Earlier this week, I completed the prologue for my new comic. It's been several years since I completed a full issue of a comic, and I'm putting in a conscious effort to improve on something I've been lazy about in the past: backgrounds.
With earlier comics, I generally relied on a few pre-drawn backgrounds as much as possible, but the results were never great. When I did put in the effort, I was never all that pleased with the results. I'm trying a few new things this time around. Most importantly, I try to remember that the background exists without my characters in it. If I take them out of the picture just keeping in mind a vague idea of where they are for purposes of perspective, I can look at the background as a composition of its own and it seems to come together more naturally. When I'm drawing around a character, the background tends to be a bit piecemeal. Trees only exist when the character isn't in front of them, so why bother figuring out where they would be? Working in this way my perspectives tend to get skewed and things don't look quite natural.
My other new approach is allowing myself to be looser with the background than with the foreground, allowing colours (which I enjoy) to play a larger role than inks (which I struggle with). I think one of the things that has made this part of the process frustrating for me in the past was putting a lot of effort into little details in the background while still being displeased with the overall result. Allowing the inking in particular to be less precise than it is for the foreground speeds things up and, at least in my case, seems to look better anyways.
When I look at my favourite comics in terms of art, though, I suspect that their creators approach each panel (or even each page) as a holistic composition rather than thinking in terms of foreground and background. I find that really difficult, but maybe it's something I'll be able to do with practice. In general I'm still finding backgrounds more tedious than foregrounds/characters, but my hope is that as I continue to work at it, composing backgrounds will become a more natural part of the process.
How do you go about drawing backgrounds? Is it something you enjoy as much as drawing your characters and the main action? Or have you come up with clever cheats to avoid spending too much time on them?
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HippieVan at 12:00AM, Aug. 18, 2016
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