Comic Talk and General Discussion *

How important is accurate art VS the needs of the story?
Ozoneocean at 11:01PM, May 4, 2016
posts: 28,799
joined: 1-2-2004
Directly following on from Brovo's historical accuracy post there's THIS little notion.

Ok, talking points:

On one hand you can reference All the objects, clothes, buildings, guns, hairstyles etc and make sure they're period accurate.
I've tried this. It's a nightmare of pedantry.

You can go even further and make sure those artistic depictions are fully accurate and realistic. And not just that; make sure you know how the guns work, where all the doors and power points in a house are located, that kind of thing.
Again, it's a nightmare.

You slightly cartoonise things and use cliches to suggest stuff that everyone knows: pirate hats for example are never drawn even remotely properly but we all know what they're supposed to be. In this approach accuracy isn't important as long as we grasp the symbolic intent.
This is much harder to justify when you work realistically though.

*Emotional stylisation:
This is where objects and outfits and things are drawn around what kind of feeling they're supposed to elicit. Like a big, looming black shape for an evil villain, or a little cute cottage where an old grandmother lives for example. I also like to stick Rob Liebfeld in this category too because although his art is objectively wrong and often pretty silly it worked VERY well with the visual language of the time (mid '90s), to get the intended meanings across: lust, anger, fury, and all sorts of other heightened emotional states that it was supposed to convey.
last edited on May 4, 2016 11:05PM
Genejoke at 12:25AM, May 5, 2016
posts: 4,207
joined: 4-9-2010
interesting. I think it greatly depends on what you are trying to achieve with the story.

One thing I noticed is that both Gunwallace and Usedbooks who started as writers and distinct non artists do very well in different ways visually but both serve the story very well with their art. Gunwallace goes for a more realistic approach for the most part and has tried some interesting stylistic choices but never has it weakened the story in anyway. Usedbooks more cartoony art still maintains a certain level of realism if not accuracy.

Alternately Skreem who has often taken others scripts and worked highly stylized magic with them doesn't really do realism but always tells the story clearly.

Anyway on to your talking points.


Accuracy is… uh… I can't really comment as it's not a big thing in my comics. I try for a certain level but ultimately it gives way to the story and setting. It isn't essential unless you make it essential. I'm scripting a story set in the 90s at the moment and for that I intend to make things accurate right down to phones, T-shirts, cars and such. But with that it is pat of the story, much as the 80s is hand and hand with the story in Satan Ninja.

I do love seeing authentic looking art in historic settings though.


I strive for a sort of hollywood realism in my comics. Again so much depends on what you are doing but in my case sci fi and fantasy are always somewhat unrealistic. Using 3D models however there is a difference. The look is as coinsistent as the models I use and make. Oversized weapons, yeah but not manga level of over sized.


I love stylized art, but not at the expense of the visual story telling. Many artists, even professional ones, make the mistake of trying too hard and end up making it very hard to follow. Some lack emotional impact because they go for style, again a mistake. That said when well done it is fantastic.

For my own work, well stylization isn't so easy. For the odd story I try filters or different techniques to stylise it slightly but certainly no to the extent that more traditional art can be used. Far from impossible, but I'm not a very stylish artist in anyway. maybe that's why I appreciate the ones wh

Emotional stylization is something I try at times, but is usually more to do with a coloured background on a panel or an ultra close up.
irrevenant at 2:13AM, May 5, 2016
posts: 779
joined: 1-13-2007
Really interesting topic.

I sort of generally try for accuracy but ummm… am not very good. >_> So it sort of comes out stylised? Ish? Maybe?

I remember Ironhand once suggested doing colours for a panel in a striking yellow colour for effect rather than the actual colour of the thing and I was like “OMG, you can actually do that!? Really? :O”. LoL. xD (He was right, of course - it turned out brilliant).

Umm, I think my point in all that was: Good post. It's really useful to be reminded occasionally that there's a variety of approaches to choose from and not all art has to strive for accuracy.
last edited on May 5, 2016 2:14AM
KimLuster at 6:32AM, May 5, 2016
posts: 795
joined: 5-15-2012
I'll try to be accurate to a general degree. Like if I'm doing a combat scene I do want it to appear somewhat realistic, with the weapons, uniforms, tactics… Bravo often points out little things that are off, which I do appreciate and subsequently try to correct!! But only so far… I'm just too lazy to be totally accurate!

(see above)

Artwise, I kinda wish I could be more stylistic!! But as I consider my comic to be a sort of exercise what might really happen if a cosmic event intruded into someone's life, it does make it harder to work in, as you say!

*Emotional stylisation:
I love this stuff, but I don't have a grasp on when to use it. I always think I'm gonna try but then don't… Need to take the leap!
Bruno Harm at 12:20PM, May 5, 2016
posts: 122
joined: 10-18-2015
I think realism doesn't always translate well into an artistic Layout. For instance. In my current strip (#59), Bruno is fighting in a burning building. If I was to be completely realistic, I would draw completely black squares of smoke and no dialogue, because everyone would be unconscious or dead. I draw pretty realistic scenes even though my style is pretty cartoony, and I run into this a lot. Sometimes real life isn't dynamic enough, or it get's in the way of laying out the page for optimal story telling. It's a real tug of war. Sometimes it's just tedious or distracting to, let's say, draw a realistic amount of cars on the highway, or a realistic number of people in a restaurant.
Ozoneocean at 9:14PM, May 5, 2016
posts: 28,799
joined: 1-2-2004
Good point Bruno-
I and a lot of us here are approaching this from the standpoint of mainly “realistic” artwork, while you Bruno is very stylised to begin with so it's a completely different approach. It's way more to do with the “needs of the story” :D

Stylisation can be as simple as the perfectly flat front on views of desks in the Dilbert comics, and most especially their stylised hair! Scott Adams draws that way to reduce visual distraction, make the art easy to follow and quick to reproduce. And yet we all automatically understand that it's supposed to be a real office environment that he's depicting.

