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Speeding up production

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, June 5, 2020

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing with my family the importance of doing studies in drawing. I was asked, “What do you focus on these days?”. My answer was simple.


As a creator who juggles work, comics and an ever looming list of hobbies, my aim is to get quicker at pushing comic art out. Here are the areas that I focus on to help me achieve my goal of becoming quicker.

I make sure to use references!
Prior to using references, I would spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get a pose right. It was a right of passage. I had to do things this way otherwise I would not be an “artist”. After some time I asked myself why was I persisting with this and how was it helping me learn? Since then, if I come across a pose, expression or background I am struggling to put together I bust out the reference material. This sped up the process, and had the added benefit of giving me an idea of how to construct a similar expression, scene or background next time.

I now draw backgrounds and reuse them
I now create a stock of background that I can reuse in my stories as establishing shots. Many artists, particularly those that have to produce 40 panels a week often repeat backgrounds or even use 3D renders to help speed things along. I make sure to have both day and night versions and even some in different weather conditions. Not only does this save me time, it reinforces the locations in the audience’s mind.

However, not every panel needs a background
When I realised this it sped up my production immeasurably. I use background as a way to establish where the characters are in the space but once done I don’t worry about it as much. You can go with all white or use a gradient in similar colours/tones to maintain the sense of location. The focus is your characters and their interactions, so a background isn’t always needed.

What tricks do you use to speed up your process? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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0becomingX at 10:16AM, June 6, 2020

great advice! thank yoU!

ShaRose49 at 10:52PM, June 5, 2020

I use an app called easyposer that has a few different models you can pose or use saved pre-sets on them, it also works as a reference for lighting and shading, you can change the light or camera angle. I don’t always use backgrounds either, but I try not to have too many panels without a background so that it doesn’t look like the characters are in a void. It seems like for certain emotional beats, it’s good to have no background for the character to really focus on them. I haven’t thought about drawing backgrounds and using them later! Maybe I’ll try that when I’m doing more difficult backgrounds

Gunwallace at 8:40PM, June 5, 2020

For my current comic I found a House Planning App for designing interiors and mocked up the places the comic takes place in. It's quite detailed, allowing you to put custom pictures on the walls and place things askew. It allows you to take screenshots from multiple angles, so whenever I want a background reference for a frame I go into the APP and take shots of the relevant room. Setup and learning the App took a little bit of time, but now I have consistent backgrounds from all angles.

hushicho at 3:51PM, June 5, 2020

I'm so glad to see this article! A lot of people, especially starting out, put far too much time and effort into things that only they will ever notice. Too little time, on the whole, is spent by most readers of comics on details like background, or little things that the artist may agonize over. I think it was Wally Wood who said (but it's great advice no matter who said it) to take every shortcut available to you -- if you can copy and paste it, do it. If you can use screentone or textures, do it. Clip Studio Paint is a great production help, but whatever you use, it's crucial to get a good flow going!

Avart at 11:14AM, June 5, 2020

I'm not as fast as I whish. Sure, there are some shortcuts I use but when it comes to detail, I spend a lot of time there. References are a must for me, either a photo or a 3D model, same for BG. I use many photos as a BG (but I rework them a lot, which consumes a looooot of time), but as Emma said, not all my panels have BG, some have speed lines or some sort of effect to compensate it. I always use sketches, no matter what frame I'm doing, it serves to 'place holder', or to give right proportions/harmony to the image and speech bubbles and SFX too. When I'm sketching a face i.e., I mirror the eyes and adjust them so they're balanced, but not at the inking, this gives a 'natural feel' to the drawing, but sometimes I reuse some parts of a drawing, as a 'close-up shot' to emphasize some events on the chapter. Also, I avoid using more than one program to do the things, but sometimes this isn't possible.

Banes at 7:37AM, June 5, 2020

I agree that getting things moving is a priority! I do everything I can think of, as long as the result looks good to me. But even more focus on an approach that gets it done faster is a great idea. So many things I do to pick up the pace - one big one is doing scribbly sketched figures and my text/word balloons first. Then I can actually figure out the panel layout and see what the structure of the page is going to be. As I'm drawing, I move the dialogue/panels around and change things, sometimes a LOT, as I figure out where everything goes. That seems to keep things moving pretty well, with less editing/redrawing later. Great article!

cdmalcolm1 at 1:33AM, June 5, 2020

I use “Actions” in photoshop to create layers with FX like gold or create my pencils, inks and flats in one click. I also create BG for some or use reference BG to speed things up. Then I learn very quick way to shadow my characters lighting which makes it look like I spend hours on. I have not created an Action layer for it but I will. Another that I use is the tools in Procreate for the iPad. So much faster and I can take it with me and draw great pictures on the fly. After I’m done with Procreate, take it to photoshop and master the finished comic scroller page there.

dpat57 at 12:16AM, June 5, 2020

I highly recommend speed, don't be ashamed of taking shortcuts and using any trick you can think of to make things easier for you. If it looks semi-okay, meh it'll do, it's good enough. We're not hanging paintings in The Louvre.

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