Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

The reasons for Bad Artwork
CharleyHorse at 10:42AM, Dec. 25, 2008
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Currently I am finishing off a gag series on a character that is performing night club comedy. It strikes me as the worst artwork I've done in quite some time. Okaaaaay, after I finished pulling my hair out I stopped and took a close look at it and realized that I had used a worn down pen-brush and had not varied the line widths. Thus everything looks both uniform and sloppy with it. Sigh!

Now I am never going to become a professional level cartoon artist. I just don't have it in me to put that sort of time and effort into this stuff. But I CAN catch the occasional stupid error and stop repeating them.

However, this gives me pause for consideration. While I like pen-brushes for their ease of use the tips ‘go out’ on them really fast and they do make it very easy to fall into sloppy inking habits. I used to ink with a real brush . I got away from the habit because I have a household full of very large, rather active, and curious cats. Active cats, open ink bottles . . . shudder!

Still . . . I am giving it a serious rethought or two. I like the effect that a real brush gives my art work, and Lord knows that my art can use all the technical advantages that I can give it.

That's the nub of this top post, I guess. Generally there is a good reason why we end up unhappy with some of our own artwork. It's not always simply because we lack the anatomical rendering skills of the pros or lack in other significant areas of knowledge or skill. Sometimes it's just because we are making easily correctable technical errors . . . and sometimes even with our graphics packages.

Does this ever happen to you?

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
skoolmunkee at 2:41PM, Dec. 25, 2008
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I get lazy with my art all the time. Most of the time I'm so lazy I don't even do it! Actually, I cringe when I look at much of my old art. It all looks really stiff to me even though I know most of it is pretty good anatomy etc. I just can't manage a dynamic form, I'm too structural with the way I draw. I'm too lazy to practice though so I just keep on drawing stiff figures.


Sounds like you need a Pentel or a Kuretake though, man. They're long-life brush pens that use ink cartridges. The bristles are synthetic hairs and don't wear down, but still give much of the flexibility and control of traditional brushes, without all the ink bottle problems. I prefer the pentel and its ink (waterproof) over the Kuretake (water soluble) though.

Pentel
Kuretake
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
angry_black_guy at 4:58PM, Dec. 25, 2008
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I don't know how you guys can use brush pens. I used a sakura so there's probably something better but they came in one size (LARGE AS HELL) and the only line variation I could get was HUGE LINE and SLIGHTLY HUGER LINE.

I'm self taught, studied advanced anatomy, perspective, rendering and shading techniques but like Skool said it al boils down to laziness. I could do a million times better but I'm just a lethargic lummax who isn't getting paid so I only take half as much pride in my work.

Now if money were rolling in and I didn't have a full time job then art would be my #1 priority.

last edited on July 14, 2011 10:53AM
CharleyHorse at 8:25PM, Dec. 25, 2008
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skoolmunkee
Sounds like you need a Pentel or a Kuretake though, man. They're long-life brush pens that use ink cartridges. The bristles are synthetic hairs and don't wear down, but still give much of the flexibility and control of traditional brushes, without all the ink bottle problems. I prefer the pentel and its ink (waterproof) over the Kuretake (water soluble) though.

Well there you go . . . I just learned something new. Thanks!

angry_black_guy
I don't know how you guys can use brush pens. I used a sakura so there's probably something better but they came in one size (LARGE AS HELL) and the only line variation I could get was HUGE LINE and SLIGHTLY HUGER LINE.

I dunno, I just can . . . of course, in my case, they definitely lead to sloppy inking habits. I've used pen nibs and brushes and brush-pens, and find the brush-pens most convenient. I'll probably send off for the Pentel skoolmunkee spoke of, but in the meanwhile I'll probably also blow the dust off my brushes and ink bottle and see what I see.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
lba at 10:24PM, Dec. 25, 2008
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In my case, it's usually my fault not my equipment. I end up getting sick or start working like a nut on other projects and then realize at the last minute that I should have gotten a comic done by now and crank something out really quick or not at all. My stupid errors are usually the result of forgetting something because I'm distracted and I neglect to format the text right or forget to add shadows to an area.

