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Continuation of scrap book discussion old works, backgrounds, and where we are now
JustNoPoint at 10:33AM, Jan. 29, 2008
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To keep from potentially continuously chattering away in the comment area on this page I copy pasted my last comment to here =P

Anyone that tells you bgs shouldn't be included unless needed is using that as an excuse to be lazy IMO. I think BGs should always be present unless it benefits the scene to not have them.

Look at the most popular comics here on DD. BGs are an integral part of about each and every page. They keep the cast and the reader in the world the author created much better.

I'm trying to get better at applying this myself. My excuse is I just suck at backgrounds, but I'll never “un-suck” if I don't practice. You had the right mentality at the younger age.
I'm not sure what kind of mentality I had back then. I don't think I really thought about stuff like that much.

I mean only I read the comics and I never expected to start doing what I am doing now. I never heard of online comic communities till I got back to work on the comic in early 2007 :P This place has really inspired me to improve and research more.

Hmmm, you probably have a forum I could have been typing all of this in *copy pastes in the event we actually wanted to keep reminiscing on old work and becoming serious =P
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
DAJB at 10:59AM, Jan. 29, 2008
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JustNoPoint
I think BGs should always be present unless it benefits the scene to not have them.
Yup - that's pretty much the way I look at it.

JustNoPoint
I mean only I read the comics ….
That's pretty much the approach I've taken to any questions of this nature. What do I like in a comic as a reader? I like scenes with (rather than without) dialogue, so that's how I write my scripts. I like to have backgrounds rather than not, so that's the approach I encouraged Harsho to take with the artwork. Ultimately, you have to create something you yourself would want to read (unless, of course, you're being paid a fortune by someone else, in which case you do it their way!)

JustNoPoint
I never heard of online comic communities till I got back to work on the comic in early 2007 :P
Hey, in my day there was no online, let alone online comics!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
Abt_Nihil at 2:52AM, Jan. 30, 2008
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Hope you don't mind me listening in on your BG debate.

JustNoPoint
I think BGs should always be present unless it benefits the scene to not have them.

I agree, I'd just like to stress there can be many occasions on which it benefits the scene not to have BGs. I realize there are two different points of view at work here - the asymmetrical POVs of artist and reader. From the reader's perspective it makes sense to always include BGs - I'm saying that because I've found the point already made by you two, but also because I still remember what it's like being a reader :-)

But the longer I'm drawing comics the more I learn how asymmetric this relationship really is: The artist has to put a lot of thought into how to make his pages readable. BGs can be obstacles to storytelling; and I think if you're “just” a reader (even a very dedicated one) you may be completely unaware of storytelling issues - because they're MEANT to work on a completely subconscious, intuitive level.

What I mean is: As a reader you can give in to the illusion that all the artist does is mirror “what's happening” (meaning: he just captures the events he's trying to depict, with BGs and all). But as an artist you most likely cannot do so (except from people who do photorealistic comics in a dogma-type way, which doesn't seem that popular); you have to realize you're creative, you're not just capturing anything pre-fabricated.

I am aware that neither of you two is actually that dogmatic, so please don't feel insulted :) I just wanted to stress the following point: Including BGs (or not including them) is very much a conscious decision which depends on storytelling issues; it doesn't depend on the dogma whether or not you should always include BGs.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
JustNoPoint at 1:10PM, Jan. 30, 2008
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Oh you are very correct! Backgrounds can hinder panel flow or make a scene too convoluted if not done properly.

I think it is still up to the author/writer to find a way to balance the layout so that the backgrounds can remain present most of the time and help benefit the flow.

That being said, many of my scripts are already finished for many issues ahead. I didn't really have this mentality about myself or my story telling techniques when I was 1st starting. So at the moment I reevaluate every page as I get to them and try to think of them differently. Once I get back to scripting a bit more later what I mentioned here will already be in mind.

