Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Looking for advice- formatting + tools of the trade
Escutcheon at 12:26PM, April 18, 2012
posts: 102
joined: 10-30-2011
Hi there, been working on my comic, Dueling Heroes, since October of last year, and time and time again, I feel like I'm not being efficient enough with it. I feel like I can probably do better, and possibly even be able to move faster if I try a different format for it- and possibly use different tools.
So, to give you some idea of what could be changed, I'll say what I do and how I do it, as well as the tools I use.
Format- as seen in Dueling Heroes ( )
7-9 panels, each a block, up to down.
Dueling Heroes was built like its predecessor, EFFEX. EFFEX was designed to be viewable on deviantArt in a manner that would be easier to read, yet not give away spoilers, so I defaulted to that way. I still like not spoiling things, though I realize as I go on that a print copy would not prevent spoilers in the least. Also, with each panel being its own equal block, that may in fact be more work than having a page with a more flexible composition.
TLDR Version- it's originally designed around dA, but may be inefficient.
Adobe Photoshop CS4
Wacom Bamboo tablet + pen
So, I'm using Photoshop, but I don't think I'm using it to the best of its abilities. I'm making panel by panel as 1000x1000 canvases (then later shrinking them to 700x700), setting up two initial layers over the background, using Layer 2 (the third layer, I don't touch the background layer) to draw the guideline figures, go back to layer 1 (the second layer) and draw in the background. I draw successive layers upon these and then, after getting the art to where I'm happy with, go back to right about the background layer and make sucessive color layers. I generally end up with anywhere between 19 and 32 layers by the end.
As for the Wacom, maybe I'm just not using it right, but I can't get long straight lines out of it. I've never been good at drawing a straight line, embarrassing as that is to admit. As a result, my art does tend to have some sketchiness to it that I don't like because I often wil break in between my drawings to try to ‘perfect’ the shape. Not sure exactly how I can improve this, but I think it's my biggest setback.
Format II- I kind of want to go black and white so that I can update sooner, but I've already done 20+ pages in color. It seems like it'd be a mistake to go B&W now. Perhaps if I can make the rest more efficient, I'll be able to update more often?
Last Notes-
I am seriously considering picking up Manga Studio Debut 4 to see how well that would work out, but I don't know if it would have anything to help me. I looked it up, but I don't know if it'll help if the real source of error is operator error.
Thanks all for any input! It's greatly appreciated!
last edited on April 18, 2012 12:30PM
Reashi at 4:20AM, April 26, 2012
posts: 87
joined: 1-25-2006
Not too familiar with Manga Studio, but as far as programs go Adobe Phoshoshop CS4 should be enough (thats what I use.)
What you might consider is taking a look at comics you like, and pay attention to how it is layed out. If you are looking at manga style, then consider the consistency of numbers of panels in proportion to emphasis of the action on a page. Splash pages work best for key hero or heroine scenes for example. The tone of the piece also has an influence on how you set up a page. If you want a sense of apprehension for example you might consider tighter panels for a more claustrophobic feel.
If say you want to do a more traditional western style comic. I suggest looking at comic books and graphic novels you really like as well. They typically break panels away at key moments and overlap each other at other moments so that even very static scenes can seem active. Again you want to look at the mood or points you want to get across in the scenes when laying it out. Especially in western style, the most important climactic piece in a page tends to be the biggest panel.
Don't forget this is a digital medium either, you are not limited by the confines of pages or panels necessarily. Be aware that the maximum Width a comic page can be is 1000 pixels (not sure length I haven't had issues yet running them 1300 in length.)
What I am trying to get at really is that it doesn't matter what programs you use. The effort you put into the work shows. It took me a long long time before I got to where I am. 
My advice: Practice Practice Practice :)
Escutcheon at 12:12PM, April 26, 2012
posts: 102
joined: 10-30-2011
Hey, thanks!
I'll definitely start studying both manga and some Western comics and practicing some new ideas for how to lay things out. I think that I might be able to make my pages better if I change things up a bit.
*nod nod* I see, I see. Thank you so much once again! I'll keep this up to see if any other techniques or advice are out there, but I definitely will put your advice to use! 

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