The reason I don't end up with crappy stuff because of the materials is that I tend to stick with things that I know will work for things I plan on sharing and just experiment in my sketchbook. But I will use a pen until it literally runs out of ink regardless of how beat up the nib gets. Even then I keep the pens too. There's a big box of dead pens next to my desk I've had collecting for almost 2 years now.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
skoolmunkee at 5:02AM, Dec. 26, 2008
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CharleyHorse
Well there you go . . . I just learned something new. Thanks!
If you don't like the ink they come with, a lot of people clean out and re-use the cartridges with India ink, apparently there's not usually a leakage problem with re-used cartridges. I bet you can find google searches for it.

angry_black_guy
I don't know how you guys can use brush pens. I used a sakura so there's probably something better but they came in one size (LARGE AS HELL) and the only line variation I could get was HUGE LINE and SLIGHTLY HUGER LINE.
It's because the disposable ones have a felt tip. They're just not as flexible as a more true brush pen, which uses hairs (sable or nylon). With the hairs, a line can be as thin as 2 or 3 hairs or as thick as all of them, depending on how hard you press. With the sakura, the thinnest you can get is the point they molded for it, and if you try and go much wider, you crush the fibers and destroy the shape a little at a time. The ink is also inferior in most cases and isn't capable of producing fine lines.

I used to use the sakura disposables, which were a step up from the technical .05 etc. ones for me, but when I switched to a Kuretake- wow, huge difference. Eventually I moved on to Pentel's, and I probably won't switch.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
CharleyHorse at 8:39AM, Dec. 26, 2008
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For today's strip I lined the art using a narrow pen and then went back over it in places with a new pen-brush to place the shadow accents. Much better! I just got waaaaay too sloppy with my art and considering what passes for art work with me, I can't afford to get sloppier. :whistling:
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
confusedsoul at 11:22AM, Dec. 29, 2008
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I normally notice how bad the line quality gets with my 0.7 Copic, but on closer inspection it wasn't the ink running out but the nib wearing down that was giving a sloppy, uneven quality.

I give myself a mental deadline which purposely stresses me out so I rush. But if I don't give myself a deadline, nothing ever happens.

Catch 22.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:44AM
skoolmunkee at 2:02PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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CharleyHorse
For today's strip I lined the art using a narrow pen and then went back over it in places with a new pen-brush to place the shadow accents. Much better! I just got waaaaay too sloppy with my art and considering what passes for art work with me, I can't afford to get sloppier. :whistling:

There's a big difference :) It still seems a little stiff though, your thin lines are uniform and so are your thick lines. I'd suggest experimenting with variable width lines. The thick and thin lines don't have to be kept apart so strictly.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
Hyena H_ll at 3:50PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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lba
But I will use a pen until it literally runs out of ink regardless of how beat up the nib gets. Even then I keep the pens too. There's a big box of dead pens next to my desk I've had collecting for almost 2 years now.

Usually I use Sakura microns. Not only do I keep the worn-out ones, but I organize them in piles: kinda worn-out, medium worn-out, worn-out, and so worn-out it barely works. I use them all so I can get a wider variety of lines. I even have pens I've marked as the perfect ammount of worn-out for this character's shirt, or the texture of wood, etc. But I'm a bit anal, obviously.

As for saving the pens: Stones lithography pencils come in these little red tubes. I save them all, and have a few hundred taped up on my studio wall under this gothic-lettered sign that says, “Litho Graveyard”.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:52PM
CharleyHorse at 5:56PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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skoolmunkee
There's a big difference It still seems a little stiff though, your thin lines are uniform and so are your thick lines. I'd suggest experimenting with variable width lines. The thick and thin lines don't have to be kept apart so strictly.

Yes, thank you for the advice. It's taking some time but I think I am beginning to feel a bit more free with my inking now. I have a long way to go, but I think I am starting to take those baby steps.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
Ironscarf at 4:24AM, Dec. 31, 2008
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I took Skool's advice from a few threads back and recently got the Pentel brush pen: my problem is kids, not cats. I used a brush pen years ago that someone brought from Japan and it was ok for filling awkward areas but not much for linework.

I can't recommend the Pentel highly enough though: it's new so I can't comment on longevity, but the line quality I can get is not that far behind my Windsor & Newton series 7s - it feels much more like a real brush and blends a treat with the fineliners and chisel tip pigment markers I'm forced to use right now.

Pesky kids.

 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
skoolmunkee at 5:15AM, Dec. 31, 2008
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And yet you don't have a comic! >:[
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
Ironscarf at 7:00AM, Dec. 31, 2008
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That's a fair point!

This busy looking page is part of something I've been drawing for a fanzine, using the combination of tools I mentioned: it's supposed to be in the 1970s British style. I've used the Pentel quite a bit but I expect to be using it more from now on.

 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
CharleyHorse at 9:28AM, Dec. 31, 2008
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Nice work Ironscarf! Since it is a fanzine is there any reason that the tale cannot be posted on the Duck?

