someone tells you a bunch of things, and you remember them, and suddenly you're good.

In reality, it's a lot like a sketchbook full of apples. Day 1 of art school you draw an apple. It's fuck-ugly. It looks more like a beach ball with a stick in. Every day, you draw the same exact apple. You have hundreds and hundreds of pages of apples. Flip to a random page - say, pages 26 and 27. The two apples look identical to each other and barely any improvement can be seen between the two days.

At the end of your art career, you pin up the first drawing and the last drawing, and you barely recognise your achievement until that moment.

I see it like this: some people are content with the first apple. They enjoy drawing apples and they think it's pretty good the way it is. Some people are only interested in the last apple - it's bright and colorful, with perfect shading and spectral lights and texture. But the one who's truly dedicated to his art, he's interested in the middle apples, the learning process, the mistakes and pitfalls and triumphs of learning how to be fantastic at your skill.

Joy can be gleaned from every second of your art career if you approach it with the right mindset. Everytime you make a mistake and someone points it out, it is a mistake you will never make again. You are a small percentage better with each apple. And learning how to master that apple helps you understand how to master an orange, a banana, a human face, a tractor, a spaceship or a cloud. You approach it carefully; you say, object, I'm going to draw you, and I'm going to know you inside and out, and you are going to sit there and take it, no matter how long this takes!

- thundercake

Sorry, got a bit into the philosophy of art then, and probably a bit far off the point. But I just hate to see people miserable with their art! It's not necessary. I spent far too many years feeling like that myself, and… well. It doesn't help, it just hinders. Learn to love it, even when it's not perfect - ‘cause it’s never going to be perfect, not ever. And that's okay! =)
Alaka-bwee-oop! Old school.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:45PM
Kohdok at 7:38AM, July 9, 2007
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StaceyMontgomery
Darth said: “To improve writing, try thinking out your scripts as though they're said aloud.”

This is really important. Recently, Ive started to read my strips aloud, just so I can hear how it all sounds. Clunky dialogue can really hurt a comic, it interrupts the flow of the reader. The trick is, you never want to stand between your comic and the reader.

Getting dialogue to sound “real” is really hard - the way we hear it in *our* heads just doesn't always make sense to other people.

I never post something unless Ive shown it to at least one friend, and had them say “Yes, I can follow what's happening here.” If they say “I like it, really, though I cant tell what the girl is holding in her hand!” then I have to redraw it. If They can't follow what's happening, I may have to rewrite all the dialogue.

My number one goal nowadays is clarity. I think I used to try to make the strip *good* first and clear second. But I figure, if they cant understand it, nothing else matters.

I know what you mean. Sometimes when I critique a comic written by a new artist, I have to ask what's happening. Usually whoever wrote it is eager to explain and often does it without thinking. After they are done, I stop them and tell them that “If you have to explain something to me, you need to rethink how you wrote it. You won't be there to explain it to everybody”. I only explain something to someone reviewing some pages of mine if the answer happened in previous pages or will happen in 1~2 pages unless it is some kind of big reveal, in which case I sarcastically say “I don't know”, in which case they usually get the drift.

I just assume that nobody knows anything, because most people don't know anything about my comic. Darth even commented on how straightforward I was.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:20PM
jmt at 8:24PM, July 10, 2007
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the key to improvement is just to practice. Try drawing outside your style. Take a sketch book to the mall and just sketch people sitting around eating or whatever. you will be able to absorb the things you learn and adapt it into your style.

still lifes, life drawing, practice.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:09PM
Kohdok at 10:01PM, July 10, 2007
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Try the 100 subjects challenge.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:20PM

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