There are plenty of artists, myself included, that don't include backgrounds for the reasons you mention AND for the simple fact of lazyness or difficulty in making them.
There are many times I could add a background item of somekind but do not. Off hand what I figure this will do for me if I keep at my current trend of wanting to add more backgrounds is–
I'll either start adding too many for a bit till I realize this or someone else mentions it, or hopefully I'll pick up on the balance nicely.

Perhaps the best approach would be to ask… can I make a bg for this panel? What does it add to the panel? What does it take away? What is my alternative? How does it effect the entire page?

Cool post Abt_Nihil. I love it when people get my gears turning about artistic storytelling methods as this.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
DAJB at 1:12PM, Jan. 30, 2008
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Abt_Nihil
I'd just like to stress there can be many occasions on which it benefits the scene not to have BGs.
Sure. I don't think either of us would disagree with that. I think it's a matter of what's the “default position”. To my mind the “default” should be to include the background, so that - when an artist decides not to - he should be sure there is a good story-driven reason for leaving it out.

Abt_Nihil
I still remember what it's like being a reader :-)
That's the key thing to keep hold of, in my opinion. I look at some comics and, whilst I can appreciate the artwork on its own merits, I find it totally unsuited to the comic book format. Sienkiewicz's artwork for Elektra: Assassin, for example - lovely to look at but, unfortunately, it makes the story more difficult to read than it should be. (Okay, that's got nothing to do with backgrounds but the principle's the same … keep the reader in mind!)

Abt_Nihil
I am aware that neither of you two is actually that dogmatic, so please don't feel insulted :)
Well, I certainly don't and as we all seem to be on pretty much the same wavelength, I'm sure JNP doesn't either!
;)

EDIT: Oops - this has been cross-posted with JNP's own reply above!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
Abt_Nihil at 3:30AM, Jan. 31, 2008
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JustNoPoint
There are plenty of artists, myself included, that don't include backgrounds for the reasons you mention AND for the simple fact of lazyness or difficulty in making them.
There are many times I could add a background item of somekind but do not. (…)
Perhaps the best approach would be to ask… can I make a bg for this panel? What does it add to the panel? What does it take away? What is my alternative? How does it effect the entire page?
I didn't even consider laziness so far, but of course you're right; when I have trouble getting pages done on time I'll consider leaving out BGs which I'd have probably kept in if I'd had the time to do it. Being on time, as opposed to laziness, may be a good reason though - it could even be considered professional reasoning :D

I should add that my personal learning process concerning sequential art involved asking myself the questions you posed (and which I quoted above) consciously. Meaning when I started drawing comics I kept ANY background in, no matter what. That's why keeping BGs out consciously (meaning: for the right reasons) seems like a good thing to me.

You can compare two of my pages from Heroes Unite, a work which - unlike many of my other comics - I didn't purely do for myself; for which the script was not written by myself and which - more or less - had to be on time:
Page 4
Page 15
On page 4 I had to set up the location, so the BGs are as much part of the story as anything else. There is actually no clear distinction between fore- and background at all.
On page 15 I could benefit from set-ups by the artists who came before me, and I could concentrate on the character interaction. Again, I probably would have included some sort of BG if I'd had the time, but I think the lack of BGs is also justified by the page's content.

DAJB
I think it's a matter of what's the “default position”. To my mind the “default” should be to include the background, so that - when an artist decides not to - he should be sure there is a good story-driven reason for leaving it out.
I think IF you leave BGs out it just shouldn't make the reader ask himself/herself why. That is: the reader shouldn't even have to consciously look for a good reason.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
DAJB at 4:44AM, Jan. 31, 2008
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Abt_Nihil
I think IF you leave BGs out it just shouldn't make the reader ask himself/herself why. That is: the reader shouldn't even have to consciously look for a good reason.
I agree - I obviously phrased my comment badly. I meant the artist should ask himself (or herself) why he/she is leaving it out. Which you and JNP have both said you do.

So it's all cool.
:D
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
Abt_Nihil at 2:29AM, Feb. 1, 2008
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Don't worry; I'm just splitting hairs :-D
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM

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