I particularly like the way you make the ink work with negative space to shape and define the clothing. Very nice!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
Ironscarf at 2:42PM, Dec. 31, 2008
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Thanks CharleyHorse: I got that technique from guys like Frank Bellamy, Frank Hampson, even Frank Frazetta and probably some other Franks I can't remember right now.

The two stories I've done for http://www.mistycomic.co.uk/Home.html were not written by me so I'd have to get permission from the writers. Might be worth trying though, like the Pentel - it's a must have!
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
skoolmunkee at 6:27PM, Dec. 31, 2008
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Holy schneikies! Nothing better than a good tool in a capable hand :)
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
Aurora Borealis at 7:54PM, Jan. 1, 2009
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I've been using automatic pencils, biros and gel-pens all my life :D

Works* for me :)



The best thing I ever managed to do with a brush is “duck feet”. No picture attached, just find a cheap brush, dip it in ink, paint and then “tap” it on the paper… there you go, DUCK FEET!


*(my artwork sucks anyway)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
ozoneocean at 8:18PM, Jan. 1, 2009
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Heh, laziness is a killer :)

I have that with references. When I draw figures in all sorts of poses, it'd be so much better if I just used references! Nothing easier than fricken life drawing or using photos… But instead I constantly just sit and draw from my imagination, too lazy to get some real refs!

That sinks me a lot of the time and my figures turn out stiff looking and weird.

So yeah, my advice is try not to be a lazy idiot.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
OrchardHeroes at 9:50AM, Jan. 7, 2009
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I agree with the laziness part, but also I think a huge part of bad artwork, at least for myself, lies in that a lot of creators have a lot of story to tell. They have plans and directions for their characters; ideas floating in their head. And sometimes we want to get stories out ASAP. Theres a RUSH factor in that we want to rush things out. I could probably spend a lot of time in my strip and make sure all the lines are smooth, or even draw the whole thing on illustrator, but that would take me a month or so to knock one issue out. Since sometimes I rush things, my artwork gets sloppy for the sake of getting your story out and moving on to the next storyline. Its not an excuse, but it is good to know the reasons behind bad artwork and just do your best to do better.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
Hyena H_ll at 3:56PM, Jan. 7, 2009
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OrchardHeroes
I could probably spend a lot of time in my strip and make sure all the lines are smooth, or even draw the whole thing on illustrator, but that would take me a month or so to knock one issue out.

Ouch! It takes me 3-4 months to turn out an issue. I feel slow. x_X

OrchardHeroes
Since sometimes I rush things, my artwork gets sloppy for the sake of getting your story out and moving on to the next storyline.

I totally agree with the “wanting to get the story out” bit, though. My cop-out excuse for sloppy work when I was in art school was that “the urgency of expression trumps the need for correct proportion and perspective”. Which I still think is partly valid; at the time though, it was mostly because I couldn't draw something well, and didn't want to take the time to learn. ;) Which takes us back to laziness, I guess…
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:52PM
kyupol at 6:41PM, Jan. 8, 2009
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I think its either:

- laziness
- demoralized (or has any form of severe emotional/mental problem) at the time the work was created.
- physical damage to the hands (or whatever part of the body is used to draw. Heck. I saw a kid who was only born with one leg who can draw better than most comics here in DD).
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
Bimbo_Zombie at 12:39PM, Jan. 21, 2009
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I am often unhappy with my own artwork. Nearly always unhappy in fact.
For example, the first panel of my pages are usually brilliant. The last panel is…well lets be honest, it's a scribble!!! All the ones in between are going from nice to downright bad. There's a pattern here…

Another example: My project for my art classes involved drawing something related to song lyrics. I dicided it would be a great idea to draw a mini comic based on Superman! Great idea BZ, try drawing one of the greatest comic heroes of all time! And to top it off, your Superman pictures make him look like a girl!!
Well that rules out “working for DC” as my future career.
On a more positive note, I did design him his own guitar.

The reason for all this? I honestly don't know. I'll get back to you on that one.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:22AM
CharleyHorse at 8:47PM, Jan. 22, 2009
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Bimbo_Zombie I looked over your work and perhaps detect a pattern. Your last panel seems generally to be a ‘reaction’ panel, the cartooning equivalent of a spit take. This is neither a good nor a bad thing. You might check with someone else and see if they also see it that way.

Anyway it is bad only if it becomes a habit. You might study some of the cartooning that you are a fan of and see the different ways that other artists end with their final panel.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM

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