But that kind of simplification and stylisation can be hard for someone who does more realistic stuff because it's a completely different way of thinking. It's a huge brain-shift! The same sort of brain-shift that happened when painters like Giotto and Fra Angelico were transitioning to using perspective and 3/4 views, then on into the marvels of the Renaissance.
Or the shift from Early Egyptian highly formalised, stylised art into the curves and angles added by the Greek influence.
Or indeed the transition from representational art to abstraction in the early 20th century.
bravo1102 at 11:37PM, May 5, 2016
posts: 6,093
joined: 1-21-2008
I do it as accurate as I can allowing for my drawing style and lack of the ability to render things realistically.

As for my photo comicshoot, it boils down to what I can put together. For example the interior sets for Interstellar Blood Beasts were stylized representations of what a space ship interior is expected to look like. Pipes and plumbing, paneling and controls. Representative, not necessarily real.

bravo1102 at 5:39PM, May 6, 2016
posts: 6,093
joined: 1-21-2008
In reenacting there is the so-called 10 feet rule. If it looks accurate from 10 feet away it's fine to use, but don't put it in anyone's face and claim it's accurate.
last edited on May 6, 2016 5:41PM
Konspiracy at 12:18PM, May 22, 2016
posts: 8
joined: 4-8-2016
It sounds obvious, but it really depends on how much you value the realism. If realism comes first and foremost in the world that you're constructing, and everything else is meant to follow in line behind that, then of course, the nightmareish drawing of accuracy might be the better alternative.

But for me? I'm very general.

The story comes first, always. I try to keep whatever details I add as accurate as I can without stressing much on the tiny details. But all in all, the characters and their situations are more important than anything and everything else. For me, it's all about the characters. Their environment is just attached to them.

Ozoneocean at 2:29AM, May 23, 2016
posts: 28,799
joined: 1-2-2004
For me I like to make the environment real enough to be a container for my characters to bounce around in- so it adds to the story and informs the actions and appearance of the characters.
Ironscarf at 6:07AM, May 23, 2016
posts: 1,911
joined: 9-9-2008
Realism can be pretty diverse. Some artists are able to suggest a grippingly realistic envoironment which, when studied at close quarters is just abstract lines, dots and dashes. Others slave over every minute detail for realistic effect and yet the result can look more surreal than real.

For comics, if you can suggest rather than show in laborious detail it can help your pacing. You can still have the super realistic without attempting photorealism. Realism will still come across if you do your research and know how things work. I would love to get to this stage some day.

binaryfaye at 7:48AM, May 23, 2016
posts: 51
joined: 8-19-2010
I always thought it depended on what kind of story you're telling.

If you're comic is a series of gags then a lack of realism actually makes it funnier. Facial expressions are stretched like putty, the world is garishly colored and you feel no empathy for these crude characters which is why you have no problem laughing at them.

If you're doing a fantasy comic you want the art a little more whimsical. The characters are drawn a bit more realistic so you can empathize better, but not so much that imagining them in this setting is off-putting.

If you have a more serious comic, something where you want the audience to practically cry with your characters you tend to use more realism. The audience can really see the emotions as though on a real person.

So I guess I see it like how you use color theory to convey certain emotions, same with the art style.

bravo1102 at 12:52AM, May 24, 2016
posts: 6,093
joined: 1-21-2008
Let's turn this on its head. What if you have complete and absolute accurate portrayal of every last detail, but the story is utterly ridiculous? You would have any number of recent “historical ” movies. In some ways something as inaccurate as the old movie Battle of the Bulge or A Walk in the Sun is superior to the heavily researched detail of Saving Private Ryan or Fury.

Some get the mood and the characters right and another is just all window dressing.
last edited on May 24, 2016 12:53AM
Ozoneocean at 2:08AM, May 24, 2016
posts: 28,799
joined: 1-2-2004
It's not art VS story though really, it's "needs" of the story, since in comics art IS the story just as much as what's sitting in the speech bubbles.
This is something comic artists often forget.

So if your art shows historically inaccurate stuff, for example, that's ok as long as it serves the needs of your story.
bravo1102 at 6:32AM, May 24, 2016
posts: 6,093
joined: 1-21-2008
ozoneocean wrote:
So if your art shows historically inaccurate stuff, for example, that's ok as long as it serves the needs of your story.

Or the needs of the artist who is too lazy to get it “right” because he doesn't care enough about his readers to get it “right”

Say like doing a story about the Battle of Britain and just picking two available airplanes off the internet for the fighters. Say a Messerschmidt Me 109 for the British “Hurricane” and a Spitfire for a German “Messerschmidt”

Don't laugh, an Italian war movie actually did just that.

If you googled Battle of Britain fighter plane you will get pictures from the 1970 movie which admittedly were as close to real as they could get in 1970. But they are not completely accurate as the German aircraft were all postwar builds with different engines with drastically changed their profile. So if you did the comic with just that one Google as your research you'd end up with a movie vision of World War II aircraft, not the real thing.

But you only have one short scene with World War II fighters in a long form comic about something totally different. That's really all you need. The 10 foot rule. So long as it looks right for the brief time it is there it's okay. But if your entire comic is about the Battle of Britain, that just won't cut it. Your story would then need the right aircraft depicted.
last edited on May 24, 2016 6:36AM

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