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Drawing details or drawing faster?

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, June 8, 2024

Hello there fellow Quackateers! I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of comic making but life has been hectic! As I was sitting down to work on some panels I found myself becoming frustrated at how long it was taking which got me thinking. So I thought in this article we could examine a common dilemma we creators all face at some time or another: should you focus on intricate details or drop the details in favour of speeding up your drawing process? It's a tricky balance, but finding this sweet spot can make your webcomic journey smoother and more enjoyable.

What is about the allure of details? Is it those stunning backgrounds, intricate costumes, and expressive faces that pull readers into your world? Is it the colours/textures you want to highlight? Details are your flair and can be a bit addictive. But, let's be real – it can also be a massive time sink. Personally speaking, spending hours on a single panel slowed my progress, delayed my update schedule and sometimes even burned me out.

Therefore, it stands to reason that drawing faster means more frequent updates and a steadier flow of content. Readers love consistent engagement, and as an artist you maintain your momentum. But then I worry that it looks too unfinished or rushed. The trick here is to streamline your process without sacrificing quality.

But how do you do this? I try to simplify where I can – I try to keep costumes somewhat simple, or use assets to make patterns and backgrounds. Digital assets are a godsend, so don’t be afraid to use them where you can. Be that for backgrounds or certain details such as jewellery or patterns. I also dedicate certain panels or pages to higher levels of detail whilst letting others be much simpler. This way I can scratch that detail bug without it burning me out.

In the end, whether you lean towards detailed artistry or quick, efficient drawing, remember that your webcomic's heart lies in its story and characters. Find what works best for your style and schedule, and most importantly, have fun with it! Happy drawing!

How do you balance detail and speed? 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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cdmalcolm1 at 6:14AM, June 10, 2024

cdmalcolm1 at 6:09AM, June 10, 2024 delete I’m not the best to answer this question but what I do is treat it like an animation. Keep most things simple and have Keys points as my details. BUT This is where I have a conflict. Not being satisfied of the look of the art. How to simplify your detailed work? Simplify your colors and your strokes until you get to a key point for great detail panels or page. Spend time working on your simple form, your base form. Once that happens, you should be able to move faster in your base form. My other advice is to look at cartoons made today. They are very simple, no cell shading. No cell lighting. They are all flats with vivid color. Do the same with your base if you’re press for time. Again, I’m not the best person to talk about this subject because I am too slow. I just press on even if I lose fans. That seems to be my fate involving content speed.

PaulEberhardt at 12:03PM, June 9, 2024

I've long had an "all or nothing" approach, which I can't honestly recommend to anyone, but I sometimes use drawing unnecessary details as a kind of meditation. However, I do simplify panels to save time and also for pacing, as the amount of details you put in also affects everyone's reading speed.

J_Scarbrough at 10:03AM, June 8, 2024

@JohnCelestri I believe that's similar to Charles Schulz's rule of thumb as well: if it's not important, don't draw it.

JohnCelestri at 9:10AM, June 8, 2024

My rule of thumb is to concentrate on the clarity of the most important spot in the picture and then fade everything else away. Doing that focuses the viewers' attention to where I want it to be.

J_Scarbrough at 8:43AM, June 8, 2024

It honestly depends on the specific media I am working on as to how much detail I will spend time on. If it's a single illustration, like maybe something promotional, or to put on merchandise, or a holiday drawing, I will most certainly spend more time paying attention to detail. If it's actually working on a comic that I have (self-imposed) deadlines for, not so much . . . usually I give myself some buffer so as to not try to rush through the process at the last minute (which I tend to be guilty of), but even so, because I'm churning out material on a regular basis - and somewhat quickly at that - I will speed through things a little bit and not waste so much time on too many details.

usedbooks at 3:42AM, June 8, 2024

Anime/manga styles makes strategic use of simple character design. Although I'm sure it saves time and money, there's a storytelling reason behind it too. The protagonists are simplified to promote audience self-insertion. They sometimes inhabit very detailed worlds and interact with detailed characters, but the main protagonist(s) will be simplified.

usedbooks at 3:39AM, June 8, 2024

When I was a kid, I thought photorealism was the most amazing art. Intricate, detailed work is always impressive. But art used to tell a story seems to be LESS effective if it's detailed. The details can get distracting. An occasional hyper-detailed establishing panel/page can be fun.

lothar at 1:38AM, June 8, 2024

Detail is cool and fun to draw but imo it can distract from a scene or just make it feel cluttered. I try to get an establish shot in and then just kind of fudge the other backgrounds. I pencil in light blue colored pencil and then "ink" in 4B graphite. I try to do everything on the paper: lettering, borders, shading. The only thing I do in Photoshop is remove the blue lines and fix any glaring mistakes. Lately I've been trying to make 3 pages in 3 hours. 2 hours on a page is about my upper limit. I kind of think of the setting as a character, if the setting is important. So it doesn't need to be in every panel.

marcorossi at 12:49AM, June 8, 2024

I have a simplified style, and yet it takes me roughly 10 hours to draw a page, ouch! That said there is another point about simplified styles: in my experience, since each detail carries more importance, you have to be extra careful in a low details style, so often the pencils for a very simplified and apparently istinctive drawing need to be very curated, istinctiveness is often just an effect, not the reality.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 12:17AM, June 8, 2024

I've fallen behind on the updating lately, but it's been due to some bothersome IRL crap and not me being burnt out. In fact I think I've found the right balance between detail and speed just a few weeks ago. And that for me is, limited number of panels per page. If I keep it three panels max for a page I can get most of the detail I want and have it uploaded the next day after I began drawing it, allowing me to hit that three updates a week mark I've always yearned for. I'm gonna come back to it, I might start again today. But this realization has made me so much less frustrated over my work, as this issue has been grinding on me for some